Sunday, June 10, 2018


Hi All,
Well, as I promised, here is the finished doll:
A friend of mine said it reminded her of Liza Minelli from "Cabaret" -- Yes, I see that.

Here are some close-ups:
The "helmet/turban" is made from sequin trim wrapped around the head. The headband is an old rhinestone necklace with some earring pieces.

And, here are some WIPs: (see last post for work-in-progress photos of the body)
When I start a costume, I usually will "drape" some muslin into the shape that I want. For the 20's silhouette, it's basically a tube of fabric that hangs from the shoulders. The waistline is very low - almost to the middle of the hips. (I know, ---doesn't look very glamourous at all.)

Here's the under dress, made of micro sequins in silver. I wanted to give the final look as much sparkle as possible, as I have learned that "all black" doesn't photograph well.

(And, in the end, that's how a doll is seen-- in photographs.)

Here's the dress. I made this from an old beaded dress I found at a thrift store in the early 80's (see?? I knew if I held on to it long enough, I'd find a use for it.....)
See how the silver sequins sparkle under the chiffon between the beaded lines?
The neckline and hip band is made from edging from the same old dress.

Fortunately, I've made this "opera coat" (sometimes called a "cocoon coat") before, so the pattern was easy for me.

I added the red sequin lining to the coat, (and other shots of red in the jewelry) to add an accent to the all black & silver.

This is the photo that inspired the face and the shape of the turban/cloche/helmet.
I LOVE her nose! I tend to do small noses, but on this doll I made a large nose, and I like it!

I haven't settled on a name yet. I'm thinking of "Silent Screen Star". Or, simply "The Vamp",-- but I'm not sure if everyone (young people) knows that term. (A "Vamp" --short for "vampire"-- is an old-fashion name for a woman who seduces men for whatever she can get from them. After she taken him for everything he's got, she throws the man aside like yesterdays laundry, crushing him in the process.) This was a "stock" character in the silent movies.

This look is based mostly on Theda Bara, who was known as "The Vamp" in silent pictures. This is Theda Bara:
GREAT EYES! So much eye liner! And such dark eyes --she was really working that "sultry, smoky eye" look!

This was Theda much older, taken in the 1950's before she died.
She still has those eyes! She looks sort of tragic and sad. (I'm keeping this photo in my inspiration file.) Truly, a "fallen beauty" -- which is a favorite theme I like to use.

These are other silent movie stars I used for inspiration: This is Clara Bow.
Clara Bow was known as the "It Girl". I guess "it" stood for a woman who is out to have a good time. Plus, she had sex appeal. Maybe a little naughty? In the 1920's, we had just come out of World War I, and was ready to have some fun. That's when the "flapper" appeared.

Other stars who were inspiration were May Murray:

And Louise Brooks:
Louise Brooks was famous for introducing the "bob" haircut in the 1920's -- a hairstyle that became most popular with the young flapper girls and quite controversial for it's time. (The 20's was the first time in history that women wore short hair!)

Hope you enjoyed seeing my process.
Have fun!

Saturday, May 26, 2018


Hi All,
I've been working on a new doll for the "Art Doll Quarterly" 1920's challenge. It's not done yet, but here are some work-in-progress photos.

I want to design a silent film star, a "Vamp" character.
So, I started with a dramatic pose.

This is a big doll -- about 20 inches. So, to make her stand up-right on it's own, I used an extra thick wire armature in the supporting leg, and my basic wire armature in the other. The wires come out of the heels of the shoe into the wood base. I sculpted the heels around the wire, using paper clay. I made black stockings for her, which I have to put on before I sculpt the heels, as the stocking won't go over the heel AND wire armature without ripping (I learned this the hard way on dolls in the past.)

I found this triangle beaded applique in my stash and thought it would make a great collar for her.

And, of course, she has a cigarette holder. (The cigarette holder has become a signature of mine, and I don't know why. I guess it makes me think of old-time glamour, as only very rich and glamourous women used them in old movies. The more stylish the woman -- the longer her cigarette holder was.)

Okay, now I've made the shoes -- which I hate doing! Shoes are very hard for me (which is why I don't make them that often. Most of my dolls don't have legs!) I made the shoes in two parts - front and back, and fitted them to the feet.

Get those seams straight!
I also made her underwear (which you won't see in the finished costume). I make them for the people who like to look up her skirts (and they always do!).

I like to put a lot of work into the hands and arms. I do all the work before I attach the arms to the body (so much easier!). In my design, she will have heavy sleeves, with maybe some beaded dangles as well, so I added wire armature to the arms to help support the heavy sleeves. --It's tricking trying to anticipate what the problems will be with the costume before you make it, but it's always better to have too much support, then not enough. (I HATE going back and re-doing something after it's all done.)

Here's a close-up of the head:

I looked at a lot of research while designing this doll, both costume and make-up. The actors in silent films wore a lot of make-up. It was a time with cosmetics really started to sell to the masses. I think the invention of movies help sell the make-up. In the 20's, ladies started wearing lipstick (done in what they called "bee-stung lips", with the lipstick focused on the middle of the lip), rouge, and lots of eyeliner.

Okay, here she is, all pinned together before I start the costume and headdress:

Stay tuned, and I will post more photos of the finished doll!  -Have fun.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Hi all,
I just finished my "FOLLIES SHOWGIRL" pattern.

It's a digital e-pattern you can download in a PDF file.

She stands about 17 inches (22" with headdress), and dressed in a vintage style showgirl costume--- although, I think this would make a great "basic doll" pattern for anything you wanted to design for it.

The legs are cut "in one" with the body, while the head and arms are separate pieces. (I had to make 3 samples to get the pattern right!) There's a wire armature inside the body & legs to help her stand up, while glued to a wood base.

I've included instructions for both feathers and a non-feathers (ruffles) costume, as I thought it might be a problem for some people to get a hold of some feathers if they don't have a craft store in their city.

This pattern is listed both on my ETSY site (ArleyDollDesigns), and my WEB SITE (ArleyBerryhill).

Ooooh, I've been watching "Penny Dreadful" on Netflix, and I think I have an idea for my next pattern! (Victorian Gothic anyone???)
Have fun!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Hi All,
I've just finished converting another old pattern of mine, the ART DECO TASSEL doll, to a new digital pattern in PDF form. You can purchase this E-Pattern from my website or my Etsy site (Arley Doll Designs).

This is one of my older (and favorite) patterns. I made this pattern 14 years ago, back in 2004! I only had this pattern in printed form, as the computer copy of it was lost long ago.  (Now, I'm learning how to convert printed work to a word document -- which is pretty good for a 60 year old guy!)

Anyway, this is a wonderful pattern for anyone who enjoys EMBELLISHING! (And, who doesn't enjoy embellishing???) Especially if you like making beaded dangles & swags. Here's one I made in purple:

I designed this pattern after looking at some of ERTE's work (a designer who was very popular from the 1910's to 1930's) I saw a drawing of a handbag he designed in the shape of a little Turkish doll.

Here's my initial design of the doll before making it (You can see the influence):

I've always love the Art Deco & Art Nouveau periods. And, I especially love the Eastern and Turkish influence of that period (at the time, this style was called "Orientalism"). Here are some other examples of Erte's work in splendid Orientalism that inspired me:

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Hi All,
I've been working on a new pattern, titled "Follies Showgirl". It will be a vintage showgirl from the first half of the 20th century (1920-1940). I've been making samples to get the pattern right. Here's one I finished:

This sample is for sale on my Etsy site (here).

I'm having fun designing her. There is a trick to designing a doll pattern verses a one-of-a-kind art doll. With a pattern, you have to simplify it a bit. And, when I'm dressing her, I can't use vintage jewelry or hard-to-find items. Everything I use has to be easily found.

I'm doing two versions of this Showgirl-- one with feathers, and one without. I realize that feathers may not be easily obtained in all areas of the country/world, and that there are people who are unfamiliar with working with feathers.

So, this one is made with bridal tulle & ribbon ruffles.

Here's my first sample, using feathers.

I did a lot of tweaking to this first sample, and ended up making a few changes.

I would like to make one more sample before releasing the pattern. I'm thinking the next sample should have a black & gold costume -- or, white & silver? The new pattern should be out in a few months!

Have fun! -AB

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Hi All,
No, it's not a new rock group. It's what I call my new "Day of the Dead" sugar skull busts. I made two of them at the same time, so they share some of the same fabrics & materials.

The Dead Sisters:

I've been making "Day of the Dead" dolls for quite a few years now, but recently a friend asked why I wasn't making the faces like the painted sugar skulls -- the way most people make up their faces when celebrating "Dias de los Muertos".

Up to that point, I had been making "dead dolls" to look like a "Catrina" or a basic skull.

For a long time, the sugar skulls were a separate thing from the "Catrina's" dolls that people made. But more recently, I've noticed that the sugar skull (calaveras de azucar) image has become more popular in representing the festival of the dead.

Here's a little background on "sugar skulls": Historically, people made skulls of sugar by pressing sugar and starch into a mold and decorated them with cake icing, foil, & beads. These decorated skulls are displayed on tombstones or use as offerings on alters (offrendas). These offerings celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on. Decorating the skulls made them look more festive and less scary.

People would also paint skulls made of paper-mache or ceramic:

Very quickly, the sugar skull became a graphic image in print, on fabric, embroidered, and even tattoos:

So, instead of making "Day of the Dead" dolls that looked like other "dead dolls", I'm making dolls that look like people made up to look like sugar skulls.

Have fun!