Monday, November 21, 2016


Hi All,
With getting ready for my "bottle class" (and other stuff), I haven't had time to show you everything from Halloween.

So, first, I took a class in October with Thomas Ashman called "Scary Dolls". It was an "altered doll" class. I had a blast! It was so much fun. We brought to class  a porcelain doll from the thrift store. In class, we ripped off the wig, and stripped it of the clothing. We repainted her with black and white paint. Then, we took the clothing and dunked it in a large bath of black dye. When everything was dry, we embellished the dress to go with our new "Goth Doll" (as Thomas calls them). Then, we added a marabou feather wig.

I went for more of a "Day of the Dead" look with my doll. Plus, I added some red coloring to the mix. My doll came dressed in white polyester princess dress, so the darkest it would dye was a light gray color. So, I added lots of black trim to it.

(Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the doll before I started.)
 Most people in the class popped the eyeballs out of the head, and left her eye-less. I did that at first, and then put the eyeballs back in. I thought it looked too creepy without the eyes.
Those are black fabric leaves I stitched around her collar.

 I also wanted to show you all some more of what I made for my yard this year:
I call this "Creature with a Friend".

 Very quick and easy to make. I got a skeleton whose joints were linked together with big jump rings. That allowed it to pose with the knees and elbows out. The pumpkin came from Walmart, already carved!-- I just love the expression! (Better than I could do).

I added horns to the skelly by cutting up some plastic toy vegetables from the dollar store (I think they were bananas or red chili peppers) and some 2-part apoxie clay. I also altered the eyes with the same clay. And, I added texture to the whole thing with some spray texture paint.

The wings were super easy. 3 wire hangers are the armature base. All three wires are tied together along the main edge, while the ends were bent apart to form the "fingers" of the wings. (Wings are made as one piece.) I wrapped the whole armature in masking tape. The fabric is a heavy gauze glued to the frame. Then, just added some apoxie horns at the top of each wing, and sprayed with more texture spray and paint.

 I glued the skelly and the pumpkin to a cardboard base (covered with fall leaves from the Dollar Store) and stuck it on a plastic urn found at the garden store.

My other big piece was a "Wall of Skulls". I have these two pillars in front of my house, holding up my porch. I wanted to decorate them, and thought about something like what you see in a crypt or underground catacomb. (My plan was to do both pillars, but only got one done.)

I started with a piece of cardboard that wrapped around the front and sides of the pillar.
Then, I got some styrofoam skulls that I cut in half and glued to the cardboard. I ran out of money, and didn't have enough skulls, so I added some plastic bones and the backside of some of the skulls. (Some of them came painted, some were blank). Since I was planning on spray painting the whole thing when it was done, I coated the styrofoam skulls with glue and paint, . (Spray paint and Styrofoam don't mix!)

Next, I sprayed some expanding foam insulation between all the objects. I also coated everything with more latex paint I had left over from the house.

I chipped away at some of the foam, coated everything with more latex paint, and spray painted everything. I went back after spraying to do some detail work.

At the last minute, I glued some moss to it to make it creepy (and, to hide some of the skull backs - which looked more like odd-shaped balls than backs of skulls.)

Here it is, attached to my pillar with some velcro straps, glued to the back of the cardboard.

Here's my porch, (almost done decorating) with my pumpkin scarecrow (made with PVC pipe, a Christmas tree stand, tree branches, fabric, and a giant plastic pumpkin I got at Target) Sorry, I cut off the side of the pillar when I took the photo! My front door is off to the right, closest to the "Pillar of Death"!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Hi All,
I'm teaching a new craft class called "Altered Bottles" at a new art space here in Albuquerque.

In the class, we take bottles (clear or colored) and make them into works of art, worthy of displaying in any room in your home. They can go in your bedroom, bathroom, on your mantel or coffee table, or be a wonderful addition to your holiday display.

Here are some elegant "Goth" or Apothecary bottles:

 Both are sprayed with Mirror spray & vinegar for a "mercury glass" look.
For the little one, I used a plastic Xmas ornament for a stopper from Hobby Lobby (I added the eyeball). I also sprayed it with some black "Webbing", and glued wooden beads on the bottom for feet. The tall one was a liquor bottle.

Or, how about some Shabby Chic bottles?


The tall bottle came from the dollar store. I put iridescent confetti in the second bottle. And, the little bottle is a salt shaker (from the dollar store).

You choose the bottle and the theme you want to create. These are my "Mermaid" bottles.
I downloaded mermaid images, and decoupaged it on with Mod Podge. The tall bottle is a green champagne bottle, and the little bottle is from the dollar store. I frosted it with a Sea Glass spray.

And, here are some Golden bottles:
The little one has a Xmas ornament glued to the bottle, and a gold paper doily at the base. The larger one has another Xmas ornament as the stopper (Hobby Lobby), and some gold Webbing sprayed on the bottle. I hung an earring and some charms around the neck of the bottle. (Those are orange glitter balls inside).

All of the glass stoppers are drawer pulls from Hobby Lobby (about $5, before your 40% discount).

You bring a bottle (or two), and something for a stopper (drawer knob or Xmas ornament), and any trims, trinkets, lace, flowers, jewelry, charms that you want. I will have plenty of stuff to share, and have extra bottles and stoppers for you to use. You'll probably have time to make two bottles.

Sunday, Nov. 20
   10-4pm (one hour lunch)

New Tricks Art Workshop & Gallery
1751 Bellamah NW, suite 2101
Albuquerque, NM

Cost- $50
Contact me to register and a supply list: arleyberryhill@hotmail.com

Monday, October 3, 2016


Hi All,
I've got a new pattern for you. I call it the "Bird of Paradise". It's part cloth doll, and part quilt.

As I posted before, it started as a doll for the Treasures of the Gypsy challenge happening this month. The theme is "Once Upon a Time, past present, & future". I used Pamela's fabrics, appliques, ribbons, and motifs to make it.

So, I made a Firebird, from an old Russian folk tale. After that, I used the same pattern and made a Peacock bird.

And, now it's a pattern!

You can make a Phoenix/Firebird, or a Peacock. Or, make your own fantasy bird! There is a choice of 2 different wings (one "flying" and one folded). The head is separate, so you can pose it any way you like. You can make as many tail feathers as you like, in any color scheme. You can use glitzy fabric, or colorful cotton. It can perch on a tall candlestick, or it can "fly" by hanging it from a couple of strong threads. The bird measures 12 inches from beak to tail, with an additional 18 inches of tail feathers.

And, of course, there's so much opportunity for embellishments! You can add beads, ribbon, jewels, sequins - you name it.

I used FUSIBLE QUILT BATTING for the wings and tail feathers. (You could use regular non-fusible batting, or felt. But I found using a fusible batting so much easier!) Since I used loosely woven satin & metallic fabrics (not good for stuffing or quilting!) I used a fusible interfacing on each fabric piece before stitching. And, the fusible batting took care of the quilted pieces, saving time and money. (On the Peacock, I used satin fabric for the body & wings, and green cotton for the feathers.)

You will need some knowledge of doll making, plus a little skill in appliques and quilting.

The pattern cost $10, and it's an E-PATTERN (a digital download that is emailed to you. You print it out on your printer.)There's no shipping fees!

Go to my website (http://www.arleyberryhill.com/patterns-for-sale-pg1) for more information.

Have fun!

Friday, September 23, 2016


Hi All,
Well, now that I'm "between jobs" again, I have time to focus on some Witch Crafts and Dolls.

It's that time of year again, and I'm already working on some Halloween projects (It's never too late to start Halloween projects!)

Here's a Witch Boot Planter I made for my friend, (who's a big Halloween nut, like me -- we trade Halloween presents instead of Christmas.)

I found this old pair of boots years ago in a thrift store, and was waiting until I could figure out what to do with it. (I still have the other one -- I'll probably work it into a witch doll idea...)

Anyway, I found the perfect inspiration when I saw a photo of a witch shoe/vase on Pinterest (don't you just love Pinterest!!) I was all set to go with my fall foliage, when I saw another picture on Pinterest of a painted witch shoe. So, I just put the 2 ideas together.

Here's some close-ups of the painted boot:

It's painted with regular acrylics, then sealed with gel medium. I had to first put a layer of white gesso before painting it orange. Even so, I still had to paint several layers of orange acrylic to cover the black leather.

I also made a new pumpkin for this year (I like to make a few pumpkins each year for my yard.) 

Again, found my inspiration on Pinterest:

I followed the link to the Halloween Forum, where this guy showed some photos of how he did it.

It was pretty simple. I got a plastic skull, and cut the face off. (It has to be hollow, so a styrofoam skull won't work). I cut a hole in the pumpkin about the size of the skull face, and glued it in. I filled in the gaps with little balls of aluminum foil. Then, I added paper-clay all around the edges to smooth it out & blend it into the pumpkin face.

Here's a shot of the inside, where you can see how I put the skull in the pumpkin:
(Sorry, I didn't take any work-in-progress photos.)

I added more paper-clay around the eyes, the brows, and cheeks to make it more "demonic".

Here's a shot with a light inside:
Creepy, yes?

Have fun!

Monday, August 8, 2016


Hi All
Wow, it's been some time since my last post. Sorry about that -- I've been working full time at the Santa Fe Opera this summer, and it's taking all my time. No time for dolls!! But, the job will be over soon.

Anyway, I just came back from "Art Unraveled", an art conference in Phoenix, AZ this past weekend, where I took a class with Laura Mika. I've taken a class with Laurie a few years ago. Laurie does these fabulous mosaics using hand-made polymer clay tiles. (See Laurie's website here.)

In this class, we would be making a mosaic book cover for a tin book-box.

Laurie's technique is to stamp and paint into the polymer clay, then embellish the pieces by embedding jewels, beads, charms, stones, and any other "do-dads" that can be baked in an oven.

The book-box was small (this was a one-day class), measuring 5" x 6-1/2".

Here's my book cover:

As you can see, I went  a little crazy with the embellishments. That's a real skull of a mole in the center, with a small piece of jewelry attached to the top of it.

We were able to also make a "spine" for the box:

Some of us even had time to decorate the inside with paint, stamps, and paper.

I did a simple stamp on the the back of the box 

Here are some more views that show how dimensional the piece is (and, you can see the skull better):

Because I had so many layers of clay, my box turned out a bit heavy. 

It was a really fun class, and I was so happy to see Laurie again.

Here are some photos of what other people did in the class (sorry, some are blurred). Most people did a religious theme, as an antique bible with an embellished cover Laurie found on a trip to Jerusalem was the inspiration for the class:

Okay, gotta go. Lot's of work to do. And,........it's almost time for Halloween! What am I going to make for a decoration this year?????

Have fun,

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Hi All,
Sorry I've been away for so long. I started a new job at Santa Fe Opera in the Costume department, and it's taken up all my time.

Anyway, I took some time off this week to take a doll class with Ankie Daanen (www.ankie-doll-art.com), a Dutch artist who now lives in Spain. She comes to America every other year or so, and teaches doll classes. So, getting a chance to take her class was a real treat for me. It was an exhausting 4 day-class, making her doll, "Black Beauty". It's a doll entirely sculpted out of paper clay.

Ankie's "Black Beauty", the class sample:

Ankie's style is very unique. Her dolls are part girl, part whimsy. (Ankie is rather tall and slender, and so are her dolls!)

Here's a photo of the work I completed the first day:

 We were given a styrofoam cone & small cylinder, which became the body, and a stryofoam egg, which became the head. We were also given a wire armature for the legs, and little clay "stumps" for the hands. We spent the first day putting a layer of paper clay over everything, plus building a bit of the forehead and nose, and some of the leg & foot. (The clay is actually white in color, but in my photo it came out yellow!)

Sculpting with paper clay is a slow process. You have to build it up in layers, letting each layer dry before adding more clay. We had ovens going to help dry out the clay as we worked.

Here's what I accomplished the second day:

Here I built up the entire leg and sculpted ankle boots. We added the lips, cheeks, and eyeballs on the head, and sculpted fingers to the "stump" hands. (Oh, those fingers! So hard to sculpt!) Working with paper clay, you have to be careful to sand each layer as smooth as possible before adding the next layer. So, much of the end of the 2nd day was spent sanding.

The third day:

Okay, now it's starting to look like a doll! Ankie gave us costume kits she had made for us. Here, I've gathered, stitched (and glued) all the pieces to the body & arms. Plus, we painted the shoes. Lace was glued to the legs, and several layers of skirts were stitched on. We had some stretch velvet tubes for the top and sleeves.

 And, the fourth day, the finished doll:

Ankie taught us how to use water-colors to paint the face, which was a new experience for me! We didn't paint the "skin" of the doll -- that's the natural color of the paper clay! Powders were also added to the face for more subtle shading. Tibetan lamb skin is used for the wig.

Before the wigs could be glued on, Ankie painted a layer of matte lacquer over the faces to save the color. (She was nice enough to do that for us, while we were furiously stitching the costumes pieces together!)

Here's Ankie glazing our heads:

Notice how my head  (back row) has more color and make-up than the others??? I couldn't help it. Once I started adding color, I couldn't stop until she was a full blown Glamour-Diva!

Here are some of the finished dolls in the class:

My doll sort of looks like a Victorian hooker, next to all the sweet, cute dolls in the class.

But, as I told Ankie -- I don't do "cute"!

Have fun!