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!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Hi All,
I made another Bird from the pattern I've been developing. This time, it's a Peacock. (I love peacocks!) I gave him some "folded wings", as peacocks are known more for their tail feathers than wings.

Here are some photos:

The feathers & wing are quilted, using fusible batting. I used color-variegated thread (green/blue/yellow) for the quilting, but you can't see it in the photos.

I'm working on the pattern right now. so it will be out in a month or so. It will have both the "flying wings", and the "folded wings".

Have fun!

Monday, March 14, 2016


Hi All,
I've made another Tribal Belly Dancer candlestick doll. This time I gave her some yarn hair, and more skirt. I try to give the figure as much movement as I can, considering she's mounted on a candlestick at her hips.

 Hope you like it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Hi All,
Well, it's that time of year again -- time to get started on the "TREASURES OF THE GYPSY" CHALLENGE.

This year's theme is, "ONCE UPON A TIME....PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE"

The details of the challenge are printed at the end of this post.

So, I researched many fairy tales & folk stories before I found the perfect one for me: "THE FIRE BIRD".  The Fire Bird is an old Russian folk tale (which has been made into a popular ballet).

After more research, I found that, design-wise, there isn't much difference between a Fire Bird and a Phoenix Bird. (I think it's the same bird, just different cultures).
Here are some photos:

I'll probably add some more bead embroidery, when I have time.

Something else I found in my research is that both the Fire Bird & Phoenix usually have peacock-like tail feathers.

So, now that I've made the pattern, I would like to make another one as a Peacock. Then, in the future, I will publish the pattern.


Pamela Armas (aka Gypsy Pamela) is the owner of a store called "Treasures of the Gypsy", which sells exotic fabrics, trims, beads, ribbon, and little bits of everything, (mostly imported from India and other parts of Eastern Europe). She & her husband have a large vendor booth and travel to all the major sewing & quilting conventions across the country.

Every year, Pamela hosts a challenge for the Houston Quilt Festival (which is in Houston, Texas at the end of October). 1st, 2nd, & 3rd prize are gift certificates for fabric & trim from Treasures of the Gypsy. And, your doll will be published in a doll magazine.

To enter the challenge, send Pamela a check for $20. She sends you a small bag of her "treasures"-- a few pieces of fabrics, trims, and some beads or appliques. Plus, she will send you all the details of the challenge.

Dolls are due by mid- September. Your doll can be part of the theme, or not. You may use any medium you like - cloth or clay. There is no size requirement. The only requirement is that you use as much of the Gypsy's Treasures as you can on your doll. (You can even buy MORE and add it to the doll, as well!!)

Make $20 check payable to: PAMELA ARMAS.
Send it to: Pamela Armas, PO Box 748, Mountainair, NM 87036

Questions? You can email Pamela at: gypsytreasures@cs.com

Gypsy Treasures is on facebook:  www.facebook.com/Treasures-of-the-Gypsy

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Hi All,
Thanks to all of you who took the time to check out my new website. I appreciate that a great deal.

I started a new doll -- it's a "theater doll", for lack of a better name. The top of the doll will be a basic torso doll, and the bottom half will be a theater, complete with actors performing (I hope).

Here's some work-in-progress photos:

I started by building a basic theater out of a wooden box glued to a larger wooden lid (from Michael's), dressed up with some decorative molding & wooden "appliques".

Here it is, painted black & gold. The backdrop is an architectural drawing I found on-line and printed on card stock.

Here's the torso added. I added some padding to the top, so the skirt would hang correctly. 

Next, comes the skirt. I chose dark red velvet, as the skirt will also be the curtains for the theater. (Red velvet trimmed in gold fringe is what I think of when it comes to theater curtains.)

And now, I've started on the bodice and sleeves.

That's as far as I've got. The face will be a face-mask, cast in paper clay. And, I will have to make the miniature actors for the stage.

Stayed tuned for more photos.
Have fun!