Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Hi All,
Happy 4th of July to all of us Americans!

I finished a new pattern I call "ISABELLA - A SANTOS CAGE DOLL"

She stands finished about 20 inches tall. The head & torso are 8 inches tall. Her body is all cloth. Her "dress" is sewn into the body pattern. The base/cage is made of wood. She has a simple & sweet face. And, like traditional Santos, instead of a wig, she has a plain fabric hair piece on her head (On wooden Santos, the figure's hair is painted on.)

This is a beginner pattern and very easy to do. And, unlike most of my patterns, the entire body is made of cotton fabrics. (I usually use a knit fabric, like deer suede for my dolls.)

For me, the real fun is embellishing and dressing the finished SANTOS. Here she is, all dressed up like the Saint she is:

I include instructions to make a crown out of lace, trim & paint. Plus, many other instructions & tips for embellishing your doll.

I've added more trim, a veil, a rosary, an embroidered "shawl" from a piece of beaded fabric, an old rhinestone necklace, and two skirts -- one of bridal lace and of one sheer organza with a beaded trim hem.

You can use anything to embellish your Santos with.

Here's another one I've started, using a dark gold colored top (haven't made a cage for her yet.) On this one, I haven't trimmed the neckline so you can see how easy it is to stitch together.

For some, the wooden cage might be a bit tricky to start, but if you use something to hold it up while gluing it together (like a can of spray paint), it's actually very easy. (This is all explained in the directions.)

Santos are popular now and used in home decorating. Modern Santos are usually aged to look vintage. You can age my patterned Santos with some paint or ink, or leave it clean. You can keep it religious looking, and add a crown or veil. Or, turn it into an angel and add wings & a halo. Or, decorate it with vintage & antique items (maybe you have some old jewelry belonging to a past family member?) I think it would make a lovely Christmas display.

Or, do something completely different -- what about a "steam-punk Santos"? You're limited only by your imagination.

A brief history: "SANTOS" means "Saint" in Spanish. The SANTOS figure was used in altars and represented different Saints in the Catholic religion. Santos were carved of wood and dates back to the 17th century. Some Santos were made with half a figure on top & a wooden "cage" from the hips down. These cages are frames for fabric skirts. These small figures were made for use in peoples' home altars.

You can find my SANTOS CAGE DOLL pattern here on my website. It costs $10 (payable through PayPal) and it's an e-pattern sent to you via email as a PDF for you to download and print.

Have fun (and stay cool)!

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Hi All,
I have converted 2 more patterns to PDF for email delivery.

My "HAROLD, the ANGEL" pattern:


To see these and other E-PATTERNS, go to my pattern page on my website here.

It's 100 degrees here in Albuquerque, NM. I hope you are all staying cool! Have fun!

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Hi All,
I'm in Albuquerque, NM, where we have are Fiber Art Fiesta. We have this textile show only every other year. I made a few dolls to sell, and they have all sold! (Thanks to my friend, Pamela Armas.)

Here's my tribute to Adnan Karabay, a doll artist who's dolls were popular in the 1980's & 90's (unfortunately died in 1998). He liked to use animal skulls and antique fabrics in his historical costumes.

I call her "Elegant Beast":

I used a real bird skull (I'm not sure what type of bird it was, -- sorry). The body is cloth, which I painted a pale gold to match the painted skull. I added some clay & animal eyes to the skull to fill it in a bit.

The headdress is an antique jet beaded medallion I have embroidered with more jewels. I wired the whole thing to get it in this shape and added some lace, flowers, and feathers, too.

There's also some antique jet embroidered trim on the edge of the dress (hard to see in the photograph).

Also made some more 18th century busts of two ladies going to a masked ball.
Here is "Lady Peacock":

And, her companion, "Madame Butterfly":

 Have fun!

Monday, May 8, 2017


Hi All,
Well, this doll took me 1-1/2 years to finish! (on and off) I stopped on it so many times (mostly because of work schedules) that when I started back on it 2 months ago, I swore I would finish it this time.

I am proud of the work I did on her. I haven't done a big "show piece" in such a long time. Mostly, it's because a doll like this takes so much time, that it becomes cost prohibitive and usually doesn't sell..
(I apologize for the photos -- all the white is so hard to photograph without light bouncing off of it!)

Anyway, here's the details about the Toy Theater Doll:

The face is a mask, sculpted of paper-clay ("Das") and glued to a blank cloth head. The features are painted on with acrylic paint. The body, arms, & hands are cloth. The toy theater is made out of wood. She stands 21 inches high.

The two figures- "actors" in the theater are all cloth. The man's mandolin is paper mache. Both masks are of paper clay.

The dolls' costume is made of rich red velvet, trimmed with gold braid & fringe, with red/green satin jacquard sleeves. She holds open her velvet skirt, which become the "theater curtains" to reveal the toy theater under her.

Her hat is made of green crushed velvet, trimmed in more braid with a red jeweled accent. The collar and cuff "ruffs" are made of white ribbon. Her hair is Tibetan lamb.

Here are some work-in-progress photos:
First, I started with the theater. I used a wooden box (bought at Michael's) glued to a base, which was a wood lid from another box. Wood molding and appliques were added.

I painted the whole theater in gold & black. (I added some red & gold "wings" to the theater, also of molding pieces). I found some artwork online and printed it out on card stock for the backdrop. The finished theater measures about 12" x 10".

Next, I added the doll torso (ends at the hips) to the top of the theater. I also added cloth padding (in black) to extend from her hips to the edge of the theater, so her skirt would hang more natural.


Now, I add the costume. First, the small satin print underskirt- which becomes the top "teaser" curtain to the theater, then the large skirt/curtains. I finish the whole costume, adding lots of trim.

Now for the head. I used a press mold for the face mask. The mold is my own. I sculpted the original out of polymer clay, and made a negative mold of that. I've used this mold on several dolls already.
(she looks a terrible with her bald head!!) You can barely make out the fade line on her jaw. That's were the clay mask ends, and the cloth head begins. I have to do a lot of sanding to get that smooth! I've glued on the Tibetan skin for her wig. (Sorry, no photo of the hat making.)

The last thing I did was make the 2 little doll actors for the inside of the theater. First, I was going to sculpt them of polymer or paper clay, but they are so tiny!-- only 5 inches tall (and, I'm not so good at sculpting little things.) This couple took me about 3 weeks to make! (It would have been so much longer if I had sculpted them....) I pick blue & white for their costume, so they would stand out from all the red. They have metal rods that come out their feet. I drilled holes in the stage where they are to stand, and glued them in.

Hope you enjoyed! Have fun.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Hi All,
Just a quick note to let you know I will be teaching a mixed media face drawing class, titled "Whimsical Faces" in Albuquerque. This is not a "realistic" face drawing class. We'll learn how to draw the type of folk-art, fun,"sketchy" faces used in art journaling. We will be mixing a number of coloring mediums to draw our faces: acrylic paint, markers, chalk, & colored pencils, all on a canvas board covered in printed paper.

It's Saturday, May 6th, from 2 to 6pm. Cost is $30
It will be at the NEW TRICKS  Art Workshops, 1751 Bellamah NW in Albuquerque, NM. 
Their site is HERE

More information is on my website (www.arleyberryhill.com) If you're interested in taking the class, or have questions, email me at: arleyberryhill@hotmail.com

Friday, March 24, 2017


Hi All,
Well, it's taken me a very long time, but I finally got my "La Femme" pattern converted to a digital download E-Pattern!

I've been (slowly) converting all my patterns to PDF so I could sell them as e-patterns. All of my new patterns I'm designing are now in PDF form. Converting the latest patterns were pretty easy, but about 4 or 5 of my old ones were lost on my computer, and all I have are the original paper copies.

You see, about 10 years ago, my computer crashed. This was the first time that had ever happened to me. I didn't understand the warning signs. Back then, I wasn't very computer-literate. I wasn't the computer-savvy-techno-geek I am today! (No, not really)

I remember taking my computer in to Best Buys and asking the kid behind the counter to please "fix it". I was informed that, not only couldn't it be fixed, but everything on my computer was gone.

--- Gone?? I stood in a daze, staring into space, trying to think of all the files I had on my computer. The patterns, the photos, the notes -- all gone. (This was before I had even heard of "back up"). Boy, did I learn an expensive lesson.

Anyway, at least I had all my original patterns on paper. (I was mailing patterns in paper form, so this wasn't a problem.) But, to convert them into a PDF meant I had to completely re-type the entire pattern, download all the original illustrations, and put it all back together again. (It really only took me about two solid weeks of typing, scanning, copy & pasting.)

But  the task just seemed so daunting, the idea of all that work stopped me from even starting.

Well, nothing motivates me like money (or lack of). I've been out of work for the past few months, expecting to return to my summer job in Santa Fe. But, that fell through, so I needed to get busy doing something!

Re-doing the pattern gave me the chance to fix a few minor corrections, and do a couple of things differently -- after all, I've learned a lot of doll making techniques since I originally wrote that back in 2004 (OMG! that was 13 years ago!!)

Plus, I finally got to change the title to "La Femme" (instead of the original "Le Femme"--it means "The Woman" in French)

As many, many people have told me over the past 13 years, in the French language, "Le" is masculine, and "La" is feminine. (I swear I typed it into a translator program, and it read "Le Femme"!) And, I couldn't just change the title, as the name was written in the instructions about 30 times, and it was on ever pattern piece.)

"La Femme" was my first doll pattern I designed. (The "Gypsy Wagon" was my first pattern, ever.) I created her out of simple frustration -- I couldn't find a basic female doll pattern that had the head, body, feet, and breasts that I was looking for. I wanted something a bit more sophisticated than what I was able to find at the time. So, that's how "La Femme" was born.

So, along with converting my old patterns, I'm still creating new patterns (again, very slowly). And, making more and more dolls!

If you are looking for a new female body pattern, and you have intermediate-to-advance doll making skills (she not for beginners), please check out the pattern on  my website here. I've also created three costume patterns that fit her. (Sorry, the costume patterns are still in paper form, --but I promise I will convert them next!!)

Have fun!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Hi All,
I made a new Day of the Dead bust (never too early to start the season!) I'm really enjoying doing these bust dolls. And, my customers like them. I think that's because they are small (only 6" tall), and doll collectors are always telling me they have no room for large dolls. (She'd be shorter if I used a smaller candlestick.)

I don't have a name for her. I titled her "Day of the Dead" -- (I know, not very original). She's on her way to Denver now, at the Rocky Mountain Sew expo.

This is the first "Day of the Dead/Catrina" doll I've done where I did a painted a "sugar skull" design over a human face, --instead of a skeleton head. I think this face has a lot more character than a basic skull.

I was really inspired by the "Marie" bust class I took with Sharon Mitchell. Since then, I've made my own bust pattern, by modifying my basic candlestick pattern. I've been tinkering with it, and I think it's about done.

All the face coloring is done with gel pens and "Tombow" brush-tipped markers. Because I use deer suede fabric for my faces, most markers bleed on the knit fabric. Tombow markers are fabric pens, and they don't bleed (much).

I've been experimenting with "straight wool" for hair. I don't make wigs that often, but when I do, I  use mohair. But, mohair is getting harder and harder to find. So, I thought I'd better branch out to see what else there is. I like how easy it is to needle felt it into the head. And, you don't have to sew it into a "weft" first. (You can, if you want.) It comes in one long piece (about 3" to 6" wide, depending on how thin you want). I sort-of wrap and sculpt it over the head, (like a turban) and glue/needle felt it down. --But, it is straight, so no hair designs with curly locks (like mohair). I'm finding it in mostly pastel colors, but I'm looking for some brighter/stronger colors.

Have fun!