Friday, February 10, 2017


Hi All,
Just a short post today. I wanted to show you 2 new Candlestick Diva Dolls I made a month ago, and were already sold!

For some reason, they both have horned headdresses -- not planned. (Could make a rude joke here, but will resist the urge.....)

When making these Candlestick dolls, I don't do a lot of planning. It just comes down to fabric & colors I like. It's truly spontaneous and improvised. About half way through, I jot down a little sketch, but mostly it's experimenting with the fabrics & trims.

Here's "Circus Diva" all in red.
(That's a plastic Christmas ornament in her hand.)

And, here's "Golden Idol Diva". I used Indian fabric & trim, and a lot of little metal filigree pieces I had left over from when I made jewelry for Broadway shows. (Doesn't she remind you of some character from "Star Wars"??)

That's all for now. I'm working on another 18th Century lady bust. Stayed tuned.

Have fun!

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Hi All,
Well, I made another belly dancer doll. I just love making belly dancer costumes! They are so fun to make! It's all the embellishment that I just love doing.

Anyway, It all started when I wanted to make a doll, but didn't want to start from scratch. I have so many unfinished dolls, that my new goal is to finish some of them to sell. So, I looked for a doll to finish (most are from classes that I've used as a teaching example to demonstrate on). I found a half-made Opera Singer doll I used when I taught that class in England 2 years ago. All I needed was to make a new costume for her, and re-do the face.

Then, I got the idea of make a fat dancer after looking at some Pinterest sites (I love trolling through Pinterest, looking for inspiration.) I came across this photo:
Don't  you just love her? And, look at the socks/stockings! She kills me!

So, I started to turn my Opera Singer doll into a dancer. First, I needed to put her in a "dance" pose. This became much harder than I thought it would. Because her legs were made "in one" with her body, there weren't any joints to move. I ended up cutting into the body to remove some stuffing to get her legs to move front and back, and to take a tuck at her waist so her hip would go up.

I wanted this girl to be shaking it!

Next, I got her armature set into a wooden base, so she would stand up. (I would have loved to make her belly bigger, but this body was originally designed to stand up straight, and be covered from neck to hem in a costume.) But, she does have wide hips & big breasts!

 So,-- on to the costume. I decided to use orange/gold as the main color, with a magenta accent. Of course I have to drag out all my fabrics to pick the right ones. What a beautiful mess I make!

 Like always, I start with the hem, and work my way up the body. I get the skirt and belt done first.

I already had the arms, so that was easy. I just had to position them in a "dancer" way.

Now for the top:

By this time, I knew the original Opera Singer head wasn't going to work -- she was patterned with her mouth wide open, singing/shrieking a high note. So, I made a new head (slightly smaller) with a closed mouth. I gave her a big smile, and "smiling" eyes. (Smiling eyes are narrow, with a prominent lower eye-lid.)

Next came the turban headdress. I also gave her a little metal crown, and some flowers (traditional for a fusion-style belly dancer). And, lots and lots of jewelry and ornaments.

And, here she is:

I gave her the name, "DANCE LIKE NO ONE'S WATCHING"

I hope you enjoyed seeing my process. 

Right now, she is on her way to the "Road To California" quilt show in Upland, CA. Pamela is selling her at the "Treasures of the Gypsy" booth.

Have fun!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Hi All,
Join me this January to make a MINI-BOOK PENDANT you can wear around your neck.

This little book measures 2-1/2" x 3". We start by ripping craft paper to make 3 signatures of pages & stitch them together. Next, we decorate our leather covers with odd bits of metal, beads, and stamping. Then, we put the whole thing together, and finish with bits of chain and charms to hang from the book!
FROM 10 to 4 (with an hour break)
COST: $50
1751 Bellamah NW – Suite 2101,  Albuquerque NM

Please contact me if you're interested (arleyberryhill@hotmail.com)

And, I wanted to share with you a new little fairy I made for my friend for Christmas:

I had so much fun making this little woodland fairy doll. I hand-painted the dolls' skin with watercolor inks (it started out a white body). I "made" all the fabric for the costume using a fiber collage technique with free-motion embroidery. For the sheer pieces (lower skirt, leg & arm pieces) I used "SOLVY" (a water-solvable stabilizer - it looks like plastic film) with scrapes of chiffons, tulle netting, a few yarn fibers, and free-motion embroidery.

I did the wings pretty much the same way. All the veins on the wings are satin stitched, with the 3 main veins wired with more satin stitching. I coated all the edges with glitter glue (I just love that stuff!).

Everything (doll & costume) got hand embroidered with beads & sequins, with a small dotting of more glitter.

The hair was a challenge for me. I don't like doing hair much. I used some green mohair I ordered from Canada. At first, I was going to let the hair just hang natural, but saw that it was going to get tangled up with the wings. So, I decided she needed an "up-do". I needled-felted a small cone of wool to the back of the head. Then, I made a weft of mohair and glued it around the hairline. I needle-felted it all up the back, and up the cone. Again, I was just going to let the hair go natural and curl where ever, but it was a mess. (What I don't like about working with hair, is that after a few months, it get tangled and ends up looking like a rat's nest.) So, I broke out the curling iron and hair spray, and styled it in a big curl.

Her color scheme was easy to figure out -- it's my friend's favorite colors! (orange, olive, and brown).

I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Hi All,
I just took an on-line class with Sharon Mitchell (blog here) called "Marie Antoinette Bust". Sharon lives in New Zealand, so I was really excited that she was offering this on-line class (from A for Artistic www,aforartistic.com), as I could never go to her in person.

Sharon is a very talented cloth doll maker, and a master at needle-sculpting,-- so check her out!

This class was three weeks long, but it took me 5 weeks to finish (mostly, because I didn't have the right hair, so I had to order it. Plus, well, Christmas.....)

 Here she is:

And, here are some WIPs:
We started with the head. I've never done this type of needle-sculpting for the eyes before!

Then, we started on the torso. Sharon designed a very bust-y bust! (Sorry, no photo without the costume). We used a wooden dowel that was set into the candlestick with 2-part Apoxie, that went right up into the torso and neck, and on into the head.

After we did the coloring of the face, we attached the head to the torso.

Next, we started on the hair. Sharon gave us a pattern for the base of the hairstyle, that we stitched to the head. Then, I needle-felted a layer of white wool roving to the muslin hair pad.

Here I've needle-felted on the weft of pink wool roving. Sharon had us add a little top-knot, so I put it on the back of her hair. Now, she's all wrapped in cling wrap, so I can spray the hell out of my pink hair. (lots and lots of hairspray!)

After that, I added the hair decor, jewelry, and false eyelashes.

I hope you've enjoyed the photos! Have fun,

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"!!!