Wednesday, October 7, 2020


Hi All!

I've been making some "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) dolls. 

This is a piece I call "Teatro de los Muertos" (Theater of the Dead):

It's a re-make of a doll I made many years ago. This was a commission piece a client requested.

This piece is all cloth, except for the skeleton figures, which are sculpted from paper clay. The sign on her dress reads, "La Guerra entre el Bien y el Mal" ("The War between Good and Evil"), which is the name of the puppet play she is presenting.

The clay skeleton puppets are attached to the base and to the skirt (by a rod) -- the strings are just decorative.

Here's a work-in-progress shot.

And, here are 2 Dia de los Muertos cloth busts. 

I like making these busts -they are so colorful!

As you can see, I liked the floral cloth I used for the dress of the "Theater" piece so much that I used it again for these busts.

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated November 1 & 2. It's a holiday that started in Mexico, but now is celebrated in Central & South America, and some parts of the U.S. It's a 2-day festival celebrating loved ones who have passed on. Privately, people make "offrendas" (a shrine of offerings) to their family members who have died. Publicly, people gather in cemeteries, parks and march in parades to celebrate.  

Because it's comes the day after Halloween, many Americans confuse the holiday, thinking it's a Mexican version of Halloween, and (because of all the skeletons) supposed to be scary. 

Dia de los Muertos is not scary or spooky. Instead of mourning the loss of loved ones, it's a time celebrate their lives. 

Friday, September 18, 2020


 Hi all!

This is a DANCING witch! I call her "HARVEST HOE-DOWN.

She is for sale on my Etsy site (here)  SOLD

She's about 22 inches tall. She's balanced on one leg and glued to a wooden base.

She's decked out in fall colors (I even stitched fall maple leaves to her dress) with a green petticoat and bloomers.

The face is cloth and is needle-sculpted. I used acrylic paint for the eyes and lips, with colored pencils and chalk for shading. Her eyes have eye lashes.

The hat is full of fall foliage, including some small pumpkins!

Making the body was a challenge, as she has to stand on one leg. There's a heavy wire armature inside that goes from the neck down through the standing leg and into the base.

I like how her boots turned out. I patterned the cloth feet in the shape of the shoe, and then covered it in cotton, leather, and spandex.

I'm also listing the VOODOO QUEEN, which I wrote about in a previous post.

Have Fun, and wear a mask -- it won't be forever!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Swamp Witch

Hi All

Here's another Halloween doll,-- a Swamp Witch.  


This doll is about 20 inches tall. She is all cloth, with a stump body. 

(I've made a swamp witch years ago, but that one had a sculpted head made of polymer clay.)

This is my basic "hag" pattern -- a hunch-backed older woman with arthritic hands. I'm working on a published pattern to purchase. It should be ready by the fall. (I'll make an announcement when it's ready.)

The coat is made of many layers of different fibers and fabrics. I used an eyelet fabric as the base, in olive green. Over that is a heavy lace that looks like spider webs (dyed in shades of olive green). Then, a layer of green heavy netting (it's called "Spook Cloth"-- popular at Halloween season). Over that, I layered strips of different gauzes in shades of gray & olive. Plus, I added some textured yarns and "leaf" trim to look like sea weed.

She has an under-dress of metallic green lace and more gauze. I wanted to add a little "sparkle" to her to show that she has magical power.

She wears a shell pendant strung with red coral.

I aged the face with mostly colored pencils and chalk, and a little needle-sculpting.

She holds a staff, made of wire, wrapped with paper and cording. I glued sea shells on it and added some "sea-weed" fiber yarn. The top of her staff holds a small cage that I ended up putting a candle inside (candle not pictured).

Hope you enjoy!

Be safe and wear a mask (it's only for a little while).


Tuesday, July 14, 2020


Hi All,
Here's another "Gypsy Fortune Teller" for Halloween.

She is 18 inches tall, all cloth, and a "stump" doll (no legs).
I used "deer suede" fabric for the head and hands.

When making the costume for these Gypsy dolls, finding the right fabrics (in scale) can be a challenge. I find my local "Goodwill" thrift store has a lot of possibilities for unusual fabrics. There is only one fabric store (JoAnns), and a handful of quilt shops in my town, which is fine for the basics, but not great for finding everything I need. On this doll, the orange print skirt was a woman's jacket, and the magenta & black print chiffon turban was a lady's shirt -- both found at the thrift store.

The face is needle-sculpted, then colored with pastel chalks, colored pencils, acrylic paint, and marking pens.

The fingernails are made of drinking straws. I cut them down to size, paint them, and glue them on the fingers. After they are glued on, I give them a few coats of clear gel medium (both on top and underneath) to seal the paint and get all the edges glued down.

The "crystal ball" is an iridescent plastic Christmas ornament I sprayed with some silver glitter.

She might get a shawl to wear around her shoulders. I have an old red crochet sweater with fringe on the ends (thrift store!) that might work.

Here are some works-in-progress photos, showing how I put the doll together. (Sorry, not a lot of photos.)

Whenever I am working on one of these "old-lady gypsy" dolls, I always think of Maria Ouspenskaya. 

Maria Ouspenskaya (what a great name!) was a Russian character actress in the 1940's. She played the "old gypsy woman" in all the "Wolfman" movies. She was always saying to Lon Chaney, "beware the sign of the were wolf". --She always had lots of jewelry, but she never wore as much make-up as my gypsy dolls do!

Have Fun! -AB

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


Avast ye, me hearties! All hands on deck. Heave ho, weigh anchor, and hoist the mizzen! Any scallywag not pullin' with all ye might will be hanged from the yardarm and keelhauled in the briny deep to meet Davy Jones' locker!

Okay, that's all the "Pirate Speak" I know.

But, really -- when WAS the last time your "timbers" were "shivered"?

Okay, I'll quit.

I made 3 Pirate Captain Busts for my clients at Roger's Garden.

They are all cloth and about 17 inches tall (they have very tall hats!).

I don't usually do male dolls, as I don't have a lot of practice at it. But, I think these turned out pretty good. I really tried to focus on the differences between a female head and a male head -- (rugged) men have a stronger and lower brow bone, a longer nose, a square and stronger jaw, heavy eyebrows, and slightly smaller eyes.

I used "doe suede" fabric for the "skin". I did a more ruddy complexion on these, as I figure Pirates are outside on a ship, in the sun, all day. I even gave them freckles, age spots, and wrinkles. I also did facial hair.

For the hair, I used a fake fur on two of them, and a fur pelt for the dark one (I don't know if it's lamb or goat fur). For eyebrows, I needle-felted mohair onto the face.

I worked as a milliner (hat maker) for many years in costume shops, so making the pirate's felt hats was a lot of fun. (I LOVE putting feathers in all the hats!)

I designed these 3 following what most people believe pirates look like -- a basic "fantasy" pirate from the 18th century. I looked at lots of artwork, and of course, all those Disney "Pirates" movies.

There is not a lot of "body" on the busts - just shoulders and chest (about 3 inches tall), so there isn't a lot of costuming on these. In research, I found that Pirate Captain's wore close to the same as the navel military did in the same period. (I assume they stole their outfits from navy ships they captured, and added whatever they could find in the ports they stopped at.)

I "dirty down" all of the gold and silver braid, trim, and buttons with acrylic paint, alcohol ink, and matte gel. --I don't think of pirates as the "bright and shiny" types.

I hope you are all getting used to this "new normal" life we have right now. Be nice --Wear a mask! (it won't be forever.)

Have fun -- AB