Monday, March 30, 2020


Hi All,
I made a new "hag" witch: Baba Yaga. She is an all-cloth stump doll about 16 inches tall. I will be sending her to Roger's Garden at the end of summer for their Halloween show.

Baba Yaga is a character from very old Russian (and Romanian) folk stories. She dates back to the 12th century, (and is still popular today). ----She was the first "Halloween" witch!

In olden times, Russian parents would tell their children, "Don't stay out after dark, or Baba Yaga will catch you". She was the American version of our "Boogie Man".

As I'm American, and was never told these stories as a child, I didn't know about Baba Yaga until recently. It turns out, I had seen many images of her, but didn't know who she was. So, I did some research on her.

I made her standing over a steaming cauldron, making a potion. She is holding an eyeball (animal? human?) and is about to add it to the pot.

She is wearing a traditional babushka (Russian for "head scarf" ) on her head. Baba Yaga's babushka is usually tied in front, on her forehead, with the end of the ties pointing up -- like devil horns.

Her fingernails are made from a drinking straw. I cut the straw into a thin, long strip. I then painted the strip, cut them to size, and glued them to the tops of the fingers. I painted several coats of matte medium over (and under) the nails to make them as strong as possible.

Also traditional for Baba Yaga are her teeth/fangs. She usually is seen with one or two teeth sticking out from her bottom lip. I made these from a straw as well.

Her vest is made from a sleeve of an old sweater I got at the thrift store ($3). --I find lots of unusual and textured fabrics from clothing at the thrift store. (Very cheap, as well - give it a look.)

The "bones" on her necklace are made from 2-part Apoxie sculpt. After they dried, I strung them with some wooden beads.

I love making "witch belts" (my word for it). It's sort of a utility belt for all the things a witch might need to have at hand. Baba Yaga has a silver amulet (a textured bead with findings), keys (charms), potion bottles (filled with tiny beads), and a crystal ball (a Halloween finding) hanging from her yarn belt.

The "steam" coming off the cauldron is just stuffing (polyester fiber fill). I glued some to the surface of the potion (cotton fabric & stuffing, jammed into the plastic Halloween cauldron). I pulled it up & sprayed it with hair spray so it won't come apart too quickly. There are some more potion bottles next to the cauldron. And, that's a chicken bone (cut in half) she's using as a spoon, sticking out of the pot.

I put some pumpkins at her feet, even though I'm pretty sure that pumpkins, or Halloween, have nothing to do with the Baba Yaga legend. But, since most of my customers are American, I put them in.

I like how she turned out. This is my second "hag" witch, and I really like making them. I think she will be my next pattern.

My first "hag" witch from last year (she just a "hag", not a Baba Yaga):

Have fun, keep your distance, and wash your hands!

Friday, March 13, 2020


Hi All,
In my mixed media/art club, we had a "Black & White" challenge. (This club is for all type of art -- not just dolls.)

I had lots of ideas for a black and white theme, but I kept coming back to "zebra". To me, a ZEBRA print is the epitome of glamour, high camp, and a bold statement. I mean, when you wear zebra, everyone is looking at YOU!

This style of coat is called a "Cocoon" Coat, and is from one of my favorite periods - the "Teens". 1910 to 1918 is the period "My Fair Lady" is done in. Also - "Downton Abby" and "Titanic".

I made a simple stump doll and dressed her in the coat and hat. This is what a lady might wear when going to a fancy ball or the opera -- anywhere she could make a dramatic entrance! She would then drop her coat and continue to walk up (or down) a grand staircase to the evening's event. (Perhaps she might drag her coat behind her while walking very slowly.)

This doll is about 22 inches tall, so I was lucky to find a zebra print in this scale (it also has a small nap to it).

Hats of that period were either very tall, or very wide.

I added the red jewel just to throw off the color scheme a bit.
Enjoy! -AB

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Hi All,
I made an "Apothecary Witch" for the Halloween show at Roger's Garden this fall.

I found an unfinished wooden "boat shelf" at my craft store that was small enough to work with my design. The shelf unit is about 16 inches tall, which makes the doll about 28 inches to the top of her hat. The "boat" shape works well with this design because it tapers to a point at the top, making it perfect for the bottom half of a body.

Making the witch upper body was simple. The challenge for me was finding/making all the books, potion bottles, scrolls, and small props to fit into the shelves.

Because there was a large triangle of space at the top of the shelf, I hung a birdcage (with a small black bird) in the center to fill the empty space.

Here are some close-ups of the other shelves:

Enjoy! AB

Wednesday, January 22, 2020


Hi All,
I finished another Mad Hatter doll for a customer. The client didn't want the darker costume of the one I did for Roger's Gardens, but instead liked the more colorful costume I drew in my original sketch.
This Hatter is not as large as the first one -- this guy measures 30 inches (including his hat).
Also, he's more friendlier, and not so "dark" as the original.
He's being shipped to his new home in California.

Here are some work-in-progress photos:

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 20, 2019


Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Here's an old doll I made from the early 2000's. It's "Mary Christmas!"

She's the Hostess with the Most-ess for the Holidays!

I got the idea for this doll from a drag queen I saw when I lived in New York. (That queen was a hoot! -- So funny.)

This was one of the first cloth dolls I made. I think the design of the doll is good, but the technique is a bit amateur. I was still learning how to needle-sculpt. I was also learning how to color cloth. Because my previous doll making experience was sculpting with clay, I painted the cloth like I did  clay -- with acrylic paint. So, I painted the entire cloth doll with acrylics. (Not a bad technique, but I think letting the cloth show though is a better way.)

I styled her hair like the top of a Christmas tree, complete with a star on top --which I got by doing the bee-hive hair-do like "Patsy Stone" from the British sit-com "Ab-Fab" (that show was very popular at the time).

I used red & green printed cotton for her bodice, and completely embroidered it with sequins, beads, and rhinestones. Her tiered skirt is also reminiscent of a Christmas tree, made of green netting with swags of beads and dotted with miniature ornaments.

And, to complete her ensemble, she sport red opera gloves and a green feather boa accented with red poinsettia flowers.

-- An "entrance maker" if ever there was one.

Someday, I would like to make her into a pattern.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Hi All,
I've been busy with lots of projects -- none of which are done right now! But, I did finish a project that I started about 5 years ago.

This is my "Lucifer Shrine" I started when I signed up for a Michael de Meng (a great assemblage artist!) class long ago. The class was called "Angels", and we were to assemble a shrine or altar after choosing an angel to do. I did a lot of research before the class and spent a lot of time gathering as much "raw material" to make my piece in class. -- Well, my car broke down the day before the class, and I wasn't able to make it. But, I kept everything I'd gathered in a box. Every so often, I pull out that box and work a little bit on this piece -- adding more and more to the "Lucifer" story.

And, now it's finished!
This is Lucifer, guarding the gates of Hell. In researching Angels, I discovered that Lucifer was first an Angel in Heaven. In fact, he was a very powerful and strong Arch Angel. His angel name was "Samael" (I put his angel name at the bottom of the plaque).

The figure of Lucifer is made from a WWF wrestling action figure, with a rodent skull for a head (I forget what animal the skull was -- maybe a squirrel or mole?) I sculpted the horns from 2-part Apoxie.

Lucifer was known to wear a breastplate of shiny gold metal. It was so bright, it was like a mirror. He could radiate light from within himself and blind his enemies with his breastplate. When he became the guardian of Hell, he lost his angel status and he lost his power to control light. But, he still wears his breastplate, which has become burnt and scorched over the years.

One power Lucifer still has, is the power to control fire. That is why he is holding a flame in his hand and is surrounded by flames.

In his other hand, Lucifer is holding the key to the gates of Hell. He is also wrapped in chains, from when he was captured by Arch Angel Michael when Samael went to war against God. Michael captured Samael and delivered him to hell (as the story goes, according to Bible philosophers.)

The flames are round paint brushes with the handles cut off.

I made the skull at the top from a plastic Halloween skull. I filled in the eye holes with Apoxie, and glued a glass doll eye in the center and sculpted a lid over that. The horns are the tails of some plastic sea horses I got at the Dollar Store. (LOVE the Dollar Store!)

The urns holding flames are also from the Dollar Store -- they were little gold trophies that I cut the handles off of. Those things holding the urns of fire up are drawer handles from the hardware store. (I re-bent them.)

Lucifer's wings are made of a lot of little pieces of wood dowels, sharpened with a pencil sharpener and glued to a backing of cardboard I cut out in a basic wing shape. On top of the wooden dowels, I  added some nails and screws. I wanted his wings to look like weapons that could hurt you.

The actual gate Lucifer is standing in front of may look odd. That's because it's made of tiny little  people. They were those toy plastic army men (again - Dollar Store!). I cut off the base they were standing on and zapped them with a heat gun. Then, I just started hot-gluing them together until I had a gate. ---So, the Gates of Hell are made of the bodies of damned souls.

I hope you liked my little project. Every now and then I take a break from doll-making and do something else. It brushes off the cobwebs, right??

Have fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Hi All
Halloween is fast approaching! Are you ready? I just finished 2 more Zombie dolls, made from thrift store porcelain dolls.

This little lovely was at the Goodwill store with a price of about $6. I notice it had a small crack on the back of the neck, but that didn't matter to me. When I took it up to the register to pay, the manager looked at the crack and said she couldn't charge me the full price and said I could have it for 50 cents! What a deal!

When I got it home and pulled off  her wig, I saw the crack extended to the side of the head and around the ear, and was splintered into several pieces. -- No problem! I'll just glue it back together. These dolls have a hole in the top of their heads to glue the eyes in, so I could get into the inside of the head, no problem. 

I pulled the pieces apart and laid them out on the table. I used super glue and started gluing each piece and putting them back in place. But, the pieces didn't want to stay in place long enough for the glue to dry. So, I tried taping the pieces in place to hold them, but that didn't work. Next, I used hot glue inside the head to support the cracks while the glue dried. But, the hole at the top of the head wasn't big enough to get the glue gun inside the head!

My solution: Use the hot glue on the outside of the head. And, now I had a new texture for my doll, and was able to glue the cracked pieces back together again!

I continued to drizzled the hot glue all over the head, hands, and feet. I liked the effect so much, I decided I didn't want her to have a wig, so I put the little styofoam form that was covering the hole at the top of the head back on and cover it with more hot glue. (I had to add a little wall patch to even out the gap). I even added some blobs of glue here and there -- sort of like sores.

I sprayed a few coats gray primer over all the pieces (hot glue is very hard to cover with acrylic paint). I taped over the eyes with masking tape.

Then I started rubbing white, yellow, and green acrylics over the top edges to highlight the texture. I also added a touch of red and orange here and there.

To make her look even more creepy, I painted out her eyes with white acrylic.

I cut up her dress, leaving all the edges raw, and dyed it red. Her dress was mostly cotton, so it took the dye pretty well, and the process roughed up the edges, so I didn't have to do much else to it. 

And, just for a touch of sweetness, I glued a bow to her head.

This is another Zombie I made real quickly. She was a bride.

 I didn't want to spend a lot of time on her. so I just painted her green and shaded around her eyes. 

I dyed her dress black, but because it was 100% polyester, it came out a pale gray color. So, I dripped fabric ink all over ("Dye-n-flo" by Jaquard) in black, blue, and purple and spritzed it with water. I distressed her wig and glued it back on.

 Happy Halloween!