Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Hi All,
No, it's not a new rock group. It's what I call my new "Day of the Dead" sugar skull busts. I made two of them at the same time, so they share some of the same fabrics & materials.

The Dead Sisters:

I've been making "Day of the Dead" dolls for quite a few years now, but recently a friend asked why I wasn't making the faces like the painted sugar skulls -- the way most people make up their faces when celebrating "Dias de los Muertos".

Up to that point, I had been making "dead dolls" to look like a "Catrina" or a basic skull.

For a long time, the sugar skulls were a separate thing from the "Catrina's" dolls that people made. But more recently, I've noticed that the sugar skull (calaveras de azucar) image has become more popular in representing the festival of the dead.

Here's a little background on "sugar skulls": Historically, people made skulls of sugar by pressing sugar and starch into a mold and decorated them with cake icing, foil, & beads. These decorated skulls are displayed on tombstones or use as offerings on alters (offrendas). These offerings celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on. Decorating the skulls made them look more festive and less scary.

People would also paint skulls made of paper-mache or ceramic:

Very quickly, the sugar skull became a graphic image in print, on fabric, embroidered, and even tattoos:

So, instead of making "Day of the Dead" dolls that looked like other "dead dolls", I'm making dolls that look like people made up to look like sugar skulls.

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Hi All,
Yes, another witch doll. This time it's a "birdcage" witch doll.

I call her "Griselda".

She's a bit nasty. She is whipping up a new potion, using a little troll as it's main ingredient. The troll doesn't seem to mind -- he thinks he getting a bath.

Like most of my dolls, Griselda is an all cloth doll (well, "torso" doll). I found this Halloween birdcage at Michael's a few years ago, and it has been waiting for me to be inspired. The thing about doing a "birdcage doll", is you have to put something IN the birdcage to make it relevant.

The little troll dude is also cloth -- made of craft velour. I had fun needle-sculpting his face. (I stuck my hand in the photo so you get a sense of scale.)

Notice the little skull beads and hot glue "drips" I added to the plastic cauldron. After I glued all that on, I sprayed it all over with "texture spray", then painted the whole thing.

Here's where I started: A head & torso with arms and a birdcage.

I start to add clothing to the doll. Most of the fabric was dyed gray or purple (or both). I tried not to use much black in the costume (as black does not photograph well).

I added a short petticoat of netting to smooth out the drop from the doll's waist to the top of the cage. Over that, an underskirt of spider web netting.

More skirts are added. The arms & sleeves are almost done, but I won't attach them until they are finished.

I completed the arms & hand separate from the body, and add them after both are done.

Here, I add the wool vest to tie the whole look together. I wanted her to hold a wand, so I stuck a piece of dowel in her hand until I made the actual wand.

Next, the face.

Add hair and the beginning of the witch hat. Also, made a wand out of Apoxie Sculpt over a bent wire.

Okay, that's all for now.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Hi All,
I've been working on this fiber collage for almost a year - squeezing in a few hours every so often between paying jobs and doll deadlines. It's a large piece - done on a 24" x 24" stretched canvas.  (I don't know if I'll ever do something this big again!)

I call it "Turkish Delight":

I was inspired after looking at some wonderful folk art from Turkish artist. But, as I'm a "fiber person", I couldn't be satisfied with just paint!

Once all the fabric was stitched to the stretched canvas, I had to embellish it as well.

I started with some basic shapes -- just a large circle for the turban, a half oval for the face, and a neck. Even though the entire turban would be covered in fabric, I wanted to block out the basic colors first.

After adding detail to the face (acrylic paint) I had to plan out the layers of fabric, as most pieces overlap the piece next to it. I glued & stitched down rows of trim on the forehead and neck.

From there I added the panels of fabric to make the turban. To add more dimension, some of the panels are backed with felt, while some are backed with quilting batting. I wanted to show the roundness of the turban. 

Most of the trim is machine stitched to the fabric before adding it to the canvas.

I added eyelashes to the face by stitching down fringed cotton to the eyelids.

As you can see in the close-up shots, I added more trim, beads, stones, and appliques to the fabric. I even gave her some spectacular dangly rhinestone earrings. (The piece in the middle of the turban is part of an old choker someone gave me. )

Believe it our not, the only thing I bought for this project was the stretched canvas! Everything else came out of my stash. (I've been building my stash of fabric, beads, trim, and jewelry for 35+ years, so now my job is to USE IT! ---It ain't doing anyone any good sitting in boxes all over the house and garage.)

I wanted to finish it this month, so I can enter it in this year's Fiber Fiesta the local quilt, fiber, and craft guilds do every year here in Albuquerque.

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Hi All,
A customer asked for another "Marie Lavaeu" candlestick doll. And, I was commissioned to make a white mermaid doll.

Here's the "Voodoo Queen from New Orleans":

I followed pretty much the same way I did the first one. I was able to use most of the original fabrics. She's holding her velvet pouch of potions.

Like the first one, I made the little hanging voodoo dolls made out of muslin and stained with gray & brown ink.

Here's the White Mermaid, which hangs on a wall. The customer asked for pearls, so I embroidered all the pearls that would fit on her!

Unfortunately, I'm not a good enough photographer to photograph an all-white doll. The lighting I used turned her hair a dingy yellow! (But, she really has white hair.) I like how the hair defies gravity- like it's floating in water  (very easy to do, I found out, by adding a "hair pad" on top of the head and felting the mohair into it -- and using a lot of hair spray!)

This customer also liked pale blue, and couldn't decide if she wanted it white or sea foam blue. In the end, I made her all white, with pale blue fins.

Have fun! 

Friday, January 26, 2018


Hi All,
I finally got an artist Facebook page published! It's called "Arleys Dolls". I know I'm late coming to the game, but it seems blogs are not as popular as they once were. I will continue writing my blog (I try to post at least once a month) and will also post on Facebook.

Please check it out! https://www.facebook.com/Arleys-Dolls-957715851047879/posts/
I've also added a link to the right side of this page.

Have fun!

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Hi All,
I just finished some dolls that will go to Ontario for the "Road to California" Quilt show that's happening next weekend.

This is one. I call her "The Lady in Black".

She's sort of a "Mad Woman of Chaillot" type character. She's an eccentric old woman who just lives beyond the edge of reality.

She was once a great beauty in her youth, but unfortunately, hasn't aged well. She wears too much make-up and her outfit is from a bygone era.

She is a stump doll, all cloth. Her magnificent hat is embellished with plenty of trim,  rooster feathers, and netting.

She is taking her evening stroll with her walking stick and old-fashioned cigarette holder. She wears a sequin frock and a cut-velvet shawl with beaded fringe around her shoulders. And, she wouldn't go out without all her jewels - rings, bracelets, brooches, and all her glorious beaded necklaces.

Maybe she not just a crazy old lady ---- Maybe she's a crazy old witch! --Like the two slightly dotty Aunties from the movie "Practical Magic" (played by Stockard Channing & Dianne Weist). Love them!

I had a lot of fun doing her face. I haven't done a lot of older characters in cloth, as it's tricky to make wrinkles (on purpose). I found that drawing wrinkles on the face -- (like theatrical old-age make up), works for me.

More to come........

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Hi All,
I hope everyone had a happy holiday!

I've posted another doll for sale on my ETSY SHOP (here). It's another doll from my "Elegant Creature" series. I call this one, "An Afternoon Stroll".

This has a cloth body and arms/hands with a sculpted head and neck of paper clay. It is a stump doll (no legs) and is glued to a wooden stand.

The head is modeled after a bird scull (but, with eyes). She wears a dress in the style from the 18th century made of mustard satin with black lace & sequin trim. The underskirt is made of a patterned sequin fabric laid over more mustard satin and trimmed in lace ruffles.

I got the idea for the colors of this dress from the movie "Dangerous Liaisons" starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich (a fav of mine-- love the costumes!). Glenn Close wore a yellow dress & black hat in the scene where she's getting out of a carriage and goes to visit Swoosie Kurtz & Uma Thurman. (Although my dress has more black in it than Glenn's')

The hat is fashioned from a felt & wire base, covered in satin & sequin fabric, trimmed with fabric flowers, feathers, and jewels.

 She wears fingerless gloves made of sequin net and holds an elegant walking stick made of wood.

She is $300, and took me about 3 weeks to make.

Also: I'm starting to add my PDF doll patterns to my ETSY shop as well. As of this writing, I only have one pattern up, but will be adding more every day. So, now you can buy my patterns from my website or my ETSY shop!

Have a happy new year!