Saturday, December 13, 2014


Hi All,
I put the dolls aside long enough to make some Christmas presents. This is an art journal I made for a friend of mine. She loves PINK! So, I bought a small art journal, and made a fabric cover for it. On the front, I collaged some pink fabrics, then went over it all with free motion embroidery with my sewing machine and rayon & metallic thread. Then, I embroidered beads, jewels, and sequins over that.

On the back, I made an ink pen/marker holder.

 Have fun!

Friday, November 28, 2014


Hi All,
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!

I've been busy working on lots of ghosts dolls. I call them the "Dearly Departed".

Here's what my work table looks like:
Most of them are candlestick dolls. But, I am trying something new, so I made 2 "wall dolls" that would hang on a wall:

I'll post the candlestick ghost when they are all done.
Have fun!

Friday, October 31, 2014


Hi All,
I get a pretty good crowd of trick-or-treat-ers in my neighborhood. The doorbell rings regularly between 7 and 9pm. So, I like to decorate my front yard and porch for their amusement. Now, I don't get crazy with the decorations, but I do more than any other house on my street.

Here I am, dressed as a "grave-digger-ghoul-all-around-creepy-guy". This is what I wear to answer the door. (I always have "red-eye" in photographs, but I thought it was appropriate for this picture.)



See the little flying demons fluttering around the doorway? There a bit small. I think next year they'll be crawling around the pumpkins.

Here's a shot at night. Took more, but they didn't turn out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Hi All,
Getting my yard ready for Halloween. I got this idea from the Internet. I wanted to make some little "flying demons" from those $1 Store skeletons. I've seen photos of something like this people have made with feather wings, but I wanted to make some bat wings.

I ended up making 5 of them in an afternoon. The wings were easy -- just some floral wire, tissue paper, glue, and some paint. I burnt the edges with a candle flame. They are hot-glued to the spine and shoulders.

And, I gave them a little tail with some twine. The horns are made from shaping Hot-Glue with my wet fingers. A little dot of red glitter glue for the eyes, and they're ready to fly!

 My plan is to hang them around my front door.

I'll post some more photos of my Halloween decorations in my next post.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Hi All,
I'm back from teaching in Chicago for the Windy City doll convention. Nancy Gawron put the whole thing together and did a wonderful job. This was the first convention in Chicago, and the first convention Nancy had ever put together. It was a small crowd, but everyone had a great time.

Here are some classroom shots from my "Evil Queen" candlestick doll class. I had nine students -- all with different skill levels. Some were beginners and this would be there first or second doll they have made, and some were seasoned doll-makers who had been making dolls for many years.

And, here are the finished (or almost finished) dolls.
(I appologize for quality of the photographs. Some came out a bit fuzzy.)

I think everyone did a great job! Especially the beginners!

Monday, October 13, 2014


Hi All,
 Just got back from teaching in Chicago. I'll post pictures on the next blog.

Here are the finished heads I was working on:

Monday, October 6, 2014


Hi All,
I've been working on some witch heads (and a troll) to take to the Windy City Doll Conference this weekend in Chicago. Here they are in various steps of painting & sculpting:

That's all for now! Back to work......

Monday, September 8, 2014


Hi All,
At last, Halloween season has started! All the stores are stocking their Halloween merchandise. And, all the Halloween craft shows are starting.

Here's a little 8 x 10 canvas I made up to celebrate!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Hi All,
Sorry about not blogging for a while -- you know, job, life, all that jazz.

Anyway, I've just finished another doll: The "Raven Witch"


There's a story behind this character. It all started with the fabric. My friend, Pamela Armas (who owns the Treasures of the Gypsy fabric store) had this small piece of fabric -15" x 30"-  made for her in India. It's the basic collage of vintage embroider sari fabric cut up and pieced together the Indians do so well.
What is unusual about this piece is the fabric was over-dyed BLACK. So, the greens, reds, and golds of the fabric were all toned down in various shades of brown, rust, and black. Pamela gave me the fabric piece and asked me if I could "make something wonderful" from it.
That was 2-1/2 years ago.
I had it hanging on the wall in my kitchen, waiting for inspiration to hit. I've been playing with an idea of a tall, thin character --- and that's as far as I got.
Well, Pamela has been working on her new Gallery/Art Studio, which is called the "Gypsy Raven Studio". And, it opens this week. So, last month I got working on this character for the grand opening to give to her as a present. It wasn't until the "raven" theme was introduced that the concept became CLEAR..... a Raven Witch (Pamela loves both ravens and witches).
She's rather menacing, with her skull & winged headdress, and her raven-claw hands.
Here, you can see her "tail", which is a wonderful ribbon embroidered black satin. You can also see more clearly the raven skull on her head.
She's a stump doll, 24" tall. Her head and hands are painted doe-suede fabric, and the whole body is stuffed fabric.

Have fun! -- Arley

Monday, July 7, 2014


Hi All,
Well, she's finished - the last Evil Queen for my "Candlestick Doll" class in October (here) in Chicago.

She's modeled after the Evil Queen in Snow White, (but, with a different crown, she very well could be the Evil Queen of Hearts as well).

As you can see, I spent a little more time embellishing her. I wanted to show the students how far you can go with this character. On this Queen, I glued on eyelashes and gave her a slightly open mouth -- a kinda "sneering" expression. (I referenced Gloria Swansons' character from "Sunset Boulevard" for the face and the fingers!)
Plus, really  went to town on the jewelry.

With this class, everyone starts off with the basic torso, arm, and hands. Then, you get lots of options for the costume. There are different headdresses and sleeves. Plus, you have the option of adding the corset, collar or cape. The focus in class will be on costume design, embellishment, needle-sculpting, and coloring the face.

I hope you enjoyed this series, and the step-by-steps photos of the other queen. I hope to see some of you in Chicago for the class!

Here are all three Evil characters with the different options. (Of course, you can mix and match to make your own Evil character). Enjoy!--


Monday, June 16, 2014


Hi All,
Well, if you've been reading, you will know I'm currently OBSESSED with the movie "MALEFICENT". Recently, I've done some research on the costumes she wears.

Maleficent has a total of 9 costume changes in the movie. There was a core group of people involved in designing her look, called "Team Maleficent". Angelina (who also produced the film) hand picked the artist to collaborate on how she will look. There was Rob Goodwine, who's responsibilities included shoes & accessories, Manuel Albarren who built Maleficent's collars and jewelry, and Justin Smith who was responsible for all of Jolie's headgear.

Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard headed the team, overseeing all of her costumes.

And, famous special effects make-up artist Rick Baker designed her prosthetic cheeks, ears, and nose. Plus, a set of sharp molars. And, he designed the horns, made of light-weight resin, which were attached with magnets (so the horns could come off between takes). Baker also designed her contact lens, which were hand-painted in iridescent colors.

"Team Maleficent" met with Jolie for many days before shooting, discussing designs, looking at samples, and doing fittings.

Angelina describes Maleficent's look as "Savage Elegance".

The first time we see grown-up Maleficent (played by Angelina Jolie) is as a fairy in her forest, (complete with wings). Designer Sheppard used hand-dyed silks in natural shades of brown.


For the famous "Christening" scene, we see Maleficent as the evil fairy, after having her wings (and her heart), torn off by her true love (who is now the king, and Aurora's father).

It was this look that resembled the iconic cartoon costume. It was made of hand pleated China silk, with large "bat wing" sleeves.

--Notice the cool STAFF she carries (the stone is the same colors as her eyes!).

She also sports many rings with her costumes. Since the character is burned by metal, all her jewelry was made of wood, stone, or bone. Here's one made of a bird skull:
Along with her rings, Maleficent wears several accessories and collars, made of an assortment of materials, including fur, feathers, shells, animal bones, and teeth. 


But, for me, the most interesting part of Maleficent's costume were her headdresses. (Later in the movie, we find out they are her "crowns"). She wears 7 different wrapped and pleated headdresses. Again, only using organic materials, they were made from leather, ostrich skin, cobra, python, and sting-ray!


Here's a sample board of some of the materials:

In the final scenes of the climax, we see Maleficent reunited with her wings (saved by the king in a locked cabinet), stripped away from her heavy cloaks and ready to fight! She wears a leather jumpsuit adorned with feathers, and high-heel boots:
Well, thanks for indulging me.

Next, my final "Evil Queen" doll.