Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Hi All,
Just a quick note to let you know I will be teaching a mixed media face drawing class, titled "Whimsical Faces" in Albuquerque. This is not a "realistic" face drawing class. We'll learn how to draw the type of folk-art, fun,"sketchy" faces used in art journaling. We will be mixing a number of coloring mediums to draw our faces: acrylic paint, markers, chalk, & colored pencils, all on a canvas board covered in printed paper.

It's Saturday, May 6th, from 2 to 6pm. Cost is $30
It will be at the NEW TRICKS  Art Workshops, 1751 Bellamah NW in Albuquerque, NM. 
Their site is HERE

More information is on my website (www.arleyberryhill.com) If you're interested in taking the class, or have questions, email me at: arleyberryhill@hotmail.com

Friday, March 24, 2017


Hi All,
Well, it's taken me a very long time, but I finally got my "La Femme" pattern converted to a digital download E-Pattern!

I've been (slowly) converting all my patterns to PDF so I could sell them as e-patterns. All of my new patterns I'm designing are now in PDF form. Converting the latest patterns were pretty easy, but about 4 or 5 of my old ones were lost on my computer, and all I have are the original paper copies.

You see, about 10 years ago, my computer crashed. This was the first time that had ever happened to me. I didn't understand the warning signs. Back then, I wasn't very computer-literate. I wasn't the computer-savvy-techno-geek I am today! (No, not really)

I remember taking my computer in to Best Buys and asking the kid behind the counter to please "fix it". I was informed that, not only couldn't it be fixed, but everything on my computer was gone.

--- Gone?? I stood in a daze, staring into space, trying to think of all the files I had on my computer. The patterns, the photos, the notes -- all gone. (This was before I had even heard of "back up"). Boy, did I learn an expensive lesson.

Anyway, at least I had all my original patterns on paper. (I was mailing patterns in paper form, so this wasn't a problem.) But, to convert them into a PDF meant I had to completely re-type the entire pattern, download all the original illustrations, and put it all back together again. (It really only took me about two solid weeks of typing, scanning, copy & pasting.)

But  the task just seemed so daunting, the idea of all that work stopped me from even starting.

Well, nothing motivates me like money (or lack of). I've been out of work for the past few months, expecting to return to my summer job in Santa Fe. But, that fell through, so I needed to get busy doing something!

Re-doing the pattern gave me the chance to fix a few minor corrections, and do a couple of things differently -- after all, I've learned a lot of doll making techniques since I originally wrote that back in 2004 (OMG! that was 13 years ago!!)

Plus, I finally got to change the title to "La Femme" (instead of the original "Le Femme"--it means "The Woman" in French)

As many, many people have told me over the past 13 years, in the French language, "Le" is masculine, and "La" is feminine. (I swear I typed it into a translator program, and it read "Le Femme"!) And, I couldn't just change the title, as the name was written in the instructions about 30 times, and it was on ever pattern piece.)

"La Femme" was my first doll pattern I designed. (The "Gypsy Wagon" was my first pattern, ever.) I created her out of simple frustration -- I couldn't find a basic female doll pattern that had the head, body, feet, and breasts that I was looking for. I wanted something a bit more sophisticated than what I was able to find at the time. So, that's how "La Femme" was born.

So, along with converting my old patterns, I'm still creating new patterns (again, very slowly). And, making more and more dolls!

If you are looking for a new female body pattern, and you have intermediate-to-advance doll making skills (she not for beginners), please check out the pattern on  my website here. I've also created three costume patterns that fit her. (Sorry, the costume patterns are still in paper form, --but I promise I will convert them next!!)

Have fun!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Hi All,
I made a new Day of the Dead bust (never too early to start the season!) I'm really enjoying doing these bust dolls. And, my customers like them. I think that's because they are small (only 6" tall), and doll collectors are always telling me they have no room for large dolls. (She'd be shorter if I used a smaller candlestick.)

I don't have a name for her. I titled her "Day of the Dead" -- (I know, not very original). She's on her way to Denver now, at the Rocky Mountain Sew expo.

This is the first "Day of the Dead/Catrina" doll I've done where I did a painted a "sugar skull" design over a human face, --instead of a skeleton head. I think this face has a lot more character than a basic skull.

I was really inspired by the "Marie" bust class I took with Sharon Mitchell. Since then, I've made my own bust pattern, by modifying my basic candlestick pattern. I've been tinkering with it, and I think it's about done.

All the face coloring is done with gel pens and "Tombow" brush-tipped markers. Because I use deer suede fabric for my faces, most markers bleed on the knit fabric. Tombow markers are fabric pens, and they don't bleed (much).

I've been experimenting with "straight wool" for hair. I don't make wigs that often, but when I do, I  use mohair. But, mohair is getting harder and harder to find. So, I thought I'd better branch out to see what else there is. I like how easy it is to needle felt it into the head. And, you don't have to sew it into a "weft" first. (You can, if you want.) It comes in one long piece (about 3" to 6" wide, depending on how thin you want). I sort-of wrap and sculpt it over the head, (like a turban) and glue/needle felt it down. --But, it is straight, so no hair designs with curly locks (like mohair). I'm finding it in mostly pastel colors, but I'm looking for some brighter/stronger colors.

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Hi All,
Here's a new candlestick doll, titled: "The VOODOO QUEEN of NEW ORLEANS--MARIE LAVEAU".

I knew very little about Marie Laveau, but after watching "American Horror Story- the Coven", with the fabulous Angela Basset giving an over-the-top performance of Mistress Laveau, I became curious and started doing some research on her.
Angela Basset as Marie Laveau in "The Coven"

Technically, Marie wasn't a "witch". And, she wasn't "dark" (well, mostly). But, she was know to cast some evil spells with her voodoo (or, so people thought-- nothing based in fact survives to tell if Marie's voodoo actually worked).

Marie Laveau was born a free woman of color around 1800 in Louisiana. (Her actual birth date is unknown). She was classified as "mulatto", as her parents were of French, African, & Native American origin. Marie was raised catholic, and continued to be a devout catholic all her life, even though she practiced the art of Voodoo. She was described as a "striking woman with sharp features, curly black hair, & black eyes". She also had a flair for the dramatics.  She was known to have a pet snake named "Zombie", after an African god.

She was a hairdresser by trade, catering to the rich white woman of New Orleans. She officially became the "Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" around 1820.

Marie organized large voodoo rituals that were quite dramatic, including brewing concoctions of animal parts, ritual readings, dancing to tribal drums, and sexual orgies. All this "forbidden decadence" stirred up interest in the white population. So, Marie started charging admission for the white folk to watch. It became fashionable for the white upper class to go to her for readings. As her popularity increased, politicians would pay her as much as $1,000 to help them win elections.

These are portraits of Marie Laveau found on Google. I do not know if these were painted while she was alive, or after her death. As you can see, there are many discrepancies over how she looked, even her skin color!:

I made sure to include the 2 things the paintings had in common - the turban & the shawl. I fashioned my Marie doll mostly from the last portrait (with the rooster). I liked that she is holding a red "potion pouch", so I included that:

Here's a close up of her jewelry:

I wanted to add as many voodoo-related items as I could. Here are little voodoo dolls I made, strung together with beads, skulls & coins to make the hanging beaded fringe:

Marie held her title of "Voodoo Queen" until she retired in 1850. Her daughter, also named Marie Laveau (Marie-II), took over the title until her death in 1890. It's reported she looked very much like her mother- same eyes & features. So much so, that many people didn't realize it was her daughter, and assumed Marie-I was still practicing voodoo.

Marie-I died in 1880. Here tomb is in the New Orleans cemetery, where it is richly decorated yearly by her many fans.

Beyond the basic facts, not much is know for certain of Marie Laveau. (Even some of those facts are flimsy, as record-keeping was rather casual in the 1800's for people of color.) Over the years, stories of Marie became legendary. And, like most legends, truth and fiction overlapped. It's also hard to separate which Marie is referred to in these stories, as the two Maries became one woman in the re-telling of her tales.

What is known about Marie Laveau is she was a strong & independent woman of color who earned the respect (and sometimes fear) of an entire city,

This is the only photograph credited to Marie that I could find (or, it might be her daughter, Marie-II)
Have fun until next time!

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!