Monday, September 18, 2017


Hi All,
Just made a Zombie Doll. I bought a porcelain doll from the thrift store and "zombified" it.

 These are so much fun to make! And, you can do it fast. I made this in 2 days!

I bought this doll for $5. Here's what she looked like when I started:

Isn't she sweet?? (Her hair looked better, but I started distressing her wig before I remembered to take a "before" picture.)

The first step is to strip the doll down to nothing and rip off the wig. 

Next, I painted a base coat of gray acrylic.

Because I wanted to use a crackle medium on the face, I needed to paint the color that would show under the cracks (gray & black).

Now, I have never had much luck with crackle mediums. I've tried several brands, and either they don't work at all, or they have tiny, little cracks. I experimented on the back of the legs and had the same results as before -- not good.

So, I tried Kroma Crackle (which I bought for a Michael DeMing class and never used) Kroma Crackle dries white, so I didn't add any color to it. You have to paint it on real thick.

This is the result I got:

Not exactly cracks -- more like a "lizard/leprosy" texture. But, hey, it works. I went over the whole face with some stains to add more color. When it was all dry, I went over everything with several coats of matte medium.

For her dress, I dipped it in a bath of black and gray dye. After it dried, I tore and shredded the lace. Then, dripped some brown and red stain on it.

I glued the wig back on and hacked it up with scissors. Then, I attacked the synthetic hair with my heat gun.

Now, I have a new zombie doll to add to my Halloween yard.

I'm really having fun altering porcelain dolls. You may remember I made a "Demon Baby" a few years ago:

And, here is a Day of the Dead doll I made at Thomas Ashman's class:

So, for a fast and easy Halloween doll, try altering a porcelain doll from the thrift store!!!

Have fun!

Saturday, August 26, 2017


 Hi All,
The stores are getting their Halloween merchandise in, so the season has officially started! In my area, I'm noticing a lot more "Dias de los Muertos" merchandise than ever before. I guess the big manufacturers are finally catching on to the trend.

(Although, I understand there is some controversy with the Latin community about Americans adopting their holiday and mixing it with Halloween....)

Anyway, I love BOTH holidays! Here is my latest Day of the Dead sugar skull bust:

And, here's something new for me: 

One night, I couldn't sleep and started to play with some polymer clay. (I hardly use polymer and need to practice more.) Anyway, this is  NOT my original idea. I saw these on Pinterest and they made me laugh, so I gave it a try. 

These are my Zombie Candy Corn:

They are about 2-1/2 and 3 inches tall. (I think I did pretty good for just a few hours.)

Have fun!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Hi All,
Just wanted to let you know I finished converting my "Belly Dancer Costume" pattern into a digital e-pattern. (Those of you who follow my blog know I am slowly converting all my old paper patterns into PDF format.)

The Belly Dancer Costume is for my "La Femme" doll pattern (the doll pattern is not included with the Belly Dance costume pattern -- sorry.)

Here's a photo of  "La Femme" doll, posed as a belly dancer:

This is probably my favorite pattern, as I LOVE belly dancers costumes. So much opportunity for embellishing!

To buy my patterns, go to my website (here) and look at the E-PATTERNS page. Just click on the PayPal BUY NOW button. You can pay with your PayPal account, a credit card, or a bank account. After payment, I will email you the pattern and you print it at home.

Here's another version of the belly dancer I made for "Treasures of the Gypsy" (who also sells my patterns.)

Have fun!  A.B.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Hi All,
I made a "Fat Mermaid" for a friend birthday present. My friend LOVES pink, so that's where the color scheme came from. We talked about it before I made it, and we both decided it was time for a sweet, "plus-size" mermaid.

This mermaid is designed to hang on the wall, so I tried to make her look like she's floating in the water. Of course, she couldn't JUST be a pink & silver mermaid -- but a SHOWGIRL pink & silver mermaid!

I inherited a lot of this sequin trim (it's very old) on large spools in several colors when an old friend closed his costume shop 25 years ago. (These are pale pink, but the bad lighting makes them look silver.) So far, the only thing I can think to do with it is to make mermaids.

Sorry for the poor photographs. I had trouble because the only wall I could hang her on didn't face my lighting. Oh well....

To get the hair to go up and to the side, I stitched a stuffed hair pad onto the head shaped in a point. I covered it with a mohair weft and felted/stitched it to the hair pad (lots of hair spray used!) Next time, I think I will try to get the hair to go even higher.

She was fun to make, so I will probably turn her into a pattern. But, since people won't be able to find sequin trim chain-stitched like this (I don't think they make it anymore), I will have to come up with another idea for the fish tail.

Now, time to start making Halloween dolls!!

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Hi All,
Happy 4th of July to all of us Americans!

I finished a new pattern I call "ISABELLA - A SANTOS CAGE DOLL"

She stands finished about 20 inches tall. The head & torso are 8 inches tall. Her body is all cloth. Her "dress" is sewn into the body pattern. The base/cage is made of wood. She has a simple & sweet face. And, like traditional Santos, instead of a wig, she has a plain fabric hair piece on her head (On wooden Santos, the figure's hair is painted on.)

This is a beginner pattern and very easy to do. And, unlike most of my patterns, the entire body is made of cotton fabrics. (I usually use a knit fabric, like deer suede for my dolls.)

For me, the real fun is embellishing and dressing the finished SANTOS. Here she is, all dressed up like the Saint she is:

I include instructions to make a crown out of lace, trim & paint. Plus, many other instructions & tips for embellishing your doll.

I've added more trim, a veil, a rosary, an embroidered "shawl" from a piece of beaded fabric, an old rhinestone necklace, and two skirts -- one of bridal lace and of one sheer organza with a beaded trim hem.

You can use anything to embellish your Santos with.

Here's another one I've started, using a dark gold colored top (haven't made a cage for her yet.) On this one, I haven't trimmed the neckline so you can see how easy it is to stitch together.

For some, the wooden cage might be a bit tricky to start, but if you use something to hold it up while gluing it together (like a can of spray paint), it's actually very easy. (This is all explained in the directions.)

Santos are popular now and used in home decorating. Modern Santos are usually aged to look vintage. You can age my patterned Santos with some paint or ink, or leave it clean. You can keep it religious looking, and add a crown or veil. Or, turn it into an angel and add wings & a halo. Or, decorate it with vintage & antique items (maybe you have some old jewelry belonging to a past family member?) I think it would make a lovely Christmas display.

Or, do something completely different -- what about a "steam-punk Santos"? You're limited only by your imagination.

A brief history: "SANTOS" means "Saint" in Spanish. The SANTOS figure was used in altars and represented different Saints in the Catholic religion. Santos were carved of wood and dates back to the 17th century. Some Santos were made with half a figure on top & a wooden "cage" from the hips down. These cages are frames for fabric skirts. These small figures were made for use in peoples' home altars.

You can find my SANTOS CAGE DOLL pattern here on my website. It costs $10 (payable through PayPal) and it's an e-pattern sent to you via email as a PDF for you to download and print.

Have fun (and stay cool)!

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Hi All,
I have converted 2 more patterns to PDF for email delivery.

My "HAROLD, the ANGEL" pattern:


To see these and other E-PATTERNS, go to my pattern page on my website here.

It's 100 degrees here in Albuquerque, NM. I hope you are all staying cool! Have fun!

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Hi All,
I'm in Albuquerque, NM, where we have are Fiber Art Fiesta. We have this textile show only every other year. I made a few dolls to sell, and they have all sold! (Thanks to my friend, Pamela Armas.)

Here's my tribute to Adnan Karabay, a doll artist who's dolls were popular in the 1980's & 90's (unfortunately died in 1998). He liked to use animal skulls and antique fabrics in his historical costumes.

I call her "Elegant Beast":

I used a real bird skull (I'm not sure what type of bird it was, -- sorry). The body is cloth, which I painted a pale gold to match the painted skull. I added some clay & animal eyes to the skull to fill it in a bit.

The headdress is an antique jet beaded medallion I have embroidered with more jewels. I wired the whole thing to get it in this shape and added some lace, flowers, and feathers, too.

There's also some antique jet embroidered trim on the edge of the dress (hard to see in the photograph).

Also made some more 18th century busts of two ladies going to a masked ball.
Here is "Lady Peacock":

And, her companion, "Madame Butterfly":

 Have fun!

Monday, May 8, 2017


Hi All,
Well, this doll took me 1-1/2 years to finish! (on and off) I stopped on it so many times (mostly because of work schedules) that when I started back on it 2 months ago, I swore I would finish it this time.

I am proud of the work I did on her. I haven't done a big "show piece" in such a long time. Mostly, it's because a doll like this takes so much time, that it becomes cost prohibitive and usually doesn't sell..
(I apologize for the photos -- all the white is so hard to photograph without light bouncing off of it!)

Anyway, here's the details about the Toy Theater Doll:

The face is a mask, sculpted of paper-clay ("Das") and glued to a blank cloth head. The features are painted on with acrylic paint. The body, arms, & hands are cloth. The toy theater is made out of wood. She stands 21 inches high.

The two figures- "actors" in the theater are all cloth. The man's mandolin is paper mache. Both masks are of paper clay.

The dolls' costume is made of rich red velvet, trimmed with gold braid & fringe, with red/green satin jacquard sleeves. She holds open her velvet skirt, which become the "theater curtains" to reveal the toy theater under her.

Her hat is made of green crushed velvet, trimmed in more braid with a red jeweled accent. The collar and cuff "ruffs" are made of white ribbon. Her hair is Tibetan lamb.

Here are some work-in-progress photos:
First, I started with the theater. I used a wooden box (bought at Michael's) glued to a base, which was a wood lid from another box. Wood molding and appliques were added.

I painted the whole theater in gold & black. (I added some red & gold "wings" to the theater, also of molding pieces). I found some artwork online and printed it out on card stock for the backdrop. The finished theater measures about 12" x 10".

Next, I added the doll torso (ends at the hips) to the top of the theater. I also added cloth padding (in black) to extend from her hips to the edge of the theater, so her skirt would hang more natural.


Now, I add the costume. First, the small satin print underskirt- which becomes the top "teaser" curtain to the theater, then the large skirt/curtains. I finish the whole costume, adding lots of trim.

Now for the head. I used a press mold for the face mask. The mold is my own. I sculpted the original out of polymer clay, and made a negative mold of that. I've used this mold on several dolls already.
(she looks a terrible with her bald head!!) You can barely make out the fade line on her jaw. That's were the clay mask ends, and the cloth head begins. I have to do a lot of sanding to get that smooth! I've glued on the Tibetan skin for her wig. (Sorry, no photo of the hat making.)

The last thing I did was make the 2 little doll actors for the inside of the theater. First, I was going to sculpt them of polymer or paper clay, but they are so tiny!-- only 5 inches tall (and, I'm not so good at sculpting little things.) This couple took me about 3 weeks to make! (It would have been so much longer if I had sculpted them....) I pick blue & white for their costume, so they would stand out from all the red. They have metal rods that come out their feet. I drilled holes in the stage where they are to stand, and glued them in.

Hope you enjoyed! Have fun.