Tuesday, April 27, 2021


Hi All,

I made some more Bird Skull ladies. I call them "Beautiful Creatures".

I made some like this a few years ago. I think I called them "Elegant Beasts", but I never liked that name. I think "Creatures" describes them better than "Beasts".'

Anyway, these dolls are inspired by the work of artist Adnan Karabay, who made figures from animal skulls, plus paws or claws on clay human bodies and dressed in wonderful vintage fabrics, lace and beads. Adnan died in 1998.

Originally, I used real bird (mostly pigeon and chicken) skulls. But, the process of turning a delicate bird skull into a head strong enough to be attached to a cloth body meant hours of inserting air drying clay into hollow areas, different glues, and layers of tissue paper over the finished skull made it almost unrecognizable as a REAL bird skull. Plus, I liked inserting animal eyes and adding human eyelids for an added effect. So, I decided to make a mold of a bird skull with all that work already done. I cast the skulls out of air drying paper clay. 

I connect the head to a neck made of wire and 2-part Apoxie Sculpt for strength. I add more paper clay to the neck to blend into the cloth torso.

This time, I created "gothic" looking dresses, using a lot of black as accents. 

The headdress are all made of heavy Venice lace, beaded and backed with fabric.

These 3 will go to Roger's Garden to sell at their Halloween Event in Sept.

Have fun, and keep wearing your mask -- it's almost OVER! Get vaccinated!


Monday, April 12, 2021


 Hi All,

I'm still working on Halloween dolls for Roger's Garden. Even though their event doesn't starts until Sept 1st, I have to stop at the end of May for another job. This is a Birdcage Witch. (I made 2 of them - the other one is in an orange dress). 

I found these small birdcages at Hobby Lobby. They're about 15 inches tall. The finished doll is 23 inches.

So, how does one attach a cloth torso to a birdcage? Very carefully. I made a doll torso and cut it off just below the waist. The idea is the top curve of the cage will become the hips of the doll. I don't try to remove the finial at the top of the cage -- that just goes into the body of the doll. I cut a circle of fabric that I stitched to the bottom of the torso, inside the cage (stitching between the bars of the cage. I had to glue a wooden disc inside this circle of fabric, as the fabric wasn't strong enough by itself to hold the torso down.

After that, I just continued making the doll like any other doll. I wanted some of the cage to show under the dress (otherwise, why use a birdcage??). I made the skirt long in back and short in the front. I made the skirt in layers. The first layer just covers the top of the cage (it's of green silk - you can just see a tiny bit of it between the layers.) The next two layers are sheer. The front skirt, of olive sheer, I added a ruffle and gathered it on the sides to drape in the front. The back skirt, made of black sheer with a sparkle stripe, I trimmed in lace. It's cut in a half-circle. 

The last skirt layer is made of green silk with an overlay of black "spider web" netting. The skirt is gathered around the waist and gathered up in the back. I added a "spider web" ruffle to the edge.

Next comes the bodice. Using the same green silk and spider webbing, I added a crinkled green/gold metallic insert in the front.

As usual, I finished the arms/hands/sleeves before attaching to the torso. 

Here, I've pinned the arms on to check the pose. I've also added some antique beaded jet trim on the bodice and a black lace ruffle around the neck.

Once the dress is mostly done, I start on the head. I lightly outline the features and needle-sculpt the face. 

Here's the finished painted face. I use acrylic paint for the eyes and lips. The shading is done with pastel chalks and colored pencils.

Here's the finished head on the body, with an added "hair pad". This little stuffed pad helps hold the hair up high. ---I've also added ruffle of black trim to the waist, and an antique beaded motif to the neckline.

Now for the hair. I wanted an "up-do", reminiscent of the classic 18th century-"Marie Antionette" - look, but wasn't trying to be authentic. I used wool roving for the hair, which I don't use very often. It has the look of cotton candy. I stitched a "weft" of hair, long enough to go around the head. I attach the weft along the hairline with the hair hanging down. I fold it up and, using a felting needle, felt the wool into the head and hair pad.

Here's the finished wig with the hat. (Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the finished wig). 

A back-view of the wig. I gather all the wool to the back of the head and twist it under, to make a neat little roll.

A shot of the witch hat. I like to add feathers to all my witch hats! --What's a hat without feathers??

Here's the orange one:

I'm still working on what to put inside the birdcage. 

Have fun! AB

Saturday, March 20, 2021


 Hi All,

Last year I made a "Witch's Apothecary" doll for Roger's Garden's Halloween event. This Sept, the theme is "Cabinet of Curiosities", so I used the same doll to create a "Witch's Curiosity Cabinet".

This is my "Witches Apothecary" from last year:

I used the same pattern for the doll, and the same unfinished small "boat shelf" I bought from "Hobby Lobby" craft store. Here is a WIP photo, with the empty shelves:

This time, I made the witch a light skin tone (instead of the green skin I did before). And, I did her outfit in shades of red and black.

The challenge was to find miniature "curiosities" to put on the 3 shelves. The space between the shelves is 3" to 5", so I really had to search for things small enough. I bought some animal skulls on-line. I found some "miniature human organs" in the toy aisle of "Michaels Arts and Crafts". Plus I had a few things I had acquired over the years.

I had to do some research to find out exactly what was in a "Curiosity Cabinet". It seems that it's mostly things you'd see in a natural history museum. Lots of "nature stuff" -- especially unusual or weird items.

On the tope shelf, I have a gofer skull and a jar of bird eggs (plastic eggs from the craft store). In the center there's a big spider (metal pin), a bat (brass charm), and a green beetle set in resin (on-line). And, a plastic brain in a jar (from toy miniature human organ set) and a jar of plastic skull beads in green liquid soap.

On the middle shelf there's a plastic frog in a jar, with another skull bead in a jar of liquid soap. A real, tiny, mouse skull. In the middle there's a butterfly behind a plastic heart (part of the toy organs set), and an eyeball (a charm) in a glass jar. Another rodent skull (squirrel, I think?), a small starfish, and a jar of plastic bones (Tim Holtz).

The bottom shelf has a planter of tentacles (I made from chopping off the tentacles of a plastic octopus), a ceramic skeleton bead in a jar, a horned-toad lizard skull, a resin monster hand (Tim Holtz), a ceramic gremlin bead in a jar, and a very old monster head in a jar.

Have fun! -AB

Friday, February 19, 2021


 Greetings all,

I've made another Marie Antionette Ghost doll. In fact, this time I made 2. I love making this doll! I've already made 2 others in the past. It's the 18th Century costume I like making most of all!

She's an all-cloth doll, with a candlestick base (she has no legs or feet!).

Her face is needle-sculpted, with a mohair wig.

I added beads to make "blood drips" around her neck.

I made the costumes in shades of grey, white, and silver. I found some wonderful sequin embroidered fabrics on-line to use for the underskirt and bodice front. I embroidered some more beads, pearls, and sequins into both of them. 

On the sides of the dress, I used 3 or 4 different trims & laces.

Here are some photos of the other one:

Have fun!

Thursday, January 21, 2021


 Hi All,

Well, it's been a while since I've posted. It's almost the end of January, and that means starting on the Halloween dolls for Roger's Garden.

Here's a candlestick doll, titled "Gothic Beauty".

She's about 24 inches tall. She wears a magnificent bat wing headdress in sequins and crystals, highlighted by a small bird skull in the center (a real pigeon skull).

I dressed her all in black with silver/crystal accents, with spots of red.

This was my inspiration-- she's an Edward Gorey character from the opening credits of "Masterpiece Mystery" on PBS. 

I start off with a basic torso, arms, & head in a cream-colored deer suede fabric. The pattern is straight and symmetrical, so after it's stuffed, I twist, pinch, and bend the body, neck, arms, & wrists in a pose I like. I stitch little darts to hold the pose.

Starting with the torso, I chose a black velvet and sequin fabric, with black beaded trim for a belt. That stitch at the top of the neck is holding the wire armature "spine" that's inside the torso.

The arms and hands are almost finished, including beaded bracelets, rings, & painted fingernails; before I attach them to the torso. I put chenille stems (pipe cleaners) in the fingers to pose the hands.

The almost finished torso, complete with a dramatic cut-velvet stole ending in beaded tassels, with some necklaces and a rhinestone choker.

I needle-sculpt the head and color it before I stitch it to the neck. (I haven't added the false eyelashes yet.) I use colored pencils, pastel chalk, gel pens, and acrylic paint to color the face.

Adding rhinestone trim to the sequin "wings". The headdress is made of thin cardboard, with wire glued to the top edges. After all the trim is stitched on, I cover the back with felt. When it's all finished, I stitch & glue it to the head.

Adding sequins to the lace & ribbon collar that has been gathered to fit around the neck.

I hope everyone had a good New Years. I hope 2021 will be a better year for all!