Monday, December 29, 2008

Elf Sparkle: A Completed Project!

It feels really good to have one of my many projects done. This doll (Elf Sparkle) was a commissioned piece for Beth Roose, for a Holiday Cartoon for Nickelodeon and Noggins. Beth has given permission to post Elf Sparkle here.

She stands about 21 inches tall, and is made from craft velour. Her face is lightly needle-modeled, and her features are painted in acrylics. She has sewn and quilted hair. It's been an interesting project to translate a drawn character into a dimensional soft sculpture.

Here's the original cartoon figure from which the doll was modeled.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Snow in Astoria!

Christmas Day, and can you believe it's snowing in Astoria?

I looked out my studio window to see the big snowflakes (sticking, but wet), and thought I'd drive up to the Astoria Column, a high point in Astoria. I took Misty with me, and she seemed to enjoy herself. We were the only ones up there. I wish I could have seen a panorama of snowy hills, but visibility was poor due to the falling snow.

The photo at the right is Youngs Bay, near the Old Youngs Bay Bridge. Much wetter here at sea level.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Projects

I spent the day sewing, not dolls, but polarfleece socks for Christmas gifts. Cassidy wasn't much help. When he wasn't on my lap at the sewing machine, he was on the bin of fabric. He was particularly needy today.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Made it Home

Well it took a long time, but we finally made it home. All highways to the Coast were closed, except one. Of course, that's the one we took - a circuitous route. Very slippery conditions. So a trip that normally takes under two hours, took six hours.

I have a short video clip of our Highway 30 drive, but have no idea how to get it here. It was sure pretty.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Arctic Blast"

Sunday: Lots of snow. Roads closed. Making the best of it, and enjoying the company of family.

Dad, who's really a child at heart, has rigged a make-shift sled to be pulled by four-wheeler. The "sled" is one of those plastic pads that go under desk chairs. Very slick. Lots of fun, with (thankfully) no injuries.

Brad's on the quad, Kyle's on the sled (above). The other photo shows Misty and Grandma. Misty didn't enjoy the snow as much as she did last year. She's older, and has some difficulty getting around now. She looks happy in this photo, though. Misty is half Great Pyrenees and half Australian Shepherd.

We'll try heading home to Astoria tomorrow, with the hope that road conditions improve. The news channels state chains are required. I don't own any chains, because I've always gotten around with studded tires. Hmmm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beach Snow

Saturday: we're headed over the Coast Range in NW Oregon. We'll be having our Christmas get-together early, due to work schedules. Of course, I'm not at all ready for Christmas.

It's been snowing (and sticking), which is rare. This photo was taken in Seaside. It's unusual to have snow on the beach here. See the ocean waves in the background?

We're headed for Eugene to pick up our youngest son, so he won't have to drive on the ice and snow to get to Grandma & Grandpa's in Hillsboro. It's going to be a long day, and very slow-going.

Our kitty, Cassidy, has been shut in the house with plenty of food, water, and cat litter. It's just too cold to let him stay outside - the raccoons would eat all his food, anyway, and his water would freeze. Hope he's a good boy. We're taking our dog, Misty, with us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Boudoir Dolls

I so appreciate everyone's kind words about Rosie. I was a bit emotional yesterday, and feel a little better today.

I was able to finally finish one of my many pending projects (above) - a boudoir doll for a woman who'd bought a similar doll a couple years ago - one made using a vintage cloth boudoir doll face found on eBay (the doll on the right with the yellow-orange hair). I built the body to fit the face, and made the clothing as well, using a vintage Butterick pattern (number 10296 - Four French Girls, circa 1920). The face on this newest doll was a little larger, so I had to make some adjustments.

This is the third doll made from this vintage pattern. The first one I made is "Estelle" on my website, found on the page called "Retro Dolls" at

No, this is the fourth - Madeline (also on the Retro page) was made from Butterick #10201, a smaller version of 10296.

You can find Butterick 10296 (Four French Girls) here:
and here:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Remembering Rosie

Today I lost something precious to me, my long-time, constant companion, Rosie.

We got Rosie in 1991, from the local animal shelter. She had an easy-going personality, and loved to "help" me in the sewing room. I'd always have to remember to shut the door, or I'd find yarn, seam rippers, and other notions all over the house (she gave up on living critters long ago, and hunted inanimate objects, instead).

She was a chatterbox; really vocal and expressive. I'll miss her 5:30 a.m. requests for breakfast, and her loud "mama" cries when she conquered a ball of yarn.

She will be missed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CPSC & CPSIA new laws bad for dollmakers (and other crafters)?

This item was just posted on Etsy. I've still got to check the links, but it doesn't sound good for makers of dolls intended for art or display.

jewelrydesignsbyME says:
I posted this originally at ETSY NJ & plan on posting it everywhere I can. The CPSC & CPSIA new law guidelines effect most of us - sign or start a PETITION NOW. All of us should support each other and stand united to get exclusions or amendments or extensions for compliance referencing USA handmade products and small batch items to this new law by writing to our public officials. Even if none of your items are made directly for children ...

Can you imagine an ETSY, FireArt, 1000 Markets, a local craft show or eBay without any children's items in it? This is effectively THE WORLD'S LARGEST CHILDREN'S PRODUCT RECALL ever imagined. But without the option of returning the items for refund or replacement. THIS NEW CPSIA WILL EFFECT ALL OF US that sell ANY products that can be considered for children. Not just toys and jewelry, but CLOTHING, ROOM DECOR, SCHOOL SUPPLIES, EDUCATIONAL AIDS, ART WORK, ART SUPPLIES, PILLOWS, HAIR BOWS so on & etc. if it is made for someone 12 & under to use it will be subject to the certified testing. Even HAND-ME-DOWNS as resales or vintage items will be subject to the testing.

To read the whole "brief", 67 pages long, requires some basic law education but you can get the gist of it in the CPSIA's FAQ section

This new law is blindsiding us by giving very little notice to comply to it, if we're even able to provide the proofs the the CPSC wants. It's been so under the radar the ETSY doesn't have a STORQUE article on it yet. Neither has eBay or most of the other online seller's outlets even mention the new law. This will put quite a few of us out of business. Even larger companies are having problems complying with the deadline or the batch material testing requirements. Here are a set of excerpts from a recent CPSIA hearing:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Don't just believe that the legislation will change on it's own, do something to let your voice be heard. Write a congressperson, tell ETSY what you feel about this law, blog about it, just get your voice heard by CPSIA that the law is impractical and biased towards small & cottage industries. People for a Greener Earth should also take up this issue since it will put an end to reusing durable children's products outside of the immediate hand me down process, sending tons of good resalable items to landfills.

Generals threads for any one:
for toy makers:
for children's clothing, doll clothes, hair bows, and accessory makers:

A Proposal From the
In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US. Thriving small businesses are crucial to the financial health of our nation. Let's amend the CPSIA so that all businesses large and small are able to comply and survive!

Monday, December 8, 2008

der Belsnickle

Tomorrow's the big ER Christmas Party & Auction. Over the years our "White Elephant" gifts have morphed into nice gifts (wrapped) that are auctioned off among staff & guests. We use that money to help families less fortunate (and believe me, we're in a position to identify these folks in our capacity as healthcare workers).

So when I was new to dollmaking (mid 1990s), I started contributing a Santa doll to the cause each year. Der Belsnickle is this year's doll. Hopefully no one from work will visit my blog before tomorrow night, cuz it's supposed to be a surprise.

He stands about 17-1/2 inches tall, and is made from muslin - sculpted, painted, cracked and stained. I used a pattern by The Rosemary Rabbit (copyright 1995). I made the bear and stick horse he holds, too, which were included in the pattern. The directions weren't the best I've experienced - I've give it a C minus (many of you are aware of my OCD when it comes to instructions) - so I kind of did things my own way at times. But I LOVE the little bear, and will make more.

I used some sort of real fur for the trim. I have no idea what kind is, but it is the softest stuff I've ever felt in my life. I can't remember where I got it, but I've had it for years. The piece I have is cut in the shape of a knee-length coat (one side of the front, anyway), without the piecing of smaller pelts. Maybe it's beaver.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Turkey Time

Well, what do you know...I finally made something in time for a holiday.

Today I made a pin doll for a co-worker's birthday (we're going out to dinner this evening). I think I need to redesign the legs to be a little shorter, though.

Turkey Time was designed 2004. I had great aspirations to publish a pin doll book, but it's a long way from completion. So far I've got about five pin doll patterns for the book, and ideas for many more.

It may happen someday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Always a Holiday Behind?

This is Sonia. She was going to be witch for Halloween this year (a Good Witch), but as it's November 11, it seems I'm a holiday behind.

I used my Averill pattern, with an alternate cloth-covered clay face. Her body and limbs are from craft velour. I made her skirt a little longer, altered her vest pattern, and gave her a purple coat/duster. Her hair is Tibetan lamb, dyed. She doesn't look much like a witch any more, but she could be one if she wanted.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did it Work?

Ok, I think I've successfully uploaded a pdf on my website - the Snow People pattern/instructions. I need to hear from a few of you to let me know if you can access the information.

This link will take you to my free on-line patterns page. Just click on the snowman and it should take you to a page with links to the pattern and instructions.

Just drop me a comment here to let me know if it worked or if it didn't.


Monday, November 3, 2008


I'm thrilled to have made the cover of SD&A magazine! These folks always do a wonderful job of photographing the dolls. And, of course, the pattern is included in this issue.

I designed this Santa last Christmas, for my siblings (I didn't know what else to get them). I should make another for our upcoming ER Christmas Party and Auction (traditionally, I make a Santa every year to be auctioned off).

Thanks, SD&A!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Coming Soon

Way back in 1997, I decided to make Snow People for all my coworkers. This was when I was really new to dollmaking. I tried to incorporate individual interests into each doll.

I decided it would be a good idea to post a free pattern here and on my website for this doll, so I dug out all those old pattern pieces. To refresh my memory, I wanted to sew another one, to make sure my instructions were correct. Now I can't find my Warm & Natural fleece. Oh well.

Stay tuned, because when I find it and figure out how to post a pattern, you'll find it here.

In the meantime, you can see all the Snow People at my Picturetrail site: The photos aren't the best, they were scanned from original 35mm photos (pre-digital).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

It's been a busy last couple weeks; too long since I last posted. I got home late Monday, after teaching two classes in the Bay area. I'm excited to get the photos posted, and talk more about them ~ but have to put in my 8 hours at work first.

This week we had our Joint Commission survey (a necessary evil for hospitals), and I feel fortunate to have missed experiencing the surveyor's God Complex (ex-military physician, statistician ~ what more do I need to say?). All I'm going to say, is that an organization like JCAHO should NEVER have that much power. BTW, we passed muster.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Since my post earlier today, I've updated my website's pattern page. I settled on $16 for this new pattern (to US & Canadian address, $19 to international addresses). Postage is included in the price of the pattern - it's just easier that way: ~ click on "Patterns"

I've also unlocked my Verity picturetrail album, as there are some progress photos there, many of which are included in the 16 pages of instructions:

At Last!

The pattern is finally finished (insert sigh of relief). I appreciate everyone's patience. I still need to update my website to include the pattern information and shopping cart button, which I'll do after a few errands.

I've got to sit down and do a little cost analysis (keeping the wholesale cost in mind, of course).

She's a fun doll to make, but certainly time-consuming when you consider the drying time of the Messy Mix, gesso, paint and paperclay.

I can envision a Verity doll done in creamy white, with a lace neck insert instead, and perhaps more of a dropped waist - an early 1900s dress suitable for a garden party.

But for now I need a break from this doll.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Verity pattern nearing completion

I'd hoped to have my new Verity pattern completed by this time, but I'm finding that it's taking much longer than planned. One big reason is my decision to include two sizes of dolls - nearly double the work, I'm finding. I also want to include the two sizes of dolls for the cover photo, and I've not had nearly enough creative time to work on my girls.

But I'm so close to finishing... you can see two dolls above, who are waiting for face sculpting, painting, hair, and some finishing touches. As I write, Tibetan lamb pelts are soaking in dye in the back yard. I'll focus on getting the smaller doll done, as I can use the already-finished center doll for the pattern cover, at least for time time being.

I'll be teaching this class week, so have some pressure to have it done by then. Why, oh why, does it take me SO LONG to complete a pattern? I've got so many ideas...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Selling on eBay?

I think I may have sold my last item on eBay. Their new policy prohibits payments by check or money order - or at least it will come October. I happen to use PayPal quite a bit, but don't feel particularly warm and fuzzy toward eBay when they put a halt to these other legitimate methods of payment. I guess they don't feel they make enough off the listing fees and the final bid fees. EBay owns PayPal, so they get a percentage of those payments as well. I dislike the controlling and greedy feel of this.

With the economy taking the turn it has, you'd think eBay would do whatever necessary to keep the customers they have. I'm not the only one disgusted with the new rules. I see many artists are turning to etsy, so I may look into that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trying Something Different

While I've really been working on my Verity pattern (up to page 15 now), this doll has been on the back burner for a doll club challenge. We're making Izannah Walker inspired dolls, so I'm trying something different .

This doll is made from my Verity design, but with some differences. This is actually the first prototype of the design (when I was figuring out what to do for 2006 Hoffman Challenge). Well, the head is, anyway. I whacked the head off the original body, because the body was too small. Incidentally, this first doll was made from knit fabric, so her head is much rounder. Her replacement body is made from muslin.

I needle sculpted the face and repaired some blow-outs with paperclay. Next came the tricky part. I coated her head, neck and upper chest/back with blue and covered everything with a knit fabric. Next, I'll gesso and paint her. And she'll need ears, and maybe some dimensional curls or ringlets.

You can see more photos of this doll's progress at my picturetrail site. Click on the Izannah Walker inspired album:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An old doll pattern, revisited

It's mid September already, and I thought it was a good time to brush the dust off my Hazel the Witch pin doll/ornie pattern. It's been out of print for quite some time, due to lack of a decent cover photo.

This is one of my earliest patterns (copyright 1999), and the original cover photo was one taken with my 35mm camera (pre-digital!). Well, I have no idea where that particular negative is, so had to make do with this digital photo of a later doll. But this Hazel had some needle sculpting that the original doll lacked. So that meant I had to include those instructions.

Now it's time to made another Hazel (this was was given away in a pin doll swap). Maybe I could make some improvements, too. I'd love to be able to make one in the coming week, as there's a doll show in Portland next Saturday.

The Boys in my Life

These are the boys in my life. I had such a great time with my boys this past weekend. My youngest and his family were here for a 3-day visit. My oldest came on Saturday to visit, too, and while here the four of us (two sons, husband and I) went for a bike ride, then out to dinner.

Sunday was good, too. Got to see my grandson again, and my how he has changed in just a month! His mom is looking good, too.

The top photo is Ivan, looking very thoughtful. The next is of my youngest (Ivan's daddy). The third is of my two sons. The fourth is of my oldest, and the last is of my husband and sons.

A Quality Weekend. How lucky am I?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Tandem for Christmas?

Last week we decided to sell our old tandem bicycle, so pulled it out of the garage where it's been hanging for years, dusted it off and tuned it up. We took it for a test ride to a downtown coffee shop, and found that it was more fun than we'd remembered.

Then we rode it to work.

Then we rode it a little more - a 12 mile ride we call "Walluski Loop."

You know, it got us to thinking that we'd like to ride tandem more - but with a better bike. So after some research, decided to buy a Cannondale tandem. This will be the 2009 model, which won't be available until November or December. Sounds like a good Christmas present to ourselves. Pictured below is the 2008 model. Our new biked will be white.
My husband actually suggested we do Cycle Oregon again, this time on a tandem. They aren't called "divorce bikes" for nothing. A week long ride may be pushing it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Time Flies

I can't believe it's already the end of August. Time flies. It feels like I've done nothing but work the past couple weeks. I've certainly not made any dolls.

I did work on a huge slideshow project each night after work for a retiring coworker/friend. It was much more labor intensive than I'd anticipated. I edited more than 300 photos, and used my Photoshop Elements program to create the slideshow. The hardest part was selecting the music, but I think I chose well.

The retirement party was last Friday, and I shared the slideshow on a big screen. Many got up and spoke - not a dry eye in the house! It was a huge success, and I'm still burning copies of the slideshow for coworkers.

My husband and I both have the day off today, so we rode the tandem bicycle downtown for coffee. We haven't been on that bike in years (BTW, tandems are known as divorce bikes). Then we took the dog for a walk. Now I need to get this disaster of a studio straightened up so I can work on dolls!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Poll Results and Pattern Progress

My "Next Pattern" poll closed at the beginning of the month, and here are the results:
Verity ~ 41 votes or 65%
Grace ~ 14 votes or 22%
Adah ~ 4 votes or 6%
Felt Angel ~ 3 votes or 4%
Carlie ~ 1 vote or 1%
(I know these don't add up to 100%, but it appears they are all rounded down)

So here's an update:
I'm now on page 4 of Verity's instructions, and the pattern will probably be published with two sizes included. The photo above shows Verity at 100%, 85% and 75%. I'm leaning toward the 100% and 85% dolls for the pattern, with the sailor dress for her clothing.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New Release: Sleepytime Santa pattern

Yesterday and today (and probably tomorrow, too) have been spent collating doll patterns, printing cover photos, folding, and stuffing ziplock bags. My stock of patterns was low, and there's an upcoming doll show in September in Portland, Oregon.

Sleeptime Santa was designed in December 2007, and the pattern was completed at the same time. But as I also submitted a somewhat abridged version of it to Soft Dolls & Animals magazine, I have delayed its release. I expect it may be in the next issue of the magazine, as the holiday season is fast approaching. For that reason, I decided to release the pattern today. You can find it here:

I still have a lot of catching up to do after Vegas, and my sewing room is a disaster area. Verity is standing on my work table, a constant reminder that she needs to be an official pattern. I'm getting there...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Baby Ivan, Grandma's Boy

As promised, here's picture of baby Ivan. He's 9 days old today. Mom, Dad and Baby are here for the weekend. He woke Mom up every hour last I don't miss those days, but somehow we all survive them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're Walking Fools

Today is incredibly hot. We decided to burn some calories and walk from our hotel (Bally's) to Downtown Vegas - Freemont street. It took several hours. We decided to ride the Deuce (double decker bus) for the return trip. I entered the addresses into mapquest to get an idea of the distance. It was 5+ miles. Thank goodness I had sunscreen. I'd hate to go home with lung AND skin cancer.

I got a real kick out of the little wedding chapels, especially the one in the photo above.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm a Grandma

I'm now a grandma. Don't feel like I should be one yet, but I am. Since I'm stuck here in Vegas, I haven't been able to see my new grandson, Ivan Matthew. But I should be receiving photos soon, which you can be assured I will be posting.

ODACA Luncheon

One of the centerpiece dolls, revealed (finally!) Each doll wore a different colored smock and coordinating dupioni silk knickers. Their lower legs also differed in color & print. Their boots or shoes were painted, with perle cotton or embroidery floss ties. Each wore a black beret, and held an artist's palette. I took progress photos while making the dolls, and posted them to my picturetrail site. The centerpiece album is no longer password protected, so check it out:
What a busy day! The morning was spent setting up for the ODACA Sales Room and placing the centerpiece dolls in the Luncheon room. The morning sales hours were from 9 to 11, then we attended the luncheon until 2, then back to the sales room from 2 to 5. The photo above is at the luncheon, during the helper doll raffle. Susan Sirkis was the guest speaker, and she gave a wonderful powerpoint presentation on the dolls of Dorothy Heizer.

I'd been told there were 10 tables with 8 at each table for the luncheon. So that's what I was prepared for. When I got there, there were 8 tables with 10 at each table. Now that doesn't sound like a big deal, but it certainly made an impact on my brilliant idea of how to give the centerpiece dolls away.

I made placards for each place setting, each one with the name of a different artist (van Gogh, Picasso, etc). So each table had the same set of 8 different names (I had to improvise and add 2 names per table so each of the 10 place settings would have a placard). Then I pulled the name of an artist out of a hat, and the person who had that name at each table won the doll. I think everyone was happy with the doll.

Sales went very well, and I'll have a much lighter suitcase to take home.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Here...

It's about 8 p.m., and we're finally here in Las Vegas. This is my first trip to Vegas, and my first time in a casino. It's loud and smoky. Good thing I brought my inhaler. I may go home with lung cancer.

It's hot here, and living on the North Oregon Coast has done nothing to acclimate us... The lights of the city are so pretty, but overwhelming. It makes me cringe to walk past the open doors of casinos and feel the cool air conditioned air pouring out. Not very GREEN.

I'm just finishing my supper - a $6+ mocha! Now we'll go wander and find out where the convention stuff is. And maybe try the slot machines.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hoffman Challenge

Well it took long enough, but I finally finished my Hoffman Challenge doll. Of course, I'll need to send her Express Mail so she gets there on time. I used my Verity design, but reduced the pattern to 85%. She stands about 19 inches tall including her wooden base.

Today I have about a million things to do. I'm leaving in the morning for Las Vegas, for the UFDC/ODACA/NIADA Convention. I may or may not have an internet connection, but will take my laptop just in case.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Verity Number Two

Yesterday I finished a second Verity doll. She'll be going to UFDC with me, for the Expressions Exhibit at Bally's Las Vegas. She stands about 22 inches tall.

I also (finally!) started my Hoffman Challenge doll. I'm using the Verity design at 85%. I've got all weekend to finish her. Ideally, she'll go in Monday's mail. I'd love to NOT pay for express shipping as I've had to do the last several years.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crunch Time

It's crunch time, with the UFDC Convention and ODACA Day right around the corner. Unfortunately, I'll be working most days between now and the day we leave. Still lots to do.

As I've paid for a sales table, I need to bring dolls to sell - as many as I can squeeze into my suitcase. Over the past couple days, I was able to finish a doll that's been half-done for a few months. This is another "Viola Ruth" doll - one of my Alabama Baby inspired dolls. I've got another half-done VR doll (they are from my classes, from demonstrating the cloth-over technique) but I won't get to that one.

I've been "triaging" the remaining tasks at hand. I still have my Hoffman doll to do, but it's really an optional project. More important is the doll for the special UFDC Exhibit. This will be a "Verity" doll, and she needs her boots painted, her wig made and attached, and her clothing. Maybe I can get that done today.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I finished my centerpiece dolls yesterday! I'm so glad to have that done, although I still need to make hangtags and placards for the table drawing - that probably represents a good half day of work yet.

The night before last as I was drifting off to sleep, I ruminated about the centerpiece chair issue. I came up with a solution (pretty ingenious, I think). You know how some dolls tend to tip backward when seated? Well these dolls do that. So this is what I made - a folding seat. They were fast and easy to make and will require very little space in my suitcase. If the dolls are seated on a flat surface, their legs will extend out in front of them. If the seat is placed on a shelf (or column, small box, etc.) the legs will dangle. I plan to make several sizes for my seated dolls. Viola Ruth (Alabama Baby inspired doll) is a great example of a doll that could use one of these.

Today I need to get started on my Hoffman Challenge doll. I've been receiving photos of doll entries from a few people (thanks!) but I could sure use more! These dolls are featured on my website. The Hoffman site only pictures the winners, but I like to see as many dolls as I can - so send photos to me! (refer to the link above to learn where to send them).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The End is Near

The UFDC/ODACA Convention is just around the corner, and it feels like I've been working on the ODACA Day Luncheon centerpiece dolls forever. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Last night I got the last of the wigs sewn, and all are glued to the heads.

I ended up with four shades of Tibetan lamb. The hides are just a little stiff, so in the future I may try an acid dye. I'm not sure if that will make a difference. Still, they're easy enough to work with.
We'd planned to spend July 4th on the sailboat, anchored out on the river, ready to christen the new barbeque and watch the fireworks. In Astoria, they're set off at the river's edge. But when it came time to go down to the boat, it was damp, windy, and overcast. Not comfortable conditions for sitting out on the boat. We opted to stay in, and ultimately went to bed early. It's been a tradition that neighbor Kevin plays the anthem Jimi Hendrix style - outside - on his electric guitar for the neighborhood to enjoy. Either he missed this year or I was dead to the world.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Benefits of Walking

I set a goal for myself to walk to and from work at least through the summer. I made this pledge in early May, and so far have stuck with it (with the exception of a couple extra early shifts or exceptionally rainy days). It's about 4 1/2 miles round trip, up and over the hills of Astoria. I feel better, my blood pressure is great, and the walk home allows some time to unwind after each potentially stressful shift.

Of course my recent ankle injury has slowed me down a little. I'm still walking, but allow about 5 more minutes in the morning. Running a portion of the way of Friday worsened things a bit, however. Back to walking, at least for awhile.

My husband and I were delighted to see deer on the way home the other day. These must be the neighborhood mascots, because they didn't seem that wary of our presence. Such lean and graceful creatures.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dyeing Tibetan Lamb

After much deliberation, I took the plunge and tried my hand at dyeing Tibetan lamb. Of the information I found on the 'net, much of it was contradictory. Cold water, hot water, liquid dye, powder dye, etc. I ultimately used information found at (thanks ladies!)

I did the dyeing outside, and as it was a breezy day dried the pelts outside, too. This is the first one attempted. I wanted a natural red color, so mixed four colors of Rit dye. I've got two more outside drying. One is a darker auburn, the other a light brownish color - I may stick that one in the pot again.

Unfortunately, I rolled my ankle as I was stepping off the deck yesterday. The pain and the accompanying crunch as I landed made me think I broke something. My first thought was "oh crap, how in the world am I going to walk to work, at work, and along the Las Vegas strip." It's swollen, bruised, and still very painful to walk.

This morning I mixed up another pot of dye (just two colors this time), and I'm not sure if I'll like this one. I may need to add a little something.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


While I decided against this body design for the ODACA Day centerpiece dolls, I've been turning the prototypes into one-of-a-kind dolls. Sophia is from one of these prototypes.

Sophia's made of craft velour. She's in a permanently seated position, about 12 inches tall. Her face is needle sculpted and painted in acrylics. Her wig is sewn on and tied back with a black ribbon. Her fingers are wired. Her head is jointed, so it can turn side to side. Her dress is not removable. I really don't like her platform shoes, but they're what I had on hand (I may replace them with something else later.)

I found her cat on eBay, and guessed/hoped it would be the appropriate size for her.

I've got today off, so I hope to dye my Tibetan lamb for the centerpiece dolls. I've been taking progress photos of these dolls and uploading them to my picturetrail site (still password protected at this time). After the UFDC Convention/ODACA Day I'll unlock the album for general viewing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tillamook Head Trail Hike

I spent the last four days working on the ODACA Day centerpiece dolls, so today I took a break and hiked the Tillamook Head Trail with a friend. We were able to see the Tillamook Head Lighthouse through the light sea mist.
At least 8 miles round trip, it was a very pleasant hike. Cool, no rain, the morning began with overcast skies. I packed a light lunch (sushi, cantaloupe, hummus, crackers, carrots and plum tomatoes). By the end of the hike it had warmed up a bit, and some of the clouds had burned off. Julie took a photo of me standing beside the colorful remains of a huge tree.

Now that I'm home, I'll work on the dolls, continuing where I left off. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, June 20, 2008


The week is at an end, and I can sigh with relief. It's been a long one. Now I look forward to the next five days off... no set plans, just free and easy. Of course, I'll work on dolls (haven't been able all week.) I should also go for a bike ride or two if the weather's decent.

Tuesday, my husband left for southern Oregon for a visit with his siblings. He'll be bicycling the "Mountain Lakes Challenge" century ride tomorrow, with very little preparation. I told him to call me when he was done. He assured me SOMEONE would call me, one way or the other. Meanwhile, the house has been empty and quiet, and has stayed tidy.

Today is also our 16th wedding anniversary. I got a new wedding band, which I love. What a guy! I got him foul-weather gear for the sailboat. Not romantic, but what he wanted.

Joee from Cart Before the Horse recommended visiting this website, and I just had to post it. The landscapes and photography are to die for.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Lovely Sail

We've been fortunate to be able to sail several times in the last few weeks. This day was calm, with just a light wind. Perfect for trying out our new (used) sail, called a "drifter." We sailed up the Columbia to the 39th street pier and had espresso at "Coffee Girl." This is a very cool place to hang out...
This summer my husband and I hope to anchor out near Tongue Point (Lois Island) on the Columbia River and spend the night. Could be romantic.

Monday, June 16, 2008

OK, I was Wrong

Well, I thought I had several days off this week, and that's why I agreed to work today when someone called in sick. It made six shifts in a row, and of course, yesterday sucked. But I discovered that it's not THIS WEEK that I have days off, but NEXT week. Sigh....

So I've only got tomorrow to work on dolls, housework, laundry, banking, bills, order filling...

I'm done with the whining now.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Punched Out

Today was the last in a long stretch of shifts at the hospital, and it was the worst one of the week. I hate it when young people die unnecessarily. One wrong choice ~that's all it takes. Because I so often see what comes from these bad decisions, I'm probably among the most neurotic of mothers. My poor kids.

It felt good to finally punch out today, knowing I have several days off this week. I plan to work on my ODACA centerpiece dolls, and hopefully finish them this week. The dolls are taking much longer to make than I'd anticipated. Just have to stay focused and on task. The legs are done and sewn to the bodies. The only things left are: 1) Dying the Tibetan lambswool hair, making wigs and attaching them to the heads. 2) Costuming. 3) Accessories

About 3 to 4 weeks ago, I decided to start walking to and from work, up and over the hills of Astoria, about 2 1/4 miles each way. I'm doing this because fuel costs so much, and I have to get rid of my "winter weight." I'm sorry to say the pounds aren't melting away. I am sleeping better, though it's been hard getting up a half hour earlier each morning.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Special Doll Club Meeting Yesterday

Yesterday's doll club meeting (luncheon) was held at Roxanne's home in the Scholls/Newberg area. Roxanne is a supremely wonderful hostess, and her home and property absolutely gorgeous. She and her husband Ed have a non-commercial winery. Ed gave us a tour and explained the process of making white and red wines.

We had our wine/grape themed challenge dolls on display in the dining area, as well as other dolls we've been working on.

I just started a flickr account so everyone can see photos of the challenge dolls (there's also a link to the left under "websites to visit" - Reigning Dolls and Bears:

Because we've been meeting quarterly instead of monthly (many of us travel considerable distances to get to club), we started a private Yahoo group to stay in touch, upload patterns, photos and minutes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Today I've been working on my wine-themed doll for our doll club meeting this Saturday. I've named her "Meditrina," for the Roman goddess of health and wine.

I used some suede knit fabric I had on hand for her body as she's just a prototype (I didn't want to waste my good skin tone fabric while was working out the proportions of the doll, so I used this alabaster colored fabric - really too light for an appropriate skin tone).

Her face is polymer clay with a knit cloth-over, painted to match her skin tone. Her hair is Tibetan lambswool on the hide. Her fingers are wired. She has needle-sculpted breasts.

She's dressed in a very dark navy blue (almost black) silk georgette drapy gown.

I thought she should hold a carafe, bottle, goblet or something fitting with the theme, but had nothing suitable on hand. So I made a polymer clay wine goblet and used fine mica-like powder brushed directly onto the uncooked clay to give it a metallic look. After baking and cooling, I mixed the same metallic powder into a clear varnish and coated the goblet with the mixture.

This photo is a temporary placeholder, because her grapes are not in scale. I've got smaller grapes coming, and hopefully they'll be better.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Calling all Hoffman Challenge DOLL Entries

Some of you may have visited my website and know I post photos of Hoffman Challenge doll entries each year (no affiliation). Today I began constructing the pages for this year's challenge. While the fabric is absolutely beautiful, I'm having trouble envisioning the doll. This could be because I haven't really allowed myself time to think about it, with my focus on the ODACA centerpiece dolls. The deadline is coming up (July 25). You can print the entry form from the Hoffman site below.

About the Hoffman Challenge: Every year, a team from Hoffman Fabrics chooses an upcoming fabric design and issues a challenge to quilt, clothing, and doll makers to create original items using the fabric. The entries are juried, and a team of judges chooses the award winners.
Over the following year, selected quilts, clothing and dolls are exhibited by quilt and other fiber guilds, shops, museums, and textile shows across the US and Canada.

So, if you are making a DOLL for this challenge, send me photos of your entry. I'd love to post the best quality photos possible, so please read my post on Photographing Dolls for some pointers (refer to the "Labels" in the left hand column for a link to the post). Large photos are fine, as I can resize them (better too big than too small!).

Please include your name (and other information you want ~ your website, blog, email, etc.). Let me know if your doll is your own design or from another's pattern (include the name of the designer, even if you have "tweaked" the pattern). Include the name of your doll and any special techniques or information. I usually use one or two photos for each entry, but feel free to send me more and I'll choose the most suitable.

If you'd like to see previous years' dolls, visit my website ( and click on "Hoffman Dolls" from the list. I've participated in this challenge every year since 2002. Because the fabrics are always a challenge for me, I have grown as a doll artist through participation.

Oh, and if you're wondering where to get this fabric, I recommend (again, no affiliation).