Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Thing is…….

I decided to do a post on my own personal vision of creativity and how I go about doing what I do. I am by no means any kind of expert on anything and do not profess to ever be that way. I just work hard at what I create and I probably take longer than others, but I’m okay with that too. Why do I have to work like a woman possessed, that’s not me, it never will be, I just work at a turtles pace and I get there eventually.

The working theory for the purpose of this post, of what it takes to be a master of anything, is that you have to put in 10,000 hours minimum. That’s not 10,000 hours of doing the same thing over and over, it means you have to be working at whatever it is, and improving exponentially. If you’re not doing that, you can’t ever reach a master level and even if you do, there’s still going to be someone better than you.

10,000 hours in doll making terms to put that into some perspective could as an example be: to work 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for 10 years, and, to be improving all the way along. If you only have 2 hours a day, think of 20 years to reach a master level and so on.


So what I’m trying to say is, I don’t get caught up in the mind game of trying to be more than I’m not. I work hard at what I’m passionate about and my reward is to see the smiles on peoples faces whether or not they buy what I make. Anyone who really knows me well, knows that I do not compete with anyone. I’m just who I am, a solitary artist and doll maker with no interest in trying to be better than anyone else. I just try to be better than my last project.

I’ve had the occasional person say horrible things to me and try to bring me down to their level, but I just chalk that up to their own issues, not mine. Insecurity is a very crippling thing and would stifle me if I allowed that kind of negative emotion to creep in. I create what I do, to the best of my ability and keep improving and learning with each new project.


I don’t get enough time to work on “original” projects as much as I would like, but when I work with patterns or in classes created by others, I do make each doll in my own way. I add my own touches and usually change some feature or other to add my own creative voice to it. Teachers love it when you add your own twist to what they create, and all they ask is that you give them credit for the original idea.

I have a sketch book full of my own ideas and that’s what I do from time to time. I draw out ideas for different dolls and some times I just take a snip of fabric and tape it to the sketch in the areas where I think they will go.

What I don’t do, is use a picture of someone else’s work, make a lookalike and call it “inspired by”. That’s not being inspired, that’s just copying. I don’t go there, and why would I want to be a copy of someone else. I never claim an original unless it is, from start to finish. If I use for example, the body parts of a pattern, I give credit to that designer. The rest I create from my own thoughts, and I claim that part as my own.

In one case I have written to a graphics artist who gave me permission to use his art to create a doll from, so that idea resides on the wall next to me, waiting for the day it breaks out and becomes a reality. 


I’m an individual and I want to have my own voice, besides, creating something out of your own imagination is so much more fun. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by what others do, it helps to challenge me to stay outside the box and try new things.

Just to clarify, techniques can not be copyrighted, but designs are. I study what others do and I often find great techniques or ideas to use in my own doll creations.

I view all my dolls as miniature people who come to life in my workroom (translated – spare bedroom). I can spend ages putting together the fabrics alone for a project, never mind all the embellishments that will follow. As I work through my doll, I often will change the fabrics because they don’t often translate in reality the way they first looked. That’s why I take so long. I always want my dolls to be their best. 

When I do my hand sewing, it has to be right or I take it out and redo it. I don’t automatically attach my trims. I almost always, will pin everything to the doll as much as possible and walk away. Sometimes I leave them overnight, sometimes a couple of hours, but it’s a good way for me to see how they will look after I’ve been away from it for a while and see it with fresh eyes.


How does it feel to have people compliment your work ? Feels great doesn’t it.  I think so. I think it builds confidence in you as an artist or whatever term you like to use to describe what you do. My friend Janet and personal cheerleader ;o))  (we all need one), is always telling me how much people compliment my dolls when they come to her shop. That always makes me feel so good and inspires me to keep doing what I do, and validates that I’m on the right creative path.


I hope what I’ve posted here, gives you some insight into my way of working. It’s not easy to sum up because one thing leads to another and another….. but if I can give you some snippets of how I live and create, it is this….

I don’t allow:

  • Negative people and thoughts into my life, they suck the life out of of me, if I let them. Because of that, my circle of friends is small by choice. I choose who I want to spend time with, not the other way around.
  • I stay away from dream stealers, they try to crush my enthusiasm and joy.
  • I’m not afraid to do the difficult things, like purging people from my life who do not encourage or support you. I’ve done that at least 3 times in my life. Letting go of friendships is sometimes what I have to do for peace of mind. Once the trust is gone, it never fully returns, so I let it go.
  • Don’t be distracted from trying new things by the fear of not succeeding. Better to try and fail and try again, than to give up.

I always allow:

  • Positive people who lift me up and encourage me. I have no time, energy or use for those who just want to take from me and never give back, so I keep those around me that I trust for support, and in return I give support to them whenever they need it or want it.
  • I never rise above anyone, I treat them as equals, so I stay away from those who won’t and can’t be equal to me. Pedestals are for statues, ego’s and dolls, and I’m none of those things.
  • Work hard, stay focused and be disciplined. Someone asked me the other day to share how I discipline myself to get so much done. It’s not a secret or a trick, I’ve just learned that I have to discipline myself to keep moving ahead and stay on target. I make lists, lots of lists and cross things off as I go.
  • I always allow myself rewards as required. When I get a job done that has been big or just more involved, or I’ve been at something for ages, I reward myself with whatever I would like. Perhaps a nice dinner out with hubby, or just something simple like a special dessert that I seldom buy, or even just some down time for a while to enjoy other things, like a cup of tea with a good friend.

Whatever reward you need for a job well done be sure to do that for yourself… You deserve it, so do it… I hope this helpful to someone out there. Love to hear from you… Signing off for now. ;o)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Rose Pierrot

This week instalment of Jesters, is actually a Pierrot. This is a design by Karen Cunagin.  Rose is mainly created with black and white fabrics.  She is a wall doll and is about 20” long.


There are only a couple of subtle touches of red for a little distraction and to break up the black and white. I gave her some soft red lips. I also added some tiny bits of gold on her face to tie into the bit of gold in the metallic trim around her face.

Her expression is meant to be more dramatic than a Jester. While you can’t see them, I have stitched beads onto the lace around her neck. In real life it provides a bit of twinkle, there is also a crystal at the top of her hat.


The red rose she holds gave me a happy surprize. When I took it out of the wrapper to prepare it for Rose to hold, I was surprized to see that the bud is made with feathers.

On further inspection, I realized the leaves on the stem are also made with feathers.. Who knew. I got this at the $ store and just bought it for what I thought what would be a single stem red rose, I love those kinds of “oh cool” moments..

I also changed the hands of the design, going back to my eternal quest for all my dolls to have individual fingers on their hands, not mittens.. I’m obsessed with that, I know…


I changed the pattern for her feet a little. I found that the feet instructions included extra seams that seemed a bit complicated for what it is. Instead, I left off the extra pattern piece and just made the front and back of the feet the same. Then I traced out the lines for the sole and shoe tops and painted them black. 

To finish I used the mini pom pom trims, organza ribbon and crystals on the toes., along with a row of seed beads around what would be the top edge of the shoes, black on one shoe, white on the other..


A back view. I also made a slight change to her top. It was meant to hang loosely like a blouse, but I like my dolls to be finished underneath as well. Since this design didn’t include any kind of under blouse, I simply gathered the bottom of the blouse and pulled it tight to the body, tucked it under and tacked it in place.

On the front in the first picture at the top, you’ll see black pom poms down the front, those were made from a faux fur type of fabric.


A little closer on the head back. A bit of black Soutache for the hanger.


And that’s Rose Pierrot. She’s hanging on the wall waiting to make her appearance at the museum doll exhibit. Another doll to show you next week, I’m still two ahead of my posts, so all is well with the goal I set for myself.. See you soon.. ;o)

Friday, May 8, 2015


Jester number 3 is Jestine. This is from an online class with Cyndi Mahlstadt, called Jest Clowning Around.  Cyndi appears to be another designer who has given up designing and has disappeared into the ether. I’ve tried contacting her, but to no avail. What a shame, she is another wonderfully creative designer who will be missed. I was lucky enough to have had her stay with us for a week when she came to teach for the local doll club. Nice lady.

I love love love how Jestine turned out. She is 26” tall which is probably going to be the tallest of the Jesters I’m making for the museum exhibit.


A little closer look at her face. Doesn’t she just look like she’s about to have a ton of fun with her mischievous grin… ;o)


Jestine is made with cottons and tulle. Her trims include beads, ribbon roses, pearl beaded appliques and wired ribbons.


The original design did not include a base. I just had a light bulb moment and decided to go that route. I like how it came together, it just finished off the look of her and gives her a bit of an edge and very lady like I think.


I’ve used wired ribbons and ribbon roses to embellish the base. And that’s it.  I’ll show you another Jester next week.


Friday, May 1, 2015


This is another Jester I made, but way back in 2006. I’ve never put Morris up for sale, I just can’t. I love this guy. I had only been making dolls for just about 3 years when I decided to challenge myself to take this class with Barbara Schoenoff. Her instructions were so well put together with tons of clear pictures and step x step instructions. I had no trouble at all making him.

The most fun I always have when starting a project, is putting together the fabrics for it.  I think I used about 13 or 14 different Asian prints in this doll. He was quite an intricate piece and deserved the stand I bought for him. It was in the section of the lumber yard where you get your pieces for making railings and bannisters and so on. It was worth the cost though.

When I’m making my dolls, I always feel like I’m creating miniature people. I don’t keep many of the dolls I make, just certain ones that I become smitten with while working on them or because i took a class with a particular teacher.

I’m certain my miniature people have conversations with each other when the lights go off at night.. Enjoy Morris…


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Emelio Jester 2015

Wondering what I’ve been up to….plenty. In between working on my seahorse, I’ve also been making Jesters for an upcoming museum exhibit here in Sidney. 

As the exhibit draws nearer, I’ll post more details. The theme for this year is “It’s a Doll’s Life” – A Celebration of Doll-Making and Collecting”.

My first doll for the exhibit is Emelio. I made an Emelio a couple of years ago, you can see him here. I should probably change his name, but perhaps he comes from a long line of Emelio’s and these are just the first two? Looking at the last Emelio, I realized this one needs trims on his shoes, better get to that….but in the meantime, here he is, I hope you like him.

Back to work, more coming soon. I do have another Jester done, but I’ll post that in a few days, and of course my finished Seahorse.. name to be decided…  ;o~


Monday, April 13, 2015

Essence of Seahorse 2

Pressing on, I’ve done the back of the seahorse now. Linda suggested I leave the masculine face alone, clearly it wants to be that way, so who am I to argue with it.  I added a little more to the top of the head, but no photo just now. I’ll show you that when I have this piece all together.

For now, this is how the back looks. We had some discussions around whether to add the dowel now, or later. I opted for now because i knew what i wanted to do on the back and had visions of body parts flying off in all directions.


If you’re wondering about the Rabbit doll.  Click here to see where I left off.  I have decided to put it in a box in the corner and create a dreaded UFO. It’s the worst class I’ve ever done online and will never do another one with her again. I’m still waiting for the last lesson, it’s been 6 weeks of time wasted on something I should have just created on my own.

I thought long and hard about whether to critique the class in a negative way out of respect for the teacher, but then common sense took over, emotion went away and I decided that for the sake of anyone else considering taking this class, you are forewarned. I could go into a lot of detail but I won’t. Suffice it to say that, if you know me well enough, you know that I call it as I see it and that’s what I’m doing now. Sherry knows how I feel, I’ve told her directly and she does get my blog updates, so I’m not hiding behind anything when I post this.

I can be a patient person and understand that when you’re thrown one curve ball after another in life, it throws you into a chaotic state, we’ve all been there at one time or another. There comes a point of no return when you run out of patience and understanding, and I’m there. I am a student and all I want is what I paid for, that’s it. Understanding only buys you so much time, after that my pendulum will start to swing the other way, which it is now.

So for the sake of others who might be considering this class, well it’s a beautiful doll for sure, but you better be able to work independently or you will surely have problems.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Essence of Seahorse

While I sit and wait and wait for the rest of my lessons for Serenity, I’ve started a new class. This class is with Linda Hollerich, Essence of Seahorse. What a difference in teachers. Linda is always so prepared, engages with her students and encourages you to be your best.

Tomorrow I’ll be starting the next lesson, but this is where I’m at so far. We’re doing the head first and I always enjoy getting my hands into the clay. I wasn’t always that sure of clay work, but I’ve given over to it and decided that I’ll let the clay speak to me and I’ll just do what it says. I’ve also decided to set small time limits on how I work with clay at the different points of creating the figures, to stop myself from doing the hen picking thing that never ends well.

Here is where I’m at. I always seem to lean into masculine faces and am going to have to study this face and get Linda’s input as to what I need to do to make it more feminine. It’s probably such a simple trick that I’m needing to get the hang of. The three pieces at the back are not permanent yet, but I left them there for the pictures and so that I can check to see how things look. Sometimes you can get such a different view of your work by seeing it online and make changes where needed.

So without further delay…  Here is my man/woman, androgynous character.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Storybook Ornaments

Well, finally. I seem to be even more pokey than usual getting things done, but done they are. These are the Storybook Ornament collection from Cheswick Company. As always, Cathy has done a great collection.

I made two of each ornament, with slight variations in colours and I’ve added storybook charms to each one. I have a renewed love of charms lately. I hope it lasts, because I’ve stocked up on them. ;o~  So here we go…

Humpty Dumpty. Please don’t let on that he’s holding a skillet with a fried egg in it… that would be too much for him to bear…


How about Peter Rabbit. Do you just love his oversized carrot. I had those in my stash, and for whatever reason, I’ve totally forgotten, but very happy to have them now.


Baa Baa Black Sheep with his three bags full.


Next is The Pokey Little Puppy


Two sets of Raggedy Ann and Andy’s. So cute. I gave the girls more hair than the pattern suggested. I used to be afraid of these as a kid, it was the googly eyes that freaked me out. I can handle them in ornaments…


Here’s the second set. Just different shades of maroon and blues.


Mother Goose times two. One of them I made with really long hair faux fur. I checked online and there is a breed of geese that has long hair, so we’re good.


Little Red Riding Hood in her cool red coat.


And The Three Little Kittens, who have found their mittens.. Now to get back to the never ending rabbit doll. Eventually this year I expect I will have all I need to finish it…


Monday, March 30, 2015

Peggy Wilson

I was so sorry to hear from a friend that Peggy Wilson has passed away. I had the pleasure of taking one online class with her, her Elder Elves. Here are some pictures of her work, starting with

the Elder Elves.



FIDGET 3 copy

Pernickity  ( I was never lucky enough to take this class, but for sure, I will find a way.) On Peggy’s blog she mentions how she enjoys doll makers adapting her designs to give the doll their own style, so I will try that with the Elder Elves design.


Dollmakers Journey has posted on their Facebook page and has provided a spreadsheet if you wish to add your name to the condolence list.

Another amazing doll artist is gone.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Brent Butt–Corner Gas

About the end of February, I saw in our local newspaper that  Brent Butt of Corner Gas fame, was coming to Sidney. I thought how cool that would be to see him. I mentioned it to hubby, so we made our plans to see him.

About a week or so later, there in the center section of our small local paper was a contest to win one of two sets of tickets for two, to see him. It was 7 o’clock in the morning, I told hubby I was going to try for one of those sets. Ran for the computer, sent an email to answer the question and later that morning, I got the confirmation that I had won the first set of tickets…so of course I had to do the happy dance all over the house. The show sold out, of course it did.

The show was last night. It started with a rising star in comedy by the name of Ivan Decker. Image result for ivan decker

So fun, a great warm up act and left us wanting more. A couple of links to Ivan Decker….

Ivan then introduced Brent Butt and off we went for over an hour of non stop laughing. I laughed so hard and for so long, I couldn’t wipe the tears running down my face fast enough to keep up.. Brent’s style of humour is just so quirky and refreshing. Family friendly and very relaxed.

Taken from the Mary Winspear Center website (in case it’s gone as soon as I post this)

Brent Butt, the creator and star of the wildly popular television sit com CORNER GAS is coming to the Charlie White Theatre in Sidney on March 25th.

Butt became known in Canada for his clean and relaxed comedic style, and after several tv specials, he created CORNER GAS in 2004, and starred in the role of Brent Leroy.   The series was an instant hit for CTV, becoming the top sitcom on Canadian television and eventually aired in 26 countries.   The final  season for the show was 2009, but the show continues to maintain its popularity today, with constant reruns on the Comedy Network and CTV.   CORNER GAS received Gemini awards, Canadian Comedy Awards, Director`s Guild awards, Leo awards and was voted the “Funniest show on TV” by TV Guide readers.      And just this past Christmas season, CORNER GAS THE MOVIE hit the big screen.  It  was originally given a limited run in select cities, but became so popular with fans that it was given a longer run with additional cities added to its distribution.

Tickets for a memorable night of comedy with Brent Butt Live and special guest Ivan Decker are on sale now at the Mary Winspear Centre Box Office” .

And here is a video with Brent and his wife Nancy (better known as Wanda from Corner Gas.

and Brent’s website

Brent, an awesome night of entertainment. Here’s hoping you make a return visit to our small town, and bring Nancy with you. ;o)


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