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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book Review

I was recently contacted to review a new doll book. Anytime a doll book is offered for review, I’m there. This is the book and what follows are my thoughts about it.


The Construction of the Book:  A book that is well made and beautifully illustrated is what will draw me to it. This is a coffee table book. It measures approx. 9” x 12” x 1” thick. The book will lie flat with little pressure, so you can lay it on the table rather than hold it in your lap. It is a 2019 release.

The paper used is a good quality with a matte finish. There are illustrations on every page and so well photographed. That is an important feature I look for. There are 192 pages comprising of eleven chapters, ranging from bisque, antique, stockinette to plastic dolls to printed reference materials (ie: postcards)

There is a glossary of clothing terms, Russian terms, a bibliography and index, acknowledgements, an introduction of course and the authors bio.

The Author:  Author Linda Holderbaum began collecting ethnic dolls in the 1960”s. I would guess her collection is extensive given the expertise in chapter after chapter of descriptions and historical information. Over time, she began writing for doll magazines. That led to becoming an exhibit and competition judge, and finally being a museum curator and executive director spanning 30+ years. “She believes that dolls are truly a mirror of man and have much to teach us”

Inside:  The 11 chapters contained in the book cover the history of each decade and style of the dolls. Included, are the factories these dolls came from, the status now of those factories, and the family connections. Some dolls are not able to be identified accurately due to their age as some date back as far as 1920. Some of the identifiers are worn off but luckily in others, there are clues as to where they originated.

The descriptions of the dolls to include how they were made, the way they marked them to identify their makers. The costuming is explained as to how the patterns were chosen and the type of embellishments used. They used cottons, beads, ribbons, leather and so on, much of what we as doll makers use today, but the difference is that they used everything to embrace their culture and uniqueness.

Linda gives wonderful explanations of each doll referenced, to include descriptions of their costumes, the hair, the colours used. In other words, everything you want to know about each one on each page is there. She includes the Circa on each page.

As I went through the book, I appreciated the balance between text and images. I love how she has included so many examples of dolls in the stages of being complete and those that have broken down over time. I didn’t mind seeing that because you can see how they created the basic dolls before costuming.

The amount of text is great. It’s full of information about each type of doll while still holding my interest. I don’t like books that are so full of information that I lose interest in too many facts. This book does not do that. Every page of the book has a minimum of two images and as much as seven. I’m not sure how many I can show due to copyright, but I will include another of some footwear that I thought was so cute. I can really see an Asian influence in these.

I will end now on this. If you enjoy books and are a doll maker, and if you enjoy the historical side of doll making, this is a perfect book to learn about Russian dolls from the past, beyond the Matryoshka dolls (the stacking dolls) that we are so familiar with. The dolls in this book are every other style that we seldom hear about. 

It’s a heavy book, very well made and truly an excellent addition to your library. A book to pick up and read a chapter now and then to study the beauty of the these dolls. I love this book from cover to cover. It is so interesting and because of the quality of the photos, you can see all the most intricate details.  Enjoy, and a note that this book is available on Amazon.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Week 45-52 Polymer Clay Challenge

I’m posting the last few weeks of the challenge here. The first three pictures are on my Facebook page, but the rest are not yet. You’re getting a sneak peek before anyone else. ;o)

Week 45 to week 47 are pendants. I was just playing around as a beginner does to see how the clay behaves with certain treatments. This first piece is a test with a rubber stamp. I cut the ovals, then used a rubber stamp cat paw on the front. I baked the pendant, then filled in the paw print with black clay and baked it again. I used some of the black white cane I made, and made beads to add to the necklace along with metal spacers in between. Our cat is a black/grey/white tabby with narrow stripes, so the beads are meant to mimic the stripes.


The next two pictures are pendants made with two layers of clay and using charms pressed into the top layer. It worked well and I learned from working on the tools back a few posts, that the clay needs to be thicker so that whatever you add, will have the depth you need to secure it.


The next set of pictures are all faux food and wreaths made with clay. I had so much fun making these, I could have kept going day after day making these, but I do have other projects to work on.

The wreaths are different seasons and colours, and measure from 1 1/2” across, to 2” for the largest ones.  The sweets are between 1/2” and 1”, and I’ll be using them at some point for my doll projects.

With both the wreaths and the candy, I did free hand embellishments, and added some glitz with glitter glue and gold leafing on a few of them. Here and there I’ve tucked in some beads, such as the gingerbread on one of the wreaths. So enjoy….


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Shabby Rose Fairies/Santa Ornaments

I’ve posted these many times over the years, to show you what I’m offering for Christmas sales. I won’t be posting all the fairies here, but I’ll show you two examples of this years versions. I made 24 for this season, half of them are wearing beaded slippers, the other half are wearing ice skates. The rest you can see on my website. Northbrook Designs 

Below are the Felt Santa ornaments. There are 12 of them, but I’ll just post two samples here.

The Artisans Show/Sale starts this Saturday and runs through Dec.14th. The times and location are on the main page of my website. Enjoy   



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Ready for Christmas

The last doll for the show/sale at ArtSea is this little lady. She is ready for her Christmas functions and is making last minute adjustments to her hat.

The fabric is velvet, a deep burgundy colour that doesn’t show up well in pictures. Lace around her neck and sleeves. It’s an adaption of the design by Becky Holloway. The original doll is a full doll on a base. I chose this style for both the look and for my time that was getting shorter and shorter.

She is attached to a basket as a base. It’s weighted for balance. The costume is adapted from the original (not so many details due to time constraints), but I’m very happy with her final look. Instead of a neck piece I used some pearls to make a necklace.

All in all, I think she came together really well and she’s at the gallery now waiting for visitors. Here she is.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Sophie and Ella

This is little lady is my second last doll going to Artisans at ArtSea gallery in Sidney BC. Sophie is a tiny girl, about 10” tall. She has her little her favourite toy, Ella, in her arms. She is dressed up for a party in her special outfit, she doesn’t get to wear it often. 

She is a design by Jill Maas by the original name of Sophia and George. Don’t you like her bright blue hair and the bling she wanted me to add to her hair and shoes. The colour of her skirt and shoes is navy blue, but hard to photograph to capture some colours, such as this and red.

Her pantaloons are made of crushed grey velvet. The shiny silver felt on the base is from Gingermelon on Etsy. I don’t know if she still carries it, but she did have it in gold and silver. Ella is made of cotton batik.

Here she is…

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019


This is my version of Poppy, the newest pattern by Jill Maas. She’s going to the Artisans Show/Sale for Nov 2nd to Dec 14th. She’s pretty cute I think, maybe I’m biased. ;o)

She’s sitting on a log and holding onto a Christmas ornament, but she’s so small, how will she ever reach the tree to hang it. She’s only 10” tall, sitting. Hopefully someone will love her and take her home with them. She won’t take up much room, guaranteed.

So here we go…..



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