New work

I am working on a new piece that could be for ARTrails. Usually I work up to a certain point …. wait …. move a few things around …. wait …. and then make a final decision. An artist friend of mine showed me some of her 3d work – coming out of a frame! It was cool b/c it can hang on the wall … which is not the case with 3d work most of the time. Especially with dolls – they tend not to look good ‘hanging’ off the wall (unless they are flat). So – with her encouragement – thanks Joan! – I picked up a shadowbox and scaled a doll to fit within …. I have two more boxes to play with and can’t wait to get started! I haven’t been too inspired lately and this was just what I needed!

In the past year I have been playing with painting directly on cloth with acrylics – I liked the outcome but it was a rough surface – making it difficult to work with pencils for the faces. I’ve also been experimenting with paperclay – even that is toothy after sanding.  So I finally picked up some gesso …. yep! it’s wonderful on cloth!!! This little lady I’m working on right now is my first attempt on cloth with just the gesso as a primer! Two coats with a sanding in between …. smooth baby!! My pencils flowed and my acrylic paints worked beautifully! She feels so soft even with all the paint on her!

So now I’m working details .. maybe some additional washes of color and shadowing. Still need to finish her boots. Lots to do! The shadowbox is her hangout and I’m working on her ‘story’ to go with the wings! I’ll try to remember and post soon 😉 

Soft Sculpture Doll

I’ve been searching for new directions with my dollmaking in recent years. Trying different materials and techniques, I always find my way back to cloth. Perhaps it dates back to my childhood dollmaking when the only things I could find around the house were Dad’s socks and bits of yarn. I still have my lovely little sock dolls tucked away safe & sound!

For some time I followed the instructions layed out in various dollmaking books … no deviation for fear of failing! (Susanna Oroyan and Patti Medaris Culea are my two FAVs!!!) – so all my dolls had moveable arms/legs, proper hair and safely dressed.

I finally have the nerve to explore a fixed point in time, confident enough to tell a story in just that moment – frozen. I desire a change from “doll” to  “soft sculpture” …. admiring always the beautiful sculpted works surrounding me. I have tried using clay but can not find my voice there …. perhaps a whisper but not strong enough to be heard … not like with cloth.

So here is my latest work in progress …. she is a step away from the pattern (one of PMCs) and a step closer to my own voice. I tried to capture stages …




The Mermaid’s Bodice

Initially I started out with the intention of directly beading onto the cloth body. After trying to poke my needle through the painted fabric, I changed my mind (and possibly saved my fingertips!!) I just hate how sweaty my fingertips get when I use a thimble soooooo ….. 

So then I had to find something that blended in with her “skin” and was beading friendly! I love the idea of lace but I needed something more substantial to bead on. My favorite to bead on is felt. I love felt because it doesn’t fray and has a little grip to it when I use the tiny beads. 

In going with the mermaid theme I really wanted something “scaly” … sequins came to mind and I was off to get my bodice done! It turned out just the way I envisioned it in my mind (which is not always the case) and now she sits happily waiting for her arms! 

Mermaid’s Tail

Ok, so my original plan was to work on the bodice …. ended up working on the tail instead! I found a fun little stitch that twists which works perfectly for my tail. It is attached to a peyote band of delicas. Well, here are some closeups of the beading …. 

Beaded Doll Project – Lady of the Water

My current project is a beaded cloth doll inspired by a rock star in the doll world (along with some rockettes): Patti Culea, Anne Hesse and Laura McCabe. Her most recent book out is “Creative Cloth Doll Beading” and this doll is based off the mermaid pattern. Several things are happening with my Lady. She is a cloth doll with several layers of paint on her torso and head (and arms which are not in the photos). I have one more layer of paint to apply that has a pearlescent color to it.

Originally I had all the pieces in the “proper” places but strayed from there …. I moved fins to her head – I wanted a more sculpted look to her hair and I lengthened her tail for more flexibility in movement. I am currently beading her torso and finishing up her scales. These photos are my “work in progress” on her creation. Thanks to Anne for the email this morning and motivating me to get these photos in place! 😉

My Night Goddess

Beading is another passion of mine. My current project right now is a necklace called Night Goddess. She is rising from the sea during the night. The main piece started out life as a sketch which I used as a guide while deciding which beads to use in the design. Everything is stitched on felt, then fused to a backing fabric, trimmed and edged. My next step is to attach the actual necklace …. but I haven’t decided if I want to create a rope, flat chain or use a different material. Anyhoo …. here she is in all her glory!

Artist Trading Doll


Remember a few posts back? I was working on my ATD and just had the eye blocked out. Well, she’s done!!!! The theme for this one was “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”. I used foam board as the body once again and pulled out some wire mesh I’ve had forever. It took a few days to get the components to fuse together but I’m happy with the results. Oh yeah, I also finally found a use for some spirals my dad gave me from a project he’d been working on … the spirals are made from plastic tubing he drilled into! I try to incorporate recyclables whenever they fit! I cut the center out of the foam board to insert the “eye” that was then placed behind a wire mesh. What sort of messages comes across to you? I would be interested in hearing about them! -Melinda







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