Valentines and Flowers


I had an internet conversation with a fellow Texas Tech graduate last weekend while watching a basket ball game.  At some point the conversation veered towards food and I decided I would bake cupcakes.  I had bananas ready to go into banana bread, but what fun is banana bread heading into Valentine’s Day?  So, I decided to make cupcakes with the bananas. 

The result, after I tinted the cream cheese frosting with red food coloring, was sort of heart shaped cupcakes, which accompanied me to work Monday.  My co-workers are often the beneficiaries of my baking.  They are most appreciative and the upside is that I get to bake without having to eat much of what I produce.


February is the month in which we get to experience three seasons, sometimes in one day here in central Texas.  We get warm days at 85 degrees, followed by cool days in the 50’s or 60’s.  It confuses the plants, especially if we are above 70 for 4 days running as we were last week.  This is happening more, it seems, and I end up doing my spring cleaning in the yard sooner each year.  I got all of my pruning done weekend before last and last weekend got my front flower beds composted.  I planted a few new plants and bought a few more which are still awaiting homes.  The plants I pruned are budding out and I have an enterprising daisy that is covered in blooms. 

All of this leads me to think of flowers.  I’ve been buying myself flowers at the grocer store each week and they are starting to get Star Gazer lilies in which I love so much!  This weekend, I got my fabric club in from Treasures of the Gypsy and what a surprise!  It’s spring flowers!  I have the body and head of the doll I intended to make an angel from.  Now, I think she’s going to be the flower fairy and here’s the start of the collection of fabric and trims for her wardrobe!


The next All Dolls Are Art Newsletter comes out tomorrow morning.  You can still sign up to receive it by visiting the website and signing up for the mailing list.  This month, I have a survey on doll making and an article written by Michele Lynch, one of our ADAA faculty.  If you have ever wondered about quitting your day job for your artistic journey, you’ll enjoy Michele’s thoughts on the topic.

There is still plenty of space in all of our classes for ADAA 2013.  I hope that you’ll consider joining me and sharing your creative journey!

Working on my Words Journal


I managed to get in the studio this evening to start working inside the Words journal.  I had an idea last night and wanted to try it out on the title page.  I wanted the effect of water colors but using my fluid acrylics in Quin Gold and Dioxazine Purple.  I started out with a water wash over the title page, then applied a very watery application of the Quin gold.  I ended up with a very nice yellow wash.  I wanted the purple to drip up into the yellow, so turned the journal around and worked upside down.  I applied more water and then a very drippy wash of the purple, loading up more paint in some spots to get it to really run into the yellow.  I wanted the fractal like spreading that you get when you work with really wet, dilute colors.  After it dried, I went over it with some texture tools (cardboard) and stamps and copper.  While I had the purple and copper paint on my palette, I dry brushed the hinges, first with purple and then with copper.  I will probably go over them a few more times to eliminate the white. 


In the next pass at the title page, I used Quin Violet to make the spiral and the “Words” title.  I pulled out one of my calligraphy pens and the india ink to make the stem-like lines and then added the words we are using for inspiration.  I messed up a few of them when the nib was loaded with too much ink, so I’ll go back in and fix that later.  The last step of the evening was to gesso the next two pages so they will be ready for me to work in them tomorrow.



Shrek and Fiona, Maybe


I spent the majority of my New Year’s day doing what I enjoy most – creating!  I finished up the gifts for my friend and co-worker Ken who’s birthday is Thursday.  He’s getting these tomorrow though.  They really aren’t Shrek and Fiona, but until he names them, those are the nick names I gave them.


I spent the morning after a late start due to a sleepless night because of fireworks in the neighborhood.  I am NOT a fan of the concussive sounding fireworks.  They reverberate off of the windows and when they go on until 2am, I’m a very unhappy camper.  So, good thing I didn’t need my brain to sew on Shrek’s sleeves.  Once I got caffeine and lunch, I figured out his hat.  The fabric I picked for his shirt wasn’t intended to look like camouflage, but that’s what it looks like in the photos.  That is SOOOO appropriate for Ken.  <giggle>.


After finishing Shrek’s hat, ,I made Fiona’s arms and then started her bloomers.  They took a while, as the body shapes on these dolls are challenging to fit.  Skinny legs and very chubby bodies.  On first construction, they were a little tight, but luckily, I could make them work!  Her jumper was easy-peasy, and then I just had to attach her arms and head and give her hair.


After taking photos of Shrek and Fiona together, I decided she needed a bow.  And now, they are complete and ready to give to Ken tomorrow!



Today is my brother’s birthday.  He came to Austin the day after Christmas, went to Houston with me for the Texas Tech bowl game and went home yesterday.  He texted me to let me know he was home at 11:40pm last night.  He’s 11 years and 1 week younger than I am, which means my birthday was a week ago! 


Andrew and I attended the Viva the Matadors tailgate.  I made up the banner from a VTMer’s avatar.  Andrew insisted on getting a picture of the two of us.


He’s an Aggie, in case you can’t tell from the “gig ‘em” sign.  At least he didn’t wear maroon!  Happy birthday!

I gave myself a couple of birthday presents, not including the trip to Houston.  The first was a new stove.  The second was a new patio!


The weather hasn’t been warm enough to put anything out on the patio yet.  I’m so eager for it to warm up!  Happy New Year everyone!

All Dolls Are Art 2013 Faculty Interview: Fran Parrigan-Meehan

Fran Parrigan-Meehan is teaching Victoria Vanderbilt, a 3-day cloth doll class at All Dolls Are Art 2013.  This class is all about constructing a doll with Style!  Fran is a wonderful and giving teacher!  She and I spoke about how she arrived at this point in her sculpting adventure.


By way of introduction, Fran Parrigan-Meehan is a talented and award winning sculptor and educator. Fran has had work featured in Patti Medaris-Culea’s book, “Creative Cloth Explorations”, and in magazines such as Soft Dolls & Animals, Doll Crafter, Art Doll Quarterly and various online articles. She has taught at All Dolls Are Art, Artistic Figures in Cloth, Enchanted Doll Artists Conference, and online at Doll Street. She has a background in the clothing industry and is a self-taught sculptor. In addition to teaching, Fran produces and sells patterns of her dolls in various online stores and hand-dyes lace, ribbons, seam-binding and mohair. Fran has exhibited her work in the Lithuanian Museum in Lithuania, the Boulder City Library in Nevada, the Desert Quilters Show in Henderson, Nevada, the Doll and Bear Show in California, the Hoffman Challenge 2005 travelling exhibit and in Celebration of the Doll at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX.

AnLiNa Designs: Hi Fran, How did you discover sculpture and doll-making?

Fran: Creating dolls have been a part of my life since I was a little girl.  My Mama taught me how to make one piece dolls out of cloth when I was 4 years old.  She showed me how to draw a one piece pattern, cut, sew and stuff the doll body.  She even showed me how to embroidery the face features on the doll and how to make hair out of fabric and threads.   I have taken online classes and doll classes at doll conferences.

AnLiNa Designs: What media do you like to work with and why?

Fran: If I have to choose one media that is my favorite, it would be a toss-up between clay and cloth.  I love working in lots of different media.  I can manipulate cloth and clay the way I want it to work on a doll.  I can sit for hours working and manipulating cloth and/or clay.

AnLiNa Designs: Have you made the transition to full-time artist?  Are you selling your work anywhere?

Fran: I made the transition to a full time artist  years ago.  I sell my work at craft shows (indoor and outdoor shows), my Etsy shop (, conferences, Ebay and I sell my patterns to several online Doll shops. 

AnLiNa Designs: When you start a new project, how do you start? 

Fran: I start working on whatever it is that comes out of my mind at the time.  I pull out the materials, etc., that I need and begin the doll or project creating process.  Most of the time I will do a sketch of whatever my new project is. 

AnLiNa Designs: Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Fran: Everywhere!  Let me explain that. Most of the time my inspiration comes right out of my head, my thoughts, my dreams, shows and everyday life.  I keep a pad and pencil on my night stand. When I wake up with a thought for a doll, journal or whatever wakes me, I sketch it and write about it.   That way I don’t forget the details.

AnLiNaDesigns: What are your favorite materials to work with?

Fran: Cottons, tulle, velvets, silks, fancy fabrics, papers, clay, paperclay, paverpol, wire and more.  I really do love all these and more. 

AnLiNa Designs: Who is your favorite artist and why?

Fran: I have several but Sherry Goshon is at the top of my list.  She taught me a lot over the years when I first got a computer and got online and found her while surfing the internet.  She was the first doll teacher from whom I took a class (at Doll U) and from there we became good friends. She taught at our doll club several times and stayed with me.  We sat up all night playing and making dolls in my studio. She’s very knowledgeable and shared and showed me lots of sculpting techniques, etc.  I’ve known Sherry since the early 1990’s.  Her husband Jeff makes my press molds and half resin dolls for me.  I send him my sculpted doll faces and he makes resin molds for me.  I also send him my sculpted half doll and he pours them in resin and makes my resin half dolls.

AnLiNa Designs: Is there a famous work of art (visual, performance or musical) that you want to interpret in a doll? 

Fran: Yes,  I have several but there is one that I have had in my mind for a few years.  She is inspired by a painting I bought in Santa Fe called “Spider Lily”.  It is by Saint Vincent Diaries and has an inscription on the back “Spider Lily, the Patron Saint of all creeping things”.  It’s time for her to be created. 

AnLiNaDesigns: What do you think makes a retreat a valuable experience to participate in, both as a teacher and as a student? 

Fran: As a teacher: I love sharing all of my knowledge & techniques, etc of doll making to students when I’m teaching them to make a doll.  I make the doll right along with them so they can see step by step how I make my doll.  If they have a different way of doing something I tell them to go for it.  It’s their doll not mine, I’m the teacher here to guide and teach them how to make my doll.  I as a teacher can also learn from my students.  I love to share my knowledge & techniques with my students and love having them share their knowledge & techniques with me.   After all we all keep learning from each other.  There’s so much more students can learn from attending  a retreat of any kind.  They meet new friends, learn lots of new techniques, sell their creations in the sales room.  Retreats are the best for creating and making friends.


AnLiNa Designs: Describe a day in your class room and your favorite part of teaching. 

Fran: Watching the students work and complete their doll and make the doll their own makes me happy.  When I teach, I tell my students they are here making my doll from my pattern but they are making their doll.  I take my students through the class process step by step. I explain and work right along with my students to show them each step of making the doll as they create their doll.  I love for my students to ask questions so they (we) can work out any problem they are having in class. I encourage my students to ask me for help if needed and they do.  We also have lots of fun while in class.  My students usually finish their doll and if not, it’s almost finished.  I don’t want my students getting uptight because they are having problems.  Anything pertaining to making the doll can be solved in class.   That is what teaching is all about.   My favorite part of teaching is showing and helping my students create and finish their doll.  And seeing how happy they are with their finished doll or almost finished doll. 

AnLiNa Designs:  Thanks so much Fran!

To see more of Fran’s work, visit her blog:

Fall Has Arrived, Round Rock Chalk Art Walk, and All Dolls Are Art 2013

It was 70 degrees when I woke up this morning and got cooler as the day wore on.  I went by Ikea to get a gift card for my brother and sister-in-law for their anniversary and her b-day (which was the 4th), drove by the new Round Rock Food Trailer park (YEAH!) and Adam’s Gifts, which is a great little shop just off the main drag through down-town.  Then I headed to the parking garage so I could drop the car and explore Round Rock’s Chalk Art Walk. 


It was a great day for it and there were some really great pieces in progress, plus all the kids in the street with their chalks and their 1 foot square of pavement.  The Biscuit Brothers were playing in the square to quite a crowd.  I wandered with my camera and talked to a few folks.



This piece later was auctioned off. 


As was this piece, which I loved, as it’s one of my favorite artists.


I went back this evening to see the finished pieces.


The Jackelope piece finished.


I stopped and talked to Sean Lewis about his piece, which I really liked.

I spent most of the afternoon working on my Goddess of Winter.  I finished her last sleeve today and got her face drawn and her head attached.  I don’t often work on the head last, but as this doll, like the Goddess of Fall, started with the fabric, I made her head last.  I did most of the needle-sculpting at the CTADS meeting last week.  I have to make her head covering, cape and boots still.  Then she’ll be done.


She has an empire-waist undergown made from light-weight linen.  gown

I originally wanted to do her in blues, but she’s the last in the set of the Goddesses of Seasons series.  The others are done in the yellow/green/orange spectrum, so I needed to dress her in colors which complemented the others.  They will be on display together, so it only makes sense.  So, she’s in Christmas reds and the yellow toned greens.


I’m definitely in the mood to work on dolls again, and have a bunch of ideas.  First though, I have to finish this one!


I committed sacrilege by cutting the edge of a piece of Treasures of the Gypsy embroidered metallic netting to make the outer sleeve’s lace cuffs.  It’s just the perfect adornment for the sleeve, so I couldn’t help it!


Last – her face, which may get more highlights and blush once I get her hat done.

The other thing I’ve been madly working on lately is the 2013 All Dolls are Art website.  The classes for 2013 are now up and registration is open.  I redesigned the site and like the look quite a bit, even though I prefer art to have a black background online.  Swing on by and check out all of the classes for Weird, Wild and Exotic!