All Dolls Are Art: Barbara Schoenoff


Barbara Schoenoff wears many hats.  She is a superb cloth doll designer with patterns available in multiple outlets for a variety of dolls, a gifted teacher who shares the joy of creating her wonderful dolls, and a university educator in the realm of costume and set design.  Barbara is one of the faculty for All Dolls Are Art 2011 and is teaching two classes, Blooms (pictured above) and Boudica, the Celtic Warrior Queen (pictured below).  If you are interested in her classes, visit the conference website at for more information.


AD:  Hi Barbara!  It’s great to talk to you again.  First, let me say that I’m so pleased to have you on the faculty at ADAA.  First question – How long have you been making dolls?

BS:  I have been making dolls all of my life!  I made my first original doll pattern in graduate school in 1977.  I started getting serious about them 20 years ago.


AD:  What led you to start creating dolls?

BS:  I was always a doll girl and I truly LOVE fabric so it just came together naturally.


AD:  What other media do you work in?

BS:  I am a costume designer so I have to paint/color my costume drawings, other than that my medium is fabric.

AD:  That is so cool that you design real costumes!  Where do you get your inspiration?

BS:  I read a great deal and look at a lot of pictures.


AD:  Do your dolls speak to you?

BS:  Yes, a doll that doesn’t have a voice for me is generally not a good doll.

AD:  Do you decide where to take your creations or do they lead you?

BS:  I usually decide where to take a doll ahead of time but the "missteps" along the way become their own selves.


AD:  Do you have an idea of what dolls you want to make next?

BS:  I have about 20 dolls just waiting to come out right now.

AD:  How many projects do you work on at once?

BS:  I work on several dolls at a time in the beginning, machine sewing body parts, etc.  But once i get the stuffing really underway, I tend to focus on one.  However, once I’ve pinned on the trim I might get called to another doll before actually sewing the last stitch.

AD:  What do you enjoy most about teaching?

BS:  The students.   It’s like sourdough bread for me.  My project is the  "starter" for their creativity.  I love seeing what they do with my "starter" and how they process.  I learn so much with every class. 


AD:  Having taken one of your classes, I can tell you that you provide a fabulous starter!  What advice would you give other doll makers/artists?

BS:  Make sure you are enjoying what you’re doing.  Life is so very short don’t spend it on projects you don’t like.  You are worth the money you put into the project, so set it aside.  Later it may be the very thing to make you happy.  OR NOT.


AD:  Thanks so much Barbara and I can’t wait to see what you create next!

One thought on “All Dolls Are Art: Barbara Schoenoff

  1. I first saw your lovely dolls at the sewing and quilting Expo in centerville, Va. Bought the Gypsy fortuneteller. Look forward to getting more patterns from you. Cheers,

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