Another Successful All Dolls Are Art!

Wow, it has been a long time since I posted last!  I have been very busy getting ready for, putting on, and picking up from All Dolls Are Art 2012.  It was a fantastic event, with 60 attendees, a large doll exhibit and 3 and half days of FUN!  I’ve posted pictures over on the All Dolls Are Art Face Book page, but will post a few here as well!


Lisa Renner’s Pod Heads class work


Silent Auction pieces from Marilynn Huston, Fran Parrigan-Meehan, Karin Otto-Burfict and Emma Gourley (made by Nancy Gowan).


Our sales room mascot, Gypsy Raven!


Arley and Jo’ann cutting up in class!


Me, delivering the dolls and our silent auction proceeds to Mia at the Austin Children’s Shelter.  I am so please that we will continue our partnership for 2013.


I listed a lot of new things on Etsy today.  I have a lot of hand-dyed stuff, included fabric and trim packs, seam binding, and cording.  Go check it out!


Last but not least – I had a winged visitor this morning while I was on the phone and I managed to get a couple of good photos.


ADAA 2012: The Talented Arley Berryhill

ADAA is pleased to have the multi-talented Arley Berryhill on our faculty this year!  He is always pushing the envelope as a designer and costumer.  He is teaching a new doll at ADAA 2012, the Gypsy Fortune Teller, complete with her fortune telling booth.


Believe it or not, this doll is constructed from cloth.  Arley spent time as a make-up artist, and brings those skills to his doll making with beautiful and realistic features.  The hands of his dolls are the most beautiful hands I’ve seen. 

In this class, you’ll learn Arley’s techniques for doll and costume construction, make-up, wigging and turban making.  As a bonus, Arley will teach you to make the fortune telling booth!


There is still space available in Arley’s class.  For more information and to sign up, visit the All Dolls Are Art website

All Dolls Are Art 2012 Faculty Interview: Arley Berryhill

Arley Berryhill is a fabulous doll artist and pattern designer, whose work has been part of and a winner of the Hoffman Challenge and has been published in Art Doll Quarterly. He is teaching a brand new class at ADAA 2012:  Madame Zola, the Fortune Teller.


Arley has been a costume maker, a Broadway dresser and coordinator and has studied dance, acting, and costuming, all of which are put to excellent use in his doll creations.

AnLiNa Designs: Hi Arley, I am familiar with your dolls, having purchased and made your patterns and one of your Catrina dolls.  I heard that you worked as a costumer for the Santa Fe Opera. What else can you tell me about your background?

Arley: I was a custome maker, not a designer, but a maker, for about 30 years. I started out doing TV work, living in Los Angeles at the time and, then I moved to New York and did a lot of Broadway shows. I worked in costume shops and behind the scenes as a dresser and coordinator. I was always involved in costuming. In a previous life I was a dancer, and studied acting and dancing. Costuming was easier, there were more jobs, and I just sort of fell into it. It was a very good career. I even studied make-up as I considered being a make-up artist before I studied costuming. While in New York, I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology and studied fashion illustration, pattern making, children’s book illustration, lots of things. I wasn’t interested in a career in fashion, but was interested in the topics. After many years, I finally found a way to put all of it to use in doll making. Even my dancing was put to use as I try to put movement into my dolls.

AnLiNa Designs: I’m very impressed with your dolls, the movement even in your stump dolls. I’m also impressed with how well they are stuffed.

Arley : Stuffing is an art! Making sure that dolls are stuffed evenly, without lumps is a class in and of itself. The stump dolls and candlestick dolls came about because I like my dolls to be free-standing, but trying to get the dolls to stand well takes days. Also, I found that I have a tendency to dress my dolls in full length gowns, resulting in covering up all of the hard work in the feet and ankles and shoes. So that also contributed to the move to stump dolls.

It’s really hard to teach a full doll in a 2-3 day class. Since I focus on costuming, the student ends up having to make the doll body before class. As I prefer to minimize the pre-work, it’s easier to teach a stump doll.

I’ve only been teaching for 4-5 years now. I often assume that students have an art background, have studied anatomy and/or have sewn before, and that’s often not the case. I don’t try to dumb my dolls down, but I try to start at simple level. It’s impossible to teach exactly what I do in a weekend.


AnLiNa Designs: How did you discover doll making?

Arley: I lived in New York in the late 80’s in the middle of the big art doll boom. I lived in Soho and would walk from gallery to gallery and see all of these incredible dolls. People like Lisa Lichtenfels were in the galleries. Van Craig ( would have an entire gallery showing to himself and would sell dolls for $6- $7000 apiece. I worked for him doing some costuming for some of his dolls. He also worked on Christmas windows, doing animatronics. In New York, Christmas windows are a big deal more so than anywhere else, with the windows roped off and people lining up in long lines and filing past to see them. I would work on the costumes for some of his figures that would go into these windows. So that was my first introduction to dolls. I loved the idea of miniature little characters, but it was way beyond my skill level at that time. I discovered doll making again, when I worked with the Seattle Opera. I made hats, masks and jewelry for 5 years with them. I love opera and opera characters, my favorite being the Queen of the Night. I wanted to make a costume for her, but it’s expensive to do by yourself, and, well, you can only wear it for Halloween. Then I thought of making a miniature mannequin and thought of dolls. So, my doll making was a way to design my own costumes. I was on the team that made costumes in the costume shop and never wanted to be a designer, but would always think, as a fantasy “how would I change this or that” on each of the costumes I worked on. So that’s how I ended up exploring dolls.

I didn’t realize that cloth could be a medium for dolls, because I had only seen polymer clay or paper clay dolls with a full armature. Most people who think of cloth dolls, think Raggedy Ann or something and this was how I thought of cloth. After I moved back to Los Angeles, I went to a quilt show and the local doll club had an exhibit. I saw it and thought, “Well look at that”! They can make them out of cloth and the dolls look so cool! As it turned out, the local doll club president was there buying mohair for doll hair. I asked what she would do with it, and she replied that she used it for doll hair and she invited me to their meeting.

I started out in clay, and would do a full body sculpt which would take weeks and weeks to layer and let dry. Maybe I would have to cut the limbs off and reposition them, and it just took forever! After learning how to make cloth dolls, I could make a doll body in two days or so and get on to my favorite part of doll making: the costuming. I sometimes still make a face in clay because you just can’t get the detail in cloth that you can in paper clay. I will still sculpt a face when I want to do a fabulous doll, and make it a mask that I attach to the cloth.

AnLiNa Designs: Do you work in any other media besides cloth and clay?

Arley: My first love is always fabric, the textures, colors. I will always be a fiber artist first and use sculpting to enhance the fabrics. I used to teach a costume design course, but it’s very hard to design and construct a whole costume. I would give students the theory and they would never be able to finish in a class. I’m still so amazed that so many people stick to cotton for the dress when there are so many other fabrics to choose from. There are a lot of fabrics which are tricky to use, and because I’ve worked with them and know the disadvantages and troubles with them and figure out how to avoid them. If I want to do a sleeve out of a sheer fabric, then I’ll design a trimmed hem or double it and have the fold be the edge.

AnLiNa Designs: I learned a lot about constructing a costume from making your Herald the Angel pattern. Layering over raw edges was a valuable thing for me to learn!

Arley: That’s a millinery trick. In millinery, you always cover the raw edge with another layer. You can’t hide anything in a seam on the inside of a brim. That’s where ribbon comes in so you finish the raw edges with trim.

AnLiNa Desigsn: Where do you get your inspiration for your dolls? You mentioned opera, but are there other sources of inspiration?

Arley: Opera yes. I also get inspired by theater, any kind of performance, like television, even the commercials. I keep a sketch pad on my coffee table so I can jot an idea down. Mythology and history, mostly the science-fiction and fantasy stuff. Wizards and warlocks, that sort of thing. I also love learning the origins of all these fairy tales and folk stories.

Color schemes always inspire me. A lot of time I use monochromatic schemes, but sometimes I want it to be more fun so, I’ll pick something like citrus fruits: limes, lemons, raspberries and grapes. I love using those colors together. India is also a huge inspiration, if you look at my dolls, you see a lot of Indian and Turkish influence, old, intricate kinds of thing, the way they wrap and trim their costumes. Even though I don’t do an authentic Indian or Turkish doll, I use these regions a lot as inspirations. India is one of the poorest countries, but even their slums are so very colorful and their architecture is so ornate, even the poorest building is painted at least four colors.

AnLiNa Designs: Do you start out a doll knowing exactly how you want it to look or do you let the doll evolve as you are working?

Arley: Because of my background in costuming, it’s very important when you are working on a costume that’s going to cost $10,000 that you know exactly how it’s going to be before you take your first stitch. So everything has to be planned out ahead of time. You are usually working on a deadline, which reinforces the need to plan everything out to avoid a mistake that you could have fixed 3 weeks before. When I design a doll, I start with a sketch. Some people think it’s odd, but I’ll doodle an idea for months, especially if I don’t have a deadline. When I start on the doll, I’ll pull all these doodles, and reference folders, and I have a full file before I even start the doll. Sometimes I will do a finished sketch. I do completely plan it all out. It might change in the process because I might adjust based on fabric limitations or the inability to find something. I have to have some boundaries to start. I find it much easier.

AnLiNa Designs: Do you know what dolls you want to make next?

Arley: I have a running list of ideas, folders and folders. I have a filing cabinet that I keep about a 100 different folders on different subjects, and it has 5-6 folders of different doll ideas. I have ideas that keep gnawing at my brain that I have to get to at some point. I keep three lists: a list of dolls that I want to make, doll patterns that need to get done, and classes I want to do. Whenever I can find the time, I go to my list and pick whatever is next.

AnLiNa Designs: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Arley: What I like best is what I learn from my students. It’s always amazing because I will be trying to break an idea down so I can explain it, and some student will say “oh, that’s different”, and will show me a different way to do something. A lot of time they will teach me how to help people understand what I’m trying to teach. I learn so much about teaching from my students by trying to explain stuff to them.

AnLiNa Designs: What advice would you give aspiring doll artists?

Arley: If I were going to tell students something, it would be to enjoy learning the teacher’s process and technique instead of the finished doll. Because, even if you learn a new way of drawing eyes you can take that and apply it to your own dolls. If you get a finished doll, that’s cream on top of the coffee, but learning something from the teacher that’s what you should keep yourself open to.

AnLiNa Designs:  Thanks so much Arley!  It’s been a pleasure.  I’m so excited to have you as a member of the ADAA 2012 faculty!

If you would like to see more of Arley’s work, you can visit his website and his blog.

A Highly Productive Day

This week, I’m working for myself.  I’m on vacation from my day job and I didn’t accomplish much over the weekend except run errands.  I did get out to visit a few art studios in the last day of the East Austin Studio Tours (see for more info) which was a nice diversion.  So, after a very unproductive weekend, I decided to institute a somewhat regular work schedule.  Today’s agenda?  Dyeing velvet.

I got a bunch of velvet in dye baths by lunch time and did with the left over dye what I’ve started doing to avoid putting a bunch of dye solution in the fridge, only to throw it away a few months later.   I made what I call mud cloth.  I call it mud for a couple of reasons – I’m mixing a bunch of colors, which often results in mud and I don’t try to control it all, so it’s a bit like making mud pies.  The last time I dyed fabric, I wound up with some gorgeous purplish blacks that I’m going to try discharging.  Today, I would up with kaleidoscopes.   I can totally see these three yards as whole cloth quilts.


Here’s the first one, close up below.



This is the second one, again, close up below.



And the last one, with the close up.


Why did I end up with such wild fabric this time?  Well, I lightly smushed the fabric in a horizontal pan, instead of twisting it up in a plastic bag.  I also tried to avoid completely overlapping the dyes when I dumped them in.  The rest is chemistry.  The conditions were more humid today than they’ve been most of the year, and cooler.  There are so many variables when you dye.  I don’t try to control them so I end up with a lot of fun surprises.

That said, I did have interruptions, thanks to the newest member of my household.  Meet Marley, the Fraidy Cat.


This sweet boy showed up for the first time about 6 weeks ago and made friends.  He is LOUD, and announces himself whenever he arrives.  Two weeks ago, he arrived at the right time in the morning to take a trip to the vet and get his shots and lose the rear-facing attachments (he was neutered).  The vet determined he’s between 9 months and a year in age and in very good health.  The interesting thing about this cat is that he is scared to death of machinery.  The dishwasher, the washing machine, the dryer, the ceiling fans.  This cat takes off running when he sees the fan or hears any of the above machines going.  He’s not scared of the radio, but jumps 3 feet in the air when the door slams or I make a sudden move.  He and the Princess Marigold (yep, she’s my princess, now that she’s the only cat… er… was the only cat) don’t see eye to eye and so, it’s good that he prefers to be outside.  I’m giving it one more week to see if he calms down once the evil testosterone is out of his system.  More stories on Marley (who is named for Jacob Marley of Charles Dickens fame) will be forthcoming, I assure you.

Back to artsy stuff.  I got to interview Arley Berryhill for an upcoming All Dolls Are Art interview.  I met Arley at the Enchanted Doll Artists conference several years ago and have seen him since at Gypsy Pamela’s.  He is a pattern designer as well as a teacher and doll artist extraordinaire, which I knew, having bought and made his patterns and bought one of his dolls.  It was so much fun talking to him about how he came to be a doll artist.  He’s had a fascinating career.  We talked an hour and a half, and I could easily have talked longer, but we both had other things to do.  So, check back Thursday (Thanksgiving here in the US), as I should have the interview up then.

I have also been working on a new doll, Modron, the Goddess of Fall.  She’s taking shape.  I got one of her legs sewn on this evening and will sew the other on tomorrow.  I have her arms to stuff and attach and her head to stuff and sculpt before I can start on her costume.  She’s the next pattern in the Seasons of Goddesses series, which will hopefully be completed by the end of the week so that I don’t completely miss fall with her!



As you can see, she’s kneeling.  She’s leaning a little bit far back, but that will be fixed when her shoes are on.

The last thing I did this evening (other than a side trip out to my friend, Ken’s house, to repair my attic stairs) was to list the velvet on my Etsy shop.  Here’s some pictures for you to see what I’ve done today.



These and more are available for $9.00/fat quarter in my shop. 

All Dolls Are Art 2012: World of Magic Classes

We have a fabulous line-up of classes again this year.  I’m so excited about what we have to offer!  We’ve expanded our offerings by 1 class track, meaning more fun for you!  Here’s a look at the classes on offer at ADAA 2012.

First up, a BRAND NEW class by Arley Berryhill!  Arley’s dolls have been featured in numerous publications and he’s a past winner of the Hoffman challenge and Treasures of the Gypsy Challenge.  He’s teaching Madame Zola, Fortune Teller.


Next up is Annie Hesse, the founder of M, M, and M.  She brings us Ping, Glinda the Good Witch’s Familiar.  Annie’s a Goddess of the doll world and we are so lucky to have her on the faculty this year!


Marilynn Huston, one of the original ADAA faculty joins us again, to teach this adorable doll, the Pop-Up Puppet.  He can be made as so many different things, an elf, a snowman, a santa, whatever your imagination can come up with.


I am so pleased to have Angela Jarecki joining us this year to teach one of her cloth over clay dolls, Reluctance.  Angela is a member and this year’s president of the Texas Association of Original Doll Artists, as well as being a gifted teacher.


Fran Parrigan-Meehan, my roomie from last year and the ADAA room mom, is teaching two classes for us this year: Fairies and Miss Prissy.



Lisa Renner, another of the inaugural ADAA faculty, is back with teaching 2 classes.  The first, Pod Heads, has been featured in Art Doll Quarterly.  The other is a brand new class, Abstractly Yours.



Last, but definitely not least, we have Christine Shively, with two brand-new classes!  She is teaching Mistress of Magic, a wonderfully attired witch, and Fabulous Hats and Faces, for more techniques to make your dolls look like a million $!



Registration is now open.  For more information on the event and classes, visit the ADAA Website.  ADAA 2012: World of Magic is going to be so much fun!  I hope you will consider joining us.