January 31, 2008

Beaded Water

Looks more like a jellyfish if you ask me, but I sure like it.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  It's hard to photo reflective irridescent white, but I left the image large so you can click to see details.  Next I've got to assemble an airplane of sorts.  Ooh, maybe just wings or a propeller.  How do you make flames?  Sounds like I could be beading Tyvek again.

January 30, 2008

Online Checkers w/ Ryan

This is my nephew Ryan, the little craftsman that loves to make things with me.  Although he is 7 years old now, he was 5 here and this photo still cracks me up.  I don't know where he learned to stuff Kleenex into his ears, but his big smile shows how delighted he is with his tricks.  Ryan and I talk a lot on Skype.  We both have cameras and mics on our computers and, for as long as he has permission, we can talk for free for as long as we want.  Today we played an online game of checkers -- WOW, that was really neat.  When was the last time you played checkers?  For me it's been a few decades and, while I remembered multiple jumps, I completely forgot about "kings."  Ryan wants to re-teach me chess, yikes.  Isn't there online sewing or something?

I've almost got enough beaded Tyvek.  If I stay on track, I might have the beading done by tomorrow.  The knitted wrap grew a few more rows too while we watched videos w/ bro-in-law Kuanza.  GOSH, those yarns are gorgeous.

Poll Results:  2 daily readers and 3 every other day.  The poll was intended to make my blog a bit more interactive, but only 5 people chimed in.  No matter -- I'm grateful you're reading this!  Anybody want to suggest questions for another poll? (wink)

January 29, 2008

Does This Look Like Water?

I'm back to working on the Firestorm Doll.  She'll have water falling from her hand as though from an air tanker.  Now, how do I translate water to textiles?  Not sure if anyone is going to get it, but this is what I came up with.  It's heated Tyvek strips, irridescent seedbeads and a teardrop at the end.  I'll make several more before assembling.  I also thought about using white silk falling out of a bucket (Plan B).  First, let's see how far we get with Tyvek.  You can see the burn marks on my canvas-covered worktable (gigantic ironing surface).

Hmm, how do I make an air tanker?  I love these kinds of challenges.  This cool photo of a converted DC-10 was taken from a Riverside county news website.

January 28, 2008

Thread Catcher & Pincushion

I'm sure you've seen these before.  Too frugal to buy a pattern, I made it up as I went along.  The thread catcher is two bags stitched from scraps from a flannel quilt project.  I sewed a narrow casing at the top for plastic boning to keep it open.  The pincushion is 4.5" square.  It is filled with one cup of crushed walnut shells that costs $2 and handsewn closed.  Lastly I made a 'belt' to connect the pieces.  All the pieces come together with buttons.  This is meant for my sewing machine, but it will also hang nicely on the arm of my La-Z-Girl recliner.  Crushed walnut shells can be purchased at pet supply stores in the aviary section as bird litter:  $7 for 7 lbs.  See, I got ripped off.
NOTE added 22Feb:  If I were to make this again, the thread bag would be shallow, since thread scraps take little space.  Plus, this bag practically sits on my lap.

These chemo caps are going to cousin Mei Lin in NY for her friend undergoing chemotherapy.  If anyone reading this knows a cancer patient who needs to keep her/his head warm, send me your friend's home address and $3 to cover cost of yarn/postage.  I'll be happy to send a cap.

This has little to do with anything on my blog, but you've got to see it (pun intended).  More here.  Mostly, I'm intrigued by the possibility.

January 27, 2008

Pattice, My Newest Doll

Meet Pattice (Pah-teese), my newest doll, whose name was formed around Patti Culea's name (Patti-C, get it?).  Patti's work inspires me so and her newest book "Doll Beading" taught me the beaded flowers on Pattice's shoulder.  I'm particularly proud of the pleating which I find lovely.  As you can see, I went with M2's suggestion which was left as a comment a few days ago (thank you, M2!).  There are more pictures of Pattice at my Etsy shop.  Have a look!

We watched the 2007 movie Zodiac, with Jake Gyllenhaal.  I was a child during the Zodiac's rampage and was quite aware of the killer.  I recall our class in school discussing the Zodiac's cryptic messages and we spent a few minutes attempting to decipher the code.

January 25, 2008

For You and For Me

This is part of a wrap I'm knitting for me Me ME on slick Addi circular needles.  It's made with 6 colors of handpainted Colinette yarn:  3 ribbon and 3 mohair.  My source is an Ebay seller in England who ships the same day, wow!  Prices are more competitive than shopping locally and packages arrive on my doorstep within a week.

I showed you chemo caps in August and, everytime I finish another one, I forget to mention it.  Now there are more, 40 altogether.  Guess it's time to make another donation to the American Cancer Society.

Have a great weekend!

January 24, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Cats and dogs are raining in San Diego.  Drought conditions in this semi-desert area is no fun, so this downpour is wonderful.  Keep it comin'!

I need your help.  Which hair color do you like best?  It's easy to let me know.  At bottom of this post,

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January 23, 2008

Rayssea in Art Doll Quarterly

YEP, you heard it first HERE!  My Rayssea doll will have her own Show and Tell page in a future issue of Art Doll Quarterly -- how exciting is that?!  Staci Dumoski, managing editor of the aforementioned magazine, approached to ask if she could borrow her for photography!  I'm beside myself with JOY.  I ran out to the parking lot to call Tien, but (dang it) his cell phone was off.

I went to Cloth Doll Heaven or, as they called it, a very special class named The Cosmic Queens Do Faces, with six of the very best doll makers sharing their know-how.  They each lectured for a bit, we had student show/tell, stopped for lunch, then broke into small groups for 30 precious mins with each teacher.  We left with instruction sheets and patterns from each teacher, plus new knowledge to take back to our studios.  Click on my photos to examine details.

elinor peace bailey (left) is Queen of All Dollmakers (to me) and absolutely one of my heroes.  Here she is with some of her dolls.  elinor is an opinionated feminist who asks deeply thoughtful questions and makes her students think too.  I just wanted to absorb her.  She gave me valuable advice on my work and secured it with a big loving hug that showed she meant it.  Barbara Chapman (right) is another hero of mine.  By taking her Fun Little Fairies class in Winter 2006 I was able to release unnecessary stitch-pickiness to allow creativity to flow more easily.  I couldn't believe my good luck to photo them side-by-side.  Aren't they fabulous?

This is a doll by Betts Vidal.  This was my first intro to her work and, wow, is she ever good.  She doesn't like stitching to show on the outside of her dolls, so everything is finished really well.

Betts's faces are exquisite and she shared her secrets with us.  The delicate eyelashes emphasize her feminine forms.  Look at those eyes and that gorgeous chin!

Barbara Willis is new to me too, although I'd heard of her and her famous stuffing fork (every cloth dollmaker has one of these).  Now I know what her dolls are like too -- just wonderful.

This is a soft portrait of a lady by Barbara.  I loved all the details:  buttons, beads, stamped image, hand-dyed ribbons and trim, machine stitching, lace and silk leaves.

Last but not least is a gathering of Patti Medaris Culea's dolls.  I have one of her excellent teaching guides, but there's nothing like having the master hold my hand through an exercise in drawing faces, because hers are superb.  I adore this lady - she's warm and lovely, and really cute to boot.

Li Hertzi and Sally Lampi were also there.  Sally taught me soft sculpture at New Pieces quilt shop in Berkeley about ten years ago, but arthritis has changed her path.  She shared mould-making from soft sculpture, as well as 3-dimensional paper dolls made of wire, white glue and newspaper - I gotta try it.  Incidentally, this woman is hilariously funny.

January 22, 2008

50 Beaded Flowers

Phew, I finished beading all these flowers before losing patience.  Pat on the back to ME!  I thought 50 would be a good start.  They will be sewn to the bottom of this skirt -- some placed on top of floral images and some on the edge.  If you are reading this post during the day, I will be in The Cosmic Queens Do Faces doll class -- hot diggity!

January 21, 2008


Here I go again, making miniscule flowers for my dolls.  When I get bored with it, I promise not to complain.  After all, it's my own doing.  For now, it's fun to make size 15 seed bead blossoms.  They will look spectacular when the dress is done, so it's worth my while.  I often imagine myself working in the light-filled atelier of a clothing designer...  HEY, that's MY sewing room I'm talking about!  Good thing my garments are for dolls.  Would I have the patience for an entire human-sized dress?  I think not.

These are the shoes.  The beads are probably too big, but that's okay.  We have only what we have.

January 19, 2008

The Progress of Mr. Fuji

We haven't had a photo of Mr. Fuji (apple) in a while.  Here he is in all his Sharpei glory!

January 18, 2008


Inspiration comes out of no where.  I saw a white porcelain statuette in a magazine and its shape gave me an idea for doll clothing and hair.  A character in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" wore a hat that I want to make for a doll.  There's no end to creativity since exorcising my post-wedding funk.  I'm grateful that ideas come more often than I have time to realize them in fabric.  Happy Friday to you!

January 17, 2008

AA Fukubukuro & Hair

"Fukubukuro" means "lucky bag" in Japanese.  Stores put them together to sell for the new year, the contents of which are usually a surprise.  I ordered online from Aranzi Aronzo -- they only sell these for a limited period of time to customers outside of Japan.  There are so many goodies:  tool box, year-of-the-rat mouse pad, tote bag, fleece blanket and bag, vinyl pouch, leather zip bag, paper cube, pen/pencil set, pitcher, glass food containers, rathankerchief, wrapping cloth, stickers and envelopes.  Hmm, this is turning into a shopping blog -- unintentional!

The doll's hair is finished.  Although I like it, I thought she might have big hair, esp after yesterday's photo of her laying on the pile of yarn.  However, this is what she has and this is how she'll stay.  I'm satisfied with my good work and am ready to move on to the next doll.

January 16, 2008

Surprise Package

I went to a different library and scooped up more books:  the diary of a 15-year-old daughter of an English noble; The Complete Poetical Works of Byron; and an 1897 printing of The Little Minister by JM Barrie (who wrote Peter Pan).  Amazing, and only $13.

And if new/old books weren't enough to make my day, there was a sort of "fukubukuro" on my doorstep from Masami in Osaka!!  For my upcoming birthday, she said, all of her favorite snacks for me to try, and a couple of Hello Kitty items too.  If only she could have heard my squeals of delight!  Tien and I tried two packages this evening --I love arare.  How lucky I am to have such a generous friend.

Not much progress on the doll, but I did gather yarn for her hair.  What do you think her name should be?  Leave a comment (even if it's anonymous) and I'll choose from your suggestions.

January 15, 2008

Library Book Sale

Regarding felted beads, I thought I'd do a few at a time and end up with lots.  It won't be going that way, I'm sad to say.  I made two more and my shoulders are aching.  This must be a sign to move on.

While waiting to heal (excuse), I went to the library to get a few books for their aged appearances, and left with a fully loaded paper grocery bag.  For $13, I scored a cache of reading material, plus ruined tomes that won't bring guilt after cutting images or antique-y text.  For book collectors, one hardback was 50cents, signed by the authors, with the original dust jacket, and in fair condition.  The price for the same title on an antiquarian bookseller's site is $40!  It's a lovely little volume.

Last thought: I sold all those books on Ebay because I knew I would need space for these?!  Silly girl.

January 14, 2008

Affordable Luxury Shoes

I've figured out how to have a selection of shoes like Carrie wore in Sex and the City, without the pain of wearing them, cuz you know high heels are only comfy when you're sitting down:  I will make them for my dolls.

These are four of my 7 best buddies.  Left to right, standing row is Anita, Sheryl, Diane; front row is Fong and Yours Truly.  We lacked the presence of pals Tzotsy, Christine and Sarah from Beading Day.

January 13, 2008

Nothing Doing

Straightening up the house is my penance for leaving things laying around instead of putting them away immediately.  The only creative work that happened was over the sink with a cloud of roving, a dot of soap and a splash of water, and these two felted beads magically appeared.  If I do a few at a time, eventually I'll have lots.

Who are you wonderful folks who are taking the time to read my blog?  I love knowing you are there and I'm grateful to be part of your world!

January 12, 2008

Bead Weaving

I feel good about the way this doll is progressing.  Tien was impressed with the bead weaving -- not bad for my first attempt!  I used very thin wire for stability.  I tried using thread, but it wouldn't hold the triangle-shape.

January 11, 2008

Magellan, by M2

My friend M2 made this FANTASTIC collaged card for me!  I love it and have been smiling about it ever since I opened the envelope.  It's her photo of Magellan which shows off his shiny black coat, printed onto kimono silk, then painted too -- guess where the silk came from (wink).  Between Magellan, M2, and Me, there are plenty of "M"s to go around, hence the initials among the hearts.  I'm thrilled with this lovely piece of art.  I keep looking at it.  She captured his round saucer-like eyes.

I told you the orange kimono silk would eventually turn up!  I didn't expect it to be quite so soon, but while digging out Firestorm Doll, the silk was in the same box with other unfinished dolls.  That never happens to me!  Usually it's months later, heehee.

We had dinner at a new restaurant and it was yummy.  Normally I prefer grilled foie gras, but they served a "sea salt cured terrine" that was out-of-this-world-delicious.  My cheese plate dessert included the strongest cheese ever.  I luuvvv strong cheeses, but this was AWFUL.  It was a creamy goat's milk surrounded by black crust that is normally present as the veins in bleu cheese.  Tien likes only mild cheeses, but he was curious enough about my bad reaction to try it!  Blechhh.

January 10, 2008

61, But Who's Counting

All the freakin' flowers are done, yippee!  I was challenged to find the rest of the orange kimono silk hidden in my room... which never surfaced... so I filled in two empty spots with half-flowers from an itty bitty snippet and it was just right.  The fabric will turn up at some point and then I can work on the bodice. Until then, my attention will be on Firestorm Doll.

Umm, have you noticed a new item is added to my Etsy shop each day?  It's a daily duty.

January 9, 2008


Making these flowers is getting boring but I've almost got enough.  Now you can see the bald spot on the back of the skirt!

January 8, 2008

Etsy Mini

What do you think of the Etsy Mini function to the right of this post?  Pretty neat, huh?  Etsy and Blogger both make it so easy.  I love it when I don't have to ask for help.

I started working on those 3/4" flowers again.  After making a few more today, I finally had enough to begin attaching them to the skirt form and they look the way I had hoped.  The back still needs about 15 more flowers.  This is one of those instances where I needed to push myself, and then it was easy to keep going.

January 7, 2008

Welcome Changes

Tien helped me make some changes today, most notably by creating the header of my blog.  I think it looks great!  The logo against the gradation of color is beautiful.  Then I figured out how to write with my Wacom Graphire pad.  To get grip using the special pen on the special mousepad, I laid a piece of paper over the mousepad before writing.  That's my actual sloppy penmanship.

ABC Rags website has changes too.  GALLERY is a new page with photos of treats that found new homes in 2007.  Clicking on SHOP takes you to my Etsy store.  Clicking on BLOG takes you back here.

There's nothing like starting 2008 with some welcome changes.  I LOVE IT!

January 6, 2008

Making Journals

Good enough.  Here are all three handmade journals.  The last one (top) still didn't come out perfectly, but one can't expect to be a master when preferring to be a jack of all trades.  Anyway, the point was to bind the pages so the papers stay together and that's what has been done.  Nice thing about Coptic binding is the pages open flat.

The Coptics were early Christians who lived in Egypt.  In 2005 my Egyptian friend Omneya and I looked for the Coptic Museum in Cairo, but even after asking several Tourist Police we were unsucessful.

January 5, 2008

Coptic Stitch Bookbinding

In previous posts, I prepared materials for three journals made from paper grocery bags.  I did a search for tutorials to learn the binding technique and this is the result of my first try.  Not so nice from the outside, but fair.  It's too tight.

This is my second attempt.  It's sewn a little looser, but not up to the standard I hoped for.  This one incorporates beads.

I'll try again one more time.  Now that I've made the necessary mistakes, the next one should be just the way I want it to be.  When I showed Tien, he asked me what the books are for.  Painting, scribbling, rubber stamping, writing, collage, testing new methods... who knows yet?  I just like the texture and the floppy nature of the pages.  Judy Wise does wonderful things in hers.

January 4, 2008

Cosmic Queens Do Faces

I was excited to get this flyer in the mail!  It's a class with cream-of-the-crop doll makers.  I'm signed up and rarin' to learn.  Many years ago, my cousin Jodie and I took a class where instructors were each seated at a table and students roamed the room to spend time with the teacher of their choice (remember Jo?).  This was my introduction to the incomparable elinor peace bailey.  At Berkeley's New Pieces gallery I learned soft sculpture from Sally Lampi -- she's amazing.  Patti Culea will also teach, and her books are my bibles.  What a day this is going to be.  It will expand my small knowledge of drawing faces on dolls.

January 3, 2008

Ironing Paper

Before Christmas I started a project (above photo) from Judy Wise's blog -- man, is she talented.  I worked on it tonight and made good progress.  Actually, it doesn't take too long to spray and iron grocery bags.  Next part is stitching the pages together.  Maybe I can finish the journals tomorrow.

My young nephew Ryan called me from his home in Alameda.  We use Skype to talk, computer-to-computer, and our cameras give us the illusion of being in the same room.  We like to show each other things we've made and talk about things we want to do.  I was tickled PINK when he said, "Auntie, I love spending time with you on Skype in the evening."  That set my heart a-flutter!

January 2, 2008

Sewing Magnets to Paper

Do you still write thank you notes?  I do.  Some are emails and some are handwritten on stationery with postage stamps.  I'm old-fashioned that way...  When we were little, my beautiful Mother insisted on it after Christmas and birthdays.  The chore feels right and proper to me.

Project Runway kept me glued to the TV for an hour.  While watching, I sewed magnets to the cover of my 2008 planner.  That way, the book stays closed with notes that are sometimes tucked inside.  Try sewing a magnet and you'll find how attracted your needle is to it!  My lovely Father bought me a bunch of these really cool magnets with a hole in the center.  They are so strong that several of them can secure a lap-sized quilt to a metal curtain rod for photography.  Once, when the magnets were in two bunches, they slammed together and broke skin, causing a bit of blood to trickle from my hand -- that's how strong they are.

January 1, 2008


Happy New Year to you and success with all (or any) of your resolutions!  As for me, I will not state my own resolves.  I always feel disappointed with myself as soon as I break one.  Usually they fall along the lines of (1) no more fabric purchases until everything in the sewing room is used up; and (2) exercise -- yuck.  The only resolution I will make is to produce inventory on a regular basis, rather than cramming it all in two months before shows are scheduled.  Heh-heh, that's like giving myself permission to play more.  How can I break that promise?

One thing to be updated will be the ABC Rags website.  Tien performed some webmastery for me and now it's my turn to add text and photos to the gallery.  Additionally, I thought I wanted a shopping cart function, but that's too hard when Etsy is so easy.  Do you know about Esty?  It's "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade."  So, I established an account and the website will link to my shop.

I forgot to mention that this Fuji apple came from my Mother's garden.  Mom's organic produce is delicious and we should have eaten this fruit, but I kept saving it and it went soft on us.  M2 reminded me to press seed beads in his eye sockets.  She also said he's got a tumor on his forehead.  She's allowed -- she carved him.  This head is shrinking a lot!

Note to Mum-in-Law:  Happiest of birthdays to you!