Friday, September 30, 2022

FREE On Line Classes!

Check out The Life Book 2023 Free Taster Sessions for 30 mini classes in a 2 week period. FREE- my favorite number! I've only viewed the first couple of classes and am impressed. It looks like there will be a lot of faces that can only help improve your dollmaking skills. If you enjoy or would like to see if you enjoy mixed media art meet some of the teachers and taste the classes for free.

For the whole year long Life Book 2023 course in mixed media art & wellbeing classes with the 30% off offer that runs until end of Dec 2022 that would make the total about $118 USD. But the 2 weeks of taster classes are now and FREE!

I get nothing for promoting these workshops except the satisfaction that I shared it with you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Humble Beginnings

Faerie Pin Dolls From a 2000 Jody-Judy Class 
Made by Judy Skeel

    I moved into my grandparents home when I was 4.  While my brother was in school grandma wanted to watch her “stories” so she gave me fabric, a needle and thread and showed me how to make very simple Barbie Clothes.  All to watch soap operas!  LOL!  At 16 I saw an ad in a magazine for a needle sculpted gnome that I thought was adorable.  I ordered the pattern and made a strange little fella 8-inch out of panty hose: my first needle sculpting!

    Much later, I was always working on something at my boys’ baseball games and practices.  Some of the ladies asked if I could teach them what I was working on.  I was doing craft shows and lots of dried flowers and herb gifts and other small items at the time.  We met in my kitchen for a couple of years and I  came up with a variety of projects including silk ribbon embroidery, painting birdhouses to look like they were in a garden, decorating paper maché boxes and a 6” “Mother Nature” in polymer clay from a Maureen Carlson book.  Then one week they asked if I knew how to make a doll.  I said my typical response, "let me check into it."  I had seen some elinor peace bailey patterns years before at a local store but the new owner thought they were “tacky and disgusting” and got rid of them.  Dollmakers Journey wasn’t around yet so I went to every craft store in town.  I found some Goosebury Hill patterns and purchased an elf pattern who, seated, measured about 12” total and he was needle sculpted. I added a beard to mine and made him a leprechaun playing a figgle I had bought later.  I always had to do something extra when I made something.  I never started doing a basic thing, I always wanted to jump ahead and make the best I could, no matter the craft.  Anywhoo, I showed the girls the elf pattern and we started it the next week. 

Shamus O'Brian

    Still on my quest for good doll patterns, the last store I went to only had Goosebury Hill patterns, so I bought my obligatory craft store supplies (can’t go in one without a purchase!) and I asked the clerk if they had any epb patterns.  She said no and she had never heard of her.  Then I went to put my money on the counter and found attached to the glass a flier stating epb would be IN TOWN in 2 weeks!  I took the entire class to her lecture/ presentation of telling a story or singing a song about each of her dolls she brought and then tossing them out to be passed around the audience to be touched and viewed up close and personal.  Then her slide show presentation with photos of dolls at every skill level from a basic pancake doll to incredible NIADA DOLLS was mind blowing for us.  She talked about each one, sometimes telling stories about those doll artists.  We all 6 drooled in our seats and we all bought multiple patterns.  Funny.  I don’t remember teaching anything but dolls after that for years. 

    I joined the local doll club that hosted epb and became the Guilded Lilies (we're on Face Book).  I found Doll Street which was a big active on line club then and I learned a ton of things there, FOCD (Friends of Cloth Dolls) another on line group, and a third that I think it was called Dolls ‘N Stuff, which is no more.  About a year later Dolls ‘N Stuff had their 2nd retreat.  They were looking for things to do so I said Jody Miller and I wouldn’t mind showing people who were interested how we needle sculpt or do faces.  They advertised it as the Jody-Judy workshop and we instantly became doll teachers and they insisted on paying us.  We didn’t have a clue what to charge and really would have done it for free but as they insisted we charged $5 a person.  Mary Ann Kaahanui and Bonnie B. Lewis had just started Dollmakers Journey and MaryAnn attended the retreat and brought some goodies to sell. (Yay!  More Shopping!)  We never had an idea that DMJ would grow so big!  Big Kudos Paul! 

Faerie Pin Dolls From a 2000 Jody-Judy Class 

Made by Jody Miller

    Jody and I went to many Doll Conferences/ Retreats together as Jody- Judy because everyone called us that if they didn’t know who was who.  We said it didn’t matter, they didn’t have to get it right as we were interchangeable.  Then we’d laugh and introduce ourselves.  After dinner and evening events you could usually find us in our room showing people how we did faces, sometimes till 3 am!   No class, just girls hanging out, sharing.  Loads of fun and awesome memories!!!

    If you’ve never seen epb perform you have missed a real treat!  I understand now why so many call her “The Mother of Dollmaking.”

Monday, September 12, 2022


    I have recently been going through my old doll files, classes, patterns, photos, etc. I just last week finished editing my Cloth Marotte Workshop and this week Dollmakers Journey has it for sale!  I added a lot of information, some drawings and rearranged almost everything.  The Marrotte lesson One has 3 additional pages to it alone.

    Now I am working on Merabella Mermaid, another workshop with 4 lessons.  She is an all cloth doll, has a needle sculpted body and some fun beadwork and other embellishments.  She also has individual articulated fingers in a natural pose.  

So I'm off to eat my lunch and then back to work on Merabella!

Looking for Spring

  Originally published 2/1/14
 Not only are we dealing with subzero temperatures and high winds here at Skeelhaven, but I'm recovering from a total knee replacement from Tuesday of this week. I'm doing my exercises just as I was told and find that I can do more after pushing myself just a little farther. I can't drive, as I'm still on narcotics and frankly bending my leg to get it into the car is a real challenge. So  "house bound and crippled is what my dear cousin calls me. With these temperature that Ohio hasn't seen in several decades I'm thinking the timing is just right.
   I created something new I want to share with you. It's Jack Rabbit in a Box.
   Jack is a cute little stump bodies bunny dressed in his vest and scarf to keep the chilly air away. His ears are wired to give just the most wonderful expression but best of all I love his whiskers.
   The all fabric box is decorated with a Victorian County theme. Together they are a new online workshop that premiers at Joggles in April. I hope you consider coming to frolic in the fields with us as we catch our rabbits.

Back In the Saddle Again!

Well I can't believe how long it's been since I posted!  But I am so much better now than I have been for the last couple of years.

The last doll I made was a almost a year ago at "Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay" (AFICC), which is held here in Columbus and run by Cyndy Sieving, the most organized person I have ever met.  My teacher was Paula McGee, and the doll was her "Willabelle the Weeping Willow."  Paula did my doll's face as I was having trouble with my hands shaking, which was the result of medication and no longer pesters me. (YAY!)

I used (I hope it's past tense!) to have what I lovingly called, "Pattern Acquisition Syndrome" and collected patterns from all sorts of doll artists, but never even opened the patterns, let alone made the dolls, so I have decided to at least read the patterns that appear to have cool techniques like different jointing, wings, variations on needle sculpting the face and wonderful costumes, etc.  I've been learning some fun stuff!  I think my next doll will be someone else's pattern, though I haven't decided who yet.  I'm still reading.

Friday, March 25, 2022

In Regards to My Falling Down:


These are my dream stairs!

     One dark night I went down when I snoozed a few moments at 3 am on the toilet.  I’ve never done that before, fallen asleep on the toilet.  I do take good sleepy time drugs.  I have no idea how long I was there, so I didn't realize my legs were numb until I attempted to stand and then I crumbled to the floor like a wet towel.  I woke up enough to pull my head back so I gently positioned it on the wall instead of smacking it there.  In this small room, between the porcelain god, the tub, a close wall and a strategically placed bathroom scale that gave me a small bruise on my knee I contorted about until I could wake my legs and then walk back to bed an immediately fell back to sleep.  Like I said.  Good drugs.  Nothing was hurt but my pride, but only for a moment as I later found the whole experience quite comical.

     It was just a week later, eight days actually but who is really counting here?  There was a kitchen rug episode in which a rug that had existed, or at least an ancestor had been there, more than 20 years, unexpectedly became a villain.  While in a rush to put a bowl in the sink and go about my business I tripped andI flew head first like a bat out of hell for the lower cupboards in front of the sink.  I pulled back my head in time that it didn’t hit a thing so I only fell on that sinister, now folded fake piece of carpeting.  But the bowl made it safely into the sink just fine, flying like a duck on the wing.  And the 4” by 8” rug was pulled from the kitchen immediately after Craig helped me up.  There’s nothing like a man hearing a crash in the next room rushing to save the day!  My hero!  That must have been the end of last year as D-I-L Alisha bought me a cushy padded mat that sticks to the floor with tapered edges, so I’m good in the kitchen now.   It’s more comfy to dance on while I’m at the sink, too. 

     The next time I fell was while I was painting a border on the dining room walls just after enlarging the room 2 feet.  Yes, 2 feet.  Craig’s mom had a table that was huge, but still Craig insisted it go in our miniscule dining room because he grew up with it.  And it is a fine table.  Just enormous.  Without the 2 leaves.  We couldn’t back up to get out of our chairs as they were already pressed against the wall!  So one day I casually said (in a I’m-kidding-but-no-not-really-voice) that when we move my studio to the basement and before Son Shawn expands his space into the room adjacent to the dining area we should move this wall 2 feet and enlarge the dining room.  He loves me very much and after measuring and calculating and tapping on walls as all Tim the Tool Man men do, he said that he could.  I knew he absolutely could as I believe my man can do anything, like jack up our house 4 feet and build a basement, where my said studio was promised, and turned out to be just awesome. That’s another story for another time. 

     Well, impatient Craig started removing the wall before I was even packed to move the studio and he started asking me move my things so he could work.  Anywhoo, Craig, he likes to leave his tools in the room until it’s done, which meant moving the two tables (Yes two.  One was his grandmothers that we used before his mother’s that arrived 5 years ago and he said Nanny’s table was “too good for the barn or the basement” and so for 5 years it sat at the far end of the gi-hugic table up smashed between the wall and the afore mentioned Mother’s table in our  room.)  Anywhoo (again!) so I needed to move his circular saw that was where I needed to sit on a stool to hand paint a leaf border just above the chair rail.  The saw was heavy so I just rotated it so I wouldn’t have my leg up against anything dangerous while I was distracted painting.  You may have noticed I’m a klutz and an accident waiting to happen so I was trying to be cautious.  I didn’t notice that this 7-inch-stick-out-handle-looking-thing stuck out.  It was black. Over dark burgundy carpet.  While I had my glasses off because I was hand painting details.  So I stood up slowly to pay attention to the sore knee then tried to scoot backwards so as to not spill the paint I had sensibly sat on my stool when said handle reached out and grabbed my leg and knocked me on my behind.  I slammed into a corner of the Grandmother Clock dead center between my shoulder blades.  I didn’t break the clock glass and the hit was placed just the right way between my shoulders and missed my spine, fortunately, where I had back surgery a year ago.  I’m still protective of my little surgery spot.  The clock chimes made a colossal racket for a couple jiffies while  I was a wee bit dazed and I just sat there, being glad that I had started carrying my cell phone on me at all times as Brian insisted about 7 years ago, and so I pondered whether  I needed to call anyone.  Shawn worked evenings and Craig was at the church for worship team rehearsal which is 15 minutes away in Galena. So I sat quietly and I looked up when Shawn came around the corner from the stairs and into the kitchen.  He had the night off for no apparent reason but to rescue his mommy.  As a good son he flew across the floor to make sure I wasn’t dead yet.  I actually said, “I’m not dead yet.”  (We’re serious Monty Python fans.)  So he helped me up.   Again, no injuries, not even a sore spot between my shoulders.  This happened less than a month ago. 

     And then there was the studio chair incident of 5 days ago.  I was seated, leaning over to pick up a small box, lightweight and all, while sitting on the edge of my studio rolling desk type chair.  I felt myself inching forward, half inching actually.  I didn’t feel like I would take too long to lift that lightweight box before needing to adjust my position when all of a sudden I skated off the chair, slammed to the concrete floor and I smacked my head on the chair’s rounded seat bottom that was abundantly harder than Mt. Rushmore as it suddenly stopped against the shelving behind the chair.  6 days later and I still have a sore spot!  So, son Brian was helping to carry studio supplies to the basement.  He heard the crash and laughed thinking I just knocked over the big stack of boxes on the table.  Well he apologized profusely when he found me on the floor.  He’s a good son.  Both my guys are.  Trapped between the table, a big heavy box and a wooden stool, I couldn’t get up.  Craig appeared with another stack of boxes, he shook his head, then he and Brian each took an elbow and lifted me up.  Besides my head, again I was fine.

     Honestly, I think I have about a dozen Guardian Angels around me ALL THE TIME!  They are not quick enough to keep me from hitting the floor, but they do make it a bit easier by always having someone nearby to pick me up and they keep me from sending a call to my beloved paramedics for a joyous trip to the ER.  Thank God for Guardian Angels!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Dusty Moon Assistant to the Queen of Fae


     My newest pattern release Dusty Moon is actually an old pattern created for my local doll club, the Guilded Lilies.  We wanted to design a new pattern book (it was our second or third publication, I’m not sure) and the concept was for multiple people to create a story.  One person would create a chapter, create dolls for her characters, design a pattern to go along with the dolls and then another person would pick up and continue the story until it was complete.  Well the idea was wonderful but I believe only 2 or 3 of us actually added to the story.  There was a magical tree created as well as a beautiful little girl named Teeny in a pinafore, both created by Inez Brasch.  Inez gave those dolls to me but alas, I am in the process of moving my studio back to my ground level entry basement now that I have recovered from back surgery, and I've no clue which box those dolls are in.  I'll post them someday.


     Anywhoo, my character was Dusty Moon, assistant to the Queen of Fae.  She is elderly, as she has held the position for a very long time and knows how to best care for the queen.  I made the doll, designed a pattern with the basics for our booklet and recently revised the pattern with all the bells and whistles.


     Dusty has a sweet elderly face that includes needle felted eyebrows and lashes.  She is a stump doll, so she stands on her own and wears a vest of handmade chenille, which the pattern explains how to create.  The vest includes six interior pockets, each full of necessities including miniature bottles of herbs for healing teas, a spool of thread and a miniature brass mirror.  Dangling from her belt are other basic needs: an assortment of keys, a miniature brass fan that actually folds open and closed, an hourglass and a flask - for medicinal purposes, of course.  On her back Dusty totes a pack full of assorted scrolled documents with decrees from the Queen herself.  Originally Dusty held a 1¼ inch book, but it seems to be packed somewhere with Teeny and the tree.       

     This pattern is available at my Etsy shop as a PDF and at Dollmakers Journey in printed form.  You can purchase my PDF Dusty Moon Pattern here.

You can purchase a paper copy of my Dusty Moon Pattern at Dollmakers Journey.