It’s the Holiday Season and I’m at the kitchen table having a cup of coffee and a Snickers bar. As usual, time keeps flying, and again, a year and six months have passed since my last post. Since then, Liz and I made three dolls for Miracle Mile Toys, a wonderful store that just moved to its new location at 5464 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The dolls are styled after Raggedy Ann, but with original faces and other touches. I call them Olive, Opal and Oralia, in the tradition of each doll having a name starting with “O,” after my little grandson, now four. “O” carried the dolls into the toy store last Friday in their wooden box and delivered them to Christine. They now sit on shelves throughout the store, playing with the other toys at night, after the store closes.
The dolls have hand-embroidered faces, eyes looking to the right or left, and red felt hearts. They wear bloomers under their dresses so they can do cartwheels, climb trees, ride bikes and do anything else they choose. They’re tomboys, after all, and can easily change from a dress into jeans and a tee-shirt. They have red and white striped leggings, black boots and wear their long hair in pigtails or braids, so they can run faster and climb higher. The dresses are made from a small floral print fabric from International Silks and Woolens. Finally, the dresses have pockets to hold small treasures found while playing outside, or for coins for the gumball machine.
My love of rag dolls began years ago when my three year old daughter got a Raggedy Ann for Christmas. Then, in 2011, she brought back a Raggedy Andy found in a thrift store in Costa Rica. He was losing his stuffing and had to be taken apart and rebuilt. After that, I made a series of Raggedy Ann’s with different colored hair, and helped my niece, Sally, make an Andy. Raggedys are fun to play with because of their bendable arms and legs and soft, cuddly bodies. I made hair made from tee-shirts strips, stretched and sewn on in separate bundles, so it can move and fly around in funny ways when the doll does flips and cartwheels, as rag dolls love to do.
Since my last blog post, Raphael and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and saw some wonderful impressionist paintings, not to mention the Met itself! And this past fall, here at LACMA, we saw two great exhibits: Chagall and Carlos Almaraz. Go, if you can.
Have a great Holiday! More in 2018!
It’s the first day of summer and I’m here at the Farmer’s Market at a blue-topped table, having a cup of hot chocolate with the tiniest bit of whipped cream. As usual, time keeps flying by and I can’t believe it’s been six months since my last post. Since then, Liz and I made two boy dolls in a series called “Peter Patches,” or “Oatie 1, 2 and 3.”
The original Oatie was made for my little grandson, “O,” who is now in Costa Rica. “Oatie” was featured in my Christmas blog post in 2013. The newer dolls were made for two little nephews in New York and Massachusetts. Oatie 2 is the sandy haired one and Oatie 3 the dark haired one, shown here.
Girls have always been given dolls. I had quite a collection and loved playing with them when I wasn’t riding my bike, roller-skating, climbing trees and playing baseball. But it’s still considered controversial for boys to play with dolls, not to mention owning one. However, that may be changing. I don’t think we should try to make little boys into little girls, or vice versa, but I also think it’s healthy to give both girls and boys a variety of toys, including dolls, and let them decide what to play with.
Another project which has yet to make it out of my brain is a dancing doll video, where the dolls in their ball gowns and their partners in tuxes “dance” to a Strauss Waltz. I’m not sure how to do it, but will keep you posted as it progresses.
Other projects in the works are sundresses and skirts from a pattern I made by copying a vintage blue and white polka dot dress that Liz and I found at garage sale a few years ago. I also use it for making vintage full skirts. Last weekend, using this pattern, I created the “Sashay” skirt, which has a wide waistband, slash pockets and ties in the back.
I love the fabric with giant red tulips on a black background, surrounded by bright green stems. The great thing is it fits perfectly because you can adjust the waist by tightening or loosening the sash; hence “Sashay.” (You also feel like sashaying when you wear it!) I think this skirt can be made to fit any body type and be flattering and I’m looking forward to making lots of them.
Next week, Raphael and I are off to Costa Rica. I hope to have lots to report next month.
In the meantime, have a great week. And go see some art!
Here I am at a blue-topped table at the Farmer’s Market, just about to have a cup of hot chocolate with the tiniest bit of whipped cream. Christmas is over, but Santa's workshop is just getting started for late holiday gifts and gifts for Christmas 2016, with my sewing partners, Liz and Sallie.
Liz and I are working on two more of the “Peter Patches” doll, also known as “Oatie,” one for a new baby and one an ‘old’ baby, in our extended family, which stretches from the west coast to the east. These are boy babies, but we also have a brand new girl baby in Costa Rica, and one on the way in NYC, so we will be making “Polly Patches” dolls soon! (We may need Sallie’s help.)
But most momentarily, Liz and I just finished Cordelia, the doll that I promised my Montana sister, Vera, who finally got shipped off with a box of See’s last week and arrived in Missoula yesterday. (The doll, not my sister!) Cordelia has been in the works for the past few years and is the first of the “Tomboy” dolls I wrote about on an earlier blog post. (Sometimes it takes awhile for inspiration to turn into industry!) The doll is the first with Raggedy-type arms and legs that bend, and red and white striped leggings with flatheeled black boots, with long feet reminiscent of Pipi Longstocking. Liz made her purple taffetta dress with matching ribbons down the back. She also has delicate, daisy-trimmed bloomers and a black eyelet petticoat with a gold ribbon waistband.
A year ago, Liz and I made a doll for Liz’s friend Allie. This doll was made in time for Burning Man, where Allie likes to go, and had a tutu, leg warmers, and a tiny “Burning Man” logo necklace. Earlier this year, Liz and I made a similar style doll for another friend. These dolls are a little smaller and look to the side, rather than straight ahead. See some pictures here and we will be posting them on the Doll Gallery soon.
In the New Year, dollsbysasha will be venturing into some original vintage style dresses for grownups based on the doll dresses, which should be fun, as well as some scarves with the faces of dolls on them. You may notice that we have a new format and a new “Contact” page. We want to hear your comments and ideas about the dolls, art and creativity and will try to respond.
Hope you are having a lovely holiday season. Now go see some art!
See you next year
Sasha and Liz
I’m here at the Farmer’s Market at an orange-topped table, having a hot chocolate with just the tiniest bit of whipped cream. For our loyal readers, as well as for any newcomers, I’ve been on hiatus from doll making for the past six months or so. But now, I’m back, with a new little grandson, known as “Little "O"!
Little “O,” at four months old and wanting to put everything in his mouth, is the cutest little love bug ever! (I have started to talk like this on a regular basis.) And it seems that if there were ever a time to kid-test a doll, this is it. Ever since Sofi brought the torn Raggedy Andy back from Costa Rica, I’ve been making Raggedys, and have even taught my little niece, Sallie, to make them. (Please see earlier blog posts.)
There is something so huggable and danceable about a Raggedy, that I wanted to create my own, and several years ago, drew a prototype. But it took the arrival of Little “O" for me to get busy and make “Oatie,” suitable, judging by Little “O’s” reaction, for babies, because "O” loves him, chews his hair, hugs him, and sleeps with him.
Oatie is made like a Raggedy Andy, but a little thinner, with black boots, blue and white striped legs instead of red and a thinner face. He has a lopsided smile and eyes that look mischievously to the right. He has black hair which can be tied into a topknot, imitating Little “O’s” natural mohawk. “O” and Oatie are best friends and now even have matching outfits.
In the new year, with Sofi’s help, I hope to make variations on the Oatie doll, to be called Peter and Polly Patches, the American version, or Paulo and Paulina Remiendos, the Costa Rican version. We also have plans for other new dolls, and hope to get Sallie’s help in making them!
In the meantime, we’re happy to reintroduce our guest blogger of the month, Erika, who recently moved back to Indiana. Here is her blog post about her trip and the dolls that went with her.
Have a very Happy New Year! See you next week!
Guest Post by Erika
Recently, I had to relocated to Bloomington, Indiana. It was an immediate and happy event that made me have to pack quickly and carefully. I began packing all my favorite childhood dolls, I kissed each doll before she went in a box, and I wrapped each one in tissue paper swaddling them so that they would be perfect when they got to Indiana. They had to be put deep in a trailer called, “Pack Rats.” I know that they did not like it that much, but they knew that they would be well taken care of.
When I got to my two last dolls, I could not bring myself to pack them. One was a doll given to me by a Japanese student of mine, and it is called, “Kokeshi.” It is a wooden hand painted doll that stands upright. Another Japanese student of mine told me that if I had a Kokeshi that I should never let her be on her side, to do so would bring bad luck! This was one of the reasons that I could not part with her because I thought if the box fell then what would I do? While I was continuing to pack I reserved a basket for kokeshi.
Then I thought Kokeshi needs a friend. Well, my good friend, Sasha, had shown me one day in the spring a doll that she purchased at the farmers market in LA. It was a blond mermaid with the most adorable face! One of the things I had to get before I left was a mermaid doll for myself. I went one day when I could and I went to the store and found the mermaid doll. I fell in love with the doll with black hair. I thought she would be perfect to go with kokeshi.
When I packed my car, I had Kokeshi standing upright in her basket right by my side and mermaid. They were so helpful, every time I got into my car I kissed them and rubbed their heads and wished for a safe journey for both me and my husband, and all of our stuff. I also made sure that kokeshi was standing upright!
The first night that I pulled out of LA with my husband and my dolls and a few clothes for the trip we drove to St. George Utah, then Grand Junction Colorado, then Denver Colorado, then Salina Kansas, then our last hotel was in Columbia Missouri. Each night that we arrived at our destination I brought Kokeshi and Mermaid into the hotel room to protect us and keep us safe. It may seem strange, but we arrived safely and soundly and almost everything has gone well since. This is a picture of the two dolls at on the bedside table. As I type this in beautiful Indiana with the gorgeous trees surrounding me, Kokeshi and Mermaid sit on my bedside table protecting and watching over us! I hope you enjoyed my story and journey!
I'm sitting at the desk which doubles as a writing and sewing table on the first Sunday of Spring, gearing up to re-organize my sewing room, which has almost become a storage room. It's gotten so cluttered, that if I don't do something, I won't be able to concentrate on dolls or blogs or anything else other than the stuff behind me. (There is something to be said for feng shui!)
Since the holidays, I've been busy with my day job and have had to put sewing and doll making aside. But recently, some time has opened up and I'm anxious to start working on the ballet dolls.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a Youtube clip of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia
Marakarova dancing to Chopin's mazurkas, played by Jerry Zimmerman, circa 1977.
It was so charming, not to mention breathtakingly athletic and beautiful, the way only ballet can sometimes be, that I've watched it at least ten times and never get tired of the music or the dancers. (How wonderful to find something so alive from the past brought into the present!)
It seems daunting to even attempt to make a ballet doll after watching real dancers such as these. My original inspiration for the ballet dolls is a pastel by Miriam Boroff, an artist who lived across the street when we moved here thirty years ago, then moved away. Sadly, she died last year at age 99 in San Diego.
The pastel of these two young ballerinas hangs below the window above my sewing table, where I see them every time I sit down to sew. The doll head here is the first face I have hand drawn with markers, rather than embroidering and it's rough copy of the ballerina's face on the left. I now see that I'll have to make red braids to wind into buns on each side of her head.
Well, the sun is shining and the trees have burst into bloom outside my sewing room windows. So I'll roll up my sleeves and begin. Later, after a walk, I plan to make a fresh start on the dolls, with a clean, organized room behind me.
Have a great week And go see some ballet!
I'm back at the Farmer's Market on a brisk Wednesday morning at a blue-topped table, having a hot chocolate with just the tiniest bit of whipped cream. I just came from Kip's Toyland where I visited their growing assortment of mermaid dolls and mini-mermaids that come in their own little purse with a "pearl" clasp. As you may have seen on an earlier post, Sophie and I have our own mermaid with a green heart, a patterned green tail, matching arms, and flowing neon green hair with gold highlights. For now, her only garment is a green, brown and coral fishnet-like shawl. I showed her to Erika, who came over for dinner last weekend, and we agreed that Maricruz, as I call her, needs a little swimmer's top, so I will make one soon.
The mermaid dolls at Kip's are somehow enchanting. They're about 16" tall, but made so that they sit. They come with brown, black, red or blond hair and with different colored sparkly bodies and tails. They're made by a company called "Aurora," and for some reason, I love them! I gave a redheaded mermaid to Sallie for Christmas, and she agreed!
I want to see if I can make a similar doll with a sparkly green tail. But first, I want to make a "merman" to swim with Maricruz. He will have a brown patterned tail and arms, a green heart, and brown seaweed hair with blue and green streaks.
It's always exciting to start a new doll. Currently, I'm working on three dolls, two of which will be a new type. One is a traditional "Moulin Rouge" style, for my niece who recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz. Another will be the first of the "Tomboy Dolls," which I wrote about last year but have yet to make! And the third is a little ballerina named "Pomegranate," the first doll for which I drew the face, rather than embroidering it.
In other news, Sophie and I will be putting a few dolls up for sale on Etsy. Details will follow and we invite your comments.
Meanwhile, the Munequitas, which you have seen a lot of recently, remain unfinished. They're lined up in their stands on the bureau, having lots of fun, as if to say, "No pressure, Sasha. Whenever you get around to finishing us is fine with us!"
And I do want to finish them. Sophie and I started making lots of small dolls when she was here this past summer and fall and I now need to create a unique and colorful outfit for each one!
On a final note, Rafael and I are now proud members of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which is a short walk from our office. So expect to hear more this year about the art that is there!
Hope your New Year is starting out strong. Have a good week! And go see some art!
I'm here at the Farmer's Market at a yellow-topped table, surrounded by Christmas shoppers, having a hot chocolate with just the tiniest bit of whipped cream. Last Sunday, Sallie came over to work on Raggedy Ann and today, she's coming back so we can finish the dress and start on some Christmas gifts. Sallie wrestled with Annie as she sewed on the bundles of hair. It took a couple of hours and afterwards, we walked to my favorite fabric store, International Silks and Woolens, to choose material and ribbon for Annie's dress.
After a long break, which included a spaghetti dinner, we started the dress. Sallie cut out the skirt and then machine-basted two long rows for the gathering. I cut out the top and the sleeves, we "gathered" them and I attached one sleeve before she left. Today, we'll start by attaching the other sleeve.
In the meantime, back in Puerto Viejo, Sophie is working on a group of munequitas and one larger doll with a coffee sack for a body that has a very Picasso-ish look. I can't wait to see the finished products!
Today, while Sallie works on Annie's dress, I plan to make skirts and blouses for the small dolls. Then, we may go back to ISW for some green, sparkly material to make Christmas pillows and mermaid tails!
I hope you are able to take some time to explore your creative side this holiday season. It's more fun than shopping and costs a lot less!
In the meantime, Happy Holidays and have a great week!
Last Saturday was the Global Bazaar at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in Los Angeles. There were potters, jewelers, lots of merchants of fair trade items from such diverse places as Panama to Palestine, beautiful ornaments made from junk mail and my favorite, miniature Christmas trees made from pine cones and bottle caps.
Although I had been preparing for the past few months with Sophie's help, it was intense in the last few days. At four a.m. on Saturday, I was making petticoats and finishing a dress for one of the big dolls and at 9:00 a.m., was sewing the hair on Edwina, one of the small dolls.
Finishing the dolls was one thing; setting up and displaying them was another. Sophie figured out how to place the dolls on a fabric "frame" with fishing wire so they look like they're coming out of the picture. Carmen, Delphine and Stella Della Mara, the mermaid doll, were displayed this way. Mimosa and one of the new dolls, Meg Hunt, got to sit in the yellow and blue flowered Mexican chairs from Olvera Street. Mitzi and the newest doll, Lila, were lolling about on the table amidst the paper flowers, also from Olvera Street, hoping some children would come along to play. Later in the afternoon, Sallie arrived with a friend in tow and obliged, so the dolls were happy.
Lots of friends and family showed up to see the dolls and wander through the bazaar. They also got to see CAFAM's current show featuring tattoo art, and the gift shop, which always has great items from around the world, and is very affordable.
Next Sunday, Sallie is coming over for a pre-holiday sewing day. Santa's workshop will be open, the sewing machine will be whirring, scraps of cloth will be flying and who knows what dolls will be born at that session!
Have a great week and start enjoying the holidays - they go by fast!
I’m here again at the Farmer’s Market at a red-topped table, having a cup of hot chocolate with just the tiniest bit of whipped cream. Sophie and I have been working these past few months on the small dolls, especially the boy/girl pairs designed with the national colors of Costa Rica in mind. And Sophie has designed a mermaid doll, which we hope to have pictures of soon.
At the same time, I’ve been redesigning some of the bigger dolls and creating new dolls for the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum’s Global Bazaar, to be held on November 24, 2012, at CAFAM in Los Angeles. For more information, please check their website at http://www.cafam.org/.
Meanwhile, Halloween is almost here and Sallie is coming over tomorrow to make “Quick Witch” dolls and finish her Raggedy Ann. It’s hot today and going to be 85 tomorrow, so we’ll be drinking lemonade and trying to stay cool while we sew, but it’s always fun.
Have a Happy Halloween, and check back with us soon for more news on the dolls and the CAFAM Global Bazaar!