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Friday, August 12, 2011

Lost in the Summer Heat

On the heels of Artistic Figures in Cloth followed a whirl wind of activity, none of it included interviewing teachers, presenting art work or reviewing books for this blog. So I thought I would give you a picture trail of my late spring and summer activities. Then I will have you caught up with my 4 month hiatus from the blog.  I will not have to go through apologies for my lack there of and go right back reporting items of interest.

AFIC staff all volunteer all happy to help
 Artistic Figures in Cloth was over the staff went home. Someone needed to clean up and finalize everything.  Mike and I had the job of finishing everything off.  Paying the last of the bills, packing up the props and supplies that would be used for Artistic Figures in Cloth & Clay 2013 and preparing the CD with the pictures from the convention.  This took most of the month of May to complete all of that and then some. The next thing we knew May was over and then came June.

Cyndy relaxing at the tea

    June would prove to be here and gone before I knew it. Mainly because of a decision I had made back in the winter of 2010. I planned a party for mid June. It seemed logical at the time.   I would have a Mad Hatter Tea Party in my back yard.  This would get me out in the yard to plant, mulch, weed, mow and do all those task that were not attended to because of the preparation of AFIC.  Otherwise I will just want to rest and putting of the these chores. All the while my yard would grow wild and the neighbors would grow angry.  
     The rain was crazy this year.  I had to work in the yard between down pours. The heat came in and it seemed more like August then June. The party was planned for the second week in June.  Working between the rain and the in the miserable heat I managed to get everything in order.The yard looked great the flowers were beautiful and the garden gleamed but I have to tell you.  All the while I was working I was thinking....It seemed like a good idea at the time.  To properly decorate this crazy party table I stopped at Thrift stores on the way home from work every night picking up miss matched china, tiers, and Mad Hatter type items to decorate the table and yard. The Party was so much fun.  We had finger foods, tea and jam, fruit and honey, scones and cupcakes.  There was a Cheshire cat in the tree and Kraft of potions with tags that said "drink me" and little cakes that said "eat me".  The only thing missing was the Queen of Hearts and the Crockett set....maybe next year.

   June was practically over by this time.  Next on my agenda was Kids Camp. Grandview Museum of Arts and Crafts runs a 6 week Kids Camp.  This runs from the last week of June through the first week of August.  I committed to prepare and teach 4 classes this year.  I love working with children and teaching any art and crafts to them is as much fun for me as it is for the kids.
  We made Troll huts for the trolls the kids made earlier in the week.  I partnered the kids up and using Stiffy, fabric and hair driers we created miss shaped huts. We added tea lights in a bundle of raffy making what looked like a camp fire in the center of the hut.  The class was loads of fun and everyone helped their partner during the drying process. They loved watching fabric turn into a stiff hut.
   The second class were puppets made from socks and felt. My favorite class was the paper clay classes.  Baby birds and turtles were made and painted all the same day.  To speed up the process we used Styrofoam balls in the center with a light covering of paper clay and dried them in the dehydrators.  The lizard class is the kids all time favorite.  They wrap toy lizards in ribbons and threads then they glue beads and jewels onto the wrappings. 

Hidden Treasures
adorn with ribbon works.

 Now August has arrived and the summer is almost over but not quite.  I have a class to teach in my guild. It is a class technique on ribbon works.  Not embroidery ribbons but manipulation of ribbon to be used on costumes, and art works.  I wanted to teach 4 very specific types and variations of working ribbon and have a project that was completed at the end of the class.  How to make something that did not look over ribbonated! Yes you can have too much of a good thing. So the idea of creating more than a doll to put them on came to mind.  Using paper Mache boxes I was able to create a space inside and outside the boxes to apply the ribbon techniques to.  Along with the decoration of the bust.  These are two of the samples.  I also have two more in the works, a Goth and a Halloween theme. 
  My class is ready to teach on the 27th of August but before that happens I am taking a vacation.  New York, NY for a bit of shopping, sight seeing , taking in a play and dinner.  I am driving into PA to visit my sister and then taking a train into the city to have a darn good time.  When I get back I will be as right as rain and ready to post!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Susie McMahon - No Words Needed Just Pictures

I can't express the artistry that Susie McMahon possesses.  Her uniqueness of expression and skill in figurative art is amazing.  Susie is what most Art Doll  and figurative artist aspire to.  Not only is her work creative, new and inspirational.  She easily swings from a progressive figurative art to traditional art dolls and then without a blink of an eye she is making something playful you might even classify it as cute. You will never be able to pigeon hole Susie but you can take one look at her work and you know it was created by a master artist. You can visit Susie's web site click here

Susie McMahon is packing her bags and checking them twice. Once she boards that plane there is no way she can have someone send her a little something she has forgotten? Susie is from Australia and she is one of two Australian artists coming to Artistic Figures in Cloth to teach and share the joy of art doll making with us.  I was so green with envy about her teaching at AFIC knowing that I would not be able to take a class with her.  So I traveled down to Kentucky this past fall and took a class from her while she was on tour in the United States.  Susie has been in recent years been flying the skies about once a year and teaching in the US for 3-4 months at a time.  This year her trip is very short.  She is only teaching two places and then back to Australia to see a new grand baby to be born.  So it is not a wonder her mind, hand and heart has been working non stop on these Sweet Tweets!

I was not a surprise when her class filled with in a little over a month.  In addition to AFIC Susie will also be teaching at Magic, Mischief and Mayhem in there new location Sanford, Florida. Dates for this class are April 15, 16, and 17. Class will take place in Annie Hesse’s studio. Click here to visit Magic Mischief and Mayhem web site.   

Susie will have a few dolls to sell at AFIC so be sure to save your pennies.  They are so hard to resist.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fine Cloth Dolls by Leta Benedict

Let me introduce you to Leta Benedict as a artist and a teacher

Leta Benedict - First Flight
 I often say you can tell how good a teacher is by what their students produce. Leta has a special way about her that allows beginners and advanced students to feel not only comfortable but they thrive in her workshops. She is able to instruct all levels as a group then attend to each one of her student individually.  As a student you get the maximum benefit  no madder what your skill level is. Here is an example of what I am talking about. Above is the workshop Leta taught at Artistic Figures In Cloth in 2003 “First Flight”. I was fortune enough to get pictures of two of her student’s creations.
Vicki Lamer's First Flight AFIC 2003 became
Don't Drink and Fly

Liz Seibold First Flight AFIC 2003
Vicki Lamer was a advanced-beginner doll maker (this is a beginner doll maker with good sewing skills) at the time she took the class. Liz Seibold in was a Advanced doll maker. They were both in the same class, they both got the same instruction and they both received individual attention.  Yet each of them could indulge themselves in their own vision while creating a fabulous art figure. Beginner or advance, Leta had what it took to guide them through the process.  Her students do not get frustrated, or feel left out.  Advance students do not get bored or feel like they are miles ahead of the class.  Neither student had ever used Leta’s particular technique before, how could they so easily master the techniques?  It is simply, Leta is a teacher and a darn good one.  She holds nothing back, sharing her knowledge and skill.  You can see it in her work. You can see it in her students work. 
Memories - Leta Benedict

Bastet - Leta Benedict

Leta loves to make figures with delicate features. Her costuming is detailed, she pays attention to color and how the fabric flows on the dolls body. This adds to the doll by giving it movement and character. Do you like china doll faces? Does the seam line bother you?  Leta makes the most pristine faces out of cloth. No seam line.  Yes these dolls are all made out of cloth. As you can see from these different close ups of her dolls there are no seam lines down the front of the face.

Vivian's Masquerade - Leta Benedict

Leta had taken several years off from art dolls, and art to take care of her family.  She is now ready to jump back into pattern making, and teaching.  I was so happy when she answered the call to apply to AFIC 2011. Many people have been waiting for her to teach again.

 Her one day class for Bastet is full but Vivian’s Masquerade 2 day class still has a few openings.The figure is free standing, and has a lot of wonderful elements to it.   Leta would be happy to have doll makers and artist of all levels. Full view of this class can be found at AFIC Click Here

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I could tell you about Fran Parrigan Meehan


Fran Parrigan Meehan can show you the way

I could tell you that Fran has been published in magazines, Cloth Dolls & Animals, Doll Crafter, Doll Crafter & Costuming, and Dolls. I could tell you she was asked to send a doll to the museum: Janina Monkute-Marks museum in Lithuania.

I could tell you Fran has an Art Doll in Patti Medaris Culea fifth book Creative Cloth Explorations. I could tell you that she has taken college courses in fashion and pattern design.

I could tell you you lots of impressive facts about Fran, but nothing is more impressive than an artist work. Fran designs, creates dolls and other artsy in various art mediums. Experimenting with all kinds of products and new techniques, Fran has mastered the art and teaching of doll making in cloth, mixed mediums, collage, paper collage, wire, odds & ends stuff, clay and all other artsy mediums. The sky is truly the limit when it comes to creating artistic figures.

 I could tell you Fran submitted a large volume of work to be considered at AFIC. It is much easier to show you. I had to pick only two pieces from all the classes she offered. I am only showing the close up pictures of the faces here. I am sure you will recognize the attraction to her classes. Outstanding facial work! Are you a beginning doll maker? Are you a Doll Artist improving your detailing skills? Her workshops are geared for you. Fran’s AFIC workshops concentrate on sculpting, applied costuming and face painting with a critical eye for fine skill detailing that will make each one of there art works come alive.
I could tell you how Fran loves to manipulating ribbons, paper, wire mesh, beads, dried flowers, stems, feathers and anything else I can find. She has developed a way to preserve and use rose pedals on dolls. Yes I said delicate, thin rose pedals! How cool is that? Her class Flutter Rose is a study of face sculpting, painting and preservation of nature utilizing rose pedals. These pedals are a permanent feature on the body of the figure.

Flutter Rose AFIC Workshop

See the classes that were chosen for AFIC Click here

I could tell you what Fran told me about her classes.
"My classes would be good for the beginner and others. Especially if they want to learn how to draw and color the face, sew the body, attach the head, arms and legs to the body, use decorative fabric for arms & legs, make shoes and clothing, etc etc. Delphine Rose is a fun doll to make. She can have any costume the student wants her doll to have.  Flutter Rose would be good for the beginner also. Using my real rose technique for the body is really interesting and fun. Haven't seen it done before. I'll also show how to use other colors on the rose petal to make them various other colors."

 I could tell you you that there are many sides to Fran’s art, but seeing is believing. One of her passions is sculpting from clay. She sculpts a face or figure from the waist up from polymer clay. She then sends them off to a master mold maker, Jeff Goshon. Although Fran has taken mold making classes, she feels that her time is better spent on creating. Learning and mastering well made molds is an art of its own. I was so impressed with the quality of her molds I ask Fran if she would demonstrate her molds during the Ice Cream Social Saturday night. To my surprise she has just finished two brand new molds, Victoria and Le Pincushion Lady. She will also have many different face molds too. I was delighted that she chose AFIC to debut her new little darlings. Molds are easy to use. You can use clay, paper clay, pulp paper, air dry clay, bread dough clay

I could tell you you Fran has taken sculpting classes with Earlene Maple Bromer, Lewis Goldstien, Helidagrad Guzel, Sherry Goshon, Maryann Oldenburg, Marilynn Huston, Diane Keeler and Helidagrad Guzel

I could tell you so many things about Fran. But I believe she best says it best her self.   Quoting a phrase she coined in 1996

“Dolls Are My Canvas Within My Soul”

Visit Fran at AFIC or see her anytime at her blog:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cris Cross

Beyond the Troll: Basic Face Felting

Don’t miss your chance to learn from one of the best felting teachers. Artistic Figures In Cloth only allows teachers to teach two years in a row. Then they must take a year off. This helps me to rotate teachers and keep the convention fresh. This is Esther Bechler second year teaching at AFIC; she will have to take 2013 off, and can not be invited back until 2015. Her classes are packed full of little details and unique tricks of the trade.

Esther specializes in felting and applied felting. The detail she puts into all her figures is amazing giving them a life of their own. She can not resist adding those special little touches that makes her dolls and critters take on movement. She is always adding special touches. Self taught she has had no fear in creating out side of the box. Esther is obsessed with felting and has developed interesting and different classes with the ideal workshops so anyone can learn. She could care less if you are a first time or advanced felter. Esther can teach you to felting great faces. Her class this year is devoted to taking you Beyond the Troll face and right into needle felted faces.

I could not resist showing some of her critters, She taught a bear workshop in 2009.  She gave her students the freedom to create any type of bear they wanted,  it was so much fun. As you can see humanizing fruit and vegetables is not out of her realm either. She can create just about anything using a felting needle and some wool.

Cris Cross
Felting  skills can be used many different ways and Esther's puppets are leading the way!

Felting on a commercial purse
The other workshop she is instructing, Fellowship of the Sleeve,  may just seem juvenile at first but take a closer look!  This class has all the fabulous felting techniques and you can learn them in just one day.  This technique can be used to cross over to applied felting, purses, table runners – uses in dry felting faces, eyes, ears and wet felting for bags, felting fabric techniques. You truly get to experiment with all aspects of felting ins one day not to mention the adorable little creatures you end up with. “Fellowship of the Felted Sleeve” was chosen for artist that want to add three basic techniques to there fiber skill set. I believe that all artist are in search for something they can add to their skill set. Mix and Match or Criss Cross, find it here and take it to a new place.   This is what makes an artist work unique.

Fellowship of the Felted Sleeve has all the elements you need. Esther uses many of the techniques in this class to create other items and add to her existing dolls and bags, sweaters.

Fellowship of the Sleeve
A Class that leads the way teaching Wet felting, Dry Felting and applique techniques all in one day.

  There was one other aspect to choosing this class. We have so many Special Teachers, Professional Art Therapist that could use these very puppets created in class to help them in their chosen field. We also have Child Care givers which includes you Grandma and Mom. How fun can it be to learn these techniques to use on future projects and also take a gift back from AFIC and share it with someone you love?
To learn more about Fellowship of the Sleeve and Beyond the Troll: Basic Needle Felted Faces Click Here

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hands on Sculpting with Linda Misa

Clay sculpture - Linda Misa
Don't  miss the opportunity of a life time, to take classes this spring with Linda Misa.  Linda is a master sculptor from Australia, making her first appearance in Columbus, Ohio at Artistic Figures in Cloth.  I can not tell you how happy I am to have her with us.  She works in clay, paper clay, ceramic, fabric, felts, sews and does a lot of altered work.   This is her very first time, teaching here in the United States.  I urge everyone to take a good look at all the different elements she will be teaching in her workshops, they are packet with techniques. I love to talk about artist.  I thought it would be an nice change of pace if  Linda to wrote a few words of her own.  Instead I am going to let you read what she wrote and dot this feature with some of her sculptures she has done over the years.

This will be my first teaching trip to the US and I am so looking forward to meeting up and getting to know so many of the people that have been on my "to meet" list. I really hope to share my passion for making art out of what we have collected up around us. Using up the old and seemingly useless and making it into something precious and original.

For me, "making" is the corner stone of what I love to do. Letting my brain work out ways of how I can make into reality the images and thoughts that I want to share. Dolls are my story board, my dialogue of the pathways I am walking, the environment I am living in and the hopes that I hold. Being able to share skills with other like minded people is what keeps me sane!

Sculpted and recycled objects
I want my children to grow up with the knowledge that they are capable of doing/making things for themselves...I need to show that I practice what I preach and what enjoyment that gives me. We are all travelling in times that need us to think about our footprint we leave and though I am no world changer I can make a difference to my own world. I love to see them with tools in their hands, "fixing" something and solving a problem for themselves.

 It is with each doll I make, a new connection to someone else out there, it humbles and encourages me to know that in some small way I have helped make someone else life a little better. Come join me in this journey.


To see the techniques taught in the Paper Clay Altered fabric Class click on

Linda Misa- Starting point creating a doll from her collage
 I know I said I would not go on and on..... How I love to talk about artist.  Oh but that would not do!  I have to add a bit about Linda's collage work.  Artist like to mix things up, dipping our fingers in other types of art work.  I think this is what makes great artist better than great.  Every time you learn something new you add a new dimension to your dolls.   Linda is adding some new and special elements to this class Imagine, with templates for faces just in case you have those face jitters.  Collage on a flat surface today and collage on an three-dimensional service tomorrow is what I say.  Take the class beyond where you found it.  Linda is just the person to help you do that.
Fly with Linda - let your inter self grow wings

If you love these things - Dolls, Collage, Paper Arts, Recycling, Painting, Face Painting Stamping and love creating something new and different.  Check out this class it has so many great elements to it a girl can not help but having fun!

Click here to check out the Collage class

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Good Class Never Grows Old - Patti LaValley

I was thinking of this blog spot and reviewing Patti's web site when there she was, no not Patti,  Mavis - there was Mavis!  Mavis is one of the many art dolls for sale in Patti's on site "Doll Shop".  I fell in love with this creation as soon as I saw it.  What I can't believe is that it is still for sale!  I remember when I first saw it and thought why has she never applied to AFIC to teach ethnic face painting.  I had forgotten that this doll was what possessed me to pick up the phone and beg Patti to teach the class. What I can not believe is that was six months ago and the doll has not sold yet.  Mavis has such personalty however, she does have a lot of competition.  Half the dolls that were up on her site for sale are now gone.   Patti is an accomplished doll maker and she makes dolls of all types and offers them for sale on in her Doll Shop, not to mention an array of patterns. But Mavis is still my all time favorite Click here to see 2 full pages of Patti's Doll Shop 

Back to my begging....When I called her, Patti that is not Mavis, her first comment was, "Oh Cyndy this is an old class, I have not taught that in a long time.  I just do not think people would want to take it."  I knew that was wrong because I wanted to take the class.  It takes a different mind set and skills to paint faces on dark fabric. I wonder how many people have really taken classes on painting facial features on dark fabric?  I am sure many but many more would like to learn this technique.

Treasure - Ethnic Face Painting

   From what I understand painting on dark fabic is working with a negative, everything is in reverse.  Just because you know something doesn't mean you can do it. At least it does not apply to me.  I don't know about you but,  I have enough trouble keeping my mind work in forward motion, let alone throw it in reverse without any guidance.  I was thinking that just maybe I was not alone and other doll artist would like to get the chance to explore and expand their face painting skills in a new direction.  It was then I began to beg Patti to teach ethnic face painting class at AFIC.  Well perhaps not exactly beg but strongly encourage her to revive this class and make an old class new again. I am so glad we both took the chance and offered up the class.  The class is filling up nicely and is already half full.   I should think it will be full by the end of the winter.  Click here to see what this class has to offer. There are two other samples of the doll.  Remember with Patti you get the whole package.  The face painting, the cloths and  the doll and the dolls doll!  Her cute little partner gets a face painting too!

  Ethnic face painting is not the only class Patti is offering.  The play on words "The Fishwife" offered up a strange little seine.  Patti has a great love for animals; I suppose it was not that big of a leap for her to transform the groom into a handsome fish.  The Fishwife workshop has so many different techniques it makes it super attractive class.  I would love to explain the whole class for you but with all this class has to offer you would be better going straight to the AFIC web site to read everything.  Click here to see more about The Fishwife.  However I will include a few picture and a brief explanation of the the class. One of the great things about Patti's class sewing machines are optional.  If you do not need help with your sewing homework then you can leave your machine at home.  But if you are still in need of a little help and would feel better with Patti's help with some aspects, bring your machine.  Better yet bring a friend and take the class together and share a machine.  It is all good! 

Can you believe this class! It is packed full of doll making techniques, face sculpting, face painting, finger turning, stuffing, paper clay over cloth, painting.  What really is interesting is the strange little fish. 

Patti will walk you through the process of making this fish using paper clay over cloth. I just love the animation and brilliant colors used!

Patti is traveling all the way from Oregon.  She is so glad to be back.  Patti taught at Artistic Figure in Cloth 2005, and we are delighted to have her back. Anyone that frequents the on line doll journals, online classes or buys patterns knows of Patti, she is always chimming in on and offering help and sharing her dolling experiances.   It is a great opportunity to meet,  this extraordinary artist.