Bonnie and Doll Making

How It Began

A few years ago, my friend Vivian held a series of classes in her basement for friends who are artistically inclined. One of them was doll making. We hand sewed a simple doll and then clothed it with supplies that Vivian provided. The idea was to complete the doll within the session, which lasted 2-3 hours. I had a range of emotions throughout the project. First, I was frustrated because the doll itself just didn't seem to be coming out right, and that was really the boring/easy part; I wanted to get to the fun, decorative part. I almost gave up, but then I realized that the problem was that I'd forgotten that basic rule I'd learned in 7th grade sewing: you've got to make cuts in the seam material when it curves to be able to turn it right side out! Once I crossed that hurdle, the rest was great fun. With simple materials and in short order, I created a doll that I really liked! I decided then that I needed to make other dolls, but I didn't get around to that until a couple of years later. Anyway, the original doll, who I named Matilda, sits on our home office desk (where I work one day a week) as a reminder of a few important things: (1) don't give up so easily (2) think creatively (3) don't forget to use what you already know.

Crocheted and Beaded Dolls

Each year I take two or three weeks of vacation at the end of the year just to hang out and do fun stuff: reading, movies, crafty projects. In 1998 I finally scratched that couple-year itch to make another doll. Inspired by a doll in a beading magazine, I crochetted a doll, adapting the pattern from the magazine to the yarn and other materials I had on hand. Then I added lots of hair, lots of beads, and a face. It was great fun and I started another one over vacation that I finished in January. These dolls take quite a long time, so once vacation ended, my pace slowed down quite a bit. Here's the current set of dolls in this category:

Wire and Fabric Dolls

As I write this it's vacation 1999 and, inspired by some dolls I saw in a store in Royal Oak, MI the day after Thanksgiving, I've made a wire and fabric doll (and I plan to make more: I went wild bought a whole bunch of fabric remnants at a great fabric store, so I have a whole pallette to work with now). The bodies of these dolls are made with fabric wrapped around stiff wire, which is then wrapped with finer wire to hold the fabric on. The result is a rather primitive doll, which I clothe in primitively sewn garments. As with the other dolls, I also use beads for decoration, but these dolls have fewer beads and are much more quick to make (I'd estimate 10-12 hours of work each). My wire and fabric friends are:

Crocheted Dolls

I've made simple crocheted dolls for my cousins and nieces over the years, before the age of digital cameras, and before I really got "into dolls." More recently, I got started again when I made a few dolls for Cassie, who was born on July 28, 2001: one while she was in utero (and I actually didn't know whether she was a she, but made a kind of girly doll anyway) and another that was started in the last days of pregnancy and finished in those early weeks when Cassie slept and slept and slept. I started making freeform crochet "art dolls" in 2002.

Sculptural Art Dolls

Flat Art Dolls

Dolls and Critters for the Kids in My Life