Isn’t it strange how life keeps getting in the way of studio time?

Sorry I missed a couple of days. I had a bit of family stress to deal with and a jacket for “Fancy Pants” that didn’t work out.

Mimi's Elf - Fancy Pants - Unfinished

Fancy Pants- Unfinished

The elf I am trying to dress is called “Fancy Pants” because he is wearing “pansied slops” (Shakespeare pants). Over time this was simplified to “slops.” These are the pants worn by men in the mid to late 16th century (Elizabethan times). They were worn over canions, extensions (fabric tubes) from slops to knees, then stockings that were tied above the knee with ribbon “garters.” I made tights to simulate both of these. The slops were stuffed, usually with the torn garments of the men whom they defeated in duels.  When they were lengthened almost to the knees they were called breeks (or breeches).

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So Lunch Became James

Mimi's Elf - Unfinished

Unfinished Elf

I got interrupted several times yesterday and didn’t get this elf finished.

Cassi has three pet white mice. It all began while she and her mom were living in Virginia last summer. Her mother had a small (about two feet long) bald python. Snakes don’t eat at easily predictable times, so Lunch became James (named for Harry Potter’s father), because when Cassi got bored, not knowing any kids in the area, she began to train the mouse. He is a really cute pet; she bathes him often and keeps the cages clean. He rides on her hat when she goes outdoors or rides in the car, especially to PetSmart to pick up bedding material, food and toys…

Cassi & James

Cassi & James

She also has two females who need separate cages because they are not friends. James is not allowed in their cages because we don’t want more mice. This drivel is background about why I got interrupted yesterday afternoon. It seems that Alice’s cheek began to grow and it looked like she had mumps. (Bella is the other female. Can you tell Cassi is a great Twilight fan now?) Cassi was so distraught as it continued to grow that she convinced her grandmother to pay for a visit to the animal hospital. She made the appointment herself. It turns out Alice has an abscess. The Vet drained it a bit and now Cass has to give Alice antibiotics (via syringe) twice a day until she is better or not. This visit cost $127!!!!!! For a mouse that cost $2! Anyway that is why this little guy is not yet dressed.

I plan to make him a tight fitted jacket with a short peplum. His tights are called cannons and over that pansied slops (“Shakespeare pants”) as they were called back in the 15th century. Because the jacket will be fitted I don’t want any bulk; so instead of a shirt I just gave him sleeves. The jacket will be sleeveless with a sleeve cap over the shoulder. So this little nameless and half-dressed Elf is today’s photograph.


A Pot of Gold — Going Through Puberty for the 4th Time

Mimi's Elf - Padraic


I thought I would call this elf Verdi, or some other word meaning green, since he is dressed mostly in green velveteen and cotton with some leather accents. However, when I plopped the crocheted wig cap of red/orange mohair on his head he became Padriac. I’ll call him Pat or Paddy for short. His boots and legging straps are made from a pale faun colored leather. I reversed the leather and used the suede side for his vest. The vest closure is made up of several beads to look like buttons. I decided he didn’t need or want a hat. Maybe I should give him a pot of gold so he can attract a rainbow to hide it behind.



Cassi - Not an Elf

I have the time for dressing one of these little guys down to about 7 or 8 hours. I have a lot less studio time these days now that I am a full-time mom again. Jim and I have temporary custody of great-granddaughter Cassi. Her mom, Chris, is my natural granddaughter. Jim and I adopted her when she was eleven years old. So she is his daughter, but both my daughter and granddaughter, which makes her her mother’s sister and her own aunt! Cassi has figured out that she is her own first cousin and her own second cousin. What can I tell you? I’m from the South.

Chris is in rehab trying to get healthy again. This could take some time… Cassi is twelve years old and in 6th grade. The only part that is really difficult is having to get up at 5:40 each morning to get a good breakfast into her and drive her to school. I didn’t realize how much her mom took care of until she was no longer doing it. This is the fourth time I am going through puberty!!! I always said little girls should be locked in a closet at 11 and not let out until 17 or 18 when they become human again. Talk about PMS… I had forgotten they have it 24/7!

I try to get into the studio around 9 AM. I drop Cassi at school at 7:20, come home, clean up the kitchen, start the laundry, then have breakfast myself. I can get a few hours work in until I have to pick her up at 3:15. (She stays an extra hour for private tutoring. She fell way behind due to emotional stress for a couple of months but is beginning to bring her grades back where they used to be. I expect she will be back on the honor roll by the end of the term.) Often I can get another couple of hours in after dinner is cleared up. My bedtime is between 11 and midnight so I am sleep deprived. I live for the weekends when I can sleep in until 7:30 and get two full days work in the studio before Monday morning arrives again.

I hope to have these little guys all dressed by the end of the week so I can get back to photographing and documenting the naked guy (Mimi’s Nude Male Sculpture) and finish the re-shoot for the Needle- Modeling a Pretty Face DVD. Then I have to make heads for two different fellows I call Stud Muffins and a “Bo-Jangles” figure I call And All that Jazz. I also have the High Priestess in progress. I had to stop work on her months ago and put her lower on the priority list. I Hope to have it all done by early June.

I wish some of my readers would ask questions about cloth dollmaking or designing that I can answer. It’s hard to come up with new stuff to talk about every day.


Making a Faux Leather Vest for Your Elf

Click on the title (above) or “Read more” link of any “front page” post to see and leave comments.

Mimi's Elf - Robin

Robin - Front View

Mimi's Elf - Robin

Robin Back View

Robin - Hat from the Hood

Robin - Hat from the Hood

I just finished Elf number four (Robin). While I was making his faux leather vest I realized that his shirt was too bulky, and a lining in his vest would have made this little guy look like a stuffed chocolate truffle. I decided to see if I could use leather techniques on this fabric. It worked great. The same techniques can be used on leather, faux leather (microfiber suede, deer skin, doe skin, etc.) and even felt. It works well on any heavy fabric that doesn’t ravel at the edges.

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The Elves are Coming to Danbury, Connecticut

The Elves are coming, The Elves are coming…
Friday March 12 – Sunday March 14, 2010
Danbury Plaza Hotel
18 Ridgebury Road
Danbury, CT

Mimi's Elf - Sparki

Mimi's Elf - Sparki

Mimi's Elf - Kasi


Mimi's Elf - Cedrick


For the past few months Gloria has been working on a series of 7” elves. They have long Elvin ears, little round tummies, short legs and arms and separate fingers, with a new way of wiring them. Their faces are adult faces but their bodies look child-like.

The three-day workshop will be held at the Danbury Plaza Hotel. The cost for all three days is $200.00.

Accommodations at the Danbury Plaza Hotel, which includes a hot American Breakfast are $109 plus taxes per night – single or double occupancy – so bring a creative friend. The Danbury Plaza Hotel is 10 minutes from Metro North – Brewster Station. Shuttles are available to the Station. It is a 50 minute trip from White Plains to Brewster.

You can choose to enjoy wonderful lunches with your fellow artists or bring a packed lunch. The three-day lunch ticket is $40.00.

This is a unique opportunity to spend three days with Gloria and other doll artists at the lovely Danbury Plaza Hotel. For more information, visit


A Visit from Cedric

Mimi's Elf - Cedrick

Cedric -- 7-inch cloth doll. Leather boots, faux leather tunic, trews, and hat, hand-braided metallic thread belt.

I have just finished dressing another Elf. Cassi has named him Cedric. He is dressed in faux distressed leather trews, a tunic of faux suede with a hand-braided belt of metallic thread. His boots are leather. I think they are a little too heavy. I have the tools but not the skill to skive the leather to make it thinner. His hat is deer suede lined with a pale beige poly lining fabric. The ties are beaded on the end of the ties to hide some sloppy stitching. It is often difficult to get the machine to stitch beautifully on heavy, skinny ties… Embellishment is wonderful!

The snow stopped yesterday afternoon. The accumulation here in Point Pleasant by the Sea was only about 4 inches after the rain stopped. Our Doll Club (UFDC) meeting in Manhattan scheduled for this morning was canceled yesterday. Manhattan got over 20 inches. That almost rivals the big blizzard of March, 1896. It is difficult to get around the city after a heavy snow. The streets are cleared for driving but the snow is melting from the heat of the subways under the sidewalks and streets and every time you step off the curb to cross the street you are almost knee deep in very cold, very dirty water, Not my idea of fun. My boots are only calf high… I don’t like cold, wet feet.


It’s Snowing Dolls in Point Pleasant by the Sea

Woke up to snow; the fifth time this year. This is the third storm in the last two weeks. We live very close to the ocean and we do not usually get much snow — often none at all for a couple of years. This year we are making up for it. This is our 5th “nor-easter” this year. A nor-easter is when a storm from the West Coast meets a storm coming up from the South. They usually meet over the mid and North East Coast. This year they met over Point Pleasant by the Sea. We are supposed to get another 14 inches before it ends late tomorrow night or Saturday morning.

Sparki and Kasi

Sparki and Kasi and the Bee

Kasi on Her Back

I have dressed two of the elves, Kasi and Sparki. When I pose the head in a down position, I like the pose, but it makes it difficult for Jim to get decent photographs. We had to lie her down on her back to get a decent photo of her face. Kasi is a cute doll. I like her attitude.

They are dressed in blue, turquoise and purple. The fabrics I used are cotton Lycra and a new micro-fiber that looks and feels like light-weight ultra suede, but works up more like a felt. The dolls belong to my dear friend Carol and she provided the fabrics for their clothing. I have no idea what this fabric is actually called. She did not remember where she bought them. These are Carol’s colors. Just one look at her attire and her beautiful SoHo loft will convince anyone of this fact. They are gorgeous jewel tones.

It took five days to dress both of them. These dolls are a labor of love and are a gift to Carol. She and Ben are very generous to put up me and my friends when we need a bed in NYC for a doll event or a class.

I do know that if I plan to sell these dolls at an affordable price I can’t afford to spend that much time making them. I can make two elf bodies, wigged in three and one half days. It took another five days to dress both of them, and neither one has a hat. They have pants, shirts, vests and shoes.

I can not sell them if I price them high enough to compensate myself for four to five days work each. I’m talking 10-hour days. But then again, it takes two weeks to make one of my large dolls from start to finish. Folks expect to pay far less for small dolls than for one three times larger. The collector does not understand that the smaller a doll is, the more difficult it is to make and dress.

Let me know your thoughts on pricing your dolls to sell.

I rarely do shows. I never have enough to fill a table. I sell only at ODACA Day, and to students when I teach. I have sold many through my website. “Michael Dances Spartacus” sold the day the Doll Art Quarterly issue in which he was shown, came out.

Michael Dances Spartacus

Michael Dances Spartacus

Boy, It’s snowing harder now. It is heavy and wet and the trees are gorgeous. That’s my two cents for today. I have six more little elves that don’t want to stay naked.