Christmas Sale — Mimi’s Health — Pattern Status Update

Christmas Sale 2014

  • All downloads, 25% off.
  • All shipped items, 20% off.
  • Ends 12/31.

The Cancer is Back  ̶  Round 2

The cancer is back and we’re now in round 2 of the fight. (Round 1 is reviewed below.)

At the end of the first round, there was no evidence of disease. We decided to discontinue the chemotherapy because of the side effects on Mimi’s mind and the chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). That was over a year ago.

Since that time, Mimi has had physical therapy for both hands and feet. She has worked small projects because of the limited amount of time she can work at a stretch. We have completed video taping for Mimi’s Mannequins & Pattern Draping. We have completed most of the base video taping for the first volume of the Make a Doll with Your GrandKid series. We had a decent year if not altogether good.

Then one of the PET scans came back showing a growth where one of the metastasized spots had been on the liver.

Mimi had five radiation treatments. The major side effect was overwhelming tiredness. The primary effect was nothing. The cancer didn’t seem to care. So, now Mimi is back on a different chemotherapy. This one doesn’t cause chemo fog or peripheral neuropathy. It’s principle side effects are constant nausea, chronic fatigue, and generally feeling poorly.

But the cancer is going away again.

And Mimi is designing two new dolls. They will be Spartacus and the High Priestess made in knit fabric with a much simpler and easier patterns.

Pattern Status Update

Mimi’s Mannequins — Status (December, 2014)

Mimi’s Mannequins & Pattern Draping will be out in the first quarter of 2015. We were trying to get it out for Christmas, but between Mimi being sick and Jim having constant interruptions, we are running at about one quarter speed.

There will be 3 DVDs for the Mannequins and a 4th DVD just for the Pattern Draping. We will not be accepting orders until we are ready to ship.

There are four lessons on each of the first 3 discs. Lessons 3-12 (half of disc 1 and all of discs 2 and 3) are complete except for music. Lesson 2 needs some soundtrack fixes. Lesson 1 (Introduction) is being completely revised to show newer techniques and simpler explanations.

We have finished taping all the video for the Pattern Draping DVD. Now we need to edit it down from 8 hours to 2 hours and record the soundtrack.

Storyboard/Video Workshop
Teach Your Grand Kid to Sew – Vol 1

A single, 90 minute DVD provides a quick and easy video workshop with lots of options for customization of the face, hair, and clothing. In addition to full-size patterns, a complete storyboard is included for use step-by-step while creating the doll.

This will be our first HD video.

We have finished storyboarding and taping all steps prior to making the face. (The face is made before the head is attached to the body.)The FaceKit has been tested and we have found a new technique that makes it much easier. We have done preliminary work on the HairKit and the ClothesKit.

We are using the FaceKit, HairKit, and ClothesKit as a way to avoid copyright problems when the dolls are made to resemble TV or game favorites.

We hope to have this Combination Video Workshop finished 2nd quarter, 2015.

Spartacus & High Priestess — Status (December, 2014)

Spartacus has been redesigned and tested for double-knit stretch fabric. Both the pattern and the needle-modeling are simpler and more sophisticated. The High Priestess will be redesigned next.

We haven’t yet determined the exact format or whether both will be included with a single set of instructions for both (like Mannequins). There will be some form of Storyboard and some form of Video. We haven’t set a target date yet.

Storyboard/Video Workshop
Teach Your GrandKid to Sew – Vol 2
Teach Your GrandKid to Sew – Vol 3

A single, 90 minute DVD provides a quick and easy video workshop with lots of options for customization. Volume 2 is basic training in anatomy, proportion, balance, and motion using a simple, “sketch” doll. Volume 3 is creating simple characters for storytelling. In addition to full-size patterns, a complete storyboard is included for use step-by-step while creating the doll(s). We haven’t set the target dates yet.

Cancer Round 1 Review: Excerpted from Diary of a Mad Dollmaker, August 18, 2013.

I can’t fully express how much I appreciate the prayers and other forms of positive energy sent into the Universe on my behalf. I know your help has contributed to my healing.

My stage 4 colorectal cancer showed up in 11 months and it’s pretty much gone away in the next 11 months.

The Good News is that my last PET Scan showed the lesions in the liver and the original mass are both almost undetectable. I will have a colonoscopy in the fall to know for sure it is all gone. I have been off chemo for about a month, and I will stay off indefinitely. (Never really cured, only in remission.)

I will continue to have blood-work and have my port flushed on a monthly basis, and do another PET Scan in 3 months.

All my side effects are gone except for 2. This is the wonderful good news for me and my family.

The Not Quite So Bad News is that my year-old chemo brain should clear up in a few months. My family is very happy about that as it is driving them crazy.

The Bad News is that the Neurologist tells me that the Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CINP) is permanent. I refuse to settle for that and hope for improvement over time – physical and occupational therapy and massage of hands and feet. I need to get over this now so I can drive again and get back to my first love, teaching.

The Neurologist is primarily concerned with alleviating the pain rather than improving on the function. Eventually, he wrote me a script for the same type of therapy that is used for Diabetes caused Peripheral Neuropathy. The therapist says I will be driving again in a year. (Actually, two therapists, one for hands and arms, and one for legs and feet.) They’ve put me on an exercise program that’s designed to open up new channels for nerve growth – the places that have died have to be bypassed, they won’t come back.

There is no pill, and I would be afraid of it if there was a pill – there’s a problem with side-effects on every damn drug.

Because of the serious neuropathy, handwriting and typing is painful and almost unreadable. The chemo-brain causes me to forget words, have a very short attention span, and very poor short-term memory.

I had to stop working on the DVD on Doll Hair for Dollmaker’s Journey because I simply cannot think clearly or use my hands effectively. I hope to continue this project later this year. Mary Ann at Dollmaker’s Journey has promised to do one if I did not. I hope she does this as there is a need for a good hair book. If I am able to complete it, it will be different anyway. Always room for one more.

Jim is going to concentrate on getting Earth Angels and Mannequins finished.

Jim is working on getting me to storyboard and then voice over instead of talking when I’m on camera. (I write out the script steps and voice over, then we shoot the video clip and record the sound separately.) Jim assembles the clips and voice over tracks. This avoids the problem of having to work and talk at the same time on the camera. I’m hoping to do about three small projects (simple dolls) this year including one with my great grandkid.

Happy Dolling,




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.


Welcome to the Diary of a Mad Dollmaker

Welcome to my weblog.

I plan to write this in the same way as I used to write my Diary of a Mad Dollmaker in Let’s talk About Dollmaking Magazine. For those who are rather new to dollmaking, this was a newsletter that Jim and I published for over ten years on our own copy machine. It has been almost that long since we ceased publication. Having to make and mail copies to hundreds of dollmakers each month just got to be too much. Now we can publish once on this blog and readers can visit this diary or can subscribe by email or RSS feed (see the sidebars on the right for free subscription information). The weblog takes care of all the hard work of distribution and only leaves us with the hard work of writing and photography.

Each day I will try to give you a short article on what I am doing with my dolls and how I’m solving today’s problems in dollmaking. Weekly, I will give you longer articles on major projects or Jim will post articles on dollmaking techniques. Jim is putting together a new book on Hair for the Doll that Bit You and we are working on a new DVD video showing how to Needle Model a Pretty Face. We are also working on several new patterns: Mimi’s Mermaid is in final review, Mimi’s Spartacus is a male ballet dancer, Mimi’s Elf will be the subject of some of the articles you will see here as I make the prototype dolls and teach the first classes, and Mimi’s Stud Muffin is my new working man. I’m looking for miniature tools for his tool belt. I have a miniature lineman’s pliers and a miniature crescent wrench, but I can’t find a source for them, or for a miniature stethoscope and other costume accessories.

The best way to get a feel for what Jim and I are planning is to read the first few posts. I’ll be putting up a diary article of my trip to Toy Fair and Broadway Bears and another article on the new Mimi’s Elf.

At the bottom of each post is a little blue link that says either “xx comments” or “no comments yet.” Click on the link or on the post title to view the comments or leave a new comment. There is also a button that says “Share.” If you click the “Share” button, you can tell others at Digg,, Facebook, Twitter, or any social bookmarking site about the Diary of a Mad Dollmaker. You must have an account at the social bookmarking site where you wish to share the Diary. We’d appreciated it if you tell others about the Diary, either by telling them, emailing them, or sharing the link on social bookmarking sites. Thanks.

For long articles, only the first article will appear followed by a link that says “Read More».” Click on “Read More»” to get to the full article. This keeps our front page (which shows the most recent seven posts) short for easy reading.

I am brand new at doing this on a computer, and I am also dyslexic. Jim may not catch all of my errors, many of which spell-check can’t either. Please be kind when pointing out my many errors.

Thank you again,

Happy Dolling,