Reminders – More Mermaids – Doll Club Discounts

Mimi is on the Left Coast this week attending the ODACA (Original Doll Artists Council of America) and preparing to teach the High Priestess at the IOLCC (Imitation of Life Construction Company) doll club in Oceanside, CA. She asked me to post these reminders:

1. There will be a get-together to meet Mimi in Oceanside, CA on Thursday August 4, 2011. For more information call Lois Boncer, 760-438-3431 or email Lois@AardvarkToZebra.Com.

2. The sale on the Mermaids DVD set ends at the end of July. Order now to save $11.99 or 20%.

Here are pictures of the latest Mermaids and Elves:

Orange Overhead Tail - $275

Gold Wall Doll - $275

Burgandy Satin Sidetail - $350

Cyan Overhead Tail - $275

Brown Overhead Tail - $275

Black Wall Doll - $275

Pink Overhead Tail - $275

Prince Elvin - $425

Prince Elvin

Prince Elvin

Doll Club Discounts

We offer a tremendous discount for doll clubs. Here’s the deal:

1. A single person must place the order, pay for the order, and receive the shipment.

2. Discount is about 50%. Pretty Faces is $20, Mermaids is $30. Plus you pay the postage on the box (usually under $20).

3. You must order a minimum of ten (10) copies, but you can mix Pretty Faces and Mermaids to make up the ten.

Email Firebird-JMW@Comcast.Net for more information or to order. (Or you can email, but it will take longer since she is out of town.)

Happy Dolling,

Jim Winer


Letters to the Editor – What Goes on Behind the Scene?

Both Mimi and Jim are writing this post, Basically, Jim is the active voice (me) and I will indicate things Mimi has said.

We got a very small number of complaints about various aspects of our Needle Model a Pretty Face DVD. If you want to understand the complaints you’ve got to understand the players. So, here’s a quick rundown of the Entire cast of three characters:

Mimi’s a double genius! She’s a genius at designing and making dolls, and she’s a genius at teaching others to learn techniques they can apply to their own doll creations. Mimi’s an Artist. Mimi is also the originator of doll class conventions. Back in the 1990’s Mimi wanted to study with Lisa Lichtenfels (NIADA). Lisa was willing to teach a class to make the travel and time away from her work palatable, and Mimi was too broke to pay Liza’s fee and her own travel expenses, and so the first Master Artist Class at Dollmaker’s University took place in Mimi’s basement. Mimi found nine other dollmakers who wanted to take a class with Lisa. Mimi extended the idea to some of the NIADA (National Institute of American Doll Artists) artists trying to find a way to pay for their trip to the NIADA Conventions and helped set up the teaching programs at NIADA. She took the same idea to magazine editors, and store owners, and others, and soon there were dollmaking conventions open to the general public and advertised in major crafts magazines where you could go to take classes from other well-known doll artists.

Jim’s a computer nerd and a writer, and an illustrator, and a photographer, and anything else technical that you could think of. Jim’s currently available. Project Managers should visit JimWiner.Com to find out how to get good technology writing to the people who need it, when they need it, and how they need it.

So there is an Art Versus Technology “issue.”

Cassi’s the third person. Her job is to talk electronically to dollmakers and quilters in places where we don’t already know about them, and where they don’t know about us. We used to have 50,000 cloth doll makers a few years ago Maybe we still do, but most of them are not on the Internet? What will happen if we work together as a family? Can we get more people interested in the hobby of cloth dollmaking?

Mimi is an Artist. She has specific ways of working. She is not a Television Actress. She gets involved in what she’s doing and gets off her mark and you can’t see her for a while. I tried actually operating the camera when we started. She moves too fast! I can’t follow her fast with a close-up – she out runs the camera, and worse, it tries to autofocus because she’s moving. Shooting over her shoulder with a video monitor in front of her, we had two choices: 1) use a wide field of view which would let her move around more, but what she was doing would be very hard to see because it was too far away and small, 2) use a narrow field of view (that means we have to lock the autofocus because she gets her head in front of the camera) and she gets out of her spot where you can’t see her occasionally because she forget’s to look at the monitor. The compromise we got worked fairly well. It prevented Mimi from moving around too much and we got a pretty good DVD.

The sound could have used some improvement, but it’s the first time I actually edited the sound as well as the picture and the story.

So, basic technical and artistic issues aside, here are some of the comments we got and Mimi’s answers to them:

Q: I want the doll face to be of the same fabric as the rest of the doll.

MIMI: It takes a knit or quite stretchy fabric to stitch a face with lots of detail. However, until last year, I never used an overlay.

My dolls were mostly all muslin. If you put the face pattern on the bias of the woven fabric you will have a bit more stretch. You will be able to do a closed mouth but not an open one – it takes a great deal of stretch to  create an open mouth. Most folks do not like a seam down the front of the face, but that is not why I began using the overlay. The knit or spandex overlay allows me to get much more detail in the face.

Without an overlay you will need a center front seam on the head or you cannot have a profile or even a nose that actually look like a nose. That is why I have a “skull” under the overlay it has a seam so the face will have a
realistic nose. If the seam allowance is kept narrow , evenly trimmed and straight the seam will not be noticeable. To make the seam “disappear” be sure the seam allowance is even, notched and snipped so it follows the curve of the head. if the seam allowance becomes twisted it will cause a bump, usually on the forehead or at the tip of the nose and that is the first thing one sees when viewing the doll.

My patterns of Jazz and Victoria Rose are made from muslin and have faces of muslin, They are “stump” heads, which are part of the torso, the face is added after the torso is stuffed but the face is also muslin. needle modeling instructions are included.

You can use the DVD instructions on a doll face without an overlay but use the directions for a closed mouth. Use the nose on the skull and the eyes and mouth for the overlay. It is quite doable,

Q: I like movable joints, including the neck.

MIMI: I used joints on my early dolls, The Universal Toddler and Earth Angels. but for the past 20 or so years I have preferred head and arms stitched into the pose I want. Unless the dolls are to be toys for a child
who will constantly repose them, joints are not necessary. (In my opinion.)

Q: I want the naked bald doll to be as beautiful as the finished doll with clothes and hair.

So Do I, That’s why I like to do dancers with as little clothing as possible.

High Priestess

Mimi's High Priestess

Moon Dancer Side

Drawing Down the Moon

Michael Dances Spartacus

Michael Dances Spartacus

After working for many years to perfect my realistic human bodies I hate to cover them up. You can have a bald head, but you have to use the directions on the DVD for covering the back of the head. The needle modeling of the face usually distorts the back and top of the head. I simply cut an oval of knit or woven fabric (cut on the bias) and stitch it to the back of the head. Before I finish stitching the covering closed I stuff a bit of fiberfil inside to re-shape the back of  the head and the top if it needs it.  If you look a the photos of the heads on my DVD cover you will see that my hairless head looks just fine. It does not have to be lumpy and ugly. That’s why I shape the overlay pattern to fit the head not just use a circle or oval of fabric and glue the overage to the back of the head as some do.


Q: I would like more information on differences in the face for a male
face, a child face, a baby face and different emotions.

MIMI: A baby face has all the features in the lower half of the face, the lower the features the younger the face.

A male face has a square jaw, slightly longer chin, a wider mouth and a larger and often longer nose. Eventually I may do a DVD for where to put the dots for masculine and ethnic faces as well as children. The technique is exactly the same, the difference is where you put the dots and how you design the skull shape.

There are several sections in the DVD that show how to get emotion by moving the brows, cheeks, and corners of the mouth.

Incidentally, if you sign up for an email subscription using the button on the bottom right of the screen, we’ll tell you by email every time something new is posted.


Dollmaking Workshop on DVD — Mimi’s Needle Model a Pretty Face

Saturday, August 7,  Cassi and I attended Day with Dolls in a really nice church in Bronxville, New York. It was less than a two-hour drive from home early on Saturday morning.  I was demonstrating how I needle model a face, and I just happened to have my new DVD with me.

Here’s what Mary Ann Kaahanui of had to say about it:

“It was such a treat to see one of the world’s best dollmaking teachers Gloria “Mimi” Winer at Day with Dolls in New York.  During the day she slipped [me] a DVD and said: ‘Let me know what you think about this…’  Well, our dear dollmaking friends, get ready – Mimi and her husband Jim have taken the material that Mimi teaches in a 2 day Needle Sculpting Class and produced a PHENOMENAL FIVE HOUR LONG 2 DISC DVD called “Needle Model a Pretty Face” that is going to knock your socks off!  We pride ourselves on the variety of needle sculpting products we carry but for all of you who really want to learn by following along with a DVD the wait is over.  You will feel like Mimi is sitting right next to you and the wealth of doll making knowledge she shares with you is absolutely priceless.  The DVD is arranged so that you can easily navigate around the 31 detailed chapters that cover every aspect of the head construction.  You can watch it on your TV or your computer whichever is more convenient.  We are waiting anxiously for the first shipment to arrive and will let you know when it does so keep an eye on the site.  Your reference library will be screaming for this DVD!!!”

Needle Model a Pretty Face

You can get a copy of the DVD from either or from BUTit’s on sale at from now until the end of August for 20% off. Get it before the end of August from and save up to $8.

DVD 2 Disc Set

Includes 2 copies of pattern Sheet

Here’s some more information:

Mimi’s Needle Model a Pretty Face
Complete 2-Day Dollmaking Workshop on DVD

2 copies of the pattern sheet printed on heavy card stock.

2-disc DVD set with 4 hours 48 minutes of over-the-shoulder video.

Standard 2-disc DVD plastic case for storage.

Suitable for all levels. If you can do basic machine sewing to make the seams on the skull and the darts on the face overlay, you will learn everything else you need from watching the step-by-step video.


  • Disc 1
    • Introduction
    • 01 Make Templates
    • 02 Layout & Stitch Skull
    • 03 Trim & Snip Seams
    • 04 Turn Skull
    • 05 Stuff Skull
    • 06 Needle Model Nostrils
    • 07 Needle Model Nose Flairs
    • 08 Needle Model Nose Bridge
    • 09 Set Nose into Skull
    • 10 Add Stuffing
    • 11 Finding Right Side of Knit
    • 12 Layout & Stitch Overlay
    • 13 Pinning Overlay to Skull
    • 14 Sculpting Nose
    • 15 Sculpting Eyeballs
    • 16 Sculpting Brow Bones
    • 17 Sculpting Lower Eye Socket
    • 18 Making Adjustments
  • Disc 2
    • 19 Locate Closed Mouth
    • 20 Closed Mouth Upper Lip
    • 21 Closed Mouth Lower Lip
    • 22 Closed Mouth Fix Smile
    • 23 Cheekbones, Brow, & Chin
    • 24 Closing Head
    • 25 Ears
    • 26 Coloring the Face
    • 27 Sketch Open Mouth
    • 28 Open Mouth Upper Lip
    • 29 Open Mouth Lower Lip
    • 30 Open Mouth Teeth & Smile
    • 31 Open Mouth Cheeks & Chin
    • Sources

This pattern can be reduced or enlarged for use on any cloth character doll.

You are licensed to sell dolls made from this pattern.


I’m 12 Times Faster Now (Designing a Doll — Part 3)

My first Naked Guy took 2 years to design. Drawing Down the Moon is basically done in 2 months.  The chest (read boobs) and the feet are both different. They took the most time. She is still a work in progress. I haven’t yet needle modeled the toes on the bent leg and the head and arms are pinned in place.  The head has to have the overlay placed on the face and the features stitched.

After the entire figure has been colored and wig made and stitched in place I will make her sheer dress. I can’t stitch the arms in place until she is dressed then I can needle-model the lifted arm to create the underarm area.  I am quite pleased with her.

I will be teaching this doll at Artistic Figures in Cloth in Columbus Ohio Next April.  Cyndi will have the website up at the beginning of September.  My friend Susie McMahon will teach a new class there as well. So start to put aside the loose change so you can join us there.

Day with Dolls

August 7th is this year’s Day with Dolls in Mount Vernon, NY. I have been asked to do the same demo (Needle Model a Pretty Face) that I did last year on Long Island. With any luck, my new DVD of Needle Model a Pretty Face will be ready by then. It includes everything you need to needle model eyes (with expression), nose, and both closed and open mouth. It also includes coloring the finished face. It will be on two DVDs because it will run between three and four hours to cover everything. This is for watching on your TV as well as your computer, and it is broken into many chapters so that you can go directly to the section you want. The price will be very reasonable.

If you want to come to Day with Dolls, it is $20. Check out the registration form at Doors will open at 9am for a light breakfast, registration starts at 9:30, and demos start at 10am. For more information, call 914-667-7100.


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,