Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dazzling Dames

Red Hen Fabrics in Marietta, GA offers an enticing selection of quilting fabrics.   Since many of the Dazzling Dames are accomplished quilters as well as doll artists, whenever the members gather there for a doll club meeting, it’s like letting a gaggle of schoolgirls loose in a chocolate factory.  For example, Angela Ferguson’s interpretation of the Mad Hatter is intended as a wall hanging which will extend the play of textures and colors that mark the quilter’s art into the three dimensional realm of soft sculpture dolls.

In days of yore, young girls starting learning simple cross-stitch embroidery around the time they began to learn their ABCs.

Gradually they acquired a “vocabulary” of stitches that they displayed in a sampler.

Ideally the girl would master basic needlecraft and complete her sampler before she married.  Miss Joy started her sampler quilt 8 or 9 years ago as a gift for her mother.

It displays her mastery of applique techniques and her love for her first and best teacher who is now 92 years old.   

Miss Joy also shared one of the first dolls she designed back in the 1970s.

Her face does not require any fancy stitches, but it is has an appealing sweetness.

Soft sculpture art dolls can be deceptively simple to make or they can require sophisticated tools.  The technique of making expressive hands may lead the doll artist to pay a visit to a tobacco shop for old-fashioned pipe cleaners to shape the fingers.

The artist may also use a special set of small metal tubes to turn the fingers right side out.  The extra effort allowed Miss Lorraine’s winsome lass to offer a Valentine to her beloved. 

Doll artists often scour craft and knitting shops for unique fibers that can serve as hair.  Miss Lorraine’s purple-haired diva looks like she would be bold and direct about claiming her heart’s desire.

Shaping the contours of a soft sculpture figure may require the same cutting and draping skills as fitting a haute couture gown.  Martha Dudley made this doll in a three day workshop several years ago.

The instructor's training as a fashion designer enabled him to draft a pattern that endows the doll with a realistic bust line. 

Miss Martha’s  talent for drawing and sketching then infused the doll’s face with a unique personality.

Miss Martha’s real forte, however, is embellishment.

This lavishly bedecked mermaid guards a sunken chest filled with gems and doubloons, but she carries even more luxurious treasures on her shapely person.

Notice the tiny beads hand-stitched to her tail,

her elegant fingers with jeweled nails,

and her intricately beaded head-dress and necklace.

A hapless mariner could almost drown in her beguiling amethyst eyes…

You can learn to make Dazzling Dames like this siren in Martha Dudley’s mermaid class March 28th, 29th, and 30th at Red Hen Fabrics.

Contact the shop at (770) 794-8549 to register.

À Bientôt


  1. Hello from Spain, Martha Dudley's is very talented. I like her creations. Nice pics. Keep in touch

    1. Hi Marta,

      Martha Dudley is a wonder! Her creations always amaze me.

  2. That is one highly embellished mermaid. Jewels on her nails, etc.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi D7ana,

      Miss Martha made the doll for a contest that had a belly dancer theme. She decided to do a belly dancer mermaid. The result is stunning!

  3. Very nice pieces of art. I especially love the mermaid.

    1. Hi Georgia Girl,

      Yes, it is hard to top that mermaid. Soon I'll be posting pictures from an exhibit Martha Dudley did at a local gallery and there will be more beautiful mermaids in that bunch.

  4. The creative talent exhibited here is remarkable! It is amazing what can result from creativity, textiles, needles, threads, and embellishments.


    1. Hi Debbie,

      The Dazzling Dames doll club meetings are always inspiring. I have a lot to learn!