2020 has been a roller coaster with ups and downs all over the place. I’ve been keeping myself busy with ceramics, painting and dolls but I missed seeing some of my work in galleries. I don’t show much, but it makes me very happy when I am invited to participate on an exhibit.
DOLLMAKERS VII: FOLK TALES
Cactus Gallery in LA kindly invited me to participate on one of their doll making exhibits, and this time the theme will be Folk Tales. I got super excited when I got the invitation and quickly started thinking on a doll for them.
I chose the Mexican folk tale of the Nahual, a shape shifter that is revered by some and feared by others. The folk tale says that a human can have the power to shape shift into their spirit animal and roam the forests and plains at night.
A Nahual takes the shape of their spirit animal, but also that spirit animal takes the shape of the strengths and skills of the person. So, if your nahual form is a bird, is because you have a beautiful voice, or maybe, like her case, she is a Mexican Wolf because she is strong, independent and will take orders from no one.
In Mexican culture, a Nahual is usually a man that commands respect, but I wanted to give this doll the power of femininity along with her shape shifting powers, so I turned the concept around and I created my own version of the nahual. A powerful woman who is free to do and go as she pleases, defying preconceptions of what a woman should be or do and imbued with the power of the Wolf, a rare sight in our forest, but a very powerful one indeed.
I hope you can pay her a visit If you are in the LA Area on September 19th when the exhibit opens at Cactus Gallery. You can reach Sandra Mastroianni via email if you are interested and need more information.
My new upcoming big event is the 2019 Handmade Holiday Show, running from Dec 1st to Dec 9th, where I will show my newest Art Dolls, Paintings and more.
I’m making experiments with the new Danita dolls for Sale on the event. Besides using polymer clay for the face, I’m daring to to a little bit further in the construction of the body, specially the limbs. Since some of the dolls will be mushrooms, I want them to have a “just pulled out of the earth” look.
I’ve made mushrooms before but they had normal bodies with a mushroom cap. This time I’m daring to go more with my vision and less with the “safe” version, the one I know most people will like. I’d decided that I’m going to be more authentic with my creations from now on and I hope they’re well received. Going for the look I know people will like leaves me in a grey zone with a nagging feeling that I should have dare more and see where it takes me little by little.
The process is always painstaking, not only because of the labor I have to put into each doll, but also because there is an incredible amount of time devoted into researching. I take trips to the forest, look at my reference books and create lots of sketches until I am satisfied with my vision.
Even more, now that for this series of art dolls I will be truer to myself and my vision, and I will take more risks to create what I have in my mind instead of making what will be a safe, easy to sell creation.
You can tell from the look of this assembled doll that I am pushing my ideas to a new level, using more organic shapes for both her legs and hands.
I am aiming for a grungy, “Just pulled out of the earth” look that will make her look like I just harvest them during an autumn walk in the Danitaland woodlands.
Adding mossy details, organic pigments that I brew and distill in my studio and new fabrics for the Mushroom crowns, this daring new creation filled my heart with joy.
Make sure you get a reminder by going to the 2019 Handmade Holiday Show page and click on the GOING button. Facebook will remind you when the event is active and you will be able to adopt your favorite Danita Hand Made Mushroom Art Doll there.
I partnered with willowing.org for an amazing art bundle to help mother earth and fight climate change.
I’ve been reading and learning a lot about climate change and how it is affecting us, and I have been wondering what I could do to help raise awareness and help the organizations that are trying to do something about it.
And the perfect opportunity came with ART FOR EARTH! My friend Tam Laporte from willowing.org is organizing an online art event to help treesisters.org and their amazing reforestation work and she invited me to be a part of it. Yay!
On this event, me and 75+ artists are participating with online classes to create a bundle of classes that collectively is worth over $3,000 USD and we will be donating 25% of the proceedings to fight climate change and reforestation efforts.
I am participating with my doll making class: A Doll Story, where you will learn how to make a beautiful hand made, hand painted doll from scratch using humble materials that with the skills I teach you, plus your imagination, will create a unique work of art.
And together with my class, 75+ renowned artists are participating. Imagine that, for the regular price of just my online class you will get much, much more and you are helping heal the earth. Awesome!
The whole bundle is only $99.00 USD and will available for you for a VERY LIMITED time, from 4/3/2019 to 4/9/2019
If you really really love making dolls and you’d like to learn with me, this is the perfect opportunity to enroll on my class and get access to my class and the the lessons of 75+ artists on a one time opportunity. And remember, 25% of the proceedings will go to help fight climate change and protect our beautiful home, planet Earth.
1. NEW – “Mother Nature” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Tamara Laporte
2. NEW – “Beautiful Bugs” (Bonus) (Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Tamara Laporte
3. “Tell It: Collage” (Collage Art Class) with Liz Lamoreux
4. “She Blooms in Ink” (7 week Mixed Media & Inks Art Workshop) by Tamara Laporte
5. “On A Men Hunt” (Online Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Muriel Stegers
6. “Fearless Expression” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) by Annie Hamman
7. NEW “Flamingo Love” (Watercolour Class) with Sally Walsh from Sillier Than Sally
8. “Facing Forward 1” (Mixed Media Art Journalling Workshop) with Effy Wild
9. “Luscious Landscapes” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tracy Verdugo
10. “Be Humble/Be Noble” (A Watercolor Art Workshop) with Sarah Trumpp
11. “Real Time Live with Flora Bowley” (Live Streamed Painting Class)
12. “Faux Encaustics Spring Fling” (An Encausting Workshop) with Dena Adams
13. “Gratitude Journaling 101” (An Art Journalling Workshop) with Kiala Givehand
14. “Birthday Cake” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
15. “A Walk Down Cherry Street” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
16. “Lesson 1” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
17. “Imprinted” (A Gelli Printing Workshop) with Lucy Brydon
18. “Whimsical Watercolors – PAWfect Furry Friends Online Class” with Andrea Gomoll
19. “Earth’s Mother, Mixed Media Art Class” with Melanie Rivers
20. “The Gilded Brush” (A Workshop Inspired by Gustav Klimt) with Ivy Newport
21. “Where Once Was Water” (An Expressive Figurative Painting) with Emma Petitt
22. “Bountiful” Bonus (A Mixed Media Art Class) with Emma Petitt
23. “The Emergency Kit for Artists + Dreamers” with Andrea Schroeder
24. “The Banishing Fairy” (A Mixed Media Art Class) with Renata Loree
25. “Facing Forward 2” (Mixed Media Art Journalling Workshop) with Effy Wild
26. “Remember my song” High Resolution Printable by Annie Hamman
27. “The Secret to Lighting Up Your Life” (Art Journalling Workshop) with Whitney Freya
28. “Weird, Wordy Watercolors” (A Watercolor Art Workshop) with Sarah Trumpp
29. “Rise Above the Master Class” (A Self Coaching Painting Process with Whitney Freya
30. “Paint Buddha” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Whitney Freya
31. “The 21 Day Painting Meditation Challenge” with Whitney Freya
32. “Abstract by Design” (Creating Abstract Art) with Ivy Newport
33. “The Magic Forest” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Cristin Chambers
34. “The Princess and the Pea” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
35. “You Will Find Your Way” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Toni Burt
36. NEW – “I wish, I wish…” (Watercolor and Mixed Media art class) with Mandy van Goeije
37. NEW – “From Wishes to Needs” (Watercolor and Mixed Media art class) with Mandy van Goeije
38. NEW “The Little Big World” bonus e-book by Mandy van Goeije
39. “Between Shadow & Light” (A Portrait Class) with Ivy Newport
40. “Matisse vs Picasso” (Oil or Acrylics Art Class) with Lucy Chen
41. “heART the Earth Printable Coloring Page & Artprint” by Andrea Gomoll
42. “Soulful Shapes” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
43. “Reflect and Reclaim Your Creative Freedom – 5 Amazing Art Journaling Lessons for Your Heart” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tiare Smith
44. “Seeds of Love” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
45. “Soup du Jour” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
46. “I Spy” (A Collage Workshop) with Janet Skates
47. “Fly, Be Free!” (An Abstract Art Workshop) with Janet Skates
48. “Wild Wonder” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Annamieka Davidson
49. “Abundance” High Resolution Printable by Annie Hamman
50. “Drawing Frida – A Pastel Portrait Workshop” with Juna Biagioni
51. NEW – Woodland Magic” (Acrylics Art Workshop) with Katrina Koltes
52. “Woven Dreams” (A Fiber Art Workshop) with Laly Mille
53. “Creative Abundance Guidebook” (E-Book) with Shelley Klammer
54. “Wax On” (Encaustic Monoprints and Watercolor) with Wyanne Thompson
55. “Book of Flow …and so it continues” (Art Journaling E-course) with Jenny Grant
56. NEW “Doll Dreams – Digital coloring book with 15 images” (Colouring Book PDF) by Ady Almanza
57. “Magic Woman” High Resolution Art Print by Ady Almanza
58. “Layered Mandala” (Mixed Media Painting Workshop) with Faith Evans-Sills
59. “Leaf Painting Workshop” with Faith Evans-Sills
60. “Boho Walking” Retro ~60s-70s Art Class (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Pamela Vosseller
61. “The 21 Day Painting Meditation Challenge” (Meditation & Watercolour Workshop with Whitney Freya
62. “Painting the Muse” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Alena Hennessy
63. “Transparendipity” (Art Journaling Workshop) with France Papillon
64. “Autumn Fairy” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
65. “Fall by the River” Mixed Media Landscape Workshop) with Roberta Laliberte
66. NEW “Create a Papercut Effect in Procreate” (Digital Workshop for iPad on ProCreate) with Kathy Glynn
67. “Smallest Acts of Kindness” High Resolution Printable by Annie Hamman 68. “A Doll Story” (Learn How to Create Cloth Dolls Online Class) with Danita Art
69. “Mother Nature” High Resolution Art Print (for personal use) by Tamara Laporte
70. “Nature Collage Sheet” High Resolution PDF by Tamara Laporte
71. “Compassionate Flow: Deer Girl” (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
72. “Art Journaling & Mixed Media e-course” with Marieke Blokland
73. “Walk Gently Upon the Earth” High Resolution Art Print (for personal use) by Kathy Glynn
74. NEW “Cute Monster Mini Class” (Mixed Media Course in E-book + Video) by Marielle Stolp
75. “Printable Collage Sheet”A collage sheet with cute girlies that can be used in a planner or bullet journal or for card making by Marielle Stolp
76. “A Heart Full of Happy (Mixed Media Art Workshop) with Tamara Laporte
77. “A Walk Down Cherry Street” (A Painting Workshop) with Janet Skates
78. “Daring Adventures in Collage ” (Online Collage Workshop) with Mati Rose McDonough
79. “Starry Eyed” (Large Scale Painting Workshop) with Stephen Lursen
80. “Painted Backgrounds” Printable Mixed Media Collage sheets by Marieke Blokland
81. “Beautiful Bumble Bee” High Resolution Art Print (for personal use) by Tamara Laporte
82. “Our Lady of Abundance” with Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici
83. “A Portrait Course Inspired by Henri Toulouse Lautrec (Mixed Media Art) with Lauren Rudolph
I was reorganizing the studio looking for materials to start making new art dolls, and then I found a box full of kokeshi doll bodies I forgot about. So, what did I do? Fridas!
I made a pair of super cute kokeshi dolls as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the famous artistic couple. Frida is a source of inspiration for me, and since I recently visited their homes in Mexico city, a homage to them was in order.
The original set sold immediately, and I got requests for more sets of these adorable handmade kokeshi art dolls. So, here they are. I still have a few unpainted bodies to share with you.Let’s go from unfinished bodies to a beautiful set of hand painted kokeshi art dolls, customized with your favorite colors to match your personality and decoration. What do you say? Will you get a set for you?
But I did not stop there… and I really don’t think I can make them any smaller than this.
In the box I found the original kokeshi bodies I found a few sets of tiny kokeshi doll bodies! I was on a roll and I took my finest brushes to make a few sets of micro Frida and Diego sets.
They measure just a little less than one inch tall (2.5cm), and they are adorable! If you like tiny things (I do!) you are going to love them… just see how huge a regular pencil looks next to them. It looks like I have a giant pencil laying around the studio.
The sets are only $35.00 each and I only have 4 of them. If you are interested, better head to my shop and choose your favorite!
I also made a painting too! A commissioned Frida with a house in her hands.
I had this commission almost finished when I made the dolls, so it felt like cheating when I added it to the newsletter… but then she is so beautiful it’s hard to resist not sharing her, right?
You already know what happens when I get obsessed with a theme, right? I will not stop until I am utterly and completely satisfied with exploring every option and technique about it.
This past days my obsession has taken me to work with Little red riding hood, and I have been watercolor paintings, paper dolls, classes, and now, an art doll.
Working with her all night, I just had to add her to my ever growing collection of art dolls. Each one of them holds a little piece of my soul, and I just love making them. Now, Little red riding hood is looking for a home! Go and see more of her on my online shop!
I made here while I was in the forest last month, filming my latest online tutorial “Sketching in the woods” where I teach you how to paint a little red riding hood watercolor portrait just like this one.
And then, last, but not least… A little red riding hood paper doll! I have been working on this original paintings turned into poseable dolls.Now you can create your own with my downloadable pattern. It’s ready to be printed, colored and assembled so you can have you very own Danita Paper doll.
So, one day a few weeks ago, I took my pencil and proceeded to draw a face on one of my favorite watercolor papers. I had the intention to start a new painting. Honest.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. All those childhood memories came rushing back and I changed course. I was going to make a paper doll.
I laid out the initial drawings and sketches and decided they were going to be cut-out, dress-up dolls like the ones I used to play with when I was a child.
After the first inking, I was hooked. My family knew I was up to something, and when they saw me grinning after I walked out to the studio, they knew it was going to be one of those weeks.
One of those weeks when I disappear from reality and hide in my studio, and I do not talk to anyone. Or go out. Or eat. Or Sleep. I’m in one of my art attacks.
The dolls were all inked up and now it’s time to paint them. So I got my watercolors and started to paint each one of them. They are unique and each one has their personality, so they deserve to have unique and one of a kind outfits.
See what I mean? Alice in wonderland even has her own bottle of Drink Me, An Eat Me cookie and a white rabbit to hop along with her down the rabbit hole.
Then it’s time to cut each piece by hand, and then start assembling them. This is kind of delicate because I have to make sure that each piece fits as expected, and some adjustments are required. So you have to be careful with your scissors.
Here’s one of the dolls with all her pieces put together, ready to be assembled. It’s not fun to see dismembered dolls all over my studio tables, and then I have to make sure I did not miss a limb!
Some magic and lots of work and sleepless nights, they are ready for the world! Each doll is articulated and can be posed any way you want.
I even had a piece of wood painted with chalkboard paint so I could play with them! They are a lot of fun! You can draw whatever scenario you want on the chalkboard, and then have lots of lots of adventures with them.
I like to read old doll making books because they have techniques for doing everything by hand (I’m old school like that) and I came across this quote.
It really hit a string for me, because it encompasses everything I believe about making my own dolls. Mass produced items have a perfect quality about them, but to me, they are soulless and nothing more than a pretty thing to look at.
That is probably the main reason why I very rarely repeat an artwork, not even if it’s a commissioned piece because someone missed the original work and they would love to adopt a piece just like her.
That refusal may sound as stubborn or pretentious at first sight, but there is a real practical reason why I can’t do it. Not even if I wanted to do so.
You see, I put a piece of my soul on every single doll I make. A tiny drop of my awareness and my mindfulness goes on each of them, and with that, all my emotions, feelings and thoughts will shape them. That’s why I can’t do it. It’s impossible to reproduce the moment that inspired them, they are a little moment of my life , frozen in time.
That is why I love my process, where I get to choose every single detail of the dolls I make, from the fabric of the dress to the buttons that hold the doll’s arms.
I set out to make this one a very pretty girl, but I really wasn’t aware of what I was making until the very end. All I knew is that she was going to be very special.
Each element is carefully chosen with the doll’s personality in mind, and I can swear to you that they talk to me about what they want to wear, how they want to look and everything they want to be.
I knew that I wanted her to be vintage looking, and when I found the bunny rabbit fabric hiding on my closet, I knew it was perfect.
We tried different hair colors, different clothe styles and different haircuts until we were sure that’s what we want. It’s an exhausting and repetitive process sometimes, because the doll is not sure what she wants to be, and I am known for starting all over again if I am not satisfied with an idea.
Other times, everything just flows, the doll and I are sure of what we want and it’s only a matter of finding the right materials and textures for each personality. This little girl was just that, perfect.
But… Something was amiss, and suddenly I knew what it was. She wanted to be like me, and I realized I was making a self portrait, so I used wool to felt fluffy bunny ears and she was ready.
See what I mean? She’s perfect! And so lovely, that she got adopted right away.
I am having a great time and work creating an art doll collection. I have been working non stop on the dolls and I thought it would be fun to stop for a moment to tell you the story of the doll creation using images from the doll making process and turning the tale into a mini tutorial.
Look at my desk… Someone told me that a messy desk is the sign of a creative mind, so I guess that makes me one of the most creative people in this planet. No contest on that.
But hidden within the mess, there are secrets to be found, like all the materials and tools used when you create an art doll. Can you spy them all in this picture? There’s one you can’t see but it’s the most important one of all… Love for what you do.
The first thing you want to do is pick the fabric for your doll bodies. Something resistant and sturdy that is also breathable is my weapon of choice, but you can choose anything you wish as long as it’s workable into small flexible pieces.
I create the patterns from my dolls from a standard but usually let the doll dictate what she wants to be, so the dolls are never the same, always different from one another. I really insist on that to give each doll a personality.
Once your bodies are cut and sewn, it’s time to stuff them! The perfect time to do this is while binge watch on my favorite TV shows and movies. I always buy a huge bag of Poly-Fil, grab my trusty stuffing tools and set to work!
Once the bodies are filled and my binge for TV and movies satisfied, the dolls move to my working table to start making the doll heads using paper clay, my sculpting tools, and as a new addition to my dolls, glass eyes!
Making a doll face with paper clay starts with a very rough surface that you have to sand and work until you have a smooth surface as a foundation, and let’s be very careful not to scratch the glass eyes with your sanding block.
Your hands and the sculpting tools will be of great help here. I polish, remove and add clay all over the place until I am happy with how things are looking. It’s a very labor intensive process so it’s important that you take your time working this step.
They always look very strange while you work the doll making steps. Next, after I am happy with the way the face is looking, I start to trace out features with a stabilo pencil because the next step is to paint the face.
Once I am finished with the face, it’s time to add more features to it to make it even more real. I love how I have learned how to bring my mixed media and watercolor paintings into the real world with my Art dolls.
And did you know that sometimes I spend more time choosing the perfect fabric for the doll that making it?
A piece of my soul goes into each doll I make, to me they are alive in a way and I can hear them whispering what they want. Sometimes they know right away, sometimes they will take their time choosing who they want to be, but it’s a very important step and I must get it right.
Wouldn’t you be the same if you were given the freedom to choose who you want to be? It’s a very important decision and one must take all the time it’s needed.
All the clothes on my dolls are handmade, most of the time from scratch. You can see here that I took a piece of fabric and turned it into trousers for this little girl.
I insist on everything being handmade. It adds to the uniqueness of each doll and to her final personality.
The dress is made with a fabric I found on a thrifty store somewhere during my travels. I will collect fabric, lace and props I find during my too frequent visits to antique and second hand stores and when the time comes, I will be ready for the perfect doll to wear it.
The lace on her also came from a very old box of lacy thing I was given by a friend. They are very precious to me because some of them come from another time, and there will never be one like it again. Using old, used things with a new purpose makes everything magical.
Once I’m done with the dress, I will add accessories to the doll. She is wearing a very nice choker with a cameo I made myself here in the studio with golden colored flakes and jewelry resin, like the ones I use on my original jewelry, only very small.
The dolls are pure mischief when they are finished. I really love to play with them in the studio while they impatiently wait for their final photos. We have lots of adventures and sometimes they even help to make other dolls.
Now the final step is to place them for adoption on my online gallery and shop, where they will sit on my virtual showcase, waiting for the perfect match that will take them to their forever home.
Penelope was very lucky! She did not last five minutes on the virtual shop front when her new adoptive parents picked her up. She is now very grateful to the people who gave her a forever home to start a new story in their hands. I’m really looking forward to hear from the stories and adventures they will have together.
I really hope you liked this little insight into my work. I wish I could live closer to my friends and fans so we could get together and learn what I teach on my online classes.
And luckily, the opportunity to spend some time learning with me in person is coming very soon. I have been invited by NW Country Art Retreats to teach a 4 day workshop in their beautiful place near Mount Rainer in Washington State.
I hope you can join me. Together, we will create a beautiful art doll just like the one we saw how to make on this tutorial, plus much more. And I will be just delighted to be in your company, working, laughing and sharing a beautiful time together.