Dollmaker's Journey CUSTOMER CONNECTION
April 2003 Issue Twenty-one
Copyright 2003 by Dollmaker's Journey
Dollmaker's Journey Customer Connection newsletter
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Visit out companion website: http://www.dollmakersjourney.com/
The cherry blossoms in Washington,
D.C. have come and
gone, and spring is finally in the air here in the United
States. Taxes are
filed (or extended), Easter has been celebrated, and
many places are on daylight savings time, which gives
an hour more sunlight to work and play. Time
to dust off the cobwebs and spring clean your sewing
area, making it ready to begin some fabulous new projects.
You will find ideas for beaded pins, craft shows, and
lots of tips in this Customer Connection Newsletter.
Mary Ann and Bonnie
Pamela Armas is gathering Treasures from her stash
for the Jewel of the Gypsy Challenge. Kits containing
fabric, trim, and trinkets
to use in your Gypsy doll will be mailed beginning in
April (cost $15). Dolls (18" or smaller) made
for this challenge will be displayed at the Houston
Quilt Festival October 29-Nov. 2, 2003. For more information email her at: email@example.com
or call (505) 847-0963. To receive your kit (which
includes shipping instructions), mail a check to: Treasures
of the Gypsy, P.O. Box 748,
Also check out her Gypsy Fabric Club. For $50 a month
you receive lots of fabric, trims, and exotic treasures
to augment your stash, all personally chosen by Pamela.
Erika Surovec, a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Ukraine,
is starting a doll project there to:
Create an outlet for creative expression and cultural
Create an awareness of the doll as an art form.
Create a sustainable form of income for the local
She will initially begin by using found objects to
create a doll, and would love extra magazines and books
to show the women what possibilities exist in the outside
world. For more information on her project email Erika
Any help, bits of stash, or information you could share
would be appreciated.
We're always excited to add new designers to Dollmaker's
Journey. Meet ELLEN "AUNTMOONIE" HAYTAS.
Ellen's whimsical patterns "Daydreaming Katie"
and "Chef Louigi - a Teapot Doll" include
thorough written instruction as well as lots of color
photographs. We know you will enjoy her designing style.
We are thrilled to be adding the patterns of the ever-so-talented
MARY TRESSLER! Along with Mary, we will be the exclusive
distributors of her innovative "No Frills"
pattern line. You'll delight in her Pin Up
Girl series, Native Dancers and her many other exotic
fantasy characters. For those of you who love costuming,
her Body Basic pattern makes a perfect mannequin. You
can count on learning something new with each one of
these exceptional patterns. Check them out at http://dollmakersjourney.com/tressler.html
Our NJ friend BUNNY GOODE has joined our Dollmaker's
Journey family of designers. We all enjoyed seeing her
impish "O'Rooney" the leprechaun, serene "Rip
Van Winkle" and fabulous "Hey, Goode Lookin'"
hand mirror at Cheryl's Tea a few weeks ago where her
patterns were very well received. We know you're going
to like them as much as we do. http://dollmakersjourney.com/friends.html#goode
Color Coordination - Something I learned in Interior
Design class. There are only two colors on the color
wheel that will match no matter what shade you use -
Green and Orange.
It can be pale to bright to dark, it does not matter
they will all go together, for example: Peach, Orange
and Rust, or Mint, Hunter and Chartreuse. Sandra Corson-Walker
Selling at Doll/Craft Shows
By Bonnie B. Lewis
Q: I was invited to participate in a doll/craft show,
but the booth was very expensive.
I don't have enough dolls/crafts to make my money back
and no one I knew was interested in sharing the cost
because of the short notice. When did you know you were
ready to set up and sell at crafting events?
A: I never sold anything at a doll or craft show until
I had enough dolls to fill a table 6' long with enough
replacement dolls to refill the table at least once.
For me that was over 20 dolls. It is not a good idea
to go to a show and have an empty booth. I have a friend
whose dolls are so popular she sells out usually in
the first hour. For her booth she needs at least 50
dolls. For many shows you also need photographs or slides
of your work, and this means you must have an inventory
done ahead and photographed.
Q: I get the impression that some people don't want
you to know about upcoming events. Have you experienced
that? I feel like someone sitting on the sidelines waiting
for a chance to get in the game.
A: When I first started selling at shows, it was hard
to find out where they were. A lot of the good shows
were restricted, juried, or kept renting booths to people
that came every year. You might try selling from your
home by doing a home show near Christmas. We operated
a show called "Holiday House" for 13 years
in model homes, and it was opened the weekend before
Easter and the weekend after Thanksgiving. We advertised
and put up signs (check with your local zoning ordinances
before doing this). The first year we had nine crafters
participate (the nine who started Holiday House) in
one model home. By year 13 we were using 4 model homes,
had almost 100 crafters, and a huge mailing list. We
also offered door prizes to those who came. We requested
that each crafter donate a door prize, and we gave away
several each day. Once you get in a local craft show,
you will hear by word of mouth about other opportunities.
Check your newspaper and attend craft shows in your
area. Everywhere you go ask about schedules for future
shows or ask to be included on next year's crafter mailing
list. Enter your dolls in State Fairs or local county
fairs so you will get name recognition. A lot of high
schools have craft shows where a percentage of the sales
go to help the school. Call your local schools and
find out when they are and how much they cost. A lot
will have booths for $10.00 a table.
Q: Do you make/keep dolls just for craft/art festivals?
A: I produce different dolls for different shows.
At art and craft festivals I tend to make lower priced
dolls ($25-$100) and always try to have something at
my booth that would sell for less than $10.00, even
if that is doll pins, jewelry, stationery, etc. Not
everyone can afford an art doll, and by having lower
priced items customers can feel that if they can't buy
a doll, at least they can get something made by the
artist they admire. At doll shows (usually more exclusive,
more expensive, and a select clientele) dolls can be
priced from $25 to $1,000 or more, depending on what
kind (porcelain, cloth, clay, one of a kind, etc.),
your reputation, and your expertise. Be aware of your
surroundings, security, and lighting. Some dolls would
not fare well outside in windy or rainy conditions.
Dolls tend to sell better if you focus on one style
(e.g. fantasy, art dolls, children, babies, play dolls).
Some shows require that you only carry one medium (e.g.
wood, porcelain, cloth, etc). Booths that focus on
one type of doll (e.g. American Girl doll clothes, fashion
dolls, play dolls, fantasy) tend to attract more people
than booths that are just cobbled together with a variety
Q: What was your turning point from hobby to making
A: I always understood that you changed from an amateur
to a professional when you sold your first doll. Of
course, it seems you never receive enough money to compensate
for your time. A basic rule of thumb is to determine
how much it costs to produce your doll, and triple that
amount. Then add in money for your time. This will
usually make the doll cost more than the market will
bear. So to realistically price your dolls, I usually
check out my competition, and try to price things in
a comparable range. At first you will be lucky to break
even. However, as time goes on you will find ways to
supplement your sales by teaching, writing, creating
patterns for sale, etc. I don't know too many doll
artists who got rich just selling their dolls. Part
of the reason they keep making them is for the creative
and artistic satisfaction they receive.
Q: How do you determine when to get into a show even
A: Here I have to laugh. I will do a show when I
want to get rid of some of my excess inventory. I also
want to start selling things online, because we moved
to a rural area that doesn't have a lot of interest
in art dolls, but just primitives and country. We are
in the process of moving to a new home, and I am sure
that I will have to get rid of many dolls to make room
for the new ones I keep making. Here in a new
city and state I will attend
any craft shows I see advertised, and check out what
sells and what seems to be popular. Then if I wish
to enter next year, I will have a good idea of the kinds
of things to make to compete with other crafters/dollmakers.
Hope this helps give you some ideas. There is nothing
more exciting than selling your first doll, and the
season for craft and doll shows is just beginning.
The amazing KATE ERBACH has just released three terrific
new patterns - "Smithers" from her Family
Retainer series, "Lady Catherine", the Queen's
washerwoman dressed in antique linens and the exuberant
"Birthday Wish" with her birthday cake hat.
We know you're going
From the very fertile imagination of Starship California's
SYLVIA SCHORR we have the newest addition to her pincushion
collection - the King-Kong inspired "Giant Ape
Kidnaps Blonde Beauty." She also has a charming
"Littlest Mermaid" perfect for embellishing
with your favorite bits and pieces and "Zelda of
the Flying Zambezis" with a hand painted body.
Check out these wonderful new patterns at http://dollmakersjourney.com/schorr.html
ANDREA PERKINS has a charming gardening doll called
"Felicia Flowers" that is so quick and easy
to make. A perfect Spring
gift for a gardening friend or relative. She has also
created "Thimbelena" - the most delightful
pin doll holding a pincushion made from a thimble.
We're just nuts about it and we know you'll
be making batches of them for all your sewing friends.
See them both at: http://dollmakersjourney.com/perkins.html
Beading queen MARCIA ACKER-MISSALL presents us with
her richly embellished "Gypsy Treasures Tassel"
which can be used for almost anything from jewelry to
home decor. http://dollmakersjourney.com/marcia.html
Last, but never least, we have 2 new face molds from
the tireless SHERRY GOSHON. "Chantal" is
an exquisite art-deco style face made for the "Blossom"
body and "Spring" is an alternate child's
face for the "Gracie" body. We know her many
fans are going to love these new press molds. http://dollmakersjourney.com/goshon.html
CREATIVE CUSTOMER & DESIGNER DOINGS
One of our customers, Laura Lunsford, from Monte Vista,
Colorado, just got the news from Soft Dolls & Animals
Magazine, that they will be featuring one of her dolls,
Elizabeth" in an upcoming issue! Congratulations,
A note from Val Garber who recently moved to "Darkest
Life is not bad here. Almost no craft supplies
and very little fabric is available, but other than that, most things are available.
It's strange what is and isn't available though. For
instance, I saw Pringles and I saw sushi rice, yet they
don't have chocolate chips or graham crackers. Go figure.
It has taken much longer to get settled in here
than I thought it would. For one thing almost no one
lists his or her business in the yellow pages so finding
where to get what you want is like a detective game.
It does make for some interesting discoveries though.
I haven't been bored :)
Thankfully I brought lots and lots of fabric and
art supplies with me, good ex girl scout that I am, and soon I will be able to actually get
back to projects started 10 months or more ago. I guess
there could have been worse interruptions. I am getting
slowly over the home sick feelings and settling in.
I am almost feeling normal again. Val Garber"
Q: Could somebody please tell me what is the difference
between styrofoam and polystyrene.
I thought that it was the same thing but read somewhere
that styrofoam is softer than polystyrene. In Australia
we have polystyrene, floral art foam used for dried
arrangements etc but cannot find styrofoam.
I used polystyrene to make "Fun" by Jane Houck,
which was not easy to carve.
A: We have customers all over the world, and when
they buy a pattern that calls for Styrofoam, sometimes
there is confusion. In Australia
polystyrene is readily available, and Styrofoam isn't.
Here in the United States
people use the terms Styrofoam and polystyrene interchangeably,
but I really don't think they are. In my experience
polystyrene is firmer, and the surface is MUCH smoother.
Sometimes it is called Dylite. It is harder to compress
and harder to carve, but I like it a lot for Lynn Butcher
boobs, wreaths, etc. When you cut it you see lots of
tiny white balls compressed together. Styrofoam is bumpy
on the surface (it would be hard to paint a face on
it), it flakes or chips when you cut it but can be easily
carved using a serrated knife. The slightest pressure
(even from your fingers) can dent it, which makes it
ideal for creating doll hat forms. The Craft
Place (http://www.thecraftplace.com) carries
Styrofoam, and if you look at a picture of it, it will
look kind of fuzzy. Polystyrene is heavier. I know
if you bake Styrofoam in the oven it will create toxic
fumes that can be quite dangerous, so we warn people
NEVER to use Styrofoam inside oven bake clay such as
Sculpey. However, people in Europe
bake polystyrene all the time and don't seem to have
any problems, although I DON'T recommend it. Styrofoam
is probably easier to use when carving a face and covering
it with fabric, because Polystyrene crumbles. Both will
work with Jane Houck's patterns (although styrofoam is easier), but you need to use a different technique
to cut them. I have used Styrofoam balls that are
5 years old, and they don't seem to be much harder,
although they become more fragile with age. Hope this
helps solve your problem.
Beads, charms, embellishments -
The Bead Studio at http://www.beadstudio.com
has hard-to-find feet, hands, shoe, and head
charms for pin dolls. Free online beading projects
and monthly newsletter. Visit The
Bead Studio at 266 East Main
Street, Ashland, OR97520
Phone: 541-488-3037 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Costuming Book - One of my favorite books for historical
costumes is: Patterns for Theatrical Costumes: Garments,
Trims, and Accessories from Ancient Egypt to 1915 --
by Katherine Strand Holkeboer; Paperback. $20.97 (available
from http://Amazon.com) It has lots of patterns in 1/8
size, and using a proportional scale wheel (available
they are easy to size up and down to fit almost any
doll, as well as people.
You don't need fancy equipment to insert miniature
eyelets into doll shoes and vests, etc. Just purchase
a prick punch or center punch from a hardware store.
They cost about $3. These are used to set nails in
wood. You also need a hammer (lightweight is better).
To set the 3/32-inch and 1/8 inch eyelets use a 3/8-inch
center or prick punch. To set the 1/16-inch eyelets
use the 1/4-inch center punch. You can see pictures
on our website at http://dollmakersjourney.com/supplies.html
that show you exactly how to
NEWS FROM THE HOME FRONT
Bonnie finally gets to see what is stored in those
500 boxes that have been in storage for 9 months as
she moves into her new home in West
Virginia. Of course, after
talking with Pamela Armas from Treasures of the Gypsy,
she can't complain. Pamela has been camping out
in a tiny room for two years while they renovate their
future home, and she has over 5,000 boxes stacked all
over the place. And Bonnie thought 500 were bad.
As always, Mary Ann and Bonnie had a wonderful time
attending Cheryl Leone's annual dollmakers Tea
earlier this month. They love any opportunity that
enables them to interact with their customers in person
and to admire the wonderful dolls they are making.
Cheryl outdoes herself every year. The next day Mary
Ann and her siblings threw a surprise 80th
Birthday Luncheon for their beloved mother Marion and
45 of her best girlfriends. A grand time was had by
all. Contractors have been painting, repairing and
installing various items for Mary Ann's new home
for the past two weeks. She is delighted with the results
and happy to have it all done so quickly. Now to finish
organizing the sewing room…
OTHER SITES TO SEE
When you go to http://google.com
under the search engine enter "historical costumes
make" and you will get 148,000 sites to check.
OR you can begin by trying some of my favorite web sites
with lots of costuming links:
We'd love to hear your thoughts about our Customer
Contact the editor Bonnie B. Lewis at enchantedR@aol.com
with any comments, suggestions, address changes, etc.
Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to any
of your friends. Help us spread the word about Dollmaker's
Journey! All we ask is that you forward it intact, with
all the subscription information included.