Classic Cloth Dolls

A Doll Makers Blog

Monday, December 27, 2010

Classic cloth dolls

I have started this new blog to use as a place to share the dolls I design and paint.
I am hoping to be able to share how I create the dolls.
I have been making dolls for over 25 years.

In the beginning my dolls were simple pancake dolls.I moved on to art style taking classes from Sherry Goshon. I learned to sculpt the heads from clay and how to make molds.

It was through Sherry I head about Susan Fosnot. Portrait-style painting on hand crafted cloth dolls is how she is described on google search. From her Bio page ."Each of my painted cloth dolls is one of a kind—designed, sewn, and stuffed by myself. I paint the heads, arms, and legs using traditional brush techniques. The heads are round, but the faces are flat, with the illusion of eyes, nose, and mouth created entirely with paint. All hair and shoes are also painted. I like to use old fabrics for the clothing-anything from the mid 19th century up through the first decades of the 20th century. Those years were the hey days of cloth dolls, and the time period my dolls usually represent."

I fell in love with the dolls by Emma Adams.
I could not afford to buy one even if I knew where to look.
Making one was my only option.
I so wanted to make a doll to look like a Columbian. For me she is the classic cloth.No molds no pressed faces.

Just oil painted fabric.

I ventured out of my comfort zone and drove my self 7 hours to take a class with Susan.
I had never painted with oil paints.I had never heard of Columbian dolls,Alabama dolls,Izannah Walker dolls. You get the idea.

It was an experience I will never forget.
I had my new blue PT Cruiser loaded with all I thought I would need.It was a beautiful drive if you like to drive. I do not like to travel but I wanted to learn how to make the beautiful dolls just like Susan's.

The old court house has a very long set of steps one has to navigate to get to the room used for the class.
Once settled in I met other doll makers. That was really the best. Others that understood how I felt about dolls. The difference in them and me was they knew what they were doing. I had no clue.

Susan was very patient. She set about showing how to apply the paint. Her method for this doll was wet on wet paint. The flesh coat was applied then the details.
I knew nothing of blending color,of shading, of detail but I attempted to follow. I took lots of notes and pictures to help me remember.
Thank goodness for the pictures and notes.
I failed miserably making my first doll. I have her still to remind me just how it was in the beginning.

I felt so very frustrated with myself for the inability to reproduce what I saw Susan do.

The whole experience was, to say the least over, whelming for me.
I came home absolutely worn out and did nothing with the paints for quite a while.
What I did was think about how I could make it work for me.

I decided to paint the flesh color and let it dry completely.
I had made such a mess with trying to blend color without over blending into the flesh color.
That was my first mess. trying to add color to the wet flesh color.

Drawing the face on with colored pencil was the next step.
This is enough for today. I will add more in days to come with lots of pictures.


  1. I would like to know how your doll turned out.

  2. Susan if you look at the blog archive to the right side of the message there are dates.2011 has some pictures of my progress and the 2014 has a finished doll.Thanks for asking.I have made many many dolls since I took the classes. judy j