Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Cancer doll update

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Today I felt like I was on Project Runway.  John and I have been redoing two bedrooms and my Making Ends Meet Breast Cancer Doll was sitting with no clothing and her face wasn't detailed.  From 11:30am to 3:30pm I worked on getting her outfit made.  We had a wedding reception to go to at 4pm, but back home by 6pm and I worked until 9pm. 
CancerDollAlmostFinishedCloseUpBest                                                                                                                          She still needs sleeves, embellishments on her corset, heat-set crystals here and there and a hat.  I've had more fun today working on her clothing and can't wait to get her finished after church tomorrow.                                                                                To detail her face I used Copic's Multliner SP's with the brush tip inserted.  She needed bolder features so the brush tip worked the best.                                                                                                            Her clothing was made from silk fabric I purchased at Making Ends Meet in Shelbyville, Kentucky.  The trim you see on her corset, and by the machine, is also from the shop.  The shop is the one sponsoring the fund raiser for breast cancer research.                                                                                              Because I was playing around with stencils and Shiva Paintstiks I didn't want to cover her chest.  I saw a documentary on tatoo's and several women who had had double mastectomy's had their chests tatoo'ed.  You can't see it but I outlined her iris' with Copic's Glitter pens, and the vines and flowers.  All was heat set with an iron to guarantee she won't fade.  When I get her finished I'll post a photo before she is mailed to Kentucky.  She's due on the 15th, so I must get her in the mail Tuesday.  I've not named her yet.  That will come before she's shipped off.

Doll design week

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Today I worked on Ms. Maddie Hatter's socks and knickers.  What fun I had.  I'll be posting a few pictures soon.  Who is Ms Maddie Hatter you ask?  She's the doll I'll be teaching on the next doll cruise.

Ms. Maddie Hatter Best Right now she's pretty naked, except for her socks and knickers.  The hat she's got on in the photo is not what she'll be wearing on the cruise.  In fact, she'll have several hats.

Part of what we'll be doing on the cruise is making several hats.  She's a hatter, you know.  She must have many hats. 

We'll also be working with silk cocoons adding all kinds of embellishments to them to add to her hats and to her purses.

It will be great fun.  Hope you can join us.  Here's the website for more details:

Today the September/October issue of Soft Dolls & Animals arrived.  Scott Publications does a terrific job of putting an issue together.  They like to include projects for all levels of doll and animal making.

But, there was a blatant copyright infringement in this issue.  Coco, the Jester Clown that starts on page 44 is a direct copy out of my "Creative Cloth Doll Making" book.  The person who made the clown didn't even bother to remove the markings from the pattern pieces.  All my publishers markings are shown in black and white.  So, afraid both the magazine and doll maker will be getting a nice little letter from the attorneys.  Glad I'm not in their shoes.  It won't be pleasant.

CCDMCover The project, Coco, the Jester Clown, used the pattern I designed for the cover of the book.  If you are going to copy someone, you certainly shouldn't use a cover girl.

But, no one should use someone's pattern and claim it is their own design.  I love it when people use my books and patterns to create dolls to sell, give away, keep.  But, you can't photo copy the patterns and use them in another publication and claim it is your own design.

Just a little venting on my part today.  Later this week I'll get back to fun stuff.

Happy doll making, and I do hope you send me pictures of the dolls you've made from my designs.

Tea with the Queen

Friday, May 28th, 2010


QueenTeaPatti Last Saturday I had my 2nd tea.  This year I called it Tea with the Queen.  We all made Fascinators, which were great fun to make and very easy.
QueenTea  More on that later.

First we had our afternoon tea.  Last year I had done a Mad Hatter Tea Party with a long table.  This time I had smaller tables.  We always have a wonderful time talking and solving the worlds problems.  But, we also laughed a lot and grew closer as friends.

After the tea we gathered in our family room and went to work on our Fascinators.  My idea was to make them then raffle them off to help raise funds for my friend who does the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure.  Karen has to raise $2500.00 each year and this will be her 4th year.

QueenTeaMakingFascinators I've been going through my stash and clearing out.  I had all kinds of silk flowers, leaves, feathers, ribbons, birds and glitz.  I purchased hair clips and a couple small hot glue guns.  I had gotten rid of mine ages ago as I work almost exclusively with needle and thread.  But I knew it would go quicker if we had glue guns.

QueenTeaRosemary As you can see everyone got into the fun of making their fascinators.  A couple decided to do brooches instead, which looked terrific.



It doesn't matter what age you are.  Everyone loved making the Fascinators.  Here Lisa helps Jennifer clip hers into her hair.  Jennifer's was the most elaborate one made.

QueenTeaSusan To the right is Susan who is a breast cancer survivor recently.  Of the 18 people at the tea, four are breast cancer survivors.   

QueenTeaKaren The picture of the gal with the green Fascinator in her hair is Karen.  She's the one who will be doing the 3-Day for the 4th year.  Karen is very passionate about walking for breast cancer awareness.  I'm thinking I need to get into training and do some of the walk.

Anyway, the tea was fun, and we got Karen started with her fund raising.

I highly recommend getting together with family, neighbors and friends and having afternoon tea.  We all get so busy we lose touch with each other.  Not good.  So, brush off that furniture and uncover the tea pots and cups and saucers and have a small afternoon tea.

Grandbaby and Prague

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

First things first.  I must share new photo's of our latest addition to the family – Theo John Michel Dechief.  Yes.  I keep putting his whole name, but I love the sound.  

These pictures were taken on Feb. 24, the day before I had to fly home.  He was making some of the cutest little sounds.  Almost like he wanted to tell Heidi something.TheoFeb24Best                                                                       


                        Afraid I'm having real problems with Typepad today.  None of the photos and text are going where I want them.  Sorry about this mess.

PragueArtNouveauBldg While in Brussels I had the wonderful opportunity to fly to Prague, Czech Republic to teach a class to a group of doll makers.

My hosts, Bohdana and Mirek, were truly amazing.  They made sure I saw as many places in Prague as I could in the short time I was there.

They knew I love Art Nouveau.  For those of you who have been to Prague you know what a breathtakingly beautiful city it is filled with Art Nouveau style  architecture.

The building to the left, I hope it is on the left, is one of those  amazing Art Nouveau places.

PragueCastleChurchMuchaWindow Below, hopefully, is a window in the gothic style cathedral on the castle grounds that was painted my Alfonse Mucha. 

Bohdana and Mirek took me to the Mucha Museum, where I learned that he started drawing beautifully at the young age of 7.

Below is a photo of Bohdana and Mirek in their lovely home.  The quilt behind Bohdana is one she did for Bernina.  Like me, she loves Bernina sewing machines and is one of their top educators for eastern Europe.
  Don't ask me what happened to the photo quality.  It was perfect in Photoshop, but certainly didn't translate well here.


Bohdana runs a Creative Center in Prague where she hosts all kinds of wonderful fiber classes.  This is where I was privileged to teach.PragueClassGroupFeb2010 

Nine fantastically talented doll makers were in the class.  Most speak little English so Bohdana arranged for an interpreter.  Dana isn't in the picture as she was taking it, but she  also owns a quilt shop so knew what I was talking about and was an excellent interpreter.

This is just a short  post on my wonderful time in Rixensart, Belgium with our new grandson, and my amazing time in Prague. 

I am so blessed to have the opportunity to travel and share my love of doll making, and to see my children and grandchildren as often as I do.  That is also one reason John and I will be moving from California next year.  We want to be closer to our grandchildren and California is simply too far away.

Until next time, God Bless and keep you,


Catching up

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

I keep thinking I'll update my blog on a weekly basis.  I have good intentions of doing so, but it hasn't happened yet.DazzDazeApronGroup                                                                                                                                       Every other year I did a master class that I called Dazzling Daze.  This year I sent each person attending the pattern for my new apron.  I was thrilled that nearly everyone made the apron.

Isn't it fun to see all the different fabrics used?  Valerie, in the center front, hadn't done her applique yet, but she will.

This was my last master class that I organize.  I'm an artist, not an organizer.  It is too hard to organize something and also teach.  I'll miss my Dazzling Daze.  They were fun while they lasted.

The doll we did this year was along an Asian feel.  Joann Hatch finished hers.DazzDazeJoannHatchLiMei                                           

Just like the aprons, it was fun seeing the colors each person worked in.

During the class we used resist and drew our own designs for the jacket.  On the dress we stamped using wood blocks and Lumiere metallic paints.  When the paint dried we then used Procion dyes and dyed the dress fabric, and also the lining for the jacket.

The "obi" was created using the embellishing machine.  Tubes of Japanese silk/rayon fabrics added to the obi along with some silk ribbon roses and beads.

Many other techniques were used in the 4 days.  It was pretty intense, but all the dolls were turning out beautifully.  As you can see from Joann's doll.

The shoes are Lotus shoes.  They are 3-inches, which was the preferred size for a real Lotus shoe.  Can you imagine?  We were all looking at our feet and were very thankful we were born in an age that has banned such torture to women's feet.  Of course, that depends.  I see the high heeled pointy toed shoe is back in style.  That's almost as bad as having your feet bound.

One of the joys of doing what I do is having people send me photo's of dolls they have made from my classes, books and patterns.

Group of 3 dolls Helen Hill emailed me and sent photo's of dolls she and two friends made from my Creative Cloth Doll Couture book.

The group to the left is the  same pattern, but look at how different each person  made the doll. Each one is unique, and I'm sure reflects the owner's personality and likes.

BarbaraHelenHillsOdepheliaFaerie Below is Helen's Odephelia Faerie.  I love the beaded butterfly face mask.  I also love the colors Helen used, along with the embellishments.

The wings were inspired by a workshop Helen had with Jean Barnard.  Jean works with Paverpol and air dried clays.  I'll have to ask Helen what she used to create the wings.  Hers look soft, not hard as most of Jeans are.

As you look at each doll look at the hair, too.  Each person used different products for the hair.

The next doll, with the guitar, is Joan Domonchuks.  She named her doll Eva.  I love the "tattoo" on Eva's cheek.  Also, check out the shoes.

JoanDomonchuksEvaBest Joan used yarn for the hair.  I love working with yarn.  Also, torn fabric.  I've moved away from mohair off the hide as I find it felts over time.  If you use mohair on the hide, that won't happen.

DebDowneysTeaRose                                                                                                                                                                                                            &#0160
;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                &#0160
;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 &#016
0;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Deb Downey's version is called Tea Rose.  Another beautiful doll.  She does look like she's ready for High Tea.

DebDowneysTeaRoseCloseUp I love the coloring Deb did on the face.  And the outfit is really nicely done.

All of these dolls are spectacular.  But, I have one more picture of a live doll.

Theo 26 days 008 This is our newest grandson – Theo.  He's now 26 days old and still in the hospital.  Belgium has different rules for releasing babies than we do.  He's healthy, nursing well, pooping and peeing and gaining weight.  But, according the the hospital he's not gaining weight fast enough.  Guess they like really chubby babies in Belgium.  Actually, chubby women are more in fasion in Europe, too.  I'd get along famously there.

I leave Saturday, tomorrow actually, to spend a couple weeks helping clean, cook and hopefully hold the newest member of our family.

There you have it.  An update on the happenings here at the Culea household.  I promise to update my blog while in Belgium.  And, I'll be in Prague for a few days, too.  I've been asked to teach a workshop there for a doll group.  Really exciting.

Those of you in the blizzard areas, stay warm.  Hope the electricity holds.  My flight was changed due to the weather.  Instead of flying to Dulles (Washington, DC area) I'll be flying to London then on to Brussels.  Hope the weather holds in London.




Dazzling Daze

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Today, I finished the doll we'll be doing during my last Dazzling Daze here in California. DazzlDazeDoll2010

I do a 4-day workshop every-other-year here in San Diego County.  In 2012 John and I will be living elsewhere. 

Each time I try to come up with different techniques and this time we'll be focusing on dyeing and painting various silks.  Also, using Shiva Paintstiks to create a life-like face and body.

We'll be playing with some new products from the UK.  Sarah Lawrence of Crafty Notions has the yummiest new sparkling spray dyes.  And, we'll be using several Stewart Gill paints, along with Jacquard's Dye Na Flow.

The poor doll doesn't have a name, yet.  She's a combination of Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and Thai. 

I watched "Lost Horizons" a couple weeks ago, and I think that had a bit of an influence on me as I worked on this doll. 

Those coming for my retreat/workshop will have several fun surprises, too.  It is always a wonderful time of gaining new friends and learning heaps.

My Bernina

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I get a lot of questions as to what sewing machine I use and like.  Easy answer.  Bernina!  Pattisewing1

Sunday, my friend and photographer came to our house to take photo's of my "studio" for the new book I'm doing for Rockport/Quarry. I had him take a photo of me with my Bernina 440.  Actually, it isn't mine.  Yet.  It is on loan from Bernina and when my contract is up I will be buying it.

Why do I like Bernina machines?  They have lasting power.  I do a heap of free motion machining.  This requires a machine to really sew fast, long and hard.  My Bernina never over-heats, slows down, gets cranky.  When I teach a class where we do free motion machine work the Bernina's purr right along.  Other machines have to be turned off for awhile to cool down.

BerninaProject The project I'm sewing on is a friendship journal.  Several of us made pages for each other.  That is the cover for mine.  I'll post a picture of the finished journal later.

The project to the left is one I did for Bernina to show free motion machine work using the BSR that comes with the 440.  A BSR is the Bernina Stitch Regulator.  Perfect for even stitches when doing free motion work.  The project is a tube covered with an appliqued scene.  It unrolls to reveal a place to keep a project safe while not working on it.

Elysia1a The doll to the right has felted shoes that were created with the felting/embellishing attachment that also works on the 440.  The attachment works on several other Bernina machines, too.  Part of her clothing and wings were done with free motion sewing.

CreativeClothExplCover And, finally, the project I did for my last book was created with my Bernina 440. 

This is kind of a blatant advertisement for Bernina, but you've asked and I have now answered.

Other Bernina's that I have are an old 1230 that I'll never get rid of;  two Activa 240's and a 200e.  Yes.  I'm a Bernina fan to the max!

The new book I mentioned earlier is one three of us are doing for Rockport/Quarry.  The other two are elinor peace bailey and Barbara Willis.  It will be a doll making book with a twist.  You can imagine what that twist is knowing how different the three of us are from each other.  The working title of the book is "Cloth Doll Workshop".  We'll be sharing our studio's and how we go about making a doll.  Patterns will be included for the projects each of us will be introducing. 

The projected release date will be Summer 2010.  Keep coming back here for more updates on the book, and other projects.

Happy doll making!


Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

England was at its best on this trip.  After visiting with Heidi and Raphael I took Eurostar through the chunnel to London.  I was then off to Winchester to visit friends – Margaret and Maureen.  We went to cathedrals, abbey's, pubs, and walked all over.EnglandOnTheDole

Margaret took me to St. Cross Abbey where we asked for "the dole".  You are given a piece of bread and a bit of beer.  This has been done for centuries.  Anyone who knocks on a door of an abbey and asks for the dole is given the above.

This is Margaret with our bread and beer.  I loved the mugs so much that I bought a couple for John and I.


We were very fortunate to be able to hear the choristers at Winchester Cathedral one evening for Even Song.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The pipe organ and the boys voices were breath taking to listen to.

EnglandWinchester After Maureen and I had attended Even Song we met Margaret and Pauline at a pub in Winchester.  Pauline drove in from the east coast of England.  The next day we all went to Torquay.  Me by train and the 3 of them by car.  I had already purchased my train ticket or I would have driven with them.

TorquayClass09 I love going to Sylvia's workshop in Torquay.  This was my 3rd year and they want me back next year!  I'm thrilled.

We made my Mikaela doll, but I had designed a new outfit for her for this class.  We all decided that 2 days was not enough.  Next year I'll teach a new doll and this time for 3 days.                            Torquay is on the Devonshire coast, which is considered England's Riviera.  It is a beautiful place.

While here Carl, Sylvia's husband, took me to an abbey where I was able to attend Vespers.  This time it was in Latin and the music sung by the monks. 


After Torquay I was off to another favorite place – Rainbow Silks in Great Missenden.  This was my 5th year coming to this fabulous shop.  I taught a 2-day silk doll class and a 1-day face class. 

Bohdanka and her husband came from Prague to take the class.  Bohdanka does beautiful machine stitching on her Bernina sewing machines.  She and I are both in love with our Bernina's.  The doll she is holding has a beautifully hand painted and stitched dress.  I wish I had gotten a close-up of the doll.


After my classes at Rainbow Silks I was off to Ally Pally for the Knitting & Stitching Show.  I met Penny, from South Australia and she and I took the Tube to Wood Green where Alexandra Palace is located.

Dale Rollerson of The Thread Studio had done a challenge that was featured at the show.  Penny did the beautiful reds and blues piece shown here.  Penny does beautiful embellishing.


Next I was on a train and off to Preston where Kathryn picked me up and then took me to the Blackpool Embroiderer's Guild meeting at which I was the guest speaker.  I had a blast with this group.  And, the talent!  These women really know how to create beautiful works of art.  I was thrilled that they wanted to see my dolls.

BlackpoolSandiDoll                                                                                                              &
#0160;                                                One of the members, Sandi, brought a doll she had made using techniques in my first book "Creative Cloth Doll Making".  The outfit is made from free motion lace work.  It is truly a work of art.

On the walls of the art center they meet at are other members works of art.  I could fill up pages and pages with all the photo's I took. 

Every time I go to England I learn so much and am inspired by all that I see.  Especially at the Knitting & Stitching Show and at the various classes I teach.


We had a few days to site see before I had to go up to Muncaster.  Kathryn, and her husband Andy, knew about my love of Tolkein.  They arranged for a special tour of Stoneyhurst.  This is the school that two of Tolkein's sons attended.  While visiting the boys he started writing "The Hobbit".  You can see where he got a lot of his inspiration from the surrounding areas.

The lady who took us around the school shared some amazing artifacts that the school owns.  One is Mary Queen of Scots prayer book that she took to the chopping block.  Poor thing.  Her prayer book is covered in velvet and is beautiful.  We also saw vestments dating back to Henry V, and a copy of a book of Shakespeare's plays with his hand written corrections inside. 

EnglandFobbles09AA Kathryn drove me to Muncaster and along the way we stopped in Lancaster at a factory that prints Liberty of London fabrics.  They have an outlet store and I bought heaps of beautiful Liberty fabrics.

I taught 3 days at Fobbles.  This is the perfect place for a workshop.  Like Sylvia's and Rainbow Silks their workshop area is well lit, large and airy.  Beverley renovated an old barn and turned it into a magical place.  Muncaster is in the north western part of England at the beginning of the lake district.  Sue is outside by the door to the shop with some of the dyed bodies drying in the sun.EnglandFobbles09a


After class one day Beverley took several of us to one of the lakes nearby.  The scenery is like nothing you expect in England. 

The picture shows from left to right – Beverley, owner of Fobbles; Jean, Claire and Pam.  We were all totally smitten.

England09TheLakes Beverley has asked me back for 2010.  We've set Sep. 24-26 for a 3 day workshop.  Details will be added early next year.

Mikaela’s new outfit

Monday, September 7th, 2009

One of the places I'll be teaching in England is Torquay on the Devonshire coast.  This will be my 3rd year going to Sylvia's place.  Last year I taught my Alchemy Treasure box.  This year it is my version of the BJD's (ball-jointed dolls) Mikaela.  But, I told them I would design a special outfit for the class.  The days have been ticking by and I finally got to her.MikaelaPartyBlogImage

She still needs a few more beaded flowers for her hair, and her purse isn't finished.  She also needs her wrist cuffs, but the rest is finished. 

I made her dress from a piece of silk crepe de chine I had dyed earlier in the year.  Her corset is fabric collage with one of my favorite embellishments dangling – fabric baubles.  I've found some wonderful floral shaped sequins and these added just the right bling to her baubles and shoes.

Her shoes are made from a black cotton with some machine embroidery and beadwork.  After the class she'll be the next outfit available for the original Mikaela doll.

Mikaela4a In case you've forgotten what the original doll looks like here's her photo.

She also has an Afternoon Tea outfit.

All of the clothing and shoes are removable so you can change her outfits. 

Yes, we grown-ups like to change our dolls clothing.


Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Even though I should be working on new designs, which I am, I've been taking some workshops from people whose work I love.EvieMae1

This is a doll I made in Cyndi Mahlstadts class at Piecemaker's this past weekend.  Her name is Evie Mae.  She's a quick and extremely fun doll to make and Cyndi is an excellent teacher.

Barbara Willis, Betts Vidal and I were in the class and that had to be intimidating to Cyndi.  I'm not sure how I would react having 3 doll designers in one of my classes.  Cyndi handled us like a pro that she is.

Evie Mae is 12-inches tall, if you have her legs straight.  She's wire covered with batting then wrapped with wonderful stuff.  Her skirt is a silk flower that is taken apart and slipped onto the wire that created her torso. 

If Cyndi is ever in your area  you have to take a class.  Better yet, invite her to come.  Her blog and website are listed in the sidebar here on my blog.  Her company name is Meadow Bug Studios.

One of the classes I'll be teaching is my Creative Cloth Doll Making.  This class shows how you can mix and match body parts from my various books.

The red-headed doll below is a sample of what I'll be teaching.  She's a combination of 3 of my books – Creative Cloth Doll Making, Creative Cloth Doll Faces and Creative Cloth Doll Couture.

You don't have to have all three books to take the class.  Just one, but two would be better.  What I'll be doing in the class is showing how you can mix and match body parts to make a doll that is uniquely yours.  I also show how to create your own clothing by using the draping method.  Accessories are explored, too.  You can see this version had some fun shoes.  I'll show how to make those.

Marley1 Another thing I like to do is show how to use a simple square piece of fabric and turn it into different shaped embellishments.  You can't see the square very well in the photo, but it has made a wrap for her necklace, an accent piece for the center of the necklace, embellishments on her shoes, ankles and wrists and also for her hair.

To see where I'll be teaching this class go to my website, which is also listed on the sidebar. 

Doll making is a very relaxing art/craft form and a great way to use up scraps leftover from other projects.

This Saturday I'll be leaving the bright side and going to the dark side.  I'm taking a workshop with Michael deMeng.  I have his extremely interesting book "Secrets of Rusty Things".  It has been fun collecting odds and ends for his class along with a Dremel, Dap Kwik Set, Liquid Nails and E6000 glue.  I'll post pictures after the class so you can see if I can work with rusty things.