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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Cloth Doll Making Books - Patti Culea

Good books about dollmaking are not overly common occurrances. Some of my absolutely favourite ones are by Patti Medaris Culea. The books provide wonderful "eye-candy" and inspirational "galleries" where different dollmakers have interpreted the patterns in their own, unique way. There are also interchangeable patterns (from Book 1 through Book 4) and wonderful step-by-step instructions - particularly for that challenge for all doll-makers - the face.
Book 1 is still my all time favourite - many's the night it has come to bed with me for a bit of late night inspiration! The patterns range from a simple pancake face and single piece arm and leg doll (which can still look stunning - it is the pattern used on the front cover!) through to a pieced head with multiple piece arms and legs. The face instructions in book one are excellent and then expanded upon further in Book 2 - Creative Cloth Doll Faces.
Patti's background was in portraiture and her doll's faces are instantly recogniseable as "hers". Despite this talent, Patti has a wonderful way of breaking down the construction of the face so that even a novice can create a well proportioned and detailed face on their dolls. Instructions for colouring the faces covers not only pens and watercolour pencils but also crayons, dyes and other media which gives different looks to the doll.
Book 3 - Creative Cloth doll Couture, expands upon the great role costuming plays in contributing to the interpretation of a character. The constuming ranges from tailored clothing through to "illusion clothing" and once again the gallery sections are full of inspirational dolls - all made from Patti's patterns but interpreted in so many different ways.
Book 4, which was done in conjunction with Annie Mayer Hesse, looks at beading as a way of providing embellishment to the doll. This is not just simply beading here and there - the instructions are easy to follow, but the effect is to add a level of complexity to the surface of the doll which is beautifully done. The section by Annie on beaded faces provides an amazing alternative to face colouring. Patti has more recently been exploring flat dolls in a series of workshops with her good friends Barbara Willis, elinor peace bailey and Betts Vidal. This new direction led to her 5th book, Creative Cloth Explorations. The wonderful thing about this book is the layering of different textile media to build up the page. A lot of the concepts can be added to as an adjunct to Patti's Stargaze Arca and Tome patterns.


  1. Megan,
    What a wonderful idea you have for your blog. I look forward to reading more. I am published in Patti's newest book, Creative Cloth Explorations. I love the flat work. Patti is a very lovely and talented lady.

  2. Thanks Fran - glad you like the idea - hopefully I will be able to keep up the momentum. Will have to check out your work in Patti's book - I love them all - she certainly is a very lovely and talented lady -and so generous with her knowledge.