Even though he lived with parents and I only got to see him once a year, Bo and I were the best of friends and his awesomeness was unparallelled. Be a good boy in doggie heaven, my Bo.


A Present for Mom

Can you believe that my own mama doesn’t even have a set of dolls painted by yours truly? Sure, she’s got a rare wine cask doll, which she uses to explain to visitors just exactly what it is I do with my life should the topic arise…quite unsuccessfully, I imagine.

“So…your daughter paints nesting dolls?” I can picture these visitors asking as they stare dumbly at the single wooden item Mom presents them. “I thought nesting dolls means there are more dolls nesting inside.”

“Yes, but,” Mom will attempt to explain that wine cask dolls are the same but different in as such that one stows a forbidden bottle of liquor inside as an effort to mask a penchant for drink…which is moot in my mother’s case as the only alcoholic beverage she imbibes is if it’s slathered on a rum cake.

So I painted her this set for her birthday this year. The subject matter might seemingly be a bit risque for a little Chinese lady, sure enough, but Mom loves Japanese culture and she’d told me more than once how upset she had been when I gave away the Yakuza sake wine cask doll.

So here it is, Mom: Three Yakuza boys. Each one bears a scene from traditional Japanese folklore you read me when I refused to go to sleep. Happy Birthday!

Yakuza trio

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The stories are (from left to right): Kintaro, Momotaro, and Urashima Taro.

Some close ups:


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Family Matter

These days I’ve been getting a lot of requests to paint families, both established ones and brand new ones. Pets are always included, of course. Can’t count them out! I know my Bo would be really upset if we left him out of the family census. Here are a few that I’ve worked on recently.

family portrait

All right, this one wasn’t that recent. It was a present for Mother’s Day from a delightful young lady to her momma.


This one was for a lovely man down in Melbourne whose Dad was celebrating his 80-something birthday. Go Dad! It had been an emergency rush job, but I didn’t turn it down as my own wonderful father-in-law had just passed away shortly after celebrating his 84th year on this earth so painting this set was a bit of a therapy for me.

family portrait 2

This one was another emergency rush job wherein I cranked it out over a frantic weekend. But that had been all right, as I was able to listen to the entire audio version of “A Confederacy of Dunces” in nearly one sitting and had an absolute blast.

As there was some time constraint and time difference to deal with between the customer and myself, I didn’t get photos of the last member of the family until the eleventh hour. I had to rummage around in my stash of loose dolls and actually found one that is half the size of my thumb nail to turn into a dog.


By this time I was so sleep deprived and delirious that I don’t really remember how this one got painted.


Oh, this had been a great one to paint, although I felt bad that the recipient had to wait so long for me to get my act together and crank it out. The cats don’t fit into one another, so it was a lot of fun to shake them out of the dog.

the couple

This was a thank you gift to a couple who generously loan their home to one of my favorite customers for her wedding. Her vivid description of this couple was so fun that I wish I had met them myself. That’s the thing, I get to meet so many interesting people doing what I do that I don’t see how I can do anything else!

This year on my birthday I woke up feeling a bit cranky as the Hubs had insisted on giving me my presents at midnight, which was sweet of him, but one of them had been a bluetooth speaker so of course I stayed up an extra hour setting it up and Led Zeppelin-ing it all over the place. I had to spend the following day working on yet another Rocky Horror set, but I got to have cake between layering the glitter!



I Gots to Have That Bear Coat

This is the deluxe version of “Workaholics” that I painted as a break from painting commissioned stuff. Yes, yes, I know. I need to go out more.


In this version Blake is wearing the bear coat,

Bear Coat

Adam’s got a butterfly clip on his neck,


and there’s a new addition of Montez and Jillian.


Why is Jillian looking like a Kiss groupie?


She’s not a Kiss groupie! She’s straight up Juggaho!

As If!

As long as we’re on a 90’s kick, how about a little “Clueless?”


Counterclockwise from right: Cher Horowitz, Dionne Davenport (Cher’s BFF), Tai Frasier (the “ugly duckling”), Murray Duvall (Dionne BF), Travis Birkenstock (stoner/sk8terboi), and Josh Lucas (Cher’s stepbrother/paramour).


Closeup of Murray’s braces and Travis.

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Cher’s water bottle and faux fur backpack purse.

“What’s Your Damage, Heather?”

As I currently have a little time on my hands, I’m devoting part of a work week and most weekends to painting some items on my wish list. It’s actually a mile long, but I’m determined to slowly and systematically tick each and every single one off!

The first one is a teenage angst fave, dark comedy “Heathers.” I remember my best friend (also coincidentally named Irene) would come round to my house and we’d insert the VHS tape into the machine and watch some mean girls in action. That whole high school hierarchy thing was lost on us since she went to an enormous Catholic high school where I pictured massive hallways with kids sort of milling about, looking lost and not really knowing anyone else due to its size. I myself attended the much smaller High School of Art and Design where everyone basically knew each other but were too focused on the latest release of a new Marvel comic (or, for weeks at one point, mourning the death of Superman) to appoint anyone as Queen Bee or allowed themselves to be ordered about. Either that, or we were just really nice kids. Despite it all, we loved “Heathers.” It might be because someone in the film tried to blow the school up in the end.


The core cast of “Heathers,” featuring (from left to right) JD, Heather Duke, Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara, and of course, Veronica Sawyer.

Heather Duke

Here’s Heather Duke with her copy of “Moby Dick.” I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe a high school girl’s favorite book is that particular Herman Melville classic. Then again, my favorite tome in high school had been “A Confederacy of Dunces” so…


And here is also Heather Chandler’s Scrunchie of Power.

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Here’s JD with his murder weapons of choice. I thought about throwing a bundle of dynamites too, but that’s overkill, don’t you think?

Since things are a bit of a zoo here at the ol’ Babushka sweatshop, I have a kid helping me out with the prep work. I don’t know whether or not he’s keeping this part time gig a secret because it’s really not cool to mention that you paint dolls to your buddies and potential paramour. But I realized, much to my chagrin, that the majority of the dolls I have painted are quite violently accessorized. That should add about an ounce of “cool” factor into this type of work for a teenage boy.

This “Heathers” set will be winding its way to the Pygmy Hippo Shoppe in a few days and will also be available as a made-to-order item in my etsy shop.

The Wizard of Oz

A while back I did my own modern version of The Wizard of Oz wherein the characters all wore sport coats and looked pretty stylin’, but a part of me always wanted to paint the original MGM version but never got around to do it. I was asked recently to paint this set for a birthday present. Did I have to think twice about it? You bet your sweet caboose I didn’t!

Wizard of Oz

The largest doll here isn’t Dorothy. It’s actually the Wizard, who was so big I couldn’t fit him into the shot.


This one was customized for the birthday boy:


Some close ups:


Here’s Toto peeking out of Dorothy’s basket.

Wicked Witch

The Wicked Witch with her Flying Monkey.

Just to give you an idea how tiny the witch and the monkey were…

Flying Monkey

Yow! This is one photo I dare not show my optometrist for fear of being given a lecture!

Now, if someone is to ask me to paint my favorite version of the Oz stories (the trauma-inducing “Return to Oz’), I’ll totally be up for it!


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