Desperate Living

When it rains it pours. Just as I was about to start on a Desperate Living set for the man who played Bosley Gravel in the movie, I was asked to paint another version. It gave me a chance to really change things up with both sets, which, in my line of work, is most welcomed…makes me feel less like a one-woman assembly line.

Here is version one:


This one features Bosley Gravel and his wife Peggy along with Grizelda Brown who ended up murdering poor Bosley. Along with this set is Muffy, Mole, and Queen Carlotta.

Version two:


This time Peggy Gravel is decked out in a gold raincoat and sparkly pink hot pants; Muffy clutching her lotto money while sporting hosiery couture; Queen Carlotta looking resplendent in her pink gown; Mole wearing her vagina leotard from her flashback; and Grizelda in her sequin top and pink tutu. I recently unearthed some wool meant for doll hair in my collection and made three miniature wigs out of it. It wouldn’t hurt to look into wig school, since need to learn how to make ringlets for a Marie Antoinette set I have in mind!

Harry Potter

Once a year I get a request to paint a set of dolls based on a little girl’s latest obsession, which is, quite frankly, very flattering. Although I don’t exactly produce dolls, I do recall, as a child, my bedroom had a wall of shelving units that I literally cluttered with knickknacks. Some were toys, most were miniature rooms I made out of Kleenex boxes, but a majority were ornaments that made dusting day a real headache. The point is, there are children out there who appreciate receiving ornaments as presents rather than toys and I look forward to this time of year when I get an email from the little girl’s mother.

This, apparently, is the year of Harry Potter. I’ve done a mega set a few years back so I was happy to repeat a few of the characters and adding three new ones. This set focuses on the students themselves.


When Harry Potter was at its height of popularity, I was a school teacher then and was amused to find all the girls in my classes were VERY attracted to Draco Malfoy, so I wasn’t surprised that he would be the first doll. Most girl appreciate a bad boy, I suppose. Hermione’s all about girl power, so’s Ginny and Luna, the two other new additions. Harry and the slovenly Ron are also in the mix, almost as an afterthought.


In the first Harry set I did I was asked to paint the characters’ accompanying creatures. That’s done again for Harry and Ron, but with the others I played it up with wands and broomsticks and also the time turner again for Hermione, an artifact I kind of wish I have so I can finally sit down and eat my lunch!

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls is one of those shows I never got around to see when it was first aired. I think I’d just graduated from college and was too busy navigating the zany world of adulthood to invest in a TV series. Also I was too cheap to get a proper cable hook up and relied solely on one of those rabbit ear contraptions which ended up being used to dry hastily sink-washed scanties. I had maybe two “good” channels I could watch without getting a headache when the wind was blowing eastward so I missed a lot of great shows then, Gilmore Girls being one of them.

As per someone’s request, I got to paint this set featuring characters from the show that best resonated with the buyer. Since I spend a majority of my day painting with Netflix on the background, I figured I ought to give this show a try. I’ll tell you what, it’s really weird to see my former Princeton Review SAT prep teacher on the screen. Lauren Graham is fabulous, of course. I’ve only ever known her as a no-nonsense test prep teacher who was good at her job and got annoyed at me when I had to leave my final review session early so I wouldn’t miss my ride. That’s the mark of someone who gives a damn.


This set features Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Emily, Richard, Kirk, and Lane.


It’s really wonderful to see someone from your past doing so well for herself. Maybe it’s time I check out “Parenthood!”

The Hobbit

Years and years ago I did a mini “Lord of the Rings” set featuring the fellowship. Since then I’d been wanting to update it but never got around to it…until now. I was asked to do a large set of 8 featuring a wizard, a hobbit, dwarfs, and a dragon from “The Hobbit.” It’s really hard to fit this mega set into my insane schedule, but I worked on it after after hours and found that I do my best work after dinner; when noisy and crabby neighbors have retired for the night and I was refreshed from a bracing shower and dinner.


Usually I can’t wait to finish a set and send it on its way, but this one…? I kind of wanted to keep it around for a bit!


Smaug was painted all in one go on a dreary Saturday afternoon. I streamed two movies and three 1-hour TV show while painting this set.


Gandalf: Hatted and unhatted.

thorin dwalin

Thorin and Dwalin. Seriously, Dwarfs cannot be this hot in Tolkien’s vision.


Fili and Kili and Bofur and of course, Bilbo.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It seemed kind of serendipitous that when I was working on a set of Ruth Bader Ginsburg that I had the third US presidential debate on in the background and Trump went after the supreme court justice.

“Ooooh,” I stopped painting momentarily and stared at the overly coiffed nominee in dismay. “You’re in deep doo doo now!” Not that he has kept his shoes free of scat since he dove into politics, but rather, this statement would no doubt anger the legions of RBG fans. The fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a supreme court justice, has fans, says a lot about this woman, and that she’s so awesome that I was asked to paint her likeness in doll form.



Since I like to add a little surprises into sets that doesn’t include the littlest doll, this one will feature two gavel charms for the recipient to fashion into earrings.


Dreams Do Come True

Every now and then I get asked to paint a family portrait, a favorite project of mine. The thing is, being a bit on the shy side, I never dare to ask the buyers if I can paint their families in costume. I’ve done it once a long long time ago where the couple had asked me to paint them and their cats as pirates and that had been so much fun. But dreams do come true. Not only was the family I was asked to paint open to the idea of having them garbed in costumes, but in old horror movie monsters costumes! It’s a mash up of my two favorite things in the world!


Here we have the family dressed up as (Dad) The Werewolf, (Mom) Bride of Frankenstein with a real wig that I needle felted with glee, (Daughter #1) as the Dracula’s Daughter and (Daughter #2) as a Bat Baby. The family dog is a reflection of the only sane one in the lot, but if asked, I would’ve happily come up with something to put on her too!



Outlander Past and Present

Even though the Outlander sets are one of the more difficult ones to paint, I readily agreed to knock out another one for the annual Outlander SoCal Third Anniversary Gathering raffle. If I can’t be there in person, I might as well send one of my minions over!

This one is the most complicated one yet, largely because I was to depict Jamie and Claire in their wedding garbs, and believe you me, that was a lot of paid! Still, it was good fun and since my health issues have been resolved, I couldn’t complain!


In addition to Jamie and Claire as well as a mini version of its creator Diana Gabaldon, I got to paint Brianna and Roger for the first time in their modern costumes!


She Said Yes!

Gentlemen, step up your game, ’cause Joe’s got you all beat by a mile!

I kid, I kid! While I commend all the husbands and boyfriends (as well as girlfriends and wives for that matter—wait till you see this birthday present I’ve got cooking in the sweatshop— for coming up with all sorts of interesting and quirky ideas to gift their beloved, this one project is by far the most interesting.


Joe is planning on proposing to his girlfriend and came to me with an idea of using a set of matryoshka dolls as a vessel for the ring. Why not? It reduces the risk of accidentally swallowing it if he had, say, put it in a glass of champagne or something, doesn’t it?


I thought about carving out a piece of foam to put into the last doll as a ring holder, but the Hubs got on his computer and designed something for it. He printed the ring holder with rubberized plastic and voila!


I used my own engagement ring as the test subject.

BoBo Babushka, conspiring with boyfriends and husbands since 2009.

Frida Kahlo’s House

This is one of those project I never thought I wanted to do until it was presented to me several months ago.

“What if,” the email stated, “there’s a Frida Kahlo set featuring Diego Rivera, Trotsky, and Frida’s house?”

“Oh my god,” I murmured and put down my turkey sandwich. “Let’s do it,” I whispered to my email page as I stabbed out a reply with my crumb coated fingers. I was at my parents’ house when the request came so I had to do a mental assessment on my inventory. I distinctly remember having received a peculiar house set that’s larger than average which would be perfect for Frida’s home/museum and crossed my fingers, hoping I haven’t done something stupid to it like painting a lurid flower on it. As soon as I got home I headed straight into the sweatshop and it was still there, unmolested by my impulses and two months later, I got to work on it.


The main challenge is trying to find which aspects of the house/garden that needed to be included. After some back and fourth, we decided on this:


As I was working on this set very slowly late at night after other ones are sorted, it seemed like a really daunting project. But it got painted in the end and all I can say is that I am forever grateful to Netflix and Stan and Hulu+ for keeping me sane throughout the entire process. But honestly, it’s not as bad as I made it sound. I’ve been doing miniature interiors since forever.


Since I had once spent a great chunk of my life commuting on the subway, I often daydreamed about having an entire car devoted to my comfort.

Since there’s an extra doll left in the set, we kicked around the idea of painting one of Frida’s fetuses or a monkey. We settled on a monkey.


The Best Wedding Party Ever

If you are to handpick your own celebrities to be your best man, maid of honor, and celebrant, who would it be? For this couple, they had Ed Asner as their best man, Julie Newmar as their maid of honor, and Mink Stole as their celebrant.

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For their first year anniversary present, I was asked to paint this delightful wedding party, but with the actors in costumes that defined their acting careers.


Mink Stole as Connie Marbles, the groom and the groom, Julie Newmar as Catwoman, and Ed Asner as Lou Grant.


The main doll is customized with quotes and dates and symbols that’s unique to the couple.


I always enjoyed writing a bit of lyrics or poems on a set so I was thrilled to be able to do so. Not many people know this, but I’ve won 6 consecutive penmanship awards in the 4th grade.

Chris Bruce

The grooms are painted with various talisman and pets. These ones are highly symbolic.


Apparently, Julie Newmar walked into the wedding announcing that she was holding a $100 lipstick. In her hand also is a Tony Award. And a whip. You can’t get more bad ass than her.


This was hands down one of the most challenging dolls I’ve ever painted. The Ed Asner doll is only 1″ and I was asked to paint an Emmy Award and the house from “Up” that he was involved in. For this one I had to whittle my 0000 brush down to an even smaller point. Needless to say, after the dust cleared I had to go lie down and not use my eyes for a whole solid hour.

Happy anniversary, Bruce and Chris!