Gold Coast Bakery 60th Year!

For the Gold Coast Bakery’s 60th anniversary, I was asked to create a set of dolls after their mascot, a baker. If you live on the Gold Coast, you might have spotted one of their trucks tooling ’round town, or pawed at their products at the supermarket.


It’s always a great deal of fun painting cartoon-like characters. And bread. I love painting bread, more than I love eating it!


Spirited Away

Believe it or not, my mother was the person to introduce me to all things Miyazaki. She came home from her errands one day and gave me a video tape from her Chinese video rental place.

“Here,” she said as she also attempted to shove a bao into my gullet, “watch this. You’ll like it.”

The video tape in question was “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Although my mother and I are two very different people, she knows me like no others. She was using the word “binging” in the context of “cramming TV shows” before it was being applied to anything other than an eating disorder and had me watching the entire original Japanese version of “The Ring” miniseries (there were about 60 episodes or something insane like that) in one weekend, so naturally I immediately popped it into the VCR, knowing this woman gets me. Boy, she was right. I did enjoy the movie tremendously. The artistry, the details, the story. It brought a hardened New Yorker such as myself to tears. After that, every time she’s in Taiwan, she would hunt for the latest Miyazaki masterpiece before it was barely out of Japan and I was hooked for life.

Even though I try to stay away from painting dolls based on animation, I couldn’t turn down a chance to do one of my all time favorite Miyazaki films: “Spirited Away.”


This one features No Face, Boh the cranky baby, YuBaba and YuBird, Chihiro, and the Kashira (the trio of heads that bounce around).

When this project was proposed, I immediately dug around in my supply drawers and found something that would be the perfect representation of the three heads. It took some sawing and sanding to make them all fit. Most people believe I stand around all day painting dainty little things when in fact I have a Dremel at the ready, fully charged at all time for emergency adjustments, a belt sander downstairs, and a box of band aids nearby for any power tool-related injuries. Even though “traditional” nesting dolls sets aren’t quite as trying to make, I do enjoy these challenges now and then to break things up a bit!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

I always look forward to the New Year because it’s when I paint for my friend Susie’s charity projects and she usually proposes something I’ve never done before. This year, however, someone else beat her to the punch. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” was one of those off-Broadway shows I went to see on a whim without knowing anything about it and it, along with the movie version, had made quite an impact on me. Also, I’d seen and met the creator and star in person at a Broadway flea market years before (he was representing “The Secret Garden” table because he had been Dickon on the show) and thought he was really sweet and very cute. What a great start to a new year!

The buyer and I agreed straight away that this set would only feature Hedwig in various stages of her transformation (but in reverse).


One thing that worried me was the cape she wore in the opening scene…I had to find a fabric stiff enough to withstand the amount of paint, glitter and subsequently the wool that would be piled on it. Fortunately the last time I was in the States I had this crazy notion that I would have time to start teaching myself how to needle point and bought a roll of canvas. It’s good to see it put to good use if not for what it’s really intended for.


As much as I love painting these dolls, I never pass up a chance to do something different!

Some close ups:


Ab Fab 2.5.5

I can’t exactly call this version of Absolutely Fabulous as 3.0 since only a few changes were made to the original 2.0.


And here’s the newer version:


I was asked to put the words “LaCroix” somewhere on Edina. For her, merely toting LaCroix clothing and accessories isn’t’ enough. The designer’s name must be shown somewhere on her person so I put it on her head. I always thought of her fashion sense as “tastefully tacky.” The new Bubble doll required some rummaging around in my supply closet. The little doodads on her head were leftovers from a Christmas card/ornament (yes, I used to have time to hand-make all my Christmas cards that the recipients could hang on their trees) which had somehow followed me all the way from New York to Oz. Sometimes your subconscious minds does know what it’s talking about!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

One of the highlights of my week is to catch an episode of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” It’s a refreshing take on musicals on television and, in my opinion, the most creative thing to happen since “Cop Rock.”

I was asked by the star of the show herself Rachel Bloom to create this set featuring some of the cast as a gift for her friend. This is one of those sets that went well from initial conception to the final outcome, so I was pretty happy there were no tears involved. Also, I’m finally doing something about a chronic pain in my shoulder that’s keeping me from being all that I can be so that’s an extra bonus.


This version features (largest to smallest) Rebecca Bloom, Josh, Paula, Greg, Daryl, Heather, and Trent. Too bad the doll version don’t sing.


Here’s another blast from the past. I used to watch a lot of Cheers re-runs back in college. Let’s face it, I’ve spent a lot of my time in college watching TV. It the first time in my life that I had a TV set all to myself…didn’t have to share it with anyone except when my two-nights-a-week roommate who didn’t like TV was over. I was so possessive of my TV that I’d been known to throw a boyfriend or two out of my place because they insisted on changing the channel/turning it off. I’m grateful that my husband is more of a TV fanatic than I am. Now I find myself telling him to turn the TV off!


All About Keanu

I’ve recently had a bout of unpleasantness and stress thrown my way that I’ve allowed to interfere with my work. For the first time since I started this Babushka business, I had to terminate a project. It was truly upsetting because I’d painted over 800 sets of dolls to date and you’d think I’d get better at my craft, not worse.

Needless to say, I was apprehensive about starting a new project after that failure. There are, of course, ways to get over it, and with the kind of schedule I was facing, I had no choice but to “stay calm and carry on.” I popped on the audio book version of “The Art of War,” shut out the world, and forced myself back into the groove again as I listened to the ancient words of wisdom uttered by my ancestors.

Fortunately, this one was a set of four depicting Keanu Reeves in several of his films. Say what you will about Mr. Reeves, but I think he is a fine actor. Understated, underrated, and cool as a cucumber in real life. Like cooking, you get what you put in and I stayed calm and happy while painting this set.


Here we have Bill of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Johnny Utah from “Point Break,” Jack from “Speed,” and of course, Neo from “The Matrix.”

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!