David Lynch’s Ladies of Twin Peaks

For years now I’ve been asked to paint sets of dolls as gifts to others, which is really heartwarming in two folds: That these people are so immensely thoughtful to seek out something unique and let’s face it, with a somewhat serious price tag and also that they trusted me enough to make this happen.

It is also not that unusual for me to paint a family member or friend into a set of dolls featuring the cast from a TV show or a movie. But this was the first time I was asked to paint a favorite waitress from a favorite restaurant to gift her at the end of my customers’ temporary homestead. It made me wonder, just how amazing a waitress is she and how come there aren’t more like her out there? This request in itself made me want to be a better human being not because of the material rewards it might yield in the end, but to be THAT amazing that people will remember you for your fabulousness.

This set of Twin Peaks is headed by the creator himself. As always, I had fun making the Dead Laura Palmer doll. It means I have to purchase a certain foodstuff that my husband hates just so I can get my hands on the blue plastic sheet that is eerily similar to actual body bags. We have Mel the waitress added into the cast and I hope I did her justice, as the two photos given to me were taken on the sly since this set is meant to be a surprise. There’s Audrey, one of my favorite ladies to paint, and Shelly the actual waitress as well as the Log Lady.

Well, I’m off to meditate on how I can be as fantastic a human as Mel!


Women of Horror

This set is all about the strike against patriarchy…well, sort of. I’ve had so much fun painting the Boys of Horror that I thought I’d give the female antagonists from film a shot and boy, was it F.U.N!!

When I was kicking the idea of this set around, I knew Carrie would be the main doll, not only because I get to fashion a tiara on her, but “Carrie” is also one of my favorite horror movies to date. I’ve watched the remakes and have enjoyed them all, but Sissy Spacek hands down OWNED this role. It took me about 2 weeks to work up the courage to do the blood drippings and I’ve done some studies in the meanwhile. It all worked out in the end.

Annie Wilkes from “Misery” is my favorite psychopath. I also had to paint in her pet pig Misery, whom, according to the articles I’ve read, had been a Very Good Pig during filming.

Norman Bates’ mom is really just a prop in the movie and I was tossing up between painting the actual mummified corpse or Norman Bates in drag for a while but in the end the former option won as I’ve never painted a corpse before and it was all kinds of fun.

Say hello to Regan from “The Exorcist” after she’d been possessed. It’s really not her fault that she was a bad bad girl and I had some misgivings about it, but it’s too good a movie and a pure classic to give this one a miss so here she is!

And of course I had to include Esther from “Orphan,” one of the two gals from the more recent era in this set. I loved the movie and was blown by the plot twist toward the end. If you haven’t seen it check it out!

Last but not least, Samara, the frightening Ghost Girl from “The Ring.” Can you blame her for wanting to extract some revenge? The poor thing spent years trapped in a well for crying out loud!

I’d originally wanted to call this set Wicked Women of Horror but not all of them are evil (least of all Carrie). Some of them are actual victims, which just goes to show that you shouldn’t treat women (or anyone for that matter) unkindly because some will break your legs (or, in the book version of “Misery,” amputation), trap you in your own prom and blast you with a fire hose before blowing you up, or force you to watch a terrible short film seven days before you die!

Star Wars Creatures and Critters

In the past I have painted one or two of the myriad creatures in the Star Wars universe. Whenever those were proposed, I’d have to spend a little time trying to figure out how to configure an animal form onto a human-shaped doll without having to take a sander to it. This set of Star Wars creatures didn’t take too much figuring out, and the only hardship I came across was trying to fit it into my already seriously heavy painting schedule!

The first one is the adorable little Porg from “The Last Jedi,” a real treat and a half to paint. I have done a Tauntaun before so I was pleased to give it another shot and was happy with the outcome. The third in line is the Vulptex, also from “The Last Jedi,” which I absolutely fell in love with as soon as they appeared on the screen. Then we have the closest thing to a woolly mammoth in the Star Wars Universe, the Bantha. This is followed by a Fathier, also from “The Last Jedi,” and the lizard Dewback, which gave me a bit of a pause until it was pointed out to me that, if I had been able to make Smaug of The Hobbit from one of these dolls, a lizard shouldn’t be a problem. And it wasn’t!

Princess Leia

In the past, whenever I get requests to paint a Star Wars set, Princess Leia was hardly ever included. I never really put up a stink since all the Star Wars characters are always a treat to paint, but every now and again, I’d have to restrain myself from adding an extra Princess Leia character into a set. Imagine my unbridled joy when I was asked to paint an entire set of dolls devoted to the Princess herself! It starts with her in her New Hope buns to her as the formidable General with several choice looks in-between. I was in seventh heaven while painting this set!

There was no question that the buns had to be sourced and made…just painting them on would not do at all. As a packed rat I had originally thought I did have the necessary fibers to make the buns, but once I discovered it was the wrong shade, I did a desperate search to find the exact color. Several alpaca farms I contacted did not respond to my emails, thinking it was a joke because I was a bit too specific about the color. Luckily for me I found Luba at http://www.handcraftedgifts.net.au whose wares have saved me from further headaches!

This set of Leia dolls features the Princess kicking ass and taking names starting with the white hooded dress look from New Hope, as well as the gown from the awards ceremony at the very end. Then it’s onto her Hoth outfit from Empire Strikes Back, followed by the Burgundy dress from Cloud City. Return of the Jedi look features her as a Bounty Hunter and of course the very famous Slave Dancer gold bikini which fueled the dreams of many a fanboy (and girl). Last but not least we have General Leia Organa because, hey, an army rank has more gravitas!



Spirited Away Revisited

Every so often I enjoy making a “shake-’em-out” nesting doll set. I am able to utilize all the loose dolls rolling around in my drawers and I am allowed a certain amount of freedom not dictated by dimensional restrictions.

My mother had introduced me to the spectacular Studio Ghibli animation when it was still only popular in Asia. My favorite had been “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” followed by “My Neighbor Totoro.” It wasn’t until I sat down and bawled my eyes out watching “Graveyard of the Fireflies” that I realized even with Kiki and Totoro, these animated movies are not meant to be lighthearted fares. “Castle in the Sky,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” so on and so fourth are all deeply significant in their own rights. I found a lot of it be rather upsetting as it talked a lot about the impact humans have on the environment with an air of hopelessness about it…that is, until I saw “Spirited Away.” To me that is the only Studio Ghibli movie which did not leave me feeling sad in the end.

Since my life has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride at the moment and I’m sitting on the cusp of yet another great change, I felt compelled to do another shake ’em up set and the subject naturally fell upon one movie that always gave me so much hope and comfort. In this version of Spirited Away I got to revisit some of the old favorite characters I’d painted previously and I included some new ones.

Among the new characters are Kamaji the spider man who works in the boiler room and Yubird who nests inside Yubaba doll. The Kashira heads are all loose and ready for some interesting configurating.

In addition to Boh, I made Boh as a mouse. I couldn’t decide whether or not to paint Haku as a dragon and ended up doing both on the same doll.

Lin is a new addition because I liked her character so much. She reminds me of some of the teachers I used to work with, hard bitten on the outside but quite kind on the inside and I always managed to win them over by challenging myself to make them laugh at least once a day.

I really enjoyed making the soot sprites and their “food” and was happy this set allows me to make more.


Kat Greene Comes Clean

Many moons ago, on a whim, I decided to take an extension course on children’s book writing headed by one Isabelle Holland (the author behind the book version of Mel Gibson’s “Man Without a Face.” She had observed that Mel had been a somewhat difficult human being and that was years before he lost it and showed his true colors to the world). These weekly classes had been a highlight of that year for me: I had been at my most creative, came up with some great ideas, realized I was a better illustrator than writer, and met one of my favorite people in the world there.

There are always people in my life that came and went, some quietly, some not so much. I am grateful that Melissa remained constant in my life no matter where I am. It may have to do with a special bond we have because she named her daughter after a character in a story I wrote for class!

The point I want to make here is very important. There are about a dozen of us enrolled in that writing course that semester, and out of the dozen or so that I am aware of, Melissa was most likely the only one who persisted in her craft long after the class ended and never gave up because…she is now a published author! I was so immensely happy for her and was honored to be let in on what went on behind the scenes and boy, the road to success is not easy at all. It goes to show that if you want something badly enough and work hard at it, you WILL get what you want! Melissa worked hard, and the fruits of her labors are now prominently displayed in bookstores everywhere (including the library right here in Oz!!).

I cannot stress how proud I am of my friend, how impressed I am of her talent, how grateful I am of her friendship, how she always manages to buoy my spirits with her sense of humor, and last but not least, how thankful I am of her support in every aspect of my life. She’s the one who kept in constant touch with me, the wandering gypsy both spiritually and physically, and I love her all the more for that.

I am now in danger of being a blubbery mess, so here’s to you, fabulous Ms. M!

Melissa’s book “Kat Greene Comes Clean” deals with a subject matter near and dear to my heart. Kat had several problems to face, one of which was her mother’s OCD and after it had gotten out of control, she learned that it was okay to ask for help. My own mother had a mild case of it and even though it hadn’t impacted my life too severely growing up, it did make me hyper aware of germs and contamination and it was not a good trait to have when I lived in the Big Apple and worked in a building filled with children who were constantly ill. I was pleased to see someone had addressed this issue in a book because I thought I had been the only person growing up who had to cope with something I hadn’t realized then was a form of clinical disorder. My best friend from way back had only recently admitted to me that my house always smelled like Lysol and bleach, which just goes to show how out of control a problem can get when someone remembers it years and years after.

“Kat Greene Comes Clean” is filled with heart and humor and it absolutely showcases Melissa’s sharp wit and unapologetic observation of life through a child’s eyes. I absolutely recommend this book!



My Neighbor Totoro

I’ve done a few Miyazaki based animation characters in the past, but none is as fun as this Totoro set. The idea came about when I received a set of very round dolls several years ago and had every intention of making a set, complete with some Easter egg surprises. But like everything else, life took over and I’ve only just gotten around to making this set. It took a while to hunt down some itty bitty eyes for the Soot Sprites and figuring out the right kind of clay to use to make konpeitō, the little sugar candies Soot Sprites eat. It all came together in the end and here they are!

The problem with making the konpeitō is that they are so darn small! I haven’t had or seen one in years but I’m pretty sure the real ones are a lot larger than what would fit into the last doll. But I managed to find a pair of tweezers with an odd bend that did the trick after several failed attempts! If at first you don’t succeed…look for the right tool that’ll get the job done!

The Ultimate Lisa Kudrow Set

Who doesn’t love Lisa Kudrow? She’s quirky, she’s funny, and she was on the wildly popular sitcom of all time! I was really happy to have been asked to paint a set of dolls featuring Lisa Kudrow in some of her more memorable roles: Phoebe from Friends, Michele from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and of course Valerie Cherish from The Comeback.

It was quite unfortunate that this set was proposed right before Christmas with no time limit, which meant I had to put it on the back burner for a month before I could get back to it again. As with projects that are not time sensitive, I usually work on it after 1 or 2 AM, which meant I have very little recollection of its process. This sometimes work out in my favor because I’m usually genuinely surprised by the amount of work already put into it after a long hiatus!

Some details:

Here is Phoebe from Friends dressed in the outfit from the opening sequence.

Michele from Romy and Michele in her Revenge High School Reunion outfit.

Valerie Cherish from “The Comeback” with her clutching her script.

Michele again in her Serious Business Woman attire and the flash back scene in high school where the mean girl placed some magnets on her scoliosis brace.

Here’s Phoebe singing Smelly Cat with the said cat, and Valerie Cherish with an Emmy and also in a cupcake costume.


Russian Doll

This is an interesting project I did back in April 2018. I was asked to paint a set of dolls for actress Natasha Lyonne. I automatically assumed it would be something off the “Orange is the New Black,” but no, it would be for her new Netflix series which is tentatively titled “Russian Doll.” Since the show is still filming, there’s very little photos on hand for me to reference so the ladies ordering the set had to contact the wardrobe department or had to source the item they wanted me to paint personally. It was a lot of fun and I am beyond curious about the show now.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

I have to admit I was a more than a little disappointed when the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure project was proposed but I wouldn’t get the go-ahead for some time yet. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was one of my favorite movies growing up. I think my brother and I wore the video tape out by rewinding the Large Marge scene at least a hundred times per viewing. This was also the movie that, when we were adults, shown to my brother’s potential girlfriend/future wife, we determined that she’s not the right one for him because she’d spent the majority of the movie declaring that she didn’t “get it.” I suppose my brother could not picture a life with someone he’d have to explain Pee Wee Herman to so that relationship had dissolved shortly after the viewing of the film.

Fortunately for me, and possibly even more so for the husband of the man who had proposed this set in the first place, a husband who is once again, high up on the BoBo Babushka leader board (he’s won it once before only to be knocked down by his husband shortly thereafter), covertly contacted me and gave me the go-ahead. It took a while to paint this set because, as always, I had a pile of projects to tackle first. I always ended my long painting day with this set because it just brought me so much joy, as the movie(s) and the TV shows did once upon a time.

I could not stop giggling when Roadblock Drag Pee Wee’s face emerged. That had been my favorite scene in the movie.

The Hubs was away on a month-long mountain bike riding holiday when I was working on this set and because there’s no one there to make sure I take care of myself, I often worked into the wee hours of the morning and discovered something important about myself. I am not meant to be a functioning human being before dinner time! I do my best work after 9 PM. So it was at 2 AM when I realized I needed to add one of the most important elements of the movie in the piece, and that was Pee Wee’s bicycle. I didn’t finish until 5 AM, but man, I doubt I can be that focused to paint this tiny bike at any other hour of the day/night!

Merry Christmas, Craig and Scott! You guys will always be Husbands of the Year in my book!