Sunday, December 30, 2012

Creature of the Night!

What is it about the Christmas break? Any break from tight deadlines and ringing phones for me anyway? I always flip back to being nocturnal in a relatively short space of time.... how exactly did I sleep until 3.30pm today? How did I find myself going to bed at almost 3am and then getting up repeatedly because something came into my head and... hey, I live alone, I can do what I want...

I am thankfully drawing again, Hallelujah!!!! (think Handel not Cohen). Sketching out ideas for the first time in what seems like years, probably IS years... stuff is just pouring out of my head onto paper and for some reason that seems to affect my body clock... I have gone back to my art college days, my art college ways... By January the 2nd I will need to revert to convention and work in daylight but right now I am enjoying keeping company with badgers, owls and bats... and my inky fingers!

Hopefully have something to show you soon :o)

Saturday, December 29, 2012


A few emails over the last few days have prompted me to have an extensive blog pruning session. I guess with time on our hands over the hols a few of us have spent time rummaging through old blog Giveaways and a couple of you have found offers I made a few years back and asked me if I still have the images to send to you.

Sadly, I never kept back-up copies of those images/sample sheets and once the Giveaway offer was over I erased them from my desktop. So I spent yesterday routing through 4 years of my often incoherent ramblings to delete those offers once and for all and try to remove lots of links to photographs that no longer exist. So at least my blog is ready for the New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Little Talks

We were talking on C's Blog recently about how listening to new music seems slip away from time to time... then it comes back full force.

I'm not a particularly folksy gal but I have had Of Men and Monsters latest album on repeat since I downloaded it and always have to watch the video for Little Talks at the end. It add so much to the song and is just so imaginative and a beautiful piece of animation... oh, and I would like a five eyed pet Volcano Demon Monster like the wooly dude at the end, please. Take a peek:

I so miss the old days of blogger when we all had jukeboxes, before they made them inaccessible in the UK because of copyright issues, I notice lots of US blogs still have them. I think it's a shame because while I don't want to infringe any artist's rights, it did help spread the word and get people listening to music they might never have come across otherwise.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Website back up!

There really isn't that much to look at, too much to finish and photograph and upload, but I thought maybe I should just go live and let it slowly evolve, hope you like it ;o)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I hope there are no crows in the sky...

Changed my icon to my right eye... it's symbolic of a change I am trying to make... I want a constant reminder of something I have forgotten or let slip away, the fact that I am an eye, I see and my hands interpret. For a few years my icon has been a profile pic of me looking off into the distance and has proved to be oddly prophetic. I'm just passive and waiting and distanced, stalled, personal projects get abandoned, put aside, what am I waiting for?

I have always drawn, since I was very small, and my thoughts are all over sketch books that have no relevance once they are finished and get thrown away. They are just a means to an end, a series of ends, always ongoing. But I stopped drawing a few years back, 6 in fact. Yes, I have made brief forays back to the sketch pad and produced paper dolls or whatever, and in my design work I draw constantly and under pressure. The problem is that I produce pretty images to fit a product or someone else's idea of what that product needs (don't chose "design" if you are hung up on self-expression!). I also produce them on a tablet straight into the mac. I rarely even stop to do a thumbnail sketch anymore because this has become like second nature... it isn't the same as physically drawing though.

It definitely isn't the same as having the tiny seed of an idea, working on it and expanding it and cropping, changing, tweaking until it grows into something I probably wasn't expecting. I love that aspect of drawing so much, it's when I forget all about myself and my stupid problems. It also let's me break free from my bubble of self obsession, self doubt, self consciousness, self, self, self, etc... you have to look outside yourself and drawing makes me confident. I become so interested in what I am doing that I forget about me altogether and want to be around people, exchange ideas and live instead of existing.

I feel like a snail poking a wary eye out on a stalk to take a look around, I've been in this shell too damn long... wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The river wild

I live on a bluff next to an ancient ruined castle overlooking a valley through which a river runs idly out to the nearby sea. I get up each morning and make a cup of tea then wander into the living room and sit opposite the big french windows to the balcony, enjoying the swans and ducks bobbing about on the water... sometimes at this time of year there is snow on the far off mountains. That is my morning routine.

One of the perks of working from home is that you can start your day when you are ready and yesterday I remained in bed much later than usual with a bad headache. My curiosity finally got the better of me when I heard a lot of noise below the bedroom windows, facing out into the narrow dry stone wall edged street and opened the curtains to see a farmer and some neighbours herding about 100 sodden sheep along the street and up past the castle. The only way they could have come would have been over the tiny Victorian arched bridge and through the bottom of the High Street... which seems an unusual route to take livestock.

Slightly puzzled I walked into the kitchen, the steamed up windows blocking my usual tranquil view and almost dropped my cup of tea a few moments later when I walked into the living room and got the full effect of what was happening outside through the big french windows... the river was swollen to about 4 times it's normal size and was running very fast out to sea carrying all kinds of debris along. The angry water was hitting the little Victorian arched bridge full force and kind of whirling around to try and get under the single stone arch. The bit that freaked me out was that there were still a few cars crossing the bridge and loads of people stood on it watching the water crashing just a few feet below them.

Not long after the road and bridge were closed as the water carried on rising and Police helicopters flew overhead with loud hailers telling everyone to get off the bridge immediately and get onto higher ground.

I heard on the radio that the next town along the river , St Asaph had already been evacuated and tragically an old woman's body had been found in a flooded house. The sky had a thick covering of gunmetal grey clouds the whole day and the people I spoke to were prepared for emergency evacuation if it started raining again. I wouldn't need to be evacuated as my home is so high above the river, but the hotel/restaurant and holiday complex across the bridge were soon under several feet of water. The river has burst it's banks and even now, 24 hours later, all the neighbouring fields are lost under water, the tops of hedgerows and trees poking up from the grey surface, stoically waiting for the levels to drop. Of course it was a full moon so the tides were  at their height too. Thankfully the forecast rain never happened but today the clouds are still so low and ominous I don't think we are out of the drama-zone yet.

Despite the flood warnings that had been broadcast the previous night, this all took me by surprise. Yes, we had torrential rain and really high winds all day Monday, and throughout the night - but that is pretty much how the weather has been all Summer - now it's Autumn, it just seems like more of the same!  I guess we just finally reached saturation point, quite literally.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Auto Arachnophobia

A friend recently described me as "fearless", and while that is a total exaggeration I like to think of myself as down to earth and resilient. I live alone, I have faced some real upheaval and turmoil in my life and more than once been in a situation of real physical danger... so it's more than a little annoying that I can still be reduced to a quivering wreck by a very specific type of creepy crawly. I was just lucky that the bl**dy thing decided to leap into my line of vision on a deserted country road instead of in the middle of rush hour traffic where my blind panic and illogical behaviour could have caused a serious accident.

So this is a big heartfelt thank you to the really nice unknown guy who temporarily abandoned his bicycle ride with his young son to help a rather distressed and embarrassed me on the side of the road today. Yes, he laughed himself silly at the fact that I had been evicted from my own car by the sudden appearance of a large spider bungy jumping unexpectedly from the sun visor directly into my face, but he also took the time to do a quite detailed inspection of the abandoned vehicle for the bright orange eight legged villain and assure me that it was safe for me to get back in.

No, I didn't get to see any evidence of the creature's demise but he assured me it was dead and I decided to believe him, because otherwise I would still be there, legs shaking, on that grass verge in the middle of nowhere. I suppose that says something positive about my efforts in recent years to get control over my stupidly OTT fear of spiders. Something, but not enough. I drove away, still feeling a little panicky, but determined to try and concentrate on the road. I felt ridiculously proud of myself for getting back in the car, even though the image of it falling into my line of vision so suddenly kept creeping back into my mind, all the way to my destination. That image flashed back again a few hours later when I came to drive home. It was dark by then and it was a little harder to ignore the many spider concealing shadows inside the vehicle and keep my mind on the moonlit road ahead. I did it though and felt relieved to get back into the flat.

Now I just need to go and inspect the bedding for wandering critters before I go to sleep... so much for fearless!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Through a glass darkly...

An afterthought on my last post.... I'm sure people just think I am being flippant, but it has been on my mind a lot that I really don't enjoy reminiscing about my youth. My old college friends love to relive those days and often come up with annecdotes that involve me and laughing a lot so I guess I must have been having fun?

Errrrr, on the outside maybe, but from late childhood I have suffered from sometimes quite severe bouts of depression, something I have now learned to cope with and even avoid for the most part. I understand myself well enough now to be able to spot the signs and take evasive action (I very rarely have to resort to medication anymore) but it was not always that way and from my late teens to mid thirties, a lot of the happy laughter filled memories they want me to revisit with them in, are actually buried somewhere under the grey, sodden, chilled fog of either my condition or the medication I sometimes took to counteract it. Medication for severe depression often just results in a complete absence of any feeling rather than a lifting of the lows, so maybe all my memories are somehow "fire damaged", "shop soiled" or just otherwise altered out of all recognition. For me the past as a tourist destination is a hall of mirrors, friends wander happily though seeing us all reflected as we were, but my reflection is distorted by my very different emotional experience of the same events.

In case you are wondering why my friends remember me smiling and laughing and assume my memories must be as good as theirs, well, people with depression and many other mental 'anomalies' are often supremely good at hiding their despair from everyone around them. I know I was.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Missing the reminiscing gene?

I have an old friend who seems to have gotten off the bus in the 80's. He still dwells there, quite happily, and often beckons to me from a distance. The past (my past, the one I have already lived) is a place that doesn't really interest me though. I have a huge passion for The Past - so long as it is someone else's, someone unknown, and preferably before the century I was born into - that Past has an exotic magic... but not the mundane documentary realism of the twentieth century... no thank you. I wake up each morning wondering what the day may bring and sometimes make hazy/lazy plans for an out of focus future, but that's about as much Time Travelling as care to indulge in.

Another friend came to stay for a few days last week and we reminisced a little about pasts that we inhabited before our paths (pasts?) crossed. But it was a specific rummage through memories to find nuggets on a similar topic, these little dips into the past were all part of a long conversation about something abstract that interests us both in the present.

I read a lot of blogs and reminiscing as a theme crops up a lot, mainly the writer delving back into their childhood/teens/early adulthood and finding great solace or amusement in the things they got up to then. (Or, fondly wish they had gotten up to possibly?) I often wonder just how wonderfully embroidered those shared memories are? I think that may be my problem: I have a sharp focus memory and can recall the boredom, the damp student flats and that feeling that we were all waiting for our lives to begin. Of course, I do also remember that we had fun - but we have fun now too. I would rather have more fun that remember spent fun.

Anyway, it's something I was musing on recently while visiting my Mother. As a virtual recluse I am often amused by her hectic social life and the fact that she likes to moan about it, as though she is merely swept along by it all, powerless to spend time alone in front of the TV. This day she was harrumphing about an impending dinner with some old work colleagues from her pre marriage-and-baby days. I asked why she wasn't looking forward to it and she explained that she loves to see these women and hear about their lives but that she knows they will soon want to talk about old times, something she just doesn't have the patience for. She claimed my Grandmother was just the same!

So perhaps, ironically, my reluctance to reminisce is hereditary? Handed down through generations of people who were perfectly satisfied living in their own presents?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Soon will be soon, honest

Apologies to anyone who has been checking into my website for the last 6 weeks or so only to see this message (below)... OK, so the word "soon" might be rather loosely interpreted here but will be back before the end of the month, I promise!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cr*p Craft Products - a buyers AVOID guide

Back in the dark days before Britain was invaded by the big US style chain "hobby"  stores it used to be so straightforward to buy art equipment. There were just a few brands and all aimed at the Beardy-pipe-smoking-beret-wearing "Professional/Amateur Artist" (Cow Gum anyone?) and only available to buy at specialist Art stores or very big branches of WH Smiths.... OK, so a complete lack of choice - and if you lived out in the sticks like me, involving a rather long and hazardous bus journey (my pipe once set my fake beard alight!)  - but at least you knew when you bought a product from Winsor & Newton and the like,  it would do what they claimed it would do... and I, for one, saved a lot of money.

These days I find myself scampering around the aircraft hanger sized hobby superstores (sans disguise for this, if there ever was one, is the preserve of the menopausal woman!)  dazzled by the promise of all that glittery, cracquel-glazed flim-flam. Hyper-ventilating at the thought of what I could create with all this stuff when I get home. There are virtually no stand alone products of course, most come in great big ranges with a ridiculous array of choices and the majority have an accompanying video tutorial, each narrated by very S-L-O-W  T-A-L-K-I-N-G American who explains, very slowly and deliberately, how to use their product (and all it's accompanying sister products - do they repeat the BRAND NAME every few seconds  because they worry the audience for their product is senile I wonder?) to do something very simple that could easily be achieved far more cheaply with PVA glue and some acrylic paint. But they won't tell you that, slowly, or otherwise.

Anyhow, I am not disparaging this whole "hobby/craft/self taught artist boom" as a big business opportunity, I am just as much a sucker for it all as the next middle aged woman, BUT, how often do these products actually live up to the claims? By my experience alone, not very often at all.

Take this product for instance. I bought it a while back but earlier today followed the directions to the letter and look at the wonderful matt finish I have achieved on the lips and eye rims of my newly painted Dollstown Estella BJD head.... well, if we redefine the word MATT as meaning "really bl**dy shiny". This sculpt has huge lips, so the last thing I wanted to do was give them a gloss finish, her eyes were meant to provide the drama... I'm not even sure how I am going to fix this.

My tip: avoid buying Decoart Duraclear Varnish - Matt at all costs, unless you really want GLOSS, that is!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bl**dy Copycats!!!!

I am trying to be all sang-froid about the fact that someone is merrily copying my buccaneer hats and posting them on a doll forum telling everyone how much she is enjoying making these British Naval inspired hats... really, really??? No, MINE were British Naval inspired - but yours, dear lady are just copies of mine. Mine = Inspired, yours = Copied! British Naval Hats don't have trims like that do they? They don't have long ribbons dangling from each corner, and they aren't made of blue or pink felt! I know this because I spent ages on museum websites saving pics and have a whole folder of photos of the real thing on my desktop and even sat through countless historical dramas including Master and Commander twice, just to LOOK AT THE HATS! (Ok, so maybe with that last one I was really looking Russel Crowe in knee breeches).... and breathe....

A friend assures me that hers are not as well made and look like tea cosies wheras mine are actually solidly and traditionally constructed buckram and wire hats with felt over, it's just the crazy front and back brims that have an element of fantasy... and I shouldn't forget that actually it was looking at the work of superb French Doll artist Julien Martinez that started me off anyway...

What the hell, who cares? Who gives a damn to try and do anything creative these days when whatever you come up with will be brazenly copied by some Bessy-no-brains, who will then list them at half the price and crow to everyone how wonderful her creations are and talk about her inspirations to anyone who will listen? I give a damn actually and am just clinging on to the FACT that the point of art for an artist is in the process of creation, not the end result. That time we spend messing around and forming something straight from our own imagination is the real core of being an artist. It's what makes us tick... and boy am I ticking right now.... Look out, she's gonna blow! Tick tick BOOM

Normal service will be resumed after tea and biscuits

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tituba finished

I finished Tituba the Witch Candlestick doll last night and have just finished listing her in my etsy shop. Today wasn't a great day to take pictures but I might not get a chance again until the weekend. If so I might replace some of the pictures in the listing then.

Anyway, I have listed her with UK postage option only for now but will get quotes for overseas shipping tomorrow and add the options then. Here she is:

Pricing - a thorny topic!

Pricing an art doll to sell - always a nightmare!

There are so many people out there who claim to be artists then in the next breath they write themselves off by pricing their work at rates so low that they barely cover the cost of materials. I have come across many such people and have even asked them why they do this. They say that it is something they love doing and would do it even if they weren't being paid... or that it's just a hobby... or that they have a husband/partner who pays all the bills and so they don't need the money.

Some of us very much need the money. For some of us this is the day job. I might earn most of my income as a freelance designer but I need to earn money from my dolls as well. It's a hobby I simply couldn't afford if I didn't sell. I would need to go out and get a part time job again as I so often have done over the years.

When I first started making dolls, about 7 years ago, I never thought of selling them. In fact the very first doll I sold was just on my handmade bag stall at a craft fair as decoration. A lady fell in love with her and paid me as much for the doll as the bag she had originally come to buy. I was a bit flummoxed even then as to what I should sell for. You add up all the materials, even the power you use in lighting etc... that bit is straight forward. Then total up all hours of your time that went into making the doll... and what price do you put on that? I certainly can't ask the same hourly rate as I get for my design work, I would never sell a single doll!

Then there is a natural fluctuation over time. Back in the craft fair days I started putting one of two cloth dolls on my stall and priced them quite high, as my income was mainly from the bags I didn't mind if they never sold, a big like my paintings. They all sold. Then I the craft fair circuit went through a lull for various reasons and so I started to list dolls on ebay. They did NOT sell. I decided they were too pricey for that market (this was about 5 or 6 years ago) and there were nowhere near as many people making oddball/gothic dolls back then, certainly not in the UK. So I revised my patterns and made the head bigger, to accommodate much larger eyes (make them all about the face rather than elaborate costuming) and stopped using vintage/antique fabrics, simplified everything. I could make them more quickly and for less outlay, so priced them much cheaper. They started to sell on Ebay. I just wasn't as happy with what I was making anymore and decided that Ebay just wasn't the right place for me.

So then I moved to etsy, a better fit, and my dolls began to evolve into the cloth/paperclay versions I enjoy making now. They are incredibly time consuming. I love this method though. Last Christmas I made 5 paperclay doll torso's over vintage glass bottles and sold two immediately to friends, one I kept and the other two were listed in my etsy shop... where they have sat all year gathering metaphorical dust and favourites. If it wasn't for those favourites, and the many treasuries they have been featured in, I would just assume they aren't liked. After such a long time and no sales, I must assume it's the price that's putting people off. Today, I halved the prices of both dolls. A valuable lesson, in this bad economy people just don't have the money to spare and I again need to simplify my dolls I guess. I wonder about trotting out my original cloth doll pattern and try making that first style again maybe? I will give the paperclay a rest after finishing the dolls on my work desk and go back to where it all started and hope to finally make a sale this year! Fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

more Tituba wip Pics

She is almost finished. The candle stick is lost under all those skirts which form a kind of bustle at the back. She is holding a pumpkin made from antique silk velvet and a piece of driftwood for the stalk. Her hair is made from twisted multicoloured soft silk fibres. She just needs hat now, of course, and possibly a neck choker.

I haven't sold anything from my etsy shop since around May/June so thought I might give the dreaded Ebay a try again - not 100% decided yet so if you are interested in her check back here on Monday/Tuesday as I will have to wrap her and get postal quotes before I list her anywhere. Halloween is almost here!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Doll WIP Pics

This is a new doll for Halloween, a witch called Tituba. She is paperclay sculpted over a vintage/antique wooden candlestick. Unfortunately her upper half twisted around while I was working on the torso and so she isn't exactly square on. The candlestick is now completely hidden under her skirts. I've finished her outfit and just need to do her hair, a witch hat and finish off her antique velvet pumpkin. If everything goes to plan (hahhhhahhahahhahahahaaaaa, please, just for once!) she will be finished and listed in the shop early this week.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Last night I was really privileged to see a really big meteor streak across the sky right over my home! I was watching TV half-heartedly and occasionally looking out to see the yellow crescent moon which had been lazily strolling across the sky earlier. Just after 10.35 I happened to look out just in time to see this incredibly bright white ball of light streak across my view from above my head toward the mountains, so East to West I guess. It was gone in seconds and I was alone and no-one but my dear old mother was available to tell over the phone about this exciting vision. (note to self: must get a life)

By this morning I had started to feel like one of those crazies who reports UFOs and was expecting people to start whistling the X-Files theme as I walked by, but... Yay.... others saw it too:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Uptown Top Swanking...

A friend just shared this brilliant vintage photo, sorry but at this point I don't know where/who originated it... just proves my point that we all look like Supermodels in the end, so let's all eat cake! :o)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What a Shabby Chic!

OK, so it might seem like a complete about turn to moan about someone using my words and images in one post then turn round and address this topic in the very next but bear with me (I hasten to add that the person who used my blog as a source for their own definitely DID refer back to me here).

Now it seems that other people are going too far in the other direction. Shabby Chic is a term I have heard used about a style of decor for a few decades, can't remember where I heard it first but I think it was an Interiors Magazine and it was referring to the french influenced version of finding old things in skips and tarting them up, eclectically mixing differing eras and style to achieve a relaxed and comfy look. Well, apparently now someone, Rachel Ashwell to be precise, OWNS the term SHABBY CHIC!!!! Not only that but Ebay are now removing listings that use the term without warning and refusing to refund the sellers because RA's people have gotten on to them about this breach of copyright.

See this blog entry, for an ebay sellers first hand experience of this Draconian reaction on Ebay's part. Ebay actually seem to HATE their sellers. It is the only explanation for the way they treat them these days. I have been lucky and mostly had pleasant transactions there over the years but the playing field was no longer level once they stopped sellers from leaving negative feedback. Over the following years Ebay has tilted the pitch so far in the direction of the buyer that I see the sellers (those few who aren't huge multi-million pound retail operations) struggling to keep breathing in the muddy water as both dishonest buyers, and Ebay itself, kick balls at their heads... Shabby indeed!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Common courtesy?

I was a bit taken aback to see a pic of one of my own dolls on someone else's blog today. I went on to read the blog post and they had reprinted some of my photos and used blocks of text from a doll making "tutorial" (if you can call it that, more just me talking through my process really) I had put up here quite a long time ago. Flattering you may think, and I guess so, but also quite rude to not ask before taking chunks of someone else's blog content to re-use for yourself.

This person does at least refer back to me and this blog, which is great, and there is no attempt to disguise that it is someone else's content - but it just would have been nice to have been given a heads up and a salutary "do you mind if...?" It might be a big, fast interconnected world these days but let's not let basic manners fall by the wayside!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

able to comment again!

Ever since I suddenly and mysteriously wasn't allowed to comment on Blogger blogs anymore I have kept on trying, I have read all the usual suspects and sometimes left quite lengthy comments that have disappeared into the ether because Blogger fails to recognise me a one of their own... until this morning! Just as suddenly and inexplicably as it started this phenomenon is over....

be prepared! ;o)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Website coming soon!

My poor old website ( has been missing in action (or inactivity) for months now thanks to Apple's sudden decision to stop hosting websites and providing website creation software. I have finally gotten my head round "re-pointing" my .com to Jimdo, where the new probably not even slightly improved website will be hosted and it should be up and running again by early next week.

If all that technical mumbo jumbo just baffled you, well, that makes two of us, hence the delay ;o)

Anyhoo, things are finally starting to happen and I can't promise anything more than my logo and a blank page to start with, but the rest of the website will come along in the next few weeks/months and there may well be a GIVEAWAY to celebrate the relaunch... so keep watching this space :o)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Philip reads aloud

Time to crushingly embarrass my friend Phil with this clip of him reading aloud from his first novel "The History of Us",  (with charming animation by old college chum Mike Swindall) it has an air of Oliver Postgate about it, I really want to watch The Clangers now!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Would you pay £5,000 for a DOLL?

First off, this is not jealousy, and I don't begrudge the artist in any way because, let's face it, the majority of art dolls get sold at way, way less than their actual value. Many doll artists do it as a hobby because people will simply not pay for the hours, weeks, days of skilled work that went into making a doll. People moan about the price of Asian BJDs because they are coming from a mould but forget all the time and effort that went into making first the sculpt and then all the moulds and then perfecting every cast made from that sculpt.

So, no, I tip my hat to Marina Bychkova that her stunning Art Dolls currently fetch such high prices, but at the same time I still am baffled at who would pay over £5,000 for a doll? A doll? I adore dolls and would be proud to own one by an artist as talented as Marina but even if I won the lottery tonight, I still would not be paying that sort of money for a doll ( a stupid and self deluded statement, I have never been rich so how could I possibly know what I would do?). Possibly because I remember the stories my grandparents told me of their dirt poor childhoods and early years, is it that? Would I just feel such guilt at the thought of how many people there are in the world whose lives could be changed overnight by a gift of £5,000. They would use it to buy themselves shelter, safety, food, clean water, their freedom, things that are priceless. For some reason there seems to be a barrier in my head that says an art doll cannot be worth more than £1,500! I've no idea where that arbitrary figure comes from but I know every time I see an auction go above that I question the sanity of the bidders. Feel free to throw accusations of reverse elitism and offers to stuff my working class piety down my throat in the comments box :o)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

sick of bl**dy blogger!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously I am wondering if it isn't time to throw in the towel with Blogger? I am fed up of the constant glitches.

I haven't been able to comment on any blog but my own for weeks now and forgetting that when you have just typed out a reply to someone's post is a real bitch. Add to that the fact that my reading list frequently disappears and I get a message telling me You are not following any blogs!

Yesterday I logged in to be greeted by 5 posts from a blog I am definitely NOT FOLLOWING! I can't delete this blog from my reading list because I don't have it on my reading list because I am NOT FOLLOWING IT!!!!! So now I get tiresome updates from some craze eyed US guru type I have never heard of blathering on about stuff I am not interested in (unless you know how your bloody blog came to hijack my blog list and how I can get rid of you, little man?) instead of the blogs I do follow and want to read.

Honestly, can't take much more!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Do you have FOMO?

Today I heard about a new condition I am definitely not in danger of suffering from: FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out.

I remember back in my late teens when I was first at art college and again when I first got a job in an ad agency in London in the 80's, going through little phases of FOMO, although I have usually thought of those times as my desperate needy "new girl" days. I felt like I had an opportunity to hang out with the cool kids and be where all the exciting stuff was happening and it would be stupid to sleep or eat or go to the bathroom... when those things became necessary I felt quite literally desperate and wondered what everyone was talking about in my absence! What if something earth shattering happened and I wasn't there to be part of it???

It soon wore off though.... maybe because I was the loner arty kid who went to great lengths to avoid my brother and live-in cousins as a child so that I could have some peace to read a book or just play alone. Maybe because I have always been self contained and soon bored of the cool kids anyway, maybe that's why the whole social networking obsession has barely made a dent in my psyche?

I know, you are wondering: if so then why I am writing this blog? why I post pics on Flickr? Why I chat on doll forums, why tweet once in a very blue moon? This is different to FOMO, as it was initially started just as a way of publicising my dolls & art, then, as time went on, I found I enjoyed the routine and liked the people I met along the way. There is no desperation involved though, no NEED. Sometimes I don't blog for weeks on end and forget to check what others are blogging about too, I am happy for the world to pass me by while I am concentrating on... whatever... hell, just watching TV!!!

I even set up a Twitter account but tweet so infrequently and erratically that a vet would put this little birdie to sleep. As it probably says somewhere on this blog "You can follow me on Twitter" but it will be a thankless task, let me warn you now. It will be like spending the afternoon at Chester Zoo hoping to see the sloth move a toe or to catch a glimpse of the mythical Red Panda. Have even the keepers actually seen it?

Anyhooo, I'm off to play with my brand new 8 week old kitten, Georgie, and if he stays still long enough I might blog a photo of his cute fuzzy self soon ;o)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kitten induced Chaos

Do brand new Kittens have an off switch that I don't know about? Seriously, George the 8 week old white 'n' ginger has been here about 6 hours and I feel as frazzled as the survivors in The Walking Dead. My flat is a wreck and my lovely 6 year old cat Matilda is 50% baffled and 50% freaked out... Lordy... I may have the energy to post again in about 6/12 months time!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

OK great, now blogger won't let me leave any comments on other people's blogs! Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Welcome to the Olympics!

So, I have absolutely NO interest in sport whatsoever and kind of tuned into the Olympics Ceremony last night in a curious but slightly jaded frame of mind (I'm British, I can't help it) but it was flipping brilliant! I was transfixed the whole way through. The Olympic rings being forged by the industrialisation that ripped up the green and pleasant land was truly genius and what can I say about James Bond escorting Her Maj to the ceremony by parachute? Fantastic!

For me the only dampener on the proceedings was not the slight rainfall but Paul MacCartney, who should retire... or better yet, borrow the Tardis and go back to last week and retire before his embarrassing performance at the end. But, thankfully, he was near the end and what had gone before was so wonderfully creative, eccentric, inspired and... BRITISH,  that he couldn't ruin it.

Now, it will be nice if we can win a medal or two!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pretty dollies :o)

These are heads by the Korean company Dollstown (I say "company" but like so many BJD makers it's actually just two people, Torre and An Jong Hak who make these stunning dolls).  The bodies are by a different, larger, company in China, Dollzone, which makes my dolls hybrids. They come blank and I have "painted" them with chalk pastels and water colour pencils, using MSC UV cut flat matt spray to get the colour to adhere to the resin. These faces should last for years but if I go wrong it's simple to just wipe off the face with nail polish remover (some BJD aficionadi REALLY disapprove of this and swear by other products) and start again. I so enjoy painting on these faces and watching the sculpts really come to life. It's funny how much the choice of wig and eyes can make a different too.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We need to talk about Boobs!

OK, thought that would get your attention! More precisely, we need to talk about bras... a new bra to be exact, the incomfortable-ness of which has just driven me to interrupt my barely begun working day because of underwire rib pokage. Not something that can ever be ignored for long.

What is it with bras lately, they don't lift, they don't separate, they don't allow you to move with freedom and in many cases they don't allow you to get through the day without a really bad headache and stiff neck? It wasn't always this way, no, there were certain shops on the High Street, _&_ , in particular, who could always be relied upon to support your assets, but not any longer. No, even our High Street dependables have succumbed to the pursuit of profit over anything approaching  quality and now get everything made in China on the cheap.

When I say "cheap" that doesn't seem to be "cheap" to us the consumer, just cheaper for them to manufacture and sell at the old price, hence more profit. I'm sure they will insist that we still get quality in the lovely fabrics and design - no argument from me there - but to my mind the whole point of a bra is to make a woman look and feel good. I can find bras on the High Street that make me look good, but they can only be worn for an hour, maybe two, before terrible neck, shoulder and head pain begins to set in and so I have settled for comfort... and wear my bouncy baubles considerably lower than I used to!

I know someone is bound to chirp up with another High Street name who purport to support the more well endowed lady with wide strappage (the name begins in Bra and ends in a strangely masculine "o") but I have found their sales staff too aggressively sure that I don't know my own bra size (...of course I know my size - anything between a 34D and a 36G, depending on the style, the shop and of course, sometimes it will be both extremes in the same style in the same shop... I recently tried on a bra that didn't even have two cups of the same size) before I even try anything on and simply won't leave me alone to browse. They may indeed have the perfect combination of comfort, support and style for me on one of their dainty little hangers but I have never remained unharassed by the sales-harpies for long enough to find it.

Imagine my distress, when recently, despite being far less than half the reputed 25 stone of the late great Hattie Jacques, I was addressed as "Matronly" by my own mother who was so appalled at the effects of gravity on my underpinnings. I had resorted (as usual) to my ancient battleship grey (it began life as a perky blinding white) lycra "T Shirt" bra, purchased, if my sepia tinted memory serves, from one of those backwater Underwear-only emporiums where well-upholstered Mrs Slocombe-like attendants roamed with a tape measures slung casually round their necks. Yes, those places ONLY sold underwear, could tell your size, cup and marital status from the merest glance and seem to have all disappeared along with any hope I have of finding a well fitting, supportive boulder holder that isn't some kind of torture device. I despair!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Sale

I have reduced the prices of about half my shop stock for the month of July and on the Vampire Showgirl paper dolls for July and August. Summer Sale everybody... even if it doesn't feel much like Summer here right now ;o)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Where has my .com gone?, my website, has disappeared! Follow the link and you will find a message from Mac and a big red "Closed" sign, but fear not, I am hard at work making a new, completely different, website that will pop up in a couple of weeks at the same old address. It just will no longer be hosted by Mac!

I recently had a very lean time design wise with freelance work very thin on the ground. Very worrying as that is what usually pays the bills! This gave me a lot of time to think about Freaky Little Things and the direction I want to take things... a different, fresh, direction... for me anyway!

There will be a new look for the art dolls, and I am aiming to make them in a range of different price points, from small rag dolls made in limited quantities to larger ball jointed paper clay one offs. I also want to try my hand at some vintage look teddies and critters. There will be a new range of paper dolls and I have begun working on a pop-up book featuring paper dolls too! My BJD mania does not look like abating any time soon so I will continue to make them hats and have created some one off outfit sets too, which are almost finished.

All in all I am full of enthusiasm and optimism for this new era of Freaky Little things and can't wait to start showing you the results. Obviously this will take time and I need to keep putting design work first (so as always, lol) you need to be patient, but I think you will like what is to come :o) Fingers crossed ;o)

... so keep watching this space!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I haven't blogged in ages because I have a lot on my mind that doesn't seem relevant to blog about (spiralling cost of living anyone? Cost of petrol? Will I be able to pay my bills and rent this month? You know, that sort of stuff, which frankly can blot out every other thought... at least I am in the UK and not Greece right now, I don't know how they cope at all!)... but I thought it might take a minute to talk about the craft scene here in the virtual world.

I love making things, I really enjoy it. I spend most days working as a designer and illustrator so this might seem like a busman's holiday but the stuff I make as Freaky Little Things is only to please me. There is no client to please, no brief to meet. I try to be as creative as possible and get my ideas from TV, films, magazine, a stroll in the country and afternoon at the beach... it all kind of melds together in my head and comes out in my work as something fresh, I hope ;o) If there is any one thing that they "teach" you at art college it's that you need to take the whole world in and bring forth something new or at least something with a new twist. Every creative person I have ever met is the same.

The internet has done a curious thing though, while the world is at our fingertips to provide inspiration there is also this dangerous accessibility for those who have never had an inspired or original thought in their head. Those people who insist on calling themselves artists and yet when they wake up in the morning and think "I will create something today" they then go and switch on the laptop and look at someone else's work and think "I will create that". Errrrrr, it has already been "created" by the person who's work you are browsing, the act of creation has already happened, what you are doing is called COPYING!

It drives me nuts, as you might have gathered. If you are making outfits for BJDs and want inspiration, instead of looking up the work of Val Zeitler or Connie Lowe on the internet, maybe go look at a fashion magazine or at an old book, go to a gallery, hell, go anywhere because inspiration can strike in the unlikeliest of places... if you let it! Sit browsing the internet and looking up the work of those who already make art dolls, say Colleen Downs of Loopy Boopy for instance, you will end up making dolls that look just like Loopy Boopy's!

I said the internet has done a dangerous thing and I meant it. Eventually there will be no point in being creative or interesting because you know your work will immediately be stolen as soon as you post a pic on the web. There will be no point opening a shop on etsy if the next week two dozen more shops selling exactly what you make pop up. There will be ever less creative artists out there and the copycats will have less and less to base their work on until the whole thing grinds to a halt.

If you think I am exaggerating type the word "Art Doll" into etsy under "handmade". If you had done that only 3 years ago you would have found a small band of doll makers who all had quite distinctive looks to their work, it was easy to tell their dolls apart. Do that search today and you will find hundreds of them, but where is the variety? So many people making dolls - but where is the art?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I appear to have lost the Will to Blog lately... don't know why :o(

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sorry but I need to pimp my Ebay auctions here today ;o) Times are hard and I need funds to buy a Rian head from Dollstown on the 1st of June (or the 1th as they like to put it) if possible so some of my fave possessions have to go!

LumeDoll Tania head with face up by me and widened eyes, unique!

Link to Auction

The gorgeous pink and blue stripe dress from Val Zeitler/Haute Dolls Young Marie collection

 Link to auction

and finally this lovely Lillilace outfit

 Link to Auction

Thanks for looking :o)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sadly, I have put my beautiful Sybarite, COUTURE SWALLOW (plus the fabulous Mass outfit and 3 really high quality wigs I bought for her) on Ebay this week. Check out her auction here

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Hats in the shop

I have some new hats for BJDs in the shop. take a look :o)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Irmalene the Vampire Showgirl paper doll has been included in a new Treasury by Skunk Hollow, cool :o) Hop on over and take a look

Monday, April 9, 2012

Vamps get a re-vamp ;o)

Cheers to the new girls, here's Theodora

I have just added 2 new Vampire Showgirl Paper Art Dolls to my shop. The new additions to the Vampire Cabaret are Lola and Theodora, while the compare, Gustav (a "show boy"?) and the star attraction, Seraphime, will be joining the line up in the near future. Meanwhile, I have never been quite happy with Wilhelmina Maggot and so revamped her (pardon the pun!) this weekend and from print number 4 she will always have the new look. I guess that makes number 1 - 3 rare? Hope you like them
More new Blood: Lola

Wilhelmina, new and improved

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Vampire Showgirls got featured in 2 different treasuries this weekend, Wilhelmina Maggot in Patricia's collection of paper and mixed media dolls and Irmalene in Linda's Vampire anthology. Thanks Ladies :o)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hhhhmmmm, really not liking the new look Blogger! It's so bland and faceless and my reading list takes ages to load now, probably because you get a bigger pic and more of the actual blog post for each one. AT leats we do get a much bigger box to write out posts in, so we can actually see the whole of what we are writing rather than just the last few sentences... handy when you waffle on like I do! ;o)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Art Dolls in etsy Shop

The frist two Bottle Dolls that I made after Christmas are now in the esty shop, the third will follow as soon as she is photographed :o)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Art doll sale!!!

Take a look at Abi Monroe's blog for a sale of Art Doll's by the likes of Loopy Boopy, Evelyn's Wonderland and Du Buh Du to name but a few. The money is going to a good cause so please spread the word. See Abi's blog for details

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Hats

Some new hats in the shop and more on the way. This is my Dollstown Triste who I just finished giving a new face to yesterday. The Bottle dolls will finally be listed on Monday and there are yet more hats on the way :o)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Saint David's Day

Happy Saint David's Day to all you fellow Welshies out there! x

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Art Thieves stealing my work!

This morning someone brought to my attention the website Viral Addiction which is proudly displaying T shirts using an altered version of my Mighty Boosh print without any permission being sought, without giving me any credit and definitely without giving me any money from the sales.

Find the T-shirt here:

Viral Addiction

I am absolutely livid and have contacted them to remove the T Shirt or I will take steps toward legal action. I am now removing that print from sale in the shop and feel really angry that this was obviously taken from a print someone has bought from my shop...and after all the worrying I did about the copyright issue of drawing from photos! If this company is stealing my art so blatantly I am sure they are stealing the work of others too, I would urge all artists to keep an eye on this website and contact anyone whose work they are using.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Feathered Bucaneer

This is my first finished proper hat, The Bucaneer. This one has Pompoms and a lovely peacock feather as well as other black on black trims. It has a really vibrant Green silk lining too :o)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Bonnet shape

Here is my Peakswoods Skiya modelling the latest bonnet. I've called this new pattern the Jane Eyre. It sold before I even completed it, I was about to add feathers but the buyer wanted it plain. It still looks finished though. Hopefully I can get my first proper hat all done for tomorrow to show you :o)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Get ahead, get a hat...

When I first came up with the name Freaky Little Things many years ago, I was making OOAK bags and selling them at craft fairs. Little itty bitty what-knots from vintage scraps with lots of beading and big ol' shabby flowers hanging from them, and the name suited them well. Then I began making dolls they gradually took the name over, particularly when I joined Etsy where every other shop is a bag maker... many making Daiper Bags (WTF???? Sounds horrible!). It seemed like everyone was making bags so why compete?

My slight 'harrumph-i-ness' toward doll making at the moment (brought on by the demise of ADO and my own inability to finish Sepia Nell... I've changed her hair about 3 times now) has led me to whistfully look back at those simpler Craft Fair days and so I've decided that Freaky Little Things will just mean anything that I create. I'm going to stop being so rigid and thinking "Must make dolls", I will make whatever takes my fancy and it all goes in my etsy shop and to hell with it.

To that end I have been making lots of stuff for my BJDs and I'm getting to the point where I feel confident enough in the quality of the finish to put some up for sale. I'm on a hat making roll and have just listed 2 bonnets in the shop this morning. I wanted to go for a shabby genteel Victorian look, the kind of bonnet you might find in a back street antique shop. A little faded, a little tattered but still has a twinkle in it's (metaphorical) eye ;o) Hope you likey!

I am NOT a Robot!

What the hell is with the Blogger Catchpa/prove you are not a Robot puzzles lately??? I swear I just had one that was written in ye olde english! I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be "s" or "f" and in the end I took a wild stab at an "l" and nailed it. I mean, yes, they have to look somewhat distorted to avoid the robots (C3PO I presume, R2D2 has better things to do) but how about NOT using antique fonts next time?!*@%^****

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Burnt out?

The timing of the demise of ADO is quite fitting for me as I was seriously considering leaving in the next few months. I have to be an active member of a group if I join and lately I just don't have the energy. I know that right now that could be the arthritis talking (oh hell, it talks now?) but after finishing the ADO Ezine project late last year I have just felt a little ambivalent about the whole art doll scene.

Don't get me wrong, I love dolls and I love making dolls and I love seeing other people's dolls. But making the dolls is just a small part of it, there is all the other stuff that I like so much less and it swamps out the doll making. There is all that cyber-keeping in touch, making yourself visible so that people remember you or know you are there in the first place, blogs, twitter, face-book, Etsy groups... posting photos here and there and everywhere, the list is endless and my time ISN'T.

Maybe I don't come across as very friendly but when I was deeply immersed in the Ezine project it was like I no longer existed for the rest of ADO, I stopped getting chatty emails from all but a couple of lovely people, stopped getting comments on my photos, etc... Because of that project I didn't just have no time to make dolls I also had no time to join in any of the challenegs so most other members forgot I existed. I wound up feeling very isolated and once the Ezine was published I wondered if I had any place in the group anymore. Everyone was going over to see it and saying how great it was, how it was a great advert for ADO but I felt totally detached and off in a corner by myself. I found getting back into the swing of the group really difficult. Everyone had moved on during the 9 months I had been immersed in Ezine stuff and I no longer fitted in. I know I wasn't the only one who got immersed in that project who also wound up feeling a bit side lined from the rest of the group. Just a statement of fact, or a statement of how I felt, not blaming anyone.

That whole experience also led me to question how I go about making and marketing my dolls because I am not sure it works for me anymore. I have so little free time and making dolls should be fun but often it feels like a chore because I have mentioned a new doll on the blog and then have failed to finish it... usually for the very good reason that I have had no "free time" since mentioning it! The bottle dolls are a good example, I previewed them just after Christmas and they are almost ready to go in the shop... ALMOST. When I feel a bit better I will finish the 3rd and list them for sale, but will anyone still be interested? Hard to know. The problem is that Esty has grown so huge now that it is almost impossible to get noticed if you don't do the whole cyber-network song and dance.

What is the solution? I really don't know. I'm just sure I can no longer run myself ragged trying to keep up with posting here, there and everywhere. I think from now on the blog and Flickr are going to be my only shop windows, other than my etsy shop obviously. I detest Facebook, My Space is long dead, Twitter confuses me and I just can't bring myself to join anymore etsy groups. I enjoyed being a member of the Esty Dark Side Team and loved ADO, but have had so little time for it for a long time now and won't use those tags on my dolls anymore. ADO is gone, even if some of the members keep the name it won't be the same to me.

So where do I go from here? Will I even make anymore dolls after the bottle dolls are finished. I just don't know right now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adieu to ADO

Sad news that the art doll group ADO is no more. It's been a great refuge and resource for so many of us and it's a shame to see it go but organising and running the group was just too much work for a few very dedicated members and in the end it just got to much for them I guess.

Arthritis Hiatus

Apologies for the sudden break in activity. I was motoring along with the dolls just before Christmas but the arthritis has reared it's ugly head (or knee and spine in this case) again and so nothing much happening here! As it's Valentines day I just thought I'd pop up to say I love y'all and then disappear off to lounge on the sofa looking out at the ducks ;o)

Friday, January 20, 2012


This is so true. I am not asking for a backlash where the naturally skinny become ashamed of their bodies, no, but how about a world where women of all shapes and sizes, races and ages can be considered sexy? Why is there always this narrow band of what is acceptable... and more to the point, why do we put up with this sh*t???

Apologies to the originator of this image as I have taken it from a source who did not credit you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


My favourite BJD has a new look. Face-up by me, wig by Val Zeitler :o)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Shop open

My etsy shop has reopened for the New Year but I have missed my self-imposed deadline to get all 5 new dolls finished in time. The 3 finished Bottle Dolls (Pics of no. 3 coming soon!) will be listed later this week, I am waiting on delivery of some supplies to finish making their individual boxes. I am planning to list them on Saturday if all goes well :o)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Work in progess

Bottle doll number 3 is progressing :o)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Dolls for the New Year

The number of finished Bottle Dolls just doubled! I am aiming to see how many of the dolls I have been slowly working on from Summer 2011 onwards, can actually be finished and ready to list by the time the Etsy shop reopens on January the 9th. I am on target for 5 right now, but only time will tell... watch this space :o)

ADO Quarterly Challenge: Gothic

Take a look at the amazing dolls created for the Goth Quarterly Challenge on the ADO Blog. I guess I shouldn't play favourites but I so adore this beauty from Tireless Artist. If I wasn't so spent up after Christmas she would be MINE!!! ;o)