October, 2013

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About Chapter 13: The Question & The Quest

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“Selfie” taken of Ruth & Elizabeth for Nina’s benefit. I can’t remember if it was Elizabeth or me holding the camera, but MY, that’s close! I am a brave, brave woman…

Finally! Elizabeth arrives!

If you want to see a grown woman walking around with a doll, standing her on the floor and checking heights of dolls vs. doorknobs, then come on over.

See?! THAT is why the book had to take place in this house rather than Julie’s: Because I needed it right here for the smallest and tallest things, and to test the levels of stair creakiness. Also because I know every nook and cranny (except for the deep, dark corners of the attic. I’m no fool!) like the back of my hand.

Elizabeth forms a quick bond with Hazel, transferring her affections from Ruth because that is the way it is supposed to be.

This is from version 13.5:

Elizabeth blinked her eyes, first trying to figure out where she was. She didn’t remember going to sleep here! Where was she? 

Being a doll, she knew the rules: If she were awake, that meant that someone was nearby who believed, someone who would love her with all their heart. It felt so good to be alive again! But what day was it? What year was it? 


Elizabeth’s eyes are tin. So yes, if she cries too much, they will indeed rust.

“Once the magic with your human has ended, you will go back to sleep, lucky to have been truly loved. There is a rare possibility that you will be loved more than once. If you are so fortunate, then and only then will you awake.  At that time you will love your new human to the exclusion of all others, including past humans.”

This more than anything else had been drummed into her at the factory, and at the time she couldn’t imagine it ever being a problem. First of all, it was so rare, and second of all, wouldn’t a body be so happy about being alive and loved again that they wouldn’t care about their past humans? 

It was an excellent opportunity when Hazel came into the picture. Because how to reconcile an entire book with a grown woman and a doll? Oh, sure, it happens here in real life (good thing there are no hidden cameras at my house!), but I was hard-pressed to try and write a believable story with that scenario.

And on that note, Happy Halloween, all!

Gee, I hope there’s no candy left when the night is done…*ahem!*

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The FULL MONTY Whilst Vamping…Why Not?

MontyfgalAnd now, we VAMP whilst we wait for those of you who are reading to read Chapter 13, The Question & the Quest, featuring the always lovely and very funny Fanny Brice in the “gallery” photo up top.

Ah, Monty! You may recall the creature I designed for this year. Here’s my sketch:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Despite his faults – which are my faults, ’cause I’m the one who made him – since he was so close, I decided to do a few final things and show the Full MONTY, as I call him. HAH! Hope you’re not disappointed!

Here he is!


I didn’t have enough of the black duct tape for his hat, so I did stripes instead…

One thing about doing things in the wee hours of the morning, which is when I wake up, is that it’s sometimes hard to get good pictures…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANote the WITCH in the background.

I don’t want you to think I walk around all the time wearing black clothes, my scarf, and my hat…


Up close:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADesign flaws: Too top heavy! No way could I get him to stand, not in the gentle Iowa fall breeze!

Plus, there’s duct tape, and there’s duct tape. I bought the cheap stuff, and it just doesn’t stick as good (as well? Pesky English!).

If I were going to use him, I would have added dangling legs to the little fella in his hand, as well as arms and a top hat.

Ah, well! There’s always next year!


LAST BUT NOT LEAST, it’s my BEAUTIFUL Mother’s Birthday today! She is an AMAZING woman, even if she IS a little crazy…

A JaneAs you can see, this nut right here, typing away, didn’t fall too far from the tree. She’s swinging from a vine. A vine, fer cryin’ out loud…LOVE YOU, my gorgeous and wonderfully wonderful MOM!!! Happy 39th!!!

Tomorrow…ABOUT Chapter 13, and it will be Halloween! POET.

Happy Halloween Eve, all!

Premieres, You Might Want To Be Nice To Me & Look What I Found!

Premieres. TWO of them: This morning when I awoke at my usual early hour, it was to discover that my brother had put together Chapter 13 for its premiere tonight. My heart pounded as I flipped the pages…dare I hope? NOPE. There they were, Nina’s sketches, looking as if an artist had…sketched them. Which she had. They look good.

In a way, I’m hoping that she doesn’t get the revised sketches to us in time so that you can see even MORE of the process. From initial sketch, to revised sketch, to full color version. That Nina is one amazing girl. Oh, sure, she’s no Ruth (thank goodness!).

Also! The color version of the second illustration has now been put into place for Chapter 12 The Wakening.

Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway is slowly unfurling its wings, and you are here at the very beginning!

You Might Want To Be Nice To Me:  Because I very well could be the sister of the next Mayor of Rolfe. Julie Lancaster is EXACTLY what this town needs. She’s an Ambassador of the Positive! She glows from within! She takes guff from no one, and believe me I have tried! She is a quick thinker and passionate with a strong sense of right and wrong!


Good thing I didn’t accidentally drown her when she was 2!

And, no, I don’t want Julie to be mayor in the hopes that people will continue to get us confused and think that I’M the mayor and have me over for dinner…although we DO kind of look alike…


True, I may be a bit biased, but Julie Loves Rolfe and Wants to See It Succeed and she is NOT afraid of hard work. PLEASE VOTE FOR JULIE LANCASTER FOR MAYOR IN THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS.

And lastly, Look What I Found:

creaturebRecognize the creatures in the lower right corner? They’re the creatures that I made! This book, HALLOWEEN Food, Fun & Crafts is from October 30, 2007. It lived up to its name! There are indeed food, fun and crafts in there!


And the second page:

creature2bOnce again, I may not finish my creature this year. My brother Dennis and I talked this past Sunday and I have a lot to do Hazel Twigg-wise. There’ll be a new feature for the dolls that I work on, we’ve finally reached the very end of the sketches I did so many months and maybe even a year ago so I need to do more. Who knows? Maybe my skills have improved! Or gotten rusty from lack of use…gulp.

And of course I have a doll whose clothes aren’t going to make themselves! Poor thing’s been sitting in that sewing room with half a dress on for days now as I’ve attended to other things.

Where does the time go, I ask you?

Tonight at midnight: the Premiere of Chapter 13 The Question & The Quest.

It’s…All About RUTH


1950 movie “All About Eve” starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter. GORGEOUS costumes by the legendary Edith Head.


Curses! Foiled AGAIN. Or…am I?

There’s not much you can do from half a world away, ‘specially since I’M now in charge of communication with our Nina!

“Hmm,” my brother Dennis said yesterday. “We have to move forward with publishing chapters, even if we don’t have the artwork from Nina.”

“B-but…how?” I asked, trying to keep the excitement out of my voice.

“Well, I…guess we could use your sketches while we wait.”

Oh, Yes We Could. It’s what I was planning the whole time!



All about eve



That Nina. Sensing my closing in (or probably she’s just an excellent worker), she got the sketches to us last night. So we’ll use those instead. Yes, they’ll most likely be in black and white, and they’re not even the final approved sketches (there are still a few tweaks to be made), but apparently they are still better than mine!


Of course, there’s always next week…

Chapter 12: Nina Thinks Outside the Box


Well…THIS isn’t very interesting.

Don’t be shocked, but as usual the contest – and really, it isn’t a contest, I’m just here to sketch – between Nina and I isn’t even close.

Chapter 12, The Wakening, was a tricky one to illustrate. The entire thing takes place inside of a box! What to do? Darkness, with slivers of light? Hmm…Better make it about Elizabeth’s thoughts, then:

HT-028 Factory Cafeteriab blog

While “thought bubbles” might be okay for MY chicken scratches, how the heck would you do them in a real drawing without looking silly? “La-la-la!” I thought to myself as I shut my eyes and forwarded my sketch to Nina. I knew she would come up with a way!

She did! Here’s Nina’s thoughtful take:



Also, besides Elizabeth, Nina took the extra step – on her own, I didn’t even know that she’d seen these dolls – of adding previous friends that I’d done to the party at the cafeteria table. Recognize them?


It’s the little things like that. This is why WE LOVE NINA.

Then there was the next illustration. Sometimes an illustration can help move the story along, and this one especially fits that category. “The Rules of Magic,” as I call them: Once you outgrow your childhood, there is no regaining it, the magic is gone. Dolls will no longer come alive for you. So while Mrs. Hopkins, who was Elizabeth’s first little human so many years ago, still dearly loved Elizabeth, she could no longer see Elizabeth alive. She could only see the physical doll herself. How to get that idea across?

My attempt:

HT-029 Elizabeth's Abby blog

And Nina’s, now in color:



From the first book, and now from Chapter 10, Present Past. That’s old Abby in the chair.

1AbbeybdSince the styles between the first book and the second are quite different, and we’d used an illustration from the first book, “Ruth’s birthday party” where she first received Elizabeth from the now grown Abby, bridging the two styles took a little maneuvering.

Nina did a bang up job, but for the final book in print we might redo the birthday party illustration, since the tone of that particular “scene” as I tend to call chapters, has changed a little. Heaven knows, Nina’s up to the task.

That’s it! That’s all for Chapter 12. And now! Back to the sewing room for me!

I hope you have an excellent weekend beyond your wildest dreams!

About Chapter 12 and There’s Someone(s) I’d Like You to Meet…

Chapter 12 The Awakening. It’s about the different states of Life for these composition dolls once they leave the factory. For me, the saddest doll of all is the one who is Mint in Box. Yes, they are pretty to look at with their perfect paint and clothes, and yes they are by far the rarest of these old dolls, and therefore monetarily worth the most, but to me they are sad.


A Mint in Box Patsy.


A loved Patsy, fingers worn, redressed by her “mother.” The happiest state for a doll to have.



Because they have never been loved.

Which is why I like to take the “loved” dolls, the ones that are less desirable by collector standards, and make them desirable again with a second chance at love.

Here’s a Patsy that I cleaned and redressed and did a little touching up to:


She is now in someone else’s home, and wherever she is, I bet she’s being loved once again.

My next projects:


This girl’s poor arm was hanging on by a few threads. Probably from being taken everywhere by the hand, lucky girl!



I’d already started cleaning her face before I took this photo. I can’t seem to help myself!


What is that on her leg? Will it come off?! Oh yes, it will.


They are dirty and cracked. The first doll has had her arm torn and someone tried to reattach it long ago. Her wig’s missing. Both their original outfits are long gone, in fact they don’t have a stitch of clothing to call their own!

I’m going to change that for them. They’ve already been cleaned. I washed the braided girl’s human hair wig, and found another vintage human hair wig for the other. It had a slight green tinge to it, so I dyed it with coffee. Even now, it pinned to a foam ball on a stick and drying on the radiator in my sewing room. Another thing I like about winter! Warm radiators! More about them in the future.

In the meantime, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. Some of Lost Dolls are older than their composition counterparts.


Meet Beatrice. Before:


You might think her body is funny, but it’s actually a very lovely thing. The style of bodies that dolls had back then in 1860 or so when she was made. No need for hoops or corsets!

You can find her ebay listing HERE.

You might think she’s a bit expensive, but it works out to about $1 an hour. I swear, there was some kind of communication difficulty in understanding what she meant when she told me what kind of clothes she wanted. She is originally from Germany and still had a very heavy accent. Here is what we came up with:



There are more photos on her listing, including her somewhat unusual dress.

I had a lot of help with this girl! When I told my Mom I was having trouble seeing because at one point I thought Beatrice was telling me she wanted bead work on her cloak. So my wonderful mother sent me a bright light to hang around my neck, and better glasses!

It turned out that Beatrice just wanted beads for buttons, however! I used the two contraptions my mother had sent for another tiny fix: her necklace chain was broken. It’s a very fine chain, and there’s no WAY I could have repaired it with my eyes the way they were before. Here’s the necklace as well as her underclothing I made from an old pillow case:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd speaking of the chain: a gift from my dear friend Jennifer Trenary. She was at an estate sale and saw a box of old and broken jewelry and thought of me. So thoughtful! This wonderful chain and several other great treasures were in that little container, and different pieces contained therein will be making appearances on my dolls, because I always send them out with a little bit of jewelry as a token of my love for them as they make their way back into the world.

It may take Beatrice a little while to find just the right person, but I hope she does. Because every loved doll deserves a second chance.

Tomorrow! Nina strikes INFINITY.

Did It Happen?

Yes, it did! Chapter 12 The Wakening made its debut – with a black and white sketch in place of the final illustration. Nina says she’ll have the color version to us today, so the sketch won’t be there for long.

Fender2barafendWhile I give a bit o’ time for you to read, I Shall Vamp.

Ah, Halloween! As I’ve mentioned, some costumes that I made over the years are less successful than others. In my defense, the character that Adam wanted to be was a very thin, fragile thing. It was Fender, from the movie R.O.B.O.T.S. But not just any Fender, no! Fender from when he was dressed as a Viking woman.

My son is a little odd. I wonder where he gets it?

So I did my very best.

Fender 2

You would not believe how hard I worked on this thing. Trying to figure out the engineering of his face was the hardest! And his hands. Adam is very specific and detail-oriented, and I liked that! I liked the challenge of it.

The other tricky thing was figuring out what to use for each component. Like his different-sized, um, chest cover thingies.

Fender 1

After all that work, it was once again one of those years where I failed to get good photos of him. I completely missed out on his shoes! The final outfit was so-so, and not the hit we usually aim for.


This one’s blurry, but it shows the tips of his horns.

Let’s hope the same can’t be said about Chapter 12 The Wakening! Ooh! We’re on the second column of chapters!

Vamping complete! See you tomorrow.

Premiere? Um…..


Hmm! Apparently, someone (that would be me) only THOUGHT she hit “send” on an email last weekend. It was some kind of Twilight Zone moment! I guess we’ll find out if Chapter 12 The Wakening premieres at midnight tonight or not. If it does, it may have a pencil sketch in place of an illustration.

Don’t worry! It won’t be my little stick figures, it’ll be Nina’s lovely lines, but an uncolored sketch all the same…I sent an email out this morning to my siblings to see if we could go to “print” anyway, and I’m waiting for a consensus decision. And this time I made SURE I hit “Send.”

East of Edith

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently received a very nice note from the woman who adopted Poor Edith.

Thank you for the lovely doll that arrived in the mail. I started out collecting antique bisque dolls over 30 years ago. Progressed to dollhouses and then to dollhouse dolls. Have discovered after just collecting everything that am only satisfied with little dolls with beautiful clothing. The clothing is what gives me the most satisfaction. If were to be reincarnated would choose to come back as a designer of beautiful clothing. Am looking forward to more Downton Abbey this winter. This doll is spectacular. Keep it up. You are just doing great work. As I am constantly on Ebay, will keep my eyes open for future dolls from you.

Carol, South Dakota

I think Edith is going to be very content.

One Lost Doll down. Hundreds to go….

Happy Monday!

ART! A Tale of Two Chocolates…

Chapter 11 The Appointment, was especially fun to illustrate – I mean, to do the sketch for. I hope Nina had fun with it too!

Poor Marlene. I tend to pick on her a lot. I can’t seem to help myself! Some reference images I sent to Nina to help explain what I meant in my sketch:


The color scheme of the trailer in this photo I found online was just what I had in mind. And I love my giant calendar! I get one every year from my beloved bank. When the month is done, I use the over-size paper to make dress patterns for my larger dolls.

Here’s my sketch of Marlene enjoying her just reward:

HT-026 Marlene Makes a SaleblogaI was laughing to beat the band when I drew Marlene’s real estate agent portrait behind her desk! Bless her heart…

“Reliance” is in Haven County, Iowa. Hence the overuse of the word. If I’d thought of it in time, I’d have Marlene eating a Cherry Mash instead. Ah, well!

Nina’s excellent take:


The inspiration for the next drawing:

scarlett-and-rhettMy sketch:

HT-027 scanAs you might notice, I really wanted chocolate in Marlene’s teeth.

Nina obliged:

HT_27It’s a Match Made in Heaven. And Marlene and Maxwell aren’t too shabby either.

May there be many chocolate bars in your future! Have a great weekend!