Thursday, September 11, 2014

September Doll Workshop, Saturday, September 20th

September Doll Workshop, Saturday, September 20th
Those of you who live in the Sacramento area have been asking about my September doll workshop, here are the information and the link to The Elk Grove Fine Arts Center. If you have questions you can email me at: or call the Elk Grove Fine Art Center at 916-685-5992 or connect:
This is a great class for first time doll makers. Just bring your sewing machine, two fat quarters or a half yard of your favorite print fabric, some matching tulle and ribbon, and thread. I'll bring everything else. for more information and a complete materials list just go to the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center link.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

B.A.P.S.: Black American Princess

There was a movie that came out in 1997 called B.A.P.S. which stands for 'Black American Princess'. The movie starred a very different Halle Berry, Natalie Deselle and veteran actor Martin Landau (He was in the very first 'Mission Impossible' television show from 1966 to 1973, yes young people there was a Mission Impossible before Tom Cruise was even in kindergarten). Although B.A.P.S. was directed by Black director Robert Townsend and the screenplay was written by Black actress and writer Troy Beyer, the movie, although having its funny moments and a sweet but corny story line, was criticized for using contemporary, negative stereotypes and didn't do well.

Today, Black American Princess still carries a negative connotation in that the term is now considered according to Wikipedia "a pejorative term that refers to Black women of upper and middle class background, who possess (or are perceived to possess) a spoiled or materialistic attitude." Anyone who saw the movie B.A.P.S. will remember that Halle Berry's character definitely did not fit that description.

As the grandmother of two gorgeous granddaughters Relena and Maya, who are princesses to me, they are only spoiled with love and only as materialistic as every other little girl of this time and generation. (This is what  all princesses look like on Sunday morning before breakfast).

I am so moved when I hear my sons call their daughters "my little princess" in that way that only fathers can do. My sons grew up without their dad, yet they have become phenomenal fathers. All little girls love and want to look like and be princesses no matter what color or nationality they are. It's part of that dreamy, happy fantasy world that all children should be able to live in for as long as they can. They grow up so fast, if we even blink, we can miss this so important part of their growing up.

As it is, my girls only have the Disney princesses as princess role models.

The media promotes, promotes, promotes their images. Some of the stories are from old traditional fairy tales that originated in Europe many centuries ago. Disney, over the years has attempted to add princesses 'of color' to its cast of characters, Tiana, Pocahontas, Mulan and Jasmine but the most popular princesses still remain the same. Even retailers who stock their shelves with the thousands of 'princess' related items during the holidays wind up having to drop or discount their prices for the merchandise collections for Tiana, Pocahontas, Mulan and Jasmine because of slow sales.

When any little girl is dreaming in her fairytale world and she imagines a princess that she would like to grow up to become, what does she envision, the princess that she could be or someone else?

There are wonderful stories for today's young Black American princesses. I picked up a book on a sale table at Borders about 15 years ago, before either of my little princesses were even born called The Princess Who Lost Her Hair, an Akamba legend about a vane princess.  Even though I didn't have any little girls in my life at the time I bought it for myself and it's still one of my favorite children's stories.

                      These are some other books about princesses of color to share with the little girls in your life. These are all available on Amazon.

         Product Details 


Sometimes we have to get out of the mall or out of Target or Walmart to find B.A.P.S. or other princesses of color but the reinforcement of a positive image for our daughters and granddaughters is worth the effort.

These are my B.A.P.S., Black American Princess dolls. They are contemporary with a little of that 1970's retro style. My B.A.P.S. are B beautiful, A ambitious, P proud and S smart. I was so inspired by another African American doll artist that I met on Facebook and it triggered a whole new creative energy for me. Her name is Cassandra Harrison of "I Am Dolls" and her website is: She also has a youtube video: Please, please, please follow these links and check out her work. She is more than a doll artist, her dolls are an expression of Black history, culture and tradition.

My doll costumes were inspired by a fashion site I found on the Internet of 1970's Harlem. I was actually researching Harlem Renaissance and as usual, I got side tracked 'again'. It reminded me of the Black actresses, heroines and Motown singers of that time. The female characters of so many of those somewhat violent and not  always good movies all had really dramatic names like Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones, so I gave my dolls similar 'dramatic' names. I was also reminded of strong female political activists like Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver.

My doll's very fashionable outfits were made from some really colorful socks I found in the 99 cent only store and for the first time, I used "hair" for their hair. That was one of the inspirations from "I Am Dolls" Cassandra Harrison. I raided  King's Wigs & Beauty Supply in Rancho Cordova one afternoon, thank you for your patience Holly and Precious, it opened a whole new side of doll making for me.

All of these elements stirred up in a doll makers head, shake well and this is what comes out.

Miss China Jones

Miss Sassy Brown

Miss Ebony Reese

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 California State Fair

The 2014 California State Fair is in full swing. If you haven't had a chance to attend yet, you still have about a week left. Right now the temperature here in Sacramento is in the 80's which is the perfect fair weather compared to temperatures in the 100's plus in past years.

My two beautiful dolls Michael and Verlene are

"stylin'" in building 8, the Quilts and Textiles Exhibits along with some amazing quilts, wearable art
and other fiber and textile arts.

Sleepy eyed Michael won a third place ribbon and sassy Verlene won honorable mention. This was my first time ever entering the fair and I can't wait to try again next year.

My good buddy Jan Hollins was also a first time entrant and she won a third place ribbon for her quilt "Days Gone By". If you attended the 2014 Sisters Quilting Collective exhibit at the Brickhouse Gallery you got to see 'Miss Ida's' debut.

Alice Calhoun's wonderful quilt was also beautifully displayed. 


This is Connie Horn's wearable art entry. Connie won the Meissner Sewing & Learning Center Award.

I feel very honored to be among these amazing fiber artists. If you have a chance to get to the fair please take a few minutes to visit building 8.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Social Lives of Dolls

Sometimes my dolls seem to have social life all of their own. I have two new dolls that will be out and about this coming June.

Princess Amaya, The Wise Princess, will be at The California Department of Education Black History Month Planning Committee Juneteenth Celebration and Art Sale Fundraiser. The event will be Tuesday, June 3rd from 5:00pm to 7:00pm in the California Department of Education Building  Lobby on N Street in Sacramento. The event will include food and entertainment and bidding on art from  some of Sacramento's best artists. Princess Amaya will also be available to bid on. If you would like to adopt Princess Amaya come down and visit this fun event.

Princess Amaya is a positive image doll and was  inspired by little girls who wanted a "princess who looks like me". If you are interested in having a princess doll made for a little girl in your life let me know.

Because Princess Amaya is a wise princess, she has some words of wisdom to share with you:

1. Never take apples from a stranger.           
2. Real friends won't lock you in a tower.
3. Slay your own dragons.
4. Never walk through a dark forest alone.
5. Stop waiting for Prince  Charming,
be your own hero, rescue yourself.

My other doll is Grandma Selene, The Bayou Queen. She is a very mysterious lady. She will be part of my "Grandmas are Beautiful" collection but more about that later.  Her inspiration comes from some of the Southern Folk Tales that come from a lot of my ancestors. Some of these folk tales go all the way back to Africa. The stories came across the Atlantic with the slaves and grew and changed as they were passed on by word of mouth from family to family and from generation to generation.

 Grandma Selene will be part of the "Focus on Fiber" 3rd Annual Fiber Arts Open Show at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center, 5330-B Gibbons Drive in Carmichael, June 3rd through June 21st. For more information visit their website at

Grandma Selene's costume is made of plain white cotton muslin that I used a couple of dye techniques on to get her one of a kind look. The skirt is made of strips of shredded muslin that I stitched together and put through my washing machine and dryer to distress the fabric. I used three  shades of tie dye to color the skirt. It almost looks like the feathers of a tropical bird.

Grandma Selene also has some wise words to live by, of course, because grandmas always do:

1. Gray hair is beautiful.
2. Respect is earned not entitled.
3.Wisdom comes with time and experience.
4. Love comes from the heart, not from the back of the throat.
5. Don't let negative people live in your head, raise the rent and kick them out.
6. Never let success go to your head or failure go to your heart.

I will be teaching the "Flying Dancers" art doll class this fall at The Elk Grove Fine Art Center on Saturday September 20th from 11am to 4pm. This will be great because we'll have 5 hours to work on and complete the doll. I am hoping to be able to accommodate 6 to 8 students. I will have more information later this month. Other classes and locations will also be announced later this month.

Sacramento is having it's first Black Book Fair, "On The Wings of  Words", June 6th, 7th, and  8th in the historic Oak Park District.  Co-chairmen, Faye Kennedy, would like see this become a yearly event. Black authors from all over the United States will be flying in for this three day event to hold workshops and sign their books. There will also be tons of activities for children. For more information go to .

They are also still in need of volunteers to help make this fantastic event happen. If you are able to volunteer at least two hours of your time on any or all of the three days, you can download an application from the same website under the volunteers tab.

Here's and update about the 2014 California State Fair. The judging results were published Friday and some other fiber artist that we know also placed.

Alice Calhoun,   "Floral Abundance", Honorable Mention, Category: Large Quilts

Connie Horne, The Meissner Sewing and Learning Center Award, 1st Place

Connie Horne, 1st Place, Category: Wearable Art

Jan Hollins, "Days Gone By", 3rd Place, Category: Applique Quilts

Gloria Grandy, "Verlene", Honorable Mention, Category: Dolls and Toys

Gloria Grandy. "Michael", Third Place, Category: Dolls and Toys

Happy June, see you later.






Friday, May 23, 2014


I wanted to share with everyone some good news for three local Sacramento artists. First, our amazing sculpture artist and more Kanika Marshall was one of 26 artists who entered the Solar Panel art exhibit sponsored by SMUD. A few months ago, artists were offered the chance to pick up free discarded solar panels from SMUD. The artists could use the panels as the material and the basis of an art project of their choice and enter their works in an exhibit  at the SMUD customer service building. Kanika won a first place prize of $300 for her entry "Energy Meridians".

The exhibit runs until July 31st at the SMUD Customer Service Center, 6301 S Street. Sacramento CA. If you have a chance, stop by and view Kanika's work and the other participating artists. Also, wish her a belated happy birthday. The win and her birthday were on the same day.

The next celebration is for quilt and textile artist Jan Hollins who entered her beautiful quilt "Miss Ida" in the California State Fair. The judging was this past Wednesday and notifications went out today and she was accepted. A lot of you can remember "Miss Ida" as part of the Sisters Quilting Collective Quilt Show in February.

The third celebration is for me! I am so happy and pleased to announce that my two dolls "Michael and Verlene" were also accepted in the California State Fair. This was one of ten things on my list of goals that I wanted to accomplish this year. I can mark one item off. The State Fair runs from July 11th through the 27th and the award ceremony for fiber artists and crafters is Saturday, July 12th. If you are attending the fair this year I hope you take the time to visit "Miss Ida" and "Michael and Verlene".

I'm so proud to be able to represent. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't accomplish a dream large or small. The only obstacles in our way are the ones we give permission to be there. I always think of my mother's words "It's 100% NO
if we never try and 50% YES when we do. What have you got to lose?" Believe in yourself.