Fairytale fashion

Integrity Toys fashion doll convention, Orlando Florida
19th – 21st October 2017

Off to the IT fashion doll convention in Orlando on Monday. I sometimes wonder if I’m quite sane travelling to the other side of the planet for just a week for fashion dolls, but the theme of ‘Fairytale Fashion’ was irresistible.  I’m also taking two OOAK competition dolls but who knows?  I read the original versions of Grimm’s fairytales as a kid, and as struck by the insanity, violence and miserable lives some kids had to endure.  The only ‘fairytale’ thing about some of these stories was some kind of supernatural intervention and/or justice in the end.  I think as a result my competition entries look a bit angry and sad, so that’ll put people off – oh well.  I’ll put the comp entries up after the convention.

Here are the five OOAKs, one with an Integrity Toys dress, that I’m taking with me, hopefully to sell with Denise Travers, who will have her sales room there.

60s Poppy full front lowres
Integrity Toys Doll:  Poppy Parker ‘Joyous Celebration’, my repaint.
Early 1960s vintage Thai silk dress.

EFrost in ITdress front lowres
Integrity Toys doll:  Eugenia Frost – my repaint.  Can’t remember which one unless I look it up.  Integrity Toys dress, loosely 1950s style.

Vanessa full front lowres
Integrity Toys doll:  Vanessa ‘In Bloom’, my repaint.
Late 18th century style dress in vintage Thai silk, silk underskirt.  The basket is made from vintage French millinery straw.  The hat is from another IT convention a few years ago.  I have always had mixed feelings about this style of dress.  It was romantic and feminine, but it was also expensive, impractical, restricting of movement, and represents some of the worst excesses of the European aristocracy.   Fortunately, the dolls don’t care.

18thC Scotland full front lowres
Integrity Toys doll:  Imogen ‘City Girl’ – my repaint.
Mid 18th century Scottish style dress, although this tartan did not come into being until much later with the Black Watch, but I couldn’t find any silk in Flora MacDonald’s tartan (some of my ancestors are also from the Isle of Skye).  I was looking at Scottish fashion around the time of the battle of Culloden.  The white rose in the beret was a symbol for the Jacobites, and not for the last time clothes became part of political resistance and identity.  Silk skirt and wrap with fine Indian lawn shirt, black cotton vest.

Elise 16thC full front lowres
Integrity Toys Doll:  Elise – my repaint.  She has also had a new hair job in synthetic mohair so I don’t know which Elise.
Early 16th C silk dress.  Sky blue vintage silk satin embroidered with glass beads and freshwater pearls, with an underskirt in Indian silk brocade.  She vaguely reminded me of Elizabeth I, and the dress style is from around 1540s, although I think Elizabeth I would have had a great many more pearls on her dress.

More after the IT convention, which is going to be heaps of fun!



Independent Fashion Doll Convention (IFDC)

The IFDC is organised by Jim Faraone and is held every year in Las Vegas.  It is a fun convention with a different theme every year.  This year it was ‘Dollton Abbey’.  Fashion doll artists from all over the USA usually attend, such as JamieShow (by George Gonzalez) and Pigdin Dolls (Joshua David McKenney), and of course Integrity Toys.  All of these have images that are readily available on the web.  Inexplicably, I didn’t take many images at the convention.  Most of my images are of the fabulous Chihuly glass collection at the Bellagio Casino.  Oh well….  The first image below are some of the dress ups at lunch.

Dress ups at luncheon

Some of the lovely people at the IDFC, and they made it such a pleasure to be there.

IDFC-dawn out the window LV

Dawn over Las Vegas from the hotel window.  With 40 to 46 degree C heat, getting out into the desert wasn’t an option.  There is some things that are inexplicable when one is half a world away from home and alone.





Nick Cave Soundsuit 2013

The Bellagio has some very interesting art.  I don’t know who is responsible for it, but it is a very good, if extremely eclectic, collection.  This is an outfit worn by Nick Cave called Soundsuit (2013), on display in the shopping mall (the sort of mall where they have Hermes, Valentino, Gucci and Dior etc. and nothing has a price tag).

Weird machine

I thought this might be a Dalek, but I’m not sure.  Such a strange mixture of some of the best modern art and antique Chinese sculptures and cloisonne vases and trashy sentimental displays, one of a model Tuscan village.  There are thousands of people milling about in artificially lit caves in a complex the size of several city blocks.  It took me some time to find the right exit.  There are no windows and no clocks and I’d forgotten my mobile phone.  No problem, I think security was watching me because I was the only one taking photos and looking at the art.  There was a pleasant person in a suit everywhere I wanted to check the time.

Giant dolls houuses

The Tuscan village.  Having just come from the IFDC convention, I thought these would be the perfect diorama for some 1:6 scale dolls on the terraces and hanging out the windows.  Weirdly trashy, and the best dolls houses I’ve seen for ages.  I loved it, I just wouldn’t want it in my loungeroom.

LV landscape

Leaving Las Vegas.  Not having any interest in gambling whatsoever, it is an odd place surrounded by stunning desert mountains.


Cuba was quite similar to Mexico in that the Spanish influence was very evident.  Cuba was beautiful and fascinating but as you can imagine there were very few dolls, and certainly I didn’t see one single Barbie.  I did see some really interesting dolls though.  The doll below belonged to a fortune teller in the main square near our hotel in the old section of Havana (I could tell you the square but I’m too lazy to look it up).  The doll was watching a space for her owner, and I can assure you it didn’t look like anyone was going to touch her, or even go near her, any time soon.

Havana Spotdoll-2 lowresGuardian doll, Havana, Cuba

Havana Spotdoll & mistress lowresFortunate teller, Havana, and her guardian doll

Havana Senora Cuba lowres

Somehow she was more than a mere fortunate-teller.  More of a spirit guide really, and she reminded me strongly of the South American beliefs of Candomblé.

The other interesting thing found all over the places we visited was the dressed statues in churches.  This figure has the most beautiful velvet dress and gold lace head scarf.  You can see in many of these images that a woman covering her head is by no means unusual in many cultures.

Dressed Statue Havanna-2 lowresBlack Madonna or saint, Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis, Old Havana, Cuba (I don’t know the significance of the pole-axe).

The image below was taken in an artists’ street in Havana and was mostly African Cuban works.  This little corner is decorated with various figures, and the black dolls heads on the two stumps are intriguing.

Dollhead garden Cuba lowresStreet garden, Old Havana

There were other dressed figures in various churches.  There was so much to see the image below is just one example of embroidered clothes on figures of saints or madonnas.

VirginMary Cuba-2 lowres

These tiny wire figures were also found everywhere.

TinyDolls-2 Cuba lowresSmall wood and wire figures, Havana market.

Lastly, because I liked the horse (OK, the guy is cute too, but anyone under thirty is cute when you are as old as I am).  I didn’t have time to compose the shot, only a few seconds.

Trinidad horse&rider lowresHorse and rider, Trinidad de Cuba, Cuba


In late August 2016 we were in Guatemala for about a week.  If you want to see really good photography on Mexico City, Guatemala and the Caribbean you might want to visit my partner’s blog Murray Foote.  This one is more about dolls and I’m not claiming to be much of a photographer.

Guatemala is a magical place, although probably summer is not the best time to visit.  The advantage was that we were the only guests at the time.  The El Sombrero Ecolodge is delightful, and it is a short car ride away from the Mayan site of Yaxha.  Naturally there weren’t many dolls to be found at the Lodge, but the sunsets were great, and Tikal and Yaxha are amazing.

Sunset Guatemala lowresSunset over Yaxha Lagoon

El Sombrero Ecolodge is located in the Yaxha Lagoon in the Yaxha-Nakum- Naranjo National Park in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Peten, Guatemala. It is only one hour drive from Tikal and Flores and 30 minutes from the Belize Border.


Tikal pyramid lowresPart of the Mayan complex at Tikal – just to set the scene

At Tikal there were plenty of Mayan dolls for sale to tourists.  We were approached by a local Mayan guide who asked if we wanted to hire him (sadly no, we didn’t).  However, he told an interesting story.  Anyone who visits Tikal is required to make a sacrifice, as it is a sacred site (and he was not referring to money here).  I believed him, the place is a huge site and totally awe-inspiring.

3CornDolls Tical lowresLittle dolls made from dried corn leaves

CornDolls Tikal lowresCorn doll seller, Tikal

This lady had set up her stall a bit away from the main tourist shops which sold all the usual stuff, as well as the rag dolls common everywhere.



Mexico City

From late August through to early October 2016 I was lucky enough to travel with my partner in some really beautiful places.  Naturally in each place I went looking as various dolls to be found there because I was interested in how dolls pop up in different cultures.  I’m sure I could do heaps more research on the subject, but curiously there isn’t a lot of research on the subject of dolls.  They are universal, although they appear in such different ways.  I was fascinated by them all, from the rag dolls that seem to be everywhere all over Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean, to the beautifully dressed figures of saints in the various churches we saw.  This post is just for Mexico City, otherwise it was too long.

Mexico City

The interesting thing about Mexico City is that there were dolls everywhere.  Practically the first thing I picked up in our hotel room was a tiny doll.  This little creature was made to capture bad dreams, or to ensure a good night’s sleep, probably both.  The thing that struck me about most of the places we went was the deeply held belief that the doll is a substitute for oneself, a stand-in that can act as a vehicle to another world.  The doll takes on the bad stuff instead of the hapless human, or the gorgeously dressed figures in the churches were meant to intercede on behalf of the supplicant.  I found them all very beautiful and moving.

 Mayan doll This tiny little dolls is called Buenas Noches.  She is 6 cms long and dressed in bits of T-shirt and hand woven fabric.  She is a traditional Mayan ‘Quitapesares’, or sorrow remover doll.  You tell her your sorrows, put her under your pillow, sleep, and next day your sorrows will be gone.  I think she is charming, although I haven’t actually put her to the test yet.


There were a few Barbies in a shop in the tourist area at the centre of the city, but they weren’t that inetresting.

I found the universal stuffed rag doll of the region on sale outside the Frida Kahlo museum (Frida Kahlo is one of my favourite artists).  Inside the FK museum (her house in Mexico City), was a delightful cabinet full of doll furniture, but it was hard to get images as they were in a cabinet.  There were plenty of other figures to be found in Mexico City, and in the airport at Cancun on our way out to Cuba.

FK doll dabinet 1
Frida Kahlo’s curio cabinet, Mexico City
Small tourist doll from outside the Frida Kahlo museum, Mexico City

There were heaps of other kinds of figures to do with the Day of the Dead.

Dolls MC-1Tourist figures for Day of the Dead, Medico City


Dolls MC-3Raffia Dolls, Mexico City

Small offering figurines MCSmall guardian figures found at the corner of a temple excavation, Mexico City
(not dolls perhaps, but similar in function to the little Mayan Quitapeares doll).

Barbie Cancun lowresBarbies dressed in traditional Mexican costume, Cancun airport.  I got the impression these were older or second-hand Barbies that had been dressed in styles from various regions.  They were very pretty, if a little pricey.



French Farmhouse

I’ve discovered this lovely French Farmhouse furniture from Mini Molly Dollhouse in South Australia.

French kitchen-2 lowres

Paula, of Mini Molly Dollhouse, makes this furniture and obligingly up-scaled it a bit to fit my Fashion Royalty dolls.  It comes with some adorable cook books as well, and the pots are available separately.  The model is IT Veronique (first version) on an FR2 body.  Appropriately, her hair is French mohair.

The sets are available on eBay at:

There is also a website at:

A bit about mohair.  It’s very naturalistic, fine and soft, but a bit of a nightmare to use because you end up with fine hair everywhere, and the good stuff is expensive.  Also, at the very least it tends to be wavy or curly.  Synthetic mohair is easier to handle, but the colour range is quite limited.  I’m always a bit nervous about moths getting into it, but so far they haven’t (they have eaten some of my mohair eyelashes before now).  I imported Vero’s hair from France and from memory it was $45 USD For 1 ounce (and you need about an ounce for one head) a few years ago.

Here she is with her hair out:

French kitchen-3 Vero lowres


New in the Garden

I’ve been creating, redoing and refining some dress patterns for Integrity dolls, mainly Nu-face, Poppy and the FR2s.  Come to think of it, those are the only 12 inch IT dolls I make patterns for.  Rather than make it up entirely out of old sheeting or whatever, I make them up in cotton, or some other cheap fabric, because it isn’t as boring as sewing up sheeting (which I use to make the first pattern from by modelling it on a doll).

I’ll put them up for sale fairly soon I think.  This one is based on a Prada dress, well the neckline is at least.  I’ve made it up in new quilters cotton fabric, and it’s modelled by Poppy (my repaint).  I can’ quite recall which Poppy, but she has the Hungarian skin tone.  She’s now on a DG body.  I like the DG bods with some Poppy’s because they are a little taller and pretty much the same size everywhere else.

Tangerine-head lowres

The dress has a matching hat and clutch bag.  I love hats, can’t resist making hats for frocks.

Tangerine-1 lowres

The cupboards is a 1/6 scale Chinese wedding cupboard with a little jug (I collect little ceramic things, like vases).

NightGarden-threequarters-1 lowres

My repainted Vanessa (Metal Malven) on an FR2 body.  Jewelry is gold plated findings and turquoise beads.

NightGarden-fullfront lowres

The matching hat is vintage handwoven Thai silk, and the dress fabric is vintage cotton.  The trim came from Dona Dubbini in Italy.  I love it, and have used it on a couple of dresses.

Last, but not least, is Poppy, Irresistable in India.  Unfortunately for Dominique her Nu-face body matched this Poppy very well .  I was also experimenting with Indian silk brocade.  It’s not entirely successful and it was very difficult to handle (as in look at it and it frays/falls apart, and drops little gold threads all over my studio).  Silk does fray at the drop of a hat, but it is usually easy to handle – this stuff was a bitch but I love the colour.

India-1 lowres

I don’t the white balance is quite right, it should have been on auto.  Oh well…. next time.