A Different Izannah Walker Doll Boy in Progress

I shifted focus and decided finish this doll for the "John Thayer's Cousins" challenge. It is an early pressed cloth experiment. I'm finishing this one for a completion of a trade with another artist. When he's done he will go to live at her house. 

I have a few other dolls in process and two non-Izannah swaddling dolls I want to make. 

An Izannah Walker Inspired Boy Doll

Another project in the works is an Izannah Walker inspired boy doll, inspired by John Thayer. This is a creative prompt the MAIDA Creatives group is doing - not to make exact copies of John Thayer, but to make a doll that has a feature or two. Like a cousin. These are composition shoulderheads I made from a mold of my antique Izannah Walker doll. The doll on the left needs fine-tuning in the hair and eyes and skin tones. The head on the right has barely begun the process. I need to make torsos, but thankfully I made limbs last year so I am half-way there on these dolls. 

Seed Saving, Artistically

This week I painted over a painting panel which was made at an art party years ago. I kept some of the marks from the original painting, trying to "save seeds" to bring forward in the painting, and actually, in life as well. I enjoyed doing some mark-making.To celebrate Valentine's Day, I painted a big ol' heart on it, because I knew my son would enjoy that. I will probably sand the panel down at a future date and re-gesso it and use it for something different. But it's good to prime the artistic pump.  Other than doll-making, I haven't done painting in a long time. 

Happy New Year! Time to GOOTH and SPIP!


I wrote a blog post about a year ago that I needed to GOOTH (get out of the house) more. You can read that post here:  https://www.northdixiedesigns.com/2021/12/gooth.html  I want to carry that goal forward into 2023, and also do more of seeing people in person (SPIP). I have a thing for acronyms. This year I went to some events where I met people in person that I had only known through online forums. And that was super fun! But I also want to see/meet more people in person here at home. The pandemic, parental illnesses, caregivers for my son moving away and friends moving away have resulted in some isolation that I want to change. That means meeting more people. Time to dip my toe in the water. 

Completing Circles: 

Approaching 60 brought thoughts about completing circles.  Last year I completed a circle to make an Izannah Walker doll totally from cloth. I sold the first large doll Anna, the first of the Hopestill Clan, to a long-time collector of my work. It was my first one, but not the last. This is something I will bring forward into the new year. 

Some circles I want to complete are dependent on other people and systems. Seeing my adult son who is disabled have the infrastructure of supports he needs to build a good life in place is important. I will have more to say on this, eventually. There are some tiny lights of hope that I hope will grow. 

Focusing on "the Good Right Now"

Against this background, focusing on the *good right now* is necessary (but also difficult). So that's a goal going into this next year.  To immerse myself in some processes - sculpting, painting, making, cooking, and enjoy those things without thought of time. A big job, but there it is. 

Not Feeling Christmasy?
Remember Christmas in 5 Ways

I repost this every year early in December because *I* need to read it.
But it seems to resonate with others, too.
God bless you all.  

(This is a repost from Christmas 2011, but I thought it bears repeating). 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that
 he was not feeling very Christmas-y. 

I replied, 
"Define Christmas-y."

I'm not trying to discount his feelings.  What I mean is,  

"What makes you feel like it's Christmas?"

When we don't feel Christmasy it's because we're comparing our "now" with some memory from the past or some image that's presented in society. And often it doesn't measure up. Sometimes we have real reasons that we're feeling the Christmas blues. Maybe we're lonely or depressed. Maybe we're overwhelmed and harried.

Many years ago, when my son who is autistic was small, I had to adjust my views of Christmas. In my growing up, Christmas was about a big toy opening fest on Christmas Day. I thought I would bring that to my family tradition when I had kids. But my son at the time had no interest in toys. So shopping for Christmas presents highlighted that the path we were traveling was a different one, and I didn't know the way. Sometimes I still feel that twinge when I walk the toy aisles. Going to Christmas events was either impossible or very hard when my son was young. My husband and I spent quite a few family Christmas parties off in another room sitting under a blanket with my son, who was completely overwhelmed. I was sad during this time. And I felt lonely. This wasn't the expected path. I had to come to terms that the Christmas season for us was going to be different from what I had envisioned. It wouldn't be a recreation of my childhood Christmases. (Edit added in December 2021 - my son really enjoys presents and Christmas now! He especially loves family gatherings.)

Here's the manger scene 
as set up by our son with autism....
I'm not changing it. 

Yesterday I saw a friend at the grocery store who wasn't going to be able to do all the things that Christmas brings because of a busy work schedule.  My suggestion to her?

Pick 5 Things to Do

Pick 5 things to do that if you don't do them it doesn't feel like Christmas. And forget the rest. That list will be different for everyone.

Here's our list:
  1. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it as a family.
  2. Listen to and sing Christmas carols.  Pandora.com is great for this.  Type in your favorite Christmas carol, your favorite artist and listen to lots of wonderful Christmas songs.  
  3. Hang lights.   This year we hung some colored outdoor lights that remind me of the giant ones that used to hang at Granddad's house when I was very small.
  4. Make cookies and/or cinnamon dough ornaments.
  5. Read the biblical Christmas story at Bible Gateway.   Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20.  
Of course, there's more. I didn't put presents in, and we do that. But you get the idea. Make a list that is YOUR list of what preparing for Christmas means. For some people, it means putting up 12 Christmas trees around their house. For others, it means volunteering.   

Accept Your Un-Christmasy Feelings    

Accept that in this year, you may feel like the tired shepherds away in the fields working the graveyard shift. You may feel like Joseph trying to find a place for his family to sleep in a strange city. Or like Mary, waiting and wondering what is to come. Perhaps you're the harried innkeeper trying to wedge in another paying customer. Or maybe you are like old Simeon and Anna, who had been waiting a long, long time for the birth of the promised Messiah.

Christmas still came for all of those people,
despite how they were feeling. 

Mom's Famous Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

My mom was a superb cook. It was a connection point for her. If she heard you weren't feeling great, she would start cooking.  She LOVED to see her grandkids devour her Mac-n-cheese at family gatherings. Mom passed away last year.  I am so glad that I wrote down her recipe and took pictures of her making it. She wouldn't let me take a picture of her face because "my hair doesn't look good today". I shared this recipe on Facebook and a number of Facebook friends made it. It's now their go-to recipe for Mac-n-cheese. 

Carolyn Mosley Williams Famous Mac-n-Cheese

1 - one pound box big macaroni, cooked 

4 cups canned milk

2 cups Velveeta

1 cup fresh grated parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Bread crumbs, tossed with butter. 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put milk and cheese on low heat on stove in saucepan until cheese melts. Stir frequently. 

Pour over cooked macaroni. 

Note from Mom:  "I always add extra milk after it sets for awhile if it's too thick.I like it creamy.Then I put bread crumbs on top.It thickens when you cook it."

Put buttered bread crumbs on top.

Cook till crumbs brown and its ready.

Selling Some Inspiration

Sometimes you're just a little TOO inspired. I have acquired too many inspiration pieces and they have crowded my "maker" space. I can't take a picture of that space right now, because it is too full of "inspiration". So I will be weeding out some vintage and antique dolls and other things to make room for the present and future. I will be selling things in my Etsy shop, so keep an eye out.  You never know what I might list that YOU might like. 

Sometimes I buy dolls just because I like them, like the cloth doll with the slightly loopy expression in the last post. Or the fabulous Zelda, who with her expression says, "You can do it." And sometimes I buy dolls because I want to learn about how they were made. And some dolls tick both boxes - love them for themselves and also they have something to teach me. The doll below has some similar features to Zelda, although she is constructed very differently. 

Anyway, I digress. Keep an eye on my Etsy shop as I weed out my workroom to make room for projects on my list.

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden