Night Mary Stein

Night Mary Stein Art Doll by Jennifer D Burrell
Mary woke from a dream.  She is now in a strange land.  Her memories are jumbled as she looks at her hands.  “What mad scientist made me?” she wonders.

     I'm proud to present Night Mary Stein, my third Art Doll.  "Night Mary" comes actually from a slip up when I was sketching and making notes.  I wrote down nightmary instead of nightmare.  A great mistake as Mary Shelley was the author of Frankenstein.  The idea of making a mix of Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Bride of Frankenstein was milling around in my head for the past month.  I have been watching Halloween themed movies and posting daily quotes from the movies on my personal Facebook page.   I absolutely love the character Sally but I couldn't get the image of Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, Frankenstein's bride monster out of my head.  Her face was cut and mended into wonderful seams.  Her orange hair was barely there due to fire.  The push to make and finish Night Mary Stein came in a Call to Artists from City Arts Factory in downtown Orlando.  Their Third Annual Dia de los Muertos/Monster Factory Exhibit.  The opening will be October 18th, 2012, tonight, from 6-9:00 pm and my Mary will be there!  Please stop by if you can.  And, if you want a treat this Halloween, watch The Bride of Frankenstein 1935, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 1994 and The Nightmare Before Christmas, featuring female monsters stitched together by mad scientist.  Well, in my case, a mad Artist!  Mwahahaaaaa....  

Preliminary Sketch
Mary Stein in Process

Hand dyed fabric by Deborah Gregory

     In making Night Mary Stein, I purposefully made her asymmetrical as a sign of madness.  Also, having one let longer would give her a limp and awkwardness when she patrols the streets looking for her mate.  Once I had Mary's body sewn, it was time to make her dress.  I started pulling out red fabrics, pink fabrics, prints, and then I found it.  I had a fabric with instructions and pattern for a stuffed rabbit toy printed on it.  I use to love these types of fabrics as a kid because all you had to buy was the fabric.  No cutting of thin pattern paper, pinning, marking and cutting.  It was all there.  I imagined the mad scientist of Mary saw these directions as help to tell her which parts of the body were to go where and how to stitch together a new body from pieces of other bodies.  Then, like in the Bride of Frankenstein where they just grabbed the laboratory white sheet, what was on hand, to cover her, I would use the directions to cover my Mary Stein.  There was just one problem.  I didn't want to completely cover up the beautiful hand dyed fabric.  So, I pieced together the instruction fabric with stiff, transparent fabric.  The transparent fabric reminds me of my transparent sculptural dresses I made in graduate school.

Sculptural dresses now hanging in our back yard

Mary asks, “Will I have a mate soon? Alone Bad. Friend Good."


Everything is Rosie

Rosie the Breast Cancer Awareness Chicken

My dear friend Eileen asked me to do 2 Fuffalumps based on her wonderful adopted chicken, Rosie, to be given as gifts.  The lyrics from the song Rosie from Bye Bye Birdie came to my mind every time I e-mailed Eileen about Rosie the Fuffalump, "everything is Rosie." 

I met Rosie this past Summer at her new "Chicken Plaza" and asked Eileen to give me Rosie's story.  She is a beautiful 9-year-old Americauna chicken who spent most of her life as a Montessori school garden chicken where she was loved, held, hugged and fed by 60 plus children.  She free ranged in an organic garden. Well past her prime laying years, she spent this past Summer in Eileen's son, Trevor's loving care and she started laying eggs again. She hadn't laid eggs at school for several years. Since she appeared to love her Summer home, the Montessori outdoor teacher decided to make Chicken Plaza her permanent retirement home. So, Rosie is happily retired. Her new students at Chicken Plaza are six, 5-month-old chicks, just learning how to nest and lay under her matriarchal guidance.

My Sketch
The first thing I did for Eileen's custom order was a sketch based on a memory of a chicken pillow I had as a little girl and added a swirl, a sign of energy that always seem to appear in my works of Art.  For Breast Cancer Awareness Rosie, I used fuzzy pink socks for her comb, beak and feet.  Her body is made from light pink velvet pajamas so she is oh, so huggable.  For the swirl on Rosie's wing I used the satin ribbon that was the drawstring for the pajama bottoms.

Layout of Fabrics

Sewing Rosie's Feet
2nd Rosie
 The second Rosie is made from a felted pink wool sweater, three red gloves that I was lucky enough to find in a Florida store (it's not Fall weather here yet), hand dyed fabric from my good friend Deborah, and ribbon for the swirl on the wing.  These Rosies will be traveling to meet Eileen very soon so she can have them for Christmas gifts.  If you have a custom order please be sure to contact me soon.  December 1st, 2012 is my cut off date for taking custom orders this Holiday Season.

In honor of Rosie and women with Breast Cancer, I will be donating 20% of my Etsy sales through my stores, Creations by JDB and Fuffalumps, excluding custom orders, to Unite for Her throughout the month of October.  Unite for Her is an organization I learned about through my Sister in Law, Alison Donley, who owns The Light Within yoga studio.  Alison and her daughter, Rachel, help by educating women about the healing benefits of Yoga and Reiki. 


WVU Mountaineer

 I was asked to do a custom made West Virginia University mountaineer by my Dad as a present for a friend who now lives in WV.  He didn't want just any representation but a likeness to a vintage illustration he had.  I couldn't stop laughing at how laid back the mountaineer in the image was.  Not a care in the world.  So, as always, I began sketching and hunting down fabrics in my studio.

I came across an old WVU shirt that use to be my Dad's and thought it was perfect for overalls.  I wanted the fingers and toes to be separate so I used thin t-shirt fabric.  It turned out to be too thin so I ended up using a thicker white t-shirt for the body and kept the fingers together with a separate thumb so he can show off his suspender straps. 
The shirt is a yellow raw silk sample, the beard and hair is brown cordouroy and the hat is black felt.
Tada!  My fun, laid back mountainner.  If you are interested in a custom order, please e-mail me m8knf8ces3@yahoo.com  You can also purchase one of my creations at my Etsy shops, creationsbyjdb and fuffalumps



A dear friend of mine, Linda Twilda Treadway-Dillmon, asked me to make a Twilda Fuffalump.  I was definitely up for the fun challenge.  Twilda is a remarkable woman.  She was one of my Dad's Athletic Training students and the most fun babysitter I ever had!  She went on to become an Assistant Professor, Program Director, Stunt Woman, Police Dispatcher, Secretary at a Children's Hospital, Purchasing Clerk and is currently Performer at Disneyland where she has been since 1988.  During all of this she kept busy with cutting edge craft projects, entering them in competitions and usually winning.  My hero!  So, what kind of art toy do I make for someone who does so much and means so much to me?  I began sketching out ideas.

I jotted down some notes in my sketchbook, "layered fabric, bright, Mickey Mouse, funny, strong, California, octopus, centipede, optimistic, energy, tight design, skinny, jointed, ant, squeezable."
I went to my studio and pulled out bright fabrics and made patterns.  The body, arms and head are machine stitched out of an upcycled shirt and socks.  You can kind of see the heel of one sock was used as Twildabug's chin.  The antennas are made from the edgings/hem of a shirt.  I hand sewed on button eyes, nose, tongue and felt symbols and embroidered the mouth with embroidery floss.

Twildabug took over 7 hours to create and was born on June 7, 2012.  If you are interested in a made to order, personalized Fuffalump or just want to chat please contact me at m8knf8ces3@yahoo.com


Little Beau Blue

We rescued our miniature poodle, Beau, in 2004.  We think he was about 11 years old at the time.  He was there to help me through a miscarriage, many migraines, and nights my husband, Jason, returned late from work.
Early one September morning in 2009, Beau courageously alerted Jason that there was an intruder trying to break into our house.  The stress of that incident affected Beau tremendously and we discovered he was diabetic.  The vet guessed he had another 2-3 years with us.  What followed for Beau was a lot of trips to the vet, change of diet, 7 different medications including 2 shots of insulin a day and supplements for his arthritis. 
Right up the his last week, Beau would wag his tail and attempt to bring me his toys.  He could barely see due to cataracts.  In his last hours, Beau's warm body laid on my lap which was rare for him.  He usually fidget with what my niece Rachel coins as F.O.M.S. or, Fear of Missing Something.
Beau passed away on April 14, 2012.  The week after his death, I upcycled this stuffed animal out of unused socks.  It represents Beau and my Blue Period which followed his death.  People would often mistake Beau as a girl poodle so, I distinguished Little Beau Blue as a boy with its argyle blue and grey socks.  He is adoptable through my etsy store, creationsbyjdb.
RIP Beau!


Send me your Socks!

Squirrel, Rabbit and Duck made from Socks

I love the idea of taking something that has been discarded, rethinking it and reinventing it.  As a kid, I used recycled items to make things for my dolls.  The fact that I could get materials for free was a bonus.  I used shoe boxes as dollhouses.  It was a joy to have an old wallpaper sample book for making dollhouse furniture.  My neighbor, who made her own clothes, let me sift through her drawer of delightful fabric scraps for doll clothing.  Half the fun of playing was making.  Before an interesting container went into the trash, my mom asked if I wanted it.  Now, my husband does the same thing!  "Can we use this for something?"

It's not uncommon for friends and family to send me fabrics.  Sometimes they ask for me to reinvent their stash. Other times they are just glad to know their discarded fabrics will be made into something wonderful.  A couple of months ago, I received 3 pairs of pretty socks and ribbons from my good friend, Elizabeth.  Her only instructions were to make some Fuffalumps, which is what I call my plush stuffed animals.  I ended up making 5.

The tone of the darker sock reminded my of an elephant's hide so, I made Ernest the Elephant.  Even his tie is a sock.  Elizabeth's ribbon was used for the trim of his vest which was made out of an upholstery sample.  His tongue is out of red corduroy and his eyes are black velvet.

Ernest the Elephant

The other socks reminded me of Spring and Easter and I love making rabbits so, next up was my Jackie Rabbit design with a few new touches like pants and a bow in her hair.

Jackie Rabbit

In between making Fuffalumps, I drove my car to drop off an order at the Post Office and on the way literally ran into a squirrel.  He was darting across the street so fast, like a blur.  I felt so bad that I dedicated my next stuffed animal to that squirrel.

Sammy the Squirrel

Next up was a bird.  Birds seem to be prevalent in my life so, I used socks and soft pastel scraps in the design of my Bitty Baby Bird and it turned into a Bitty Baby Duck.

Bitty Baby Duck

I started with my dog design of Joey Jelly Belly for what was left.  He is totally recycled with socks for his ears, muzzle and body.  His arms are made out of baby hand mitts (also from a friend).  I used Elizabeth's ribbons as pant cuffs.  A pinky of a glove is his tongue and soft reclaimed pink fabric for his feet.  He is named after an artist friend's son.

Lucas the Dog

To buy one of my creations, please click on this link for my etsy store:  Creations by JDB  If you are interested in having a custom made stuffed animal e-mail me: m8knf8ces3@yahoo.com  All rights reserved on all images and finished designs as intellectual property of Creations by Jennifer D Burrell © 2012.


SkekSil The Chamberlain From The Dark Crystal

I was commissioned by a good friend to do SkekSil the Chamberlain from The Dark Crystal movie which is a fantasy film from 1982 directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz with concepts by Brian Froud.  The character of the Chamberlain is probably most remembered from his constant comment, "mmmMMMmmmm."  I was sure to give my husband, Jason, a good dose of "mmmMMMmmmm" while making Chamberlain.  Great fun for me.

I thought long and hard about what the Chamberlain's basic structure should be and decided on wire.  In the beginning of the movie, he is stripped of his royal attire and appears, unclothed, looking much like an defeathered, skinny bird.

I wanted the Chamberlain to have removable layers.  He is wearing ragged scraps of clothes for most of the movie.  I decided to use yarn for his tattered sleeves.  I think they look like he has been refeathered.

Then, the royal dressings.

SkekSil the Chamberlain took me 16 1/2 hours to make, not including the time I spent watching the movie and pausing in awe to admire the work that went into making SkekSil the actor/puppet.   The materials I used were wire, t-shirt, sock, yarn, suede (thank you Lili), metal tags, felt, beads, elastic, velvet, cordouroy, an upholstery sample and eyelash yarn.  If you want me to make a unique creation for you, please e-mail me at m8knf8ces3@yahoo.com  There are also fun things to buy on my etsy store: CreationsByJDB