Special interest groups: Dollmakers club brings cloth to life

<p><p>From the rag doll that your grandmother played with as a child, to whimsical works of art; cloth dolls seem to come alive beneath the hands that stitch them.</p></p><p><p>That’s one of the reasons Carol Vaughn joined the Spokane Doll Club in 1993.</p></p><p><p>“A friend told me about it when I worked at City Hall,” she recalled.</p></p><p><p>She was no stranger to doll-making.</p></p><p><p>“I made 50 Cabbage Patch dolls,” she said, recalling the Cabbage Patch craze of the ‘80s. “So many girls wanted them! I bought the heads, and made the bodies and the clothes.”</p></p><p><p>The Doll Club meets monthly at various locations and has about 14 active members. Last week, a couple of them visited Vaughn’s North Side home to talk about their passion and show some of their creations.</p></p><p><p>One of Marge Hammond’s dolls rode in the passenger seat next to her, his seatbelt securely fastened.</p></p><p><p>“His name is David,” Hammond said of the 5-foot-7 fellow. “He’s named after a friend’s first boyfriend.”</p></p><p><p>Another of her life-size dolls got a job in New York.</p></p><p><p>“I took him in pieces when I went to visit my daughter in New York,” Hammond recalled. “I assembled him while I was there – big dolls are quicker to make than little dolls. His name is Aloysius Ebenezer. My daughter got him a job at a local quilt shop.”</p></p><p><p>A couple of Vaughn’s creations have international homes.</p></p><p><p>One was delivered by then-mayor Jack Geraghty to Limerick, Ireland, one of Spokane’s Sister Cities. Another, a replica of the first Miss Spokane, went to our Sister City, Nishinomiya, Japan.</p></p><p><p>Dollmaker, Shirley Hudson, is fairly new to the group, but her book of doll patterns, “Charming Dolls,” was recently published by C&amp;T Publishing.</p></p><p><p>“I started sewing 23 years ago,” she said. “After careers in the Air Force, law enforcement, and the postal service, I wanted to do something girly.”</p></p><p><p>Hudson began designing and selling patterns, gradually moving into doll-making.</p></p><p><p>“The first doll I made was a prairie doll,” she recalled. “She had yarn hair, like a doll one of the girls in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ would have.”</p></p><p><p>Cloth dolls are the club’s focus.</p></p><p><p>“Not porcelain dolls where you can make thousands all alike,” said Hammond. “I defy you to make even two cloth dolls the same.”</p></p><p><p>Often the group’s monthly meetings feature a theme or a challenge. September’s theme is books – each member was given a tiny book to incorporate into their design. Vaughn has already completed hers – the book rests in the lap of a sprightly book fairy, wearing a pink tulle skirt, and a gold-beaded choker and earrings.</p></p><p><p>The challenges spark fun ideas.</p></p><p><p>“One time I got the ugliest green lace in the world,” Hammond said. “The challenge was to use it in your creation.”</p></p><p><p>Not all the dolls are the stuff of fairy tales. Vaughn showed her granddaughter’s favorite doll.</p></p><p><p>“The theme was heavy metal,” she recalled.</p></p><p><p>Clad in a black leather bustier, with black lace trim, the steampunkish doll sports large earrings and a gold watch face dangles amidst her leather.</p></p><p><p>One of Hammond’s favorite dolls is George, the Drag Queen Chicken.</p></p><p><p>“He started out as a regular chicken,” explained Hammond. “But I have had chickens in my past. I couldn’t just make him a straight chicken.”</p></p><p><p>A feathery headpiece inspired her, and George in all his beaded, bedazzled glory was born.</p></p><p><p>Hudson brought two dolls featured in her book; Derek Dracula and Daisy Bunny.</p></p><p><p>Several times a year, the group attends a doll-making workshop, hosts a teacher, or has a “Sew Day” at a local library or sewing shop.</p></p><p><p>Their work is so popular that their display at the Spokane City Hall Chase Gallery was extended from a one-week exhibit to a whole month.</p></p><p><p>In addition to sharing their common passion for creating cloth dolls, the members agree the best part of the group is simply being together.</p></p><p><p>“We like each other,” Vaughn said. “It’s great getting together with everyone and exchanging stories.”</p></p><p><p>Often, those stories involve dolls.</p></p><p><p>“You’re making a doll, and pretty sure you know what their name is,” said Hammond.</p></p><p><p>Sometimes the process brings lost loved ones to life for a time.</p></p><p><p>On a shelf in Vaughn’s entryway, her Grandpa doll stands between framed photos of her grandfather. Clutching a pitchfork in one hand and a bucket in the other, the overall-clad farmer exudes gentle warmth.</p></p><p><p>Vaughn smiled when she recalled crafting the doll.</p></p><p><p>“I felt like Grandpa was with me,” she said.</p></p>