Modern Cloth Dolls
Patti Culea makes colorful fiber dolls starting with her own pattern design.
E-mail This Page to Your Friendsx
A link to %this page% was e-mailed
Patti Culea was raised by artists and has always studied art. She worked for the airlines for years and got to study with artists around the world. After working in portraiture for years, she began to delve into the world of fibers...then her two daughters inspired her to explore dolls. She has developed that into a thriving love of cloth dollmaking, even teaching classes and publishing her patterns. One of her favorites is Willa Mae, a bright and colorful lady with ethereal wings and a big grin.
Culea begins with a pattern of her own creation, which she uses to cut her cloth. She primarily works in cotton and silk. The body is machine sewn and stuffed with pillow stuffing. The hands are sculpted and have wires in them, making the forearm, hands and fingers moveable. Facial features are hand sculpted with a needle and thread, getting a nice profile to the piece. Once the body is formed to completion, color is added to the head, neck and limbs through a direct dye method. Culea dyes every inch of the doll by hand, including the face.
Culea is known for her faces. She uses her portrait training to help her create bright and lifelike faces. She lays out a grid in pencil and then draws in the face. The pencil is erased and the dye can be applied to add the appropriate colors to all the features. Clothing is also dyed; Willa Mae's clothing is dyed using the scrunch method, a basic dying technique. The clothing is hand stitched onto the body. She also creates wings using a water-soluble stabilizer as a starting point. Once the wing is constructed, they are soaked in water and the stabilizer washes away. The wings can then also be stitched to the body. The only thing missing is the hair. Culea uses mohair and felting needles to create a lovely hairdo that is fuller and more flattering then most doll hair.
The dolls Culea creates are a very modern take on the ancient art of cloth dolls. They are whimsical, fun and vibrant in personality and color. Willa Mae specifically is a cheerful lady that would brighten any day.