A Romantic Fantasy…

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So what if Claire’s daughter, Brianna, had fallen through time and needed something to wear outside her comfort zone in order to be noticed at ‘court’ maybe in pre-Albert’s death Victorian England – what would Charles Worth do…? Hang on then…I’m getting ahead of myself…

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I don’t know what it is about the Starz series, Outlander, that aggravates my inner romantic. Is it the leading man…is it the leading woman? Both are compelling, indeed…and so beautifully portrayed by the actors. As with so many romance stories, I had a tough time growing up surrounded by the magic and wonder of ‘love at first sight’ and ‘true love’s kiss’. Do I believe in those things? Abso-fucking-lutely…and I don’t really give a shit if you don’t…

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Am I really that naïve those concepts might actually exist? Yeah…I am, you know (oh, please…there are so many other things of which to judge me over, Sweetie – this is a drop in the bucket). When I was in my 20s and 30s, I always thought some Prince would sweep me off my feet (no, really). I spent many dialogues with a great therapist deconstructing fantasy versus reality, pitting them against each other in a mammoth showdown that only exists in my mind. Ultimately, I learned to embrace it, despite the pain and loneliness it brought. What, leave fantasy to Disney Princess and the Silver Screen? Nope…sorry, Dear.

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And if food is involved?

Let’s leave my lying scab of an Ex…and begin anew? You betcha, baby! I did that. Even better, I immersed myself into a fantasy world that allowed me to play with, manipulate and create storylines…of course, this was my decade at Tonner. When it ended in 2010, it broke me in many ways…only some of which have begun to mend, some are still steeping in regret, anger and sadness; on a more positive note, though – the ‘good times’ and sweet memories are rising above the darkness, giving me hope that all is not lost quite yet. But, Puddings, you can only deal with one life change at a time, right? Yeah…but not everyone appreciates the turmoil it can cause when your world still seems rather borrowed and temporary…

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Dallas?

As I have said repeatedly, I don’t blame Tonner for the events that followed my being laid-off. I take full responsibility for my life decisions that landed me in a predicament that would tear my heart into a million tiny little pieces. That certainly doesn’t make it any easier, you know….well, maybe it is for them.

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I lost everything. My home, my cats, my dolls…my confidence, then my dignity…and for a while there, my mind. There’s something to be said for coping with the entire loss of your world. If that sounds dramatic, well…it’s because it is. And something I would never wish upon my worst enemies and haters.

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And when you are nearing 50, looking at your possibilities in the world, it’s easy to weigh terrible options about how you sort things out. I’m not afraid to talk about it…since putting out hundreds (maybe even a thousand or two) resumes online, hoping desperately for an interview…I came to a point of where ‘selling myself’ became trite – even meaningless in its second nature – in a way I never had to do before. Partly it was to network, partly it was to convince a potential resource that I was something. Mostly, it became a nasty habit of mine because I needed to hear it from myself in order to simply believe it. That kind of forced self-affirmation fucks with you…and it has lasting effects.

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Rejection is a bitter bitch…and through the cold, emotionless delivery of the internet, one is left with a dire need to be something…to be noticed again – for all the good reasons as before.

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He thinks he’s a bottom…

If you wonder why I keep bringing this up, it’s because I live these memories every single day…some are easier than others; many are just unkind, period. I’m not trying to justify anything…this is my reality – this is who I am now. I would think anyone who regularly reads my blog would have figured that part out…but surprises exist around every corner…and I guess I get a new reader every now and then (yes, I’m looking at YOU).

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White??? After Labor Day???

Flash forward to 2016. Thinking I was in a better place (and I pretty much am – well, better than before – that much is certain), I thought this was a great time to cast some bullshit behind me…and dance with my creative muses once again…that is until

Doll World State’s Evidence:

Well…(queue the Law and Order dun-dun)…

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From being a Barbie National Convention Live Auction Artist (how about that souvenir doll you wouldn’t let me have because I had to fly home early, BNC?) – it was a great honor bestowed upon me…but only from one special friendnot from the Convention Organizers themselves. They were only about the money and the ‘rules’ there. I have written a whole piece on this…but was advised by close friends that it’s best to let that one go. We have to pick our battles, you see…

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To the abortion that was my single editorial issue of HauteDoll Magazine, and Jones Publishing’s decision to drop the publication after the single issue with me as Editor (not as a result, Dears)…and NOT telling me this before I did the work. Thanks, Di…love that silly little brochure you think covers the doll world now…ahemnow when will it fold exactly?

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To the fiasco that is Kingdom Doll/Kinsman Doll, the lies they used to build a business…and the friends I lost while being more than vocal about it as they tried to screw me over, too. Funny how those ‘friends’ side with KD…and don’t even give a single consideration to the concept that I’m telling the truth. How well do you know them, and believe them? I doubt longer than my 20 years, dears…thank you very much…oh yeah, and the factories talk to each other…so it’s amazing what they’ve compiled on that scam. Ouch. Shit, Alex…not everyone can be Superdoll

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“Kingdom Doll is hugest doll maker that can fill a bigly stadium.”

Yup…from all that…I still took that MetroDolls’ 2017 invitation, knowing that they have never even tried to screw me (sigh, to work with people who have virtue – and virtue that’s not tucked into their suppositories). I trust them to make this a positive experience. And as history has shown, these are where my most delightful doll memories originate. These are people who know me (some better, some worse)…and yet, they still asked. Thank you, MetroDolls.

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If only it were that easy…

I’m fully aware that I played a certain role in all these aggressive unpleasantries…I accept responsibility to a fault. They only occurred after the perpetrators maneuvered to wrong me in the ways they did. And I just don’t stand for that, Puddings. Be that as it may, the most celebrated are the rehabilitated? Not so fast, Puddings…I’m still the hot mess who started writing this post, ok? It isn’t a Tommydoll story without some Tommydoll drama, right?

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I’m sorry…I was preoccupied…

You know…after you lose everything in your life – there is this certain liberation you feel knowing that you don’t have to pack all that shit up again. Well, this was no different…it took years…but I got over it. I miss the dolls badly…but that was then, this is now…and even after the public rape humiliation known as filing for bankruptcy…oh, dear. But I got through that…and I’m stronger now (oh, shut up, Kelly Clarkson)…

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Huh?

Stronger. I think that’s not entirely accurate. Just when you think it’s safe to go into the water…well, there’s that damned shark, again. Such was the case when I did an exploratory run into whether or not I would actually be able to OWN my home again. Lots of difference between that shitty rental carpet and the sweet hardwood floors you might find somewhere metro central AND with a tax deduction…OH, SHIT…I just came in my JCPenney underwear. But naturally, I digress

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What?

When an real estate exploration led to a find…and the find led to a mortgage application (note: remember the bankruptcy?)…and the mortgage application led to an unfurling of memories that resulted in the bankruptcy, the anger, the sadness…well…I can’t escape it. I’m not proud of that comment…but I am human, after all (no, really)…and mixed with emotions already awry…well, I just didn’t know if this stinking gown was getting done or not. I actually wrote an apology stating I would not be unable to contribute. I stared at it. I stared at the doll that had already been sent by Modsdoll – such a beauty.

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And I asked myself, “OK, Bitch…you’re pretty good at fucking things up, right? But did you ever stop to think that this could be something wonderful?” I wiped the stupidity off my face…spent some time feeling like a little child…and pouted beautifully for days…

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Dry it up, drama princess…I exhaust me, too.” Sometimes I wish I knew where my drama switch was and how to control it better…but for now, this is all I have…

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Well, it’s Elsa…but she did some dramatic shit…right?

It wasn’t until I attended the Sandra Stilwell Presents Richmond Event this past August through invitation by Sandra for a courtesy seat that I realized how much I missed these people. Through new friends and favorites from ‘the day’…the event harked upon all a good doll event needs to not only be memorable, but a best-selling guarantee to have those same people return the next year. The hotel wasn’t glamorous, nor did it need to be – it was smart, inexpensive and in a good location. The array of products Sandra offered was mind-blowing, but compared to other doll events, Sandra’s is focused on the clothing. The clothing and ‘stuff’ are critical to fashion doll collectors, Dears. You won’t want to buy everything, because there’s a little bit of something for everyone. And the showstopping pieces in tandem with Dior-fabulousness including Sue Connor’s Dior Boutique backdrop? Damn…that woman deserves an Oscar for Set Design.

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Sandra’s products aren’t inexpensive…but as we’ve tried to illuminate you at Tommydoll, the clothing is where the costs are mostly concentrated…with better fashion dolls, anyway. Sandra’s offerings…well, kiss my grits, y’all…they are worth every penny as Sandra brings top quality to these miniature pieces of art, often involving highly skilled and stunning handwork – and not by 5 year-olds in Indonesia, either.

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Nice try, Dear…Indonesia will crush you…

Emcee Michael Basala was the cream-topped deviation, though. His style of holding the attendees’ attention while generating sometimes silly, but thought-provoking games kept people entertained. The laughter was well-timed, the ooohs and ahhhs of the souvenir reveals were genuine –and he stands as one of the best event Emcees I’ve seen since Robert Tonner, himself. Sandra, Michael and Team deserve a standing ovation, and the attendees, a round of applause…I give them credit for making me feel welcomed again into our world…a world where Barbie and Integrity don’t exist, and we can live in our Gene Marshall and Tonner memories while we forge forward to create new experiences. Oh yes…and we made you other shits relevant again…Barbie, because you can’t escape the bitch…and Integrity, because they leached off an industry originated by Barbie, and perpetuated by Mel Odom and Robert Tonner. You can genuflect now, sub-creatures

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So. Then I fucking got to work…

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Well…kinda…

The inspiration of the gown came from this:

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As many of you know, I also enjoy photographing flowers, some in macro…some just through the moment of a simple gesture…like a newly fallen rain. The MetroDolls theme is Novel Romance. Through Tonner, we’d certainly explored romantic themes before…this time via the Starz series Outlander. There is a specific beauty of the slightly bruised and shimmering Scottish Rose that has endured a hard rain only to plump its petals upward in an act of defiance toward nature. Well, that…and it’s pretty

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I also happen to be a big fan of the Starz series Outlander – and through the grace of Sandra Stilwell, I was able to secure a ticket to the MetroDolls Luncheon. And when MetroDolls invited me to participate in the auction, my dear Paula Kagan came to mind, first…and then Outlander. I thought of making a ‘Claire’ doll…but ‘reproductions’ aren’t really my suit (Anna was a heaven-sent exception). While watching the second season again…I found myself fixated on Claire’s daughter…a woman of the 1960’s, fiery and independent, like her mother. I wondered what it would have been like for Brianna if she had been the one who fell through time? One thing led to another…and the sketchbook beckoned…

The inspiration is a stretch, I get that…but the vision was cristalle, Dear…

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I had been playing with drapes and shapes on my ubiquitous strapless muslin resplendent with body-conforming tucks around the princess-seamed toile.

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Through sketching, pinning and draping…a new gown began to take shape.

From there…the materials danced forward to offer up their dazzling splendor not unlike a ‘Be Our Guest’ choreographed spectacle. Well, maybe that’s overdoing it…but I’m telling the story here, Dear.

The pageant of satins, organzas, georgettes, gazaars, chiffons, taffetas, beads and rhinestones danced, and swayed, and undulated. They didn’t sing, though…so rest assured this was not a mushroom-induced hallucination. I mean…I eat them…but I don’t trip on them. That’s OK, I have Amy Winehouse on the Playlist…

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Sandra Stilwell and I found this sumptuous ombré silk chiffon in New Orleans this past May, and we both were just giddy over the pink to red gradient as Melania Trump when choosing the perfect heels for the latest disaster.

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During this same time, I was preparing for a move…which will be portrayed by my lovely Orchid, Madge.

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Hey…some of you have children…some of you have pets (I prefer not to speak of my own experience with pets, thank you)…I have Madge. Madge was given to me by a close friend to cheer me up in a dark time…and as the weeks passed, Madge began to drop her blooms (boy, how ironic, right?)…but she was mustering up a new set of buds ready to open…it was my goal to not only keep her alive (as my silly attempt at growing tomatoes on the balcony withered into scarecrow stuffing)…but also to transport her into our new home.

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The fabrics finally selected were a gang of challenging choices. For those who’ve worked with organza and chiffon, you will know how temperamental they can be. The ombré chiffon had to be stretched over an embroidery hoop on tulle to do the beadwork – and although they weren’t stretched tightly, they did compromise some of their original shape of which I had to compensate during construction (remember, it’s not going to be perfect, sweetie…it will be fabulous, though).

The draped portions of the skirt were to be hand-beaded – freehand, until one motif was created, then I made a rough pattern in transparent plastic to follow as a guide for the other pieces.

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In the beadwork, I used rocaille beads, vintage ‘mother-of-pearl’ opalescent sequins, laser-etched sequins, rectangular glass beads…and those aggravating, but glorious Swarovski Lochrosen rhinestones. The idea was to mimic the dew on the petals…but add some sense of order to the randomness. Think Lesage meets Tommydoll in a rose garden…well, something like that anyway

The real challenge was using clear monofilament thread in a fine gauge. There’s a reason they call it ‘invisible thread’…it’s like sewing with air. However, after working with it for a few hours, a method to working with the beast emerged, and I think it will change the way I approach beaded embroidery forever.

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The color choices would change from the more intense red chiffon to areas of pink. The ivory tulle backing was a great choice to keep the chiffon stable. I observed only minimal puckering in my work – most of which I was able to steam out in the final product.

Madge dropped her last blooms just as the newest set started to open. The embroidery was done, and it was time to take to the base gown.

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Now, understand there are five primary fabrics at play here: First and foremost, the ombré silk chiffon, which is the star textile. Then the base gown in Rioja organza (opaque weigh – almost a gazaar) – good weight and hand, but moody in its grain as it can shift, particularly on the bias. The gown lining is a lightweight pink silk duchess satin…almost like taffeta in its feel and weight, but a satin, nonetheless – make no mistake. Part of the ‘petal’ drape treatments will be lined with a ruby silk organza (translucent weight) for the darker red pieces, and a pale ivory silk gazaar for the pink portions – it was important to play with the contrasts seen in the rose petals – and to take advantage of the ombré. I didn’t count the final fabric in the ‘five’ – everyone’s favorite fabric (NOT) – tulle netting for the chiffon beadwork backing, and for the petticoat. That shit is like working with an angry little child you’ve just relieved of her iPad-babysitter.

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That being said, I have to admit that this design isn’t the best use of the chiffon. The petal pieces are detached enough, so I feel I could have done it with three different colors in the same weight chiffon – but when the ombré effect does show, it’s well worth the effect, don’t you think?

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Finally finishing the beading to the tune of some 15 hours…I cut the ‘petals’ from the chiffon carefully, and then placed each piece over the lining fabric to cut that, too. There was a fair amount of fabric waste, but I did keep muslin pieces as my patterns…should I ever revisit the theme again…yes, yes – this is a one-of-a-kind – but you need pattern references to see how you got there, so get your panties out of the anal-retentive bunch, please.

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Before my final move from the dee-luxe apartment in the sky, I played with the cut petal pieces to see how they would compare to the muslin. I loved the effect, with some online friends even thinking this was the finished piece. No, no, Dears…

And whereas I love this soft, drapy look – I don’t like unfinished edges (tulle is an exception). I have yet to explore hot knife solutions using synthetic fabrics…and fray check is a good option for securing stitches or reinforcing interior seams. Nevertheless, a full lining is the best approach for my work right now…I like the clean edges, and I love the extra body it gives to a gown like this. Considering the structure of a rose petal, this solution just worked.

After almost losing my new place to the ‘decision-making’ financial folks, it finally happened…and I was home. Such a satisfying (and a little freaky) feeling, really.

Madge slipped perfectly into the window sill and unfurled her latest child’s round of glory for the world to behold. With the October 1 deadline approaching, it was time to shit, or get off the pot, mister (actually MetroDolls knew I was moving and didn’t hold the deadline as firm – so don’t think them heartless like the Barbie National Convention Supremacists)…

With the new sewing space set up, and more organized than I have ever had in my entire life, I assembled the lining, then turned to the petals…

What a difference lining the petals made!

But there was something not quite right about how I had seen the petals on the skirt, especially in the original sketch.

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The interior of the petals was originally to have some beading, too…but that now looked all wrong in 3-dimensions. Still…something needed to be there.

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Like a morning mist and dawn’s first sighs…an idea formed…(bless you and your God if you got this far…)…

Tulle is an odd fabric fellow, indeed…but used responsibly (as with most superpowers)…it can bring an ethereal quality to a human-scale gown. In miniature? The effect, when done correctly, can be breathtaking.

So…for ‘correctly’, I recognized my inane ability to forego design editing – and I brought in my friends Meg and Nancy (Madge can’t speak)…they both can take credit for what almost became just too much tulle. When asked about this project, both would say, “Huh? I have a life, Thomas.” Maybe not a good testimonial…so we press forward!

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In the meantime, Ilaria at Time of Doll was finishing the wig cap based on my sketch. Her schedule was already a crunch considering how popular she is, and her work is sublime. I thought of asking for the wig cap as a donation…but that isn’t really fair to someone who is as popular as Ilaria is, and she is constantly working on projects. So I commissioned the piece, and she more than delivered! Other than shortening the ponytail a tad…her interpretation was perfection.

It’s no wonder she is so widely sought after – and I’m honored she was able to take on my commission in the timeframe needed. When it arrived, well…incontinence doesn’t really give justice to my depth of joy.

Into the home stretch, the petals were added with the tulle inserts –each by hand. When all were in place…it was time to sculpt the fabric using anchoring stitches – this largely because the new owner may not be able to accomplish the same sense of drape when seeing the doll in person, and this would help one pose the doll in one‘s collection.

Finally…the lining. Installing and turning…to the point where you lean over the pinned opening thinking some Alien-esque facehugger is going to jump out at you…no, really.

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I opted to not use a hook/eye closure…or my tabbed solution with snaps. Look, it just isn’t needed with a closure this clean – it only becomes a distraction, and something some poor bastard is going to have to lose eyesight over. Despite my obsessive attention to detail, a hook and eye ain’t one of ‘em, Dear…moan over some other useless touch of clothing hardware, please.

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And as with most projects like this, I left a little wearing ease in the gown, in case its new owner would like to try it on other dolls, too. My dolls swap clothes…and yours should, too…believe in the power of play, bitch.

Of course, no well-dressed doll would even think about being without Facets by Marcia and her luxurious touches. I wanted to whore the whole girl out in JOO-ray (‘jewelry’ for the unimaginative)…but alas…there’s that little voice in my head once again that is screaming like a Who from Whoville:EDIT, YOU SCARY OLD QUEEN!

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(Sigh) How can one work with all this drama…I mean, really?

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So, Puddings, please allow me to present to you, ‘BRIANNA’, featuring a one-of-a-kind Jazmin sculpt by Modsdoll, hand-painted by Modsdoll team lead, Yian Lee.

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Brianna wears a one-of-a-kind wig cap by Ilaria of Time of Doll (make sure you give her your phone number or she will CAPS you! – humor is a good thing, Dear…learn about it. I won’t ask you again. Che palle…really?).  

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So what if Brianna fell through time? She is her mother’s daughter, after all…

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Enjoy the eye candy, Puddings…and check out MetroDolls’ Website here for auction details, including proxy bidding opportunities – you don’t have to attend the event to participate…and maybe this Goddess will come live with you.

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Special thanks to Yian Lee and the Modsdoll Team; Ilaria of Time of Doll; Marcia Friend and Facets by Marcia, Meg Hunt and Nancy Thibadeau for their undying friendship; Janet Jenkins for her stunning supplemental photography; and to Sandra Stilwell, Meg Hunt, Michael Basala, Marcia Friend, Michael Giunta, Lynne Day, George Sarofeen, Wayne Milson (missed you, Bennett, glad you were safe!), Larry Pemble (missed you Darin and glad you were safe, too), and Vera Swanson…(and so many others for being kind and saying ‘hello’ – apologies if I didn’t include you here – the mind ain’t what it used to be) – you all granted me a lovely and wondrous Richmond Memory.

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By the way, Madge is pleased…she got some new friends…

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Yes, yes, I’ll post links when I get them…calm your jets…and my sister still has some artistry to offer…she’s odd..like me – but talented…more on that soon

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Now…enjoy some Tommydoll Photography eye candy while we await the auction details…drool on your own keyboard, Kittens…it’s your computer.

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “A Romantic Fantasy…

  1. Too fucking fabulous for words. I’m delighted that you were introduced to my old friend Herbert Halpern in New Orleans. My grandmother made all my clothes until I went to college and had to have John Meyer of Norwich and the other one just like it so I would look like everybody else on campus and (hopefully) fit seamlessly in. Anyway, that was in the old days, when it was just Halpern’s Fabrics, but they always had good stuff. When Herbert opened Promenade my late stepmother reacted to it like heroin. (She sewed beautifully, too, but not for me!)
    Anyway, this gown (I can’t say dress) is really beyond words, and the doll…wow. Congratulations. And I’m very happy you’re feeling more at home in our old doll world — which was still here all along.
    xxx
    Maggie

My blog is satire, but your thoughts are welcome!

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