cloth doll
(Javascript Slideshow)





I began this project in 2003, when I went hunting for information on a doll crafting magazine("The Cloth Doll") at the Library of Congress' website. I was trying to figure out when it ceased publication so that I would know when I had a complete run. I was shocked to discover that not only does the Library of Congress not archive a copy of all periodicals, it isn't even aware of most craft magazines. I felt betrayed! So I went searching for bibliographies of various craft magazines - and came up with nada. Even Wikipedia is largely silent on the subject. (I have since discovered that the magazines "THREADS" and "PIECEWORK" keep searchable databases of all their issues(kudos to these awesome periodicals!!!) and that there are some women out there as dedicated to the dead publication "WORKBASKET" as I am - but there was no collective database of all of them as I'd hoped to find.)

I had also been discovering there were a great many magazines and newsletters out there that I'd never heard of, that had all sorts of wonderful information packed into their pages. Magazines for me are a source of patterns and recipes and inspiration for my own projects. I may not have made those leg warmers from "Workbasket" yet - but I know I will eventually - and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to know I can easily look up which issue and be able to go straight to the right box it's archived in.

Magazines both reflected and helped form our culture for over a century. They still have their effect - but the internet has been slowly leeching this power away, just as tv did to radio. One thing the internet cannot take away from old periodicals, however, is their permanence - which seems like a funny thing to say about a form of media that has always been considered as disposable as newspapers! But websites come and go like mayflies - the information they impart can be gone tomorrow without explanation. But I have magazines dating as far back as 1864! They will still be there when I die and this website is gone. My collection will go to a textile museum along with the database, so that it will continue to enlighten and inform on these small arenas of textile arts long after I am gone.

Between the books on Soft Sculpture I'd been finding and periodicals like "National Doll World" and "The Cloth Doll" I began to get a hazy picture of this huge renaissance in soft sculpture art that got started in the 60's and peaked in the '80's that I'd completely missed! I grew up in exactly this time period, sewing hundreds of (Barbie)doll outfits, making furniture for doll houses for my sister and cousins, making cornhusk dolls, applehead dolls, whittling articulated dolls, and designing stuffed animals that I could make out of my mother's scrap bag. I was completely unaware that there was this great movement going on at the same time. I was a rural kid, always too busy to be bored, but pretty insulated from the larger crafting community. My only contact was through books, which could be checked out for a week from the book mobile that came in from Grand Junction from the public library there. Did I mention that I was a (very) rural kid?

Which brings me to this long-winded point: 1) I felt that someone should be collecting, organizing(! - very important, that part) and archiving the documentation for this wonderful time period, 2) that most of it was quickly ending up in landfills as the generation before mine starts dying, and their heirs look at the amassed mountains of paper in the forms of patterns and magazines and catalogs(because we ALL buy and hoard more patterns and materials than we could ever use in ten lifetimes), and decide a shovel and industrial trashbin on the lawn is their best option for getting through the stressful mess, and 3) that the person who recognizes the problem is typically the person who should do something about it. So here I am. I have no formal training as a librarian or curator, and my research training was all geared toward lab work. I had to teach myself HTML and Javascript in order to build this website, so while it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles(though I'm proud of my slideshow on this page!), I can make any needed changes myself - and of course, continue adding information! I'm not wealthy - not even well off. My husband owns a comic shop. Comic shops don't make money - they make back-issue comics. But we are happy, and I've learned so much working on this project. Of course it has been worthwhile, and it has only barely begun. There is still so much more to accomplish! The website will get "prettier" as I get more of the important stuff done. That likely won't be until 2020.

I started with the soft toy, doll and teddy bibliography page, and it sort of swallowed my undivided attention for the first eight years of this project. You'll see why when you get down to the magazine reviews. There is a catalog of all the soft toy books I am aware of, and reviews of those books in the catalog I happen to own(only about six hundred - don't laugh, to my husband and me, that is a paltry number!), and what has turned out to be the black hole for time consumption - the magazine bibliographies. I have since put serious time into putting together the tatting bibliography - hopefully, it shows with what is approaching 1,000 reviews! I also have the beginnings of bibliographies for candle making(because I owned a custom candle shop), polymer clay, and chainmail knitting. I have other bibliography pages in mind - I have a very wide ranging interest in crafts - but those are the five I've started with.

I delayed putting the website on-line until I had a certain checklist of things done, which included completed bib pages for key magazine titles - but I kept adding things to the list! I finally realized I would never get the bibliography up if I continued to wait until I had the list all checked off. So keep in mind that this bibliography project is a Work-In-Progress, and that I only have about 30 hours a week that I can devote to building it. I have a full-time job, and help my husband out at his shop on the weekends - and I craft. I'm currently doing a LOT of tatting for a cloak for next Fall. That has turned into needing to learn how to dye variagated thread, designing a pine cone pattern I will be satisfied with, and trying to find just the right weight of olive-colored wool...

I've put thousands of hours into the soft toy magazine bib and still have a great many titles to add. General craft/needlework magazines that carried doll and toy patterns are included here, so if you're hunting for other information you may well find it here. I try to have at least three quarters of a run before I start building a full page for any given magazine title, and I have a great many partial runs that I'm still working on filling in. Even so, I have a backlog of material that needs to be data entered that will take about 5 years to catch up on at the rate I'm working! And every time I start getting smug about having a pretty complete picture of what's been published, I run across yet another title or well established designer I was completely unaware of.

I will post updates on what has been completed in the column to the right of this introduction, so you can check back periodically and see if there's anything new you are interested in.

Please read the FAQ if you have a minute - at least skim the questions in bold to see if any are questions you might have yourself. Yes, it's dry and unentertaining, but there's a good reason why it's called "Frequently Asked Questions!"

Feel free to drop me a note with any questions, suggestions or complaints. If you find errors, PLEASE let me know. I try very hard to be as accurate as possible, but I have no one checking behind me, and if there's a broken link or misspelled word, there's no one to blame but me. Taking a minute to send me a note is always appreciated! And of course, I love creative compliments. :)


October 11th, 2016:

I've been busy busy busy proofreading the main bib pages, and my brain hurts. How do so many typos and broken links sneak past me?! I swear I proofread a page when I've finished it. Thanks again to Becky Clark, for substantially helping with this noisome task. If you run across anything yourselves, PLEASE let me know. I hate passing on bad information, and a misspelled word makes me look illiterate. I hate it when I trip over them in other people's work - I'm the person who sees a misspelled word on a sign in a bathroom stall and awkwardly corrects it with whatever writing implement I have on hand. I've stopped going to a local gas station because their thank you script on the pump scroll says, "Thank you for shopping with use."(shudder)

QUOTE FOR THIS MONTH: "Heirloom is code for 'This pattern is so difficult you would consider death a relief.'" - shared with Tri-Tatters by Carolyn Kotlas! MY COROLLARY: "I've always thought that 'Quick and Easy' was code for 'We spent 10 minutes throwing this pattern together so we didn't have to pay a real designer to come up with something original...'"

If you need to contact me, use "akamoraih[at]gmail[dot]com" and you know to replace the "[at]" and "[dot]" with the appropriate symbols, right? Spammers look for those symbols when trolling for addresses to try - hence the dumb encryption. There's a mailing address on the contact page now, if you need to mail me stuff.

September 11th, 2016:

Massive upload is done - I've been working continuously on building the database, but the work I've gotten done hasn't been uploaded since August 2015 because of various issues with my computer, the batch loader glitching and my host. My apologies. I still don't have all the broken links fixed, so individual reviews may still be missing. I'm working on proofreading as fast as I can. If it's something you must have now, e-mail me and I'll move it to the top of the priority list. Thanks for your patience, and all your kind words. I'm glad the site has been so useful to such a wide variety of people! The feedback really helps me to decide what to focus on next.

August 21st, 2016:

THERE ARE NOW OVER 1,000 REVIEWS ON THE TATTING BILBIOGRAPHY PAGE!!! Did you ever imagine there were that many books and magazine titles that were devoted to tatting?! It's TRUE!!! I am so geeking out right now. You are going to find broken links and missing scans this time around - the move to a new computer has not gone smoothly, and stuff has fallen through the cracks. I'll be doing a proofreading of the entire site over the next couple of months, and fixing things as quickly as I can...

We finished transferring the entire run of Karey Solomon's "TATTING TIMES" newsletter to pdf format, and she now has the first 20 years(!) available for sale on CD. She'll have 25 CDs with her at Palmetto Tatter's Tat Days(Sept. 9-10), and proceeds will go to the Fistula Foundation, a very worthy cause that provides medical equipment to hospitals in Kenya. Check it out and buy a CD if you're going to Tat Days. It's a very worthy cause that is alleviating the misery of women who have suffered injury during childbirth. We seldom realize how lucky we are to live where we do until we see the fixable problems in other parts of the world that have been ignored. This foundation makes a serious difference in the lives of many women.

July 1st, 2016:

New computer finally arrived and I'm busy trying to get all the software reloaded and running. I've still got to run the dead machine to my local computer shop and recover the scanning files. I do NOT want to have to redo all of that work. I will not make the mistake of upgrading to Windows 10 again! Windows 10, get off my lawn, and take your frisbee with you!

A friend sent this blog entry around, and I thought it was both funny and profound - and it applies to all crafters, not just knitters and crocheters: From now on, we tell the world its not easy!

JUNE 3rd, 2016:

I've been writing and working converting Karey Solomon's fantastic run of "Tatting Times" newsletters into a pdf format, so she can sell the back issues to all the late comers to the tatting party - for charity! I'm very excited about this project, and have been stealing what time I can from other things to get it done. I hope by the end of this year to have all 25 years of back issues done and ready to put onto CDs. Karey is awesome to do this, and you should consider picking up a set from her if you haven't been a subscriber...

I have finally been able to include in the tatting bibliography an original edition of Madlle. Riego de la Branchardiere's first tatting book! My copy is a third edition, of which 15,000 were printed. For those unfamiliar with tatting history, Miss Riego is considered the originator of modern tatting, which was transformed from discrete unrelated rings by the joining of picots, allowing the tatter to make larger motifs and edgings that didn't need to be tediously sewn together after being made. She had an exhibit in the Crystal Palace at the World Fair in London, thus spreading her new technique and her series of books to many countries. It's a little awe-inspiring to hold a book that is 166 years old in your hands and think about the revolution it caused in ladies' handwork. She was also well known for her crochet work, but it is in tatting that she is remembered and revered for her contributions to the discipline.

I have finally gotten ahold of the two workbook set of Lyn Alexander's "Make Doll Shoes!" - these are the bee's knees. There's one other doll shoe book I badly want, but these have been on the list for a good spell, and I'm thrilled to finally add them to the catalog!

If you need to contact me, use "akamoraih[at]gmail[dot]com" and you know to replace the "[at]" and "[dot]" with the appropriate symbols, right? Spammers look for those symbols when trolling for addresses to try - hence the dumb encryption. There's a mailing address on the contact page now, if you need to mail me stuff.

JANUARY 21st, 2016:

So much got accomplished in 2015 for the Bibliography Project that I don't think I'll ever be able to top it - but I'm off to a good start this year by completing two magazine catalogs for: Tower Press's "Pattern World" and for "Lace Crafts Quarterly" ! It isn't often I get to call a magazine page "done". Piecing together full runs of the issues for cataloging is both time consuming and can be rather costly. Since most magazines end up in landfills, it can also be rather daunting to find them. I keep slogging away at it, though, and the finished pages are slowly accumulating. Just remember that Murphy insists if there is an issue I'm missing from a run you are researching, that will be the one your article was in...

JANUARY 1st, 2016:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I'm taking a couple of weeks off to catch up on other things. I'll have nose to grindstone by the end of the month, though, and of course I always try to answer questions within 24 hours of receiving your e-mails. Warmest wishes in all your creative endeavors!

M. Leigh Martin



(In Alphabetical Order, not in order of contributions)-

These are the wonderful people who have gone way above and beyond the call to provide obscure materials, solid advice and indispensible expertise. Thank you, one and all.

Becky Clark- has introduced me to the wonders of Excel in 2015 - and shared her Excel spreadsheets of the bibliographies(mine, Georgia's and IOLI's) with me as well as sharing her own research into what had been published in the way of tatting in Norway, Denmark and Sweden!!! She is a lot more conversant with WorldCat and those particular languages than I am, and dug out a tremendous amount of information I would have remained ignorant of. She is smart, knowledgeable and funny, and I am so glad to have gotten to know her. She's done an amazing job of entering books and links into Craftree's library, and has done a lot of badly needed proofreading for me. Becky is AWESOME!

Kristy Effinger- Colette Wolff's biggest fan and a fellow collector of all her patterns - Kristy has been a huge contributor to the CW bib page - it would look very thin without her contributions!

Phyllis C. Keller(In Memoriam, Oct 12, 1918 - Jan. 7, 2011)- Doll Making and collecting were her hobbies and passion for 40 years. Her loving husband Bob donated most of a decade of "Doll Castle News" and "Dolls" to the bibliography in her memory, enabling me to put both titles on the list of bib pages I can set up! In memory of this lovely lady and her generous husband, you have my heartfelt thank you.

Carolyn Kotlas- I think of her as a renaissance woman - superb at anything she puts her mind to. She was finally convinced to submit some of her work for competition at the state fair this year(2015), and came home with a stack of blue and red ribbons - Not surprising at all for those of us who know her. She opened her tatting library to me so that I could expand the tatting bibliography - and her generosity has taken the review count to over 900! Carolyn made that possible. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Marian Lynn(In Memoriam)- Her loving daughter, Linda, passed on her mother's collection of "The Toy Trader" spanning from January 1954 to March 1972 to the bibliography. Linda's words about her mother- "My mother was kind and generous. She started her first doll collection when she traveled through Europe with my Dad, and upon her return gave the collection to her friendís daughter who was starting to collect dolls. Later she started collecting dolls again. She taught (us) her children to share and that good deeds are a reward in themselves. She would be happy to know that her collection of The Toy Trader Publication went to someone who will appreciate them." Linda is also a fellow tatter along with being an accomplished knitter and crocheter. Thank you for your generosity, and for allowing me to help keep memories of your mother's many kindnesses alive in thought and memory. It is an honor to acknowledge her living legacy - the family she clearly cherished. Best wishes to you and yours, Leigh

Anitra Stone- Has been a mentor and friend for several years now - shoulda added her name to this list a long time ago for all the information she has hunted down for me and funneled my way. I'm so deeply grateful. I remember I was very excited to meet her for the first time. I already knew her for years, you see, from the eye-catching Captain's Wheel tatting pattern she published in my beloved "Workbasket"! She is a very talented designer we hope to encourage to put out her own books. Anyone who has seen her array of birds can attest. Her help with the tatting bibliography has been substantial and long running. Her friendship and patience have been deeply appreciated. Thank you.

Ruth Wilson- Librarian extraordinaire and another fellow Colette Wolff fan - also clued me in and introduced me to Joan Chiara Cigler's amazing work, gives advice freely on this arcane business of documenting and archiving vintage materials, and has helped complete several runs of important doll magazine titles from her private collection. Lovely lady, you Rock!

Zendelle- Donated an obscure run of "Milady In Miniature" out of the blue after seeing my website during the first time I was able to put it up - the only issues I've ever been able to locate of this title. Zendelle runs a fantastic searchable(yay!) website for doll collectors that I envy greatly. You should check it out if you are a doll collector of any vintage: http://www.vintagedollcollector.com/

Back to Top

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional