Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Interview Series: Week 21 – Confederate Belle

This week once again heralds the last of the replies I have to date, with the hopes that a few more will pop up in the next two weeks.  As always, I’m loving being able to do this series, and have been enjoying every moment of reading, smiling at, and sharing the stories of the PEOPLE who are behind the beautiful hand-crafted items I have shown here.

It proves that these lovely items are not made by mass-producing machines or assembly lines, but one by one, with love and care for the items which is shown in how well they are crafted and presented.  Each artist I have presented is in fact a human being, who loves doing what they do, whether it is a full-on small business, a hobby, or a transformation from hobby to hopeful small business.  Each item is high quality, shown by the fact that each one has said how they handle mistakes, and no one likes mistakes (that cannot be formed into feature of the item’s uniqueness – such as a hem that is crooked, or a bit of wire that simply would not cooperate and turns a wire-wrap project into a mess – that crooked hem, if oopsed just right, may turn into an asymetrical sloping train, that wire may have gone into creating an unintentionally awesome design – there is a difference!) when they buy a product they expect to last.

Today’s feature is a seamstress of a smaller scale – a doll well dressed is often a doll oft commented on!  And not only does she make dresses for dolls, she makes dolls, which is something I’ve not seen in many years, and is a path very few choose!

But I’ll let Kathleen of Dixie’s Doll Emporium tell the details!


Name: Kathleen Wermuth
Craft: My craft actually varies, from painting horses, whimsical, and miniatures to creating unique doll clothing and art dolls. My art dolls vary from rag dolls, to reproduction antique dolls to very bizarre. I actually have two additional shops on Zibbet for my artwork and my creepy dolls.
Favorite Material (or medium, or whatever you want to call it!): fabric. Probably because I am always coming across fabric that I just can't resist!! Even when I tell myself I already have enough. In fact, my husband and some of my friends tell me one day they are going to have an Intervention for me to help me curb my fabric addiction!
Most Popular Seller (whether it be online or at shows you attend): Oh golly gee.....there is so many wonderful and talented sellers out there its so hard to narrow it down to just one. So I'll say all of them!!

2656338-original[1]Art Doll Izannah Walker Repro Doll Emma
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a handmade doll.  The detail is exquisite on her, from the hand-panted face to her outfit!

Mine-ICON What got you into your craft?


ConfederateBelle Well I started drawing at a young age. Both my parents were very artistic and my mom loved doing crafts. Whether it was painting, sewing, knitting. Although I could never knit. No matter how many times she tried to show me. I couldn't knit even if my life depended on it! I do admire those however who can knit and knit beautifully! But I always was drawn to art and crafting and it was just the norm in our house growing up. Doll clothes I actually fell into by accident. My husband and I purchased a refurbished American Girl doll for our daughter and she (the of course) needed clothing. So I sewd up some outfits. My mother also taught me to sew when I got into Civil War living history and I had to make all of my period clothing myself. that is where I also met my wonderful husband Steve. After making several outfits, people told me I could sell them. So I tried ebay and did well. Then I was introduced to Etsy and Zibbet.

Mine-ICON How did you learn your craft?


ConfederateBelle I am pretty much self taught when it comes to my craft. Except for my mom who taught me many things as well. Like the sewing!! My art eduction was pretty much just high school and lots of practice!



2617024-original[1] American Girl Doll Clothes 18 Inch Doll Clothing Purple Dress Pink Sunbonnet Set
I admit it, I love purple (can’t tell by the blog layout, oh no…), and I love this dress and it’s boldly contrasting pink trim and bonnet!

Mine-ICON What about YOU? Who is the artist behind those wonderful items?


ConfederateBelle I am a stay at home mom to a wonderful and beautiful daughter. She is special needs and was born with a rare genetic birth defect called Phelan-McDermid Syndrome. Also known as 22Q13 Deletion. Currently there is about 600 families worldwide effected by this disorder. Which is often described as a combination of cerebal palsy and Austism. She also has seizures and is medically fragile with alot of medical issues. She is pretty much the inspiration behind me doing my art and craft because I need to be home to care for her.
I've also been married to my wonderful husband Steve for 15 years and he is a great support system behind my art and craft as well. Its not unusual for him to start cooking dinner for us to that I can finish up a painting, or doll, or outfit.


2595617-original[1] American Girl-Doll Clothes 18 Inch Summer Yellow Dress
I am not a fan of yellow, but I LOVE the design of this dress; it could brighten up anyone’s day!

Mine-ICON What is a typical "working" day for you? How does it usually start and end? How many hours do you spend crafting? How many hours do you spend on other things? What about distractions? I know we all have them! Do you usually accomplish all you wanted to?

ConfederateBelle My typical day starts out with taking care of my daughters needs and getting her ready for school. Most times when she's at school is when I use my time to do housework and catch up on house stuff. It's afternoons when she is home, spending time watching her favorite shows and unwinding from her busy school day that I take a few hours to work on my craft. I say I spend at least four to five hours a day on my craft. May not be consecitive. But I try to get in as much time as I can. I have a spare bedroom where I have my sewing machine and art desk set up and often I turn to YouTube and put on some old show from my childhood to watch while I work. I don't know why, but it seems soothing and comforting and helps me work on projects.

My biggest distraction is often family issues. Often if my daughter gets sick it really effects my crafting time. Because obviously its hard to think about anythign else when your baby is sick. this summer I did not get as much done, as she had alot of therapies, swim therapy, doctors appts. and one surgery that caused her to end up in the ER twice in one week.

Mine-ICON What happens when you Oops? Everyone gets one sometime or another! Do you get frustrated and destroy/start over, or do you go with the flow and see what comes out in the end?

ConfederateBelle Oops! Yep, everyone has those. Depends on what the oops is. Sometimes I can work through it, like a painting and able to "erase" my mistake and start over. Sometimes I have to start over.



2573032-original[1] Doll Clothes 18 Inch Blue Sailor Suit Set
I have to admit that this outfit makes me think of Shirley Temple, from the pleated skirt right to the ribboned beret!

Mine-ICON What is your design process like? How many tries does it take to be happy with the final product?


ConfederateBelle Alot of my doll clothes I make from my own patterns. Often I start with an idea in my head and I sketch it out and then draft a pattern of how I think it should be and make a prototype. Sometimes it takes only once to do a prototype and it comes out perfect and other times it takes several attempts.


2947761-original[1] American Girl Fall Doll Dress Orange Black Plaid Outift Halloween
I’ve never seen a plaid like this, but I think it’s just right to draw the eye to the detailing in this ensemble!

Mine-ICON What is your greatest roadblock, be it government regulation or that little frustrating thing that just likes to sneak up and stop you in your tracks? Broken needle? Jump ring jumping out of your pliers? Thread knots? Cats? Dogs? The family hedgehog rolled about in your yarn basket?

ConfederateBelle My greatest roadblock is probably time and energy. Some days I run out of time sooner and my energy level just drops and it can be frustrating. Especially if Ive just come up with a new idea and want to work on it.


Mine-ICON All important pricing... Do you have a formula? Do you wing it? Do you feel your work justifies your prices?


ConfederateBelle Pricing my work is perhaps the hardest thing!! I want to be fair in pricing. I want people to feel like they got there monies worth in my items and that there money was well spent. I hate buying something and then find that it was cheaply made and that I wasted my hard earned money. That is why I put alot of effort into my craft creating something of quality. Quality is always better than quanity. I want my buyers to feel like they got an item that can become an heirloom and last for generations.


2893713-original[1] Doll Bonnet OOAK American Girl Black Velvet Lavender
The work put into this gorgeous bonnet is impressive, as all one-of-a-kind art is!

Mine-ICON And of course, is there anything else you'd like to say to our "viewers at home"?


ConfederateBelle I think to think that someday, perhaps a 100 years from now one of my dolls or doll outfits will show up in an antique shop and still be in as good as shape as it was on the day it was created. And have someone want to buy it knowing that its something special.


I could not have said the last parts better myself!  Thank you so much, Kathleen, for taking the time to share your incredible doll and dress making skill with us, and more importantly the story of where they came from!

Make sure to visit Kathleen at Dixie's Doll Emporium on Zibbet!

Until next week, thank you, one and all for reading!