Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  


By Rita Vainius

When hearing the word dolls, most of us imagine the cherished playthings of our own childhoods: Tiny Tears, Shirley Temple, Ginny Dolls or Barbies. The dolls showcased are a far cry from those and are not mere toys for children. Though they are fanciful and beautiful and do bring great joy to both their creators and subsequent owners, they are also works of art of a very high order. They come into being as the tangible creative expression of each individual artist and each doll shown is every bit as unique, expressive and valuable as an original painting or sculpture.

Martha Green

Martha Green describes herself as a "student of one of the 'Carney Roadside Attraction School of Crazy Quilting.'" She adds, "We're from the raunchier side of the spectrum closely related to the beggar quilt branch of the CQ tree." Back when she began quilting, no one was making crazy quilts, or, if they were, Martha didn't know about it. Having to figure out for herself how to do things, she came with a different approach to almost every aspect of the process.

Spanish Doll

Martha has been sewing and embroidering all her life. She is a fourth generation quilter on both sides of her family tree. Martha continues, "I've never done sane quilts, only art and crazy quilts. I started embroidering when I could finally thread my own needle at 3." She began sewing on a treadle machine when she was tall enough to run the machine and see the needle at the same time - at about age 4.

Christmas Tree Dolls

Martha worked as a graphic designer for 27 years. In addition to being a crazy quilter for upwards of 30 years, she has also taught art throughout that same period. She has been an Oklahoma State Artist in Residence for the last 12 years, during 7 of which, she did residencies in corrections, making quilters out of a hell of a lot of criminals. Martha taught at the 2001 Crazy Quilt Conference in Omaha and has been invited to teach there again in 2002. Additionally, she will be teaching at the European Crazy Quilt Conference in France in 2002. Her work has been shown in well over 150 shows, galleries and festivals. She was recently chosen as one of the winners in the Quilting Arts Calendar contest and her work is displayed on the June page of their 2002 Calendar. She is currently working on a one-woman show to be held in February of 2002.

Caribbean Influenced Doll

Martha closes with, "When I'm not teaching I make art 16 hours a day -----every day! I just turned 55 I'm glad at least I'll get reduced tuition and get to stay in elder hostels."

Alice Watterson

All of Alice Watterson's figures begin their lives on the loom. First she weaves the fabric in "her" primary colors of red, green, yellow, orange and purple. This provides her with a broad palette from which to construct her various characters. Initially, she plunges in, sure of certain forms, colors and elements, but soon finds herself in "unknown territory," where the real challenge begins ­ discovering the figure's rules of ritual, dress and being. Like a superior woodcarver, who lets the wood speak to him while shaping it, through Alice's hands, the work begins to actuate its own potential, blossoming into an entity that is a step beyond Alice herself even and quite a few steps beyond "dollness" in the conventional sense.

 Wayfarer   La Curandera

From the Storyteller Series 

Alice Watterson is a studio artist, diarist, teacher and valued staff member at the Santa Fe Weaving Gallery in New Mexico. She finds that her creative inspiration comes from exploring interior visions and dramas, translating the "ah-ha" moments into mixed media dolls and sculptures. Using both visual and written artplay, she pursues the process of self-discovery with artist-peers and those experiencing transitional health crises.

Salley Mavor

Salley Mavor has always delighted in forming and manipulating small materials in her hands. Paper and pencil proved insufficient to satisfy her creative urges. She says, "Somehow, in my experience as a child, my own art was unfinished and plain unless something 'real' was added. Treasures would be glued, stapled or sewn onto a creation to make it complete."

 Blueberry Fairy Kit Bud & Ivy Kit 


At the Rhode Island School of Design, Salley rediscovered working in 3 dimensions and found ways to communicate her inspirations using needle and thread. After graduation in 1978, she made and sold stuffed fabric pins, designed sewing projects for women's magazines, and worked on a series of dolls. Soon, she was creating pictures in a relief format with stuffed people, animals and houses sewn on to a fabric background.

Illustrations from the Book In the Heart
written by Ann Turner, pictures by Salley Mavor, published by HarperCollins

It took Salley 10 years to develop her fabric relief technique to a level where she could consider illustrating a book. Since then she has sewn illustrations for 6 children's books. Most recently, Salley has been designing and marketing kits and cards for her own business, Wee Folk Studio.

Contact information for artists featured above:

Martha Green
1521 NW 40th St.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73118
Phone: (405) 524-1310
E Mail: MGrn270@aol.com

Alice Watterson
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Salley Mavor
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Email: info@weefolkstudio.com

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of this feature story nor the included designs can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of the CARON Collection Ltd. or the featured designers or contributors.

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