Thanks, Mom

WaterfallThis is a childhood art piece of mine that my mother saved for years. Lots of years. I did it sometime in the primary grades, and it was part of a card I made for her. I was doing those Bob Ross-happy birds early-on, and still like to stick them in when no one is watching me paint.  Also, a still life of red roses, done about age 8 or 9. Crayola crayons on newsprint. So precious. Thanks a lot, Mom, for saving stuff like this. It makes me happy to remember the joy making art has always given me.

Still life



Wave Painting

Back on December 18 I posted the beginning of this painting, with my photo and blank canvas. It’s still winter here, although not at all like the East coast is enduring. Nevertheless, indoors is good, heat and light are good. Here’s the finished painting. I like it–will keep it around–and start something new.



Doll Crafts has Arrived!

Chicago Review Press did a fine job making sense of my ideas, as they always do. Thankful for editors! But, after starting doll making years and years ago, I finally have a finished product in print. And tons of prototype dolls in boxes all over the house.   We received pretty good reviews so far — Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal were pretty positive. Kirkus was unpredictable, as they usually are. But, remember, they raved about Hook, Knit & Spin, so I’m content. So glad it’s finally out there. Here’s a link to Barnes & Noble for more information.


Irish Soda Bread — Gluten-free and Good!

I did the DNA test and discovered I have more “Irish” DNA than the average resident of Ireland today, so I am thinking Irish now. And, it’s that Irish time of year, so I tried something I’ve always wanted to bake: Irish Soda Bread. Gluten-free of course. It is delicious and holds lots of butter and honey, making the past two months of continuous rain here on the Oregon coast more bearable. I adapted a regular recipe, using rice flour and adding 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to milk to make buttermilk. I’m not sure if coconut or almond milk will curdle with vinegar, so will try that another time. Enjoy!IMG_1199


Irish Soda Bread

1 3/4 cups flour (rice flour used) [add 1 teaspoon guar gum if using rice flour]

2 tablespoons cane sugar (never use beet, you know it’s GMO)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

1 egg

2/3 cup buttermilk OR 2/3 cup milk with 1 teaspoon vinegar added–give a few minutes for it to curdle

1/2 stick of butter, melted and just warm


Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Mix all the dry ingredients and raisins in a bowl. Mix the egg, milk and butter together and stir into the dry ingredients. Mix together just till blended. Shape into a large round loaf and place in a buttered pie plate. Use a sharp knife to slice an X across the top, about a half-inch deep into the dough.

Bake at 375-degrees for 30 minutes.  Serves one Irish woman for about two days. And her husband, if he behaves.


Doll Crafts


Everyone’s ready now. Photo-op for the new book, “Doll Crafts” which is going through the editing process right now. These are all featured in the book, plus other stuff, so it’s going to be good to see it come together. Thanks to Lisa Reardon at Chicago Review Press, who makes sense out of my projects!

DIY Doll Cake — Gluten-free & Dairy-free. Time to party!

Doll cakes are a decades-old delight. Appearing during the heyday of Barbie dolls, the doll cake has staying power. While it’s not a culinary masterpiece, try telling that to a group of 7-year olds at a birthday party. (This will be included in the next book, DIY Dolls, so if you have suggestions, please email me.)

Terry and I were the only ones here to eat the cake, so I dressed ours in plain brown chocolate frosting. Maybe a pre-Thanksgiving Pilgrim? Halloween witch? Anyway, ours wasn’t that lively, in her modest homespun, so I searched the web for something more glam. Here’s a nicely done doll cake from  another blog at:

doll cake

Doll cakes require simple equipment and supplies. First, a new plastic doll that will look good in a full-skirted gown. Dora the Explorer just doesn’t fit here. Think of those lovelies at the Dollar store. Perfect. Remove the clothing and wrap the legs with plastic food wrap (so they will slide easily into the cake), and wind some wrap around the hair to keep it clean during the process.

Figure out how many skirt cakes you need depending upon the doll’s size and height. Assemble pans and measure if necessary. A 12-inch Barbie-size doll needs an 8-inch round pan, an 8-inch wide oven-proof bowl and a 5 1/2-inch wide oven-proof bowl. Other doll sizes can be made using different sizes of bowls, custard cups, and muffin pans. Tiny dolls can just slip into a cupcake.

You’ll need two cake mixes and two cans of frosting. Additional decorator icing and sprinkles, as desired. Prepare the pans by greasing and dusting with flour so the cakes come out of the pan easily. Get out the cooling racks, too, as the cakes need to sit on those after baking.  Prepare the mix according to the package, or use the version I made up, which most everyone can enjoy. If you want to use my gluten-free, dairy-free cake mix (below), you’ll probably need to make two batches.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1 cup milk (dairy, coconut, or almond)
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix all the above ingredients together. Blend in the dry ingredients listed below, until batter is smooth.

  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum

When the batter is completely smooth, spoon into the prepared pans, filling each 2/3 full. Bake at 350-degrees for various times. The bowls may take an hour to bake because they are filled so deeply; the muffins or cupcakes may take about 20 minutes. Check often and test with a knife for doneness: insert a clean knife blade into the center of the cake, pull it out. If batter sticks to the blade, more baking time is needed. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Turn the cakes out of their pan and let cool on a rack.

Use a long-bladed bread knife to cut a small circle out of the center of each cake. It should be no wider than the doll’s hips. Stack the cakes, lining up the centers, on a serving plate. As you stack them, put a layer of frosting on the top of each layer before placing the next cake.

Brush off the crumbs and begin spreading frosting over the skirt. Use a knife tip to draw pleats or designs. Add sprinkles and designs with a decorating tube.

Slip the doll into the cake and cover her waist and chest with frosting: flowers, squiggles, whatever. Pipe icing straps over the shoulders.

When all is done, sit back and enjoy the accolades. Or take photos. Cheers!



Copy a Doll Face onto Fabric

Laurie Carlson Crafts - Photocopy Doll Face on Fabric
Top: My drawing on paper; Middle: fabric sheet out of the copier. You can see it is lighter than the original; Bottom: the copy on fabric, after adding some highlights and details with pens. 

For cloth doll makers it’s always tricky trying to make the right face on a doll and some of us find it very difficult to draw features evenly onto the fabric. This technique lets you draw onto paper first, then transfer it to muslin fabric. You can also use this technique to print photographs onto muslin, then stitch them into dolls.

Draw something you like onto paper.  Color in the features darker than you want them to appear on the doll, as when it prints onto fabric is is somewhat muted. The photocopied image on cloth will not be washable, so either spray it with a sealer, or add and define details with permanent marking pens, crayons and acrylic paints. That’s what I did for the final product at the bottom of the photo above.

You’ll need:

  • Lightweight Pellon — iron-on interfacing
  • Muslin or other lightweight fine woven cotton fabric
  • Photocopier with inkjet ink
  • Scissors
  • Fine-tip permanent marking pens, colored pencils, crayons
  • A drawing of the doll face — made with markers, pens or whatever
  • Steam iron

Using a piece of copy paper as a template, cut out a piece of muslin and a piece of lightweight Pellon interfacing, both 8 1/2 ” x 11″. Follow the interfacing directions to iron the interfacing to the fabric. Let cool. Trim the edges if needed so they are smooth, straight and have no loose threads hanging that can get caught in your printer.

Laurie Carlson Crafts - cut pellon and muslin
Cut muslin and interfacing — both 8 1/2 x 11- inches to fit the copier. 


Laurie Carlson Crafts - iron interfacing onto the muslin sheet
Press the interfacing to the fabric and trim the edges so they are even and will feed easily into the copier. 

Place the face drawing on your printer screen, then insert the fabric sheet into the paper holder, with the fabric facing the side that will print, and the interfacing as the backside. In my printer, I place it upside-down, yours may be different. I also make sure there are a few blank papers under the cloth sheet so it feeds in with out moving sideways.

Make a color copy. Ta-da!  It should look just like your drawing, but a bit muted.

Inkjet inks aren’t permanent or waterproof (at least my HP inks aren’t) so if you plan to give it to a child, use permanent marking pens to go over the details. I added a bit more color and detail with pens and markers to give more definition to the features.

That’s it!  Now to get sewing and finish a doll or two. Or more. . .