Through the eyes of a doll maker

Profile of doll artist Dell Jones

We have had the pleasure of displaying a beautiful doll created by Texas artist Dell Jones at International Quilt Market in 2012 and 2013. At last week's Quilt Market, it was featured on our main table in the front of the booth as part of our iron-on thread demonstration (because the doll is embellished with Kreinik Iron-on Threads). We have never seen a doll so photographed and admired by pretty much everyone who walked the aisle (really, no exaggeration). There is just something about dolls, and this doll in particular, that connects with people. 

Is it the expression in the eyes that draws you? Yes. Take a close look and you will be amazed at the emotion that comes through a painted or stitched doll face. That, to us, shows the talent of the doll maker. But just as with all needlework and art, it's the details that matter as well. Dell embellished this doll with thread, accenting carefully chosen fabrics, using color and stitch variety to create dimension and style. 

Dell is regularly featured in the special doll exhibit section of Quilt Market and Quilt Festival (for dates, see Each year we are delighted to spot the "Dell doll" and see what she has created. Let's hear from Dell herself, and enjoy photos of her work. Let this inspire you, in whatever medium you work, with whichever materials (we suggest trying Kreinik iron-on threads like Dell did…), in any stage of life.

Doll artist Dell Jones told us…

"My name is Dell Jones and I was born loving dolls.  As a child, I designed their clothes from silk scarfs and anything else my mother would let me have from her sewing box. I earned the money for the FIRST Barbie because my parents thought I was too old for dolls. Little did they know that fifty plus years later I would still be playing with dolls.

I first became aware of Art Dolls at the Houston International Quilt Festival where I saw the doll exhibit. I was amazed and wanted to make them, too. I bought a Santa pattern and decided he looked more like a Wise Man, so I made three by the next Christmas. 

Through a mutual friend, I met Marlene Slobin who told me about The Material Girls Cloth Doll Club. I joined at the first meeting and have been learning the art of doll making through classes, retreats, and the incredible sharing of the members. 

I can't seem to copy a pattern exactly. My imagination just takes off on a tangent. Just like that Santa who morphed into a Wise Man, my dolls are inspired by dolls of the many talented doll artists around the world. I will take something from many patterns and create their costumes as I go. I am also inspired by fabrics, trims, threads, buttons, beads and tons of old junk jewelry. Most of my dolls have been made as gifts or for my own pleasure. Occasionally I have made similar dolls for sale on request.

I have always been artistic and have tried every fabric inspired project that came along. But I will readily admit that the world of Art Dolls meets all of my artistic needs and I hope to continue creating them for a long time. As I tell people who ask how I am doing after injuring my shoulder several years ago, "As long as I can give hugs and make dolls, I'm just fine." 

Side note: Next we will feature Marlene Slobin, mentioned by Dell above, who created another stunning doll design for our exhibit. Wait until you see this one! Stay tuned to the blog.

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