Designer Judi Ward
I am a self taught cloth doll designer and maker, who has been dedicated to teaching others the craft since the mid 1970s.
I had a little craft and doll store in Idaho from 1974 thru 1979 and started my doll pattern business from that tiny store.
I taught cloth dollmaking classes in the store and designed my first cloth doll for a pattern there. I only cut directly from the fabrics at that time, so every doll was a one of a kind because I had no pattern, but my partner in the store was a pattern collector so she started drawing around the parts as I cut them out. She put them in bags with labels such as "Doll in red dress, curly hair" or some such designation. That first doll for a pattern was my 18" Shirley Temple who was way ahead of the curve for cloth dolls at the time (invisible joints, separate fingers, fully formed, child shape etc) and the pattern sales were amazing! I placed a few little ads in magazines and we were swamped!!! Things progressed from there and I even learned to cut from paper or to draw around my fabric parts before sewing them up. Drawing on and cutting from paper was the hardest thing for me to do! I usually still cut a doll's clothing directly from the fabrics though, and have to quickly draw around the pieces if they are for a pattern doll! I have had to do a few do-over's due to forgetting the drawing step.
My doll designs have followed most of the trends but are always different. I never do the same doll over and over with just a different name and different clothing. My variety of pattern offerings is huge, from babies to whimsy: ladies to men: cloth reproductions of antique dolls made from other stuff to truly Vintage style reproductions of very old cloth dolls.
The design process is my favorite part and I want my designs to look good without clothes.
I have pioneered many techniques throughout the 30+ years. Invisible Jointing, quick, easy turning heads for almost any doll, the use of Freezer Paper templates and many more. I like real clothes for dolls most of the time and am not an "embellisher". I leave that up the maker. My desire is to provide a good "doll" for the maker to embellish their way, or not.
I love to teach, and my favorite classes to teach are Beginners and Advanced Design. The joy a new designer has in their first creation is amazing! Many well known designers in the pattern world got their start from my Design classes, online or in person. They were ready to "fly" but needed grounding first and the classes provided that in a fun, easy way.
I have been teaching online classes at the Doll Net (Crafty College) for many years and I think I was the first online with cloth doll classes. Paul Phalen at the Doll Net has been a Godsend to we cloth dollmakers and suppliers with his support of the doll world, his web site work and his support of over 2000 cloth dollmakers on the "Friends Of Cloth Dolls" internet forum.
Over the past 30 some years we have moved several times and I have pursued other "work" from time to time. I worked at a bingo hall, a fabric store and drove city busses in Bremerton Wash!
The dolls were never far from my heart though and I always came back to the doll world, or never really left and fitted the work in with the dolls.
Our most recent move has been back to the states, in Sept 2008, after a few years in Germany, where I met many lovely folks but no dollmakers!!! I missed the cloth doll world a lot during that time!
If it hadn't been for the internet doll world I would have died! But boy do those German ladies know how to decorate and cook and entertain!...and eat out….Eating out is a national pastime, and FUN!
I am now happily living in Rockville, Maryland very near to DC. I have joined the "G Street doll club" and am happy as a clam. They are a wonderful group of talented ladies and several were here for the first class in my new studio in Feb 2008.
My husband is with NASA now and we may actually get to stay in one place until retirement!
With the studio where I can teach here in Rockville, the chance to start teaching away again soon, and FABRIC and CRAFT stores, I am in heaven to be back home in the states.
Dolly Hugs, Judi