Indie Artist Spotlight: Debbie Ritter of Uneek Doll Designs

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Debbie in her Cullman, Alabama, sunroom studio.

I think it was Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference who first tipped me off to Debbie Ritter’s wonderful handmade character dolls at Uneek Doll Designs.

I was delighted to see so many of my favorite authors and poets (Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, the Brontë sisters, Emily Dickinson, Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Joyce) in miniature form, and impressed by the quality of workmanship, attention to detail, and amazing quantity and variety of figures available (600+ items currently listed at Etsy).

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Oscar Wilde
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Emily Dickinson
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Charlotte Bronte

Debbie is an artist after my own heart. In addition to creating lots of writers, she also features the characters in their stories (Scarlett O’Hara, Anna Karenina, Anne Shirley, Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Darcy!). And just as fabulous as her literary dolls are her artists, musicians, singers, historical figures, movie stars and TV personalities (love the Three Stooges, Lucille Ball, Willie Nelson, Aunt Bea, Captain Kangaroo, The Marx Brothers, the Royal Family!).

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William and Kate
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Marx Brothers
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Andy, Aunt Bea and Barney Fife

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Indie Artist Spotlight: Patty of Dedalos Art Dolls

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Hanna the Writer Doll on a Bed of Roses

I first saw Patty’s lovely dolls several weeks ago when Etsy posted her enchanting stop motion video, “A Doll Making Story.” Instantly charmed, I was curious to find out more about the artist who was able to transform pieces of paper clay and scraps of vintage fabric into beautiful dolls with heart. All her pieces are handmade without the use of molds and are one of a kind.

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The mysterious Patty, who chooses not to divulge her surname or reveal her likeness in a photo, lives in Florence, Italy, surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, known for its rich history, culture, art, architecture, and high fashion. Who would not be inspired to create some form of art when living in the birthplace of the Renaissance? I still sigh and swoon whenever I recall standing in the Uffizi Gallery gazing at Botticelli’s “Primavera.”

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I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting Patty, who, in addition to English, speaks Italian, Spanish, French, and a bit of Russian. She named her shop “Dedalos” (“maze”), after Daedalus, the first artist and artisan in Greek mythology who built the famous Labyrinth for King Minos in Crete. I’m always fascinated by how an artist can make a doll actually resemble a famous person yet still emanate her own trademark style.

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mud, moss, and marigolds

      by Marjorie Winslow, pictures by Erik Blegvad (Walker, 2001), 
                                ages 8 and up, 48 pp.

Perfect Recipe for a Summer Afternoon:

Happy children, or you
Dolls, bears, other stuffed animals and toys
Leaves, twigs, sand, pine needles, mud, etc.
Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls
All the time in the world

I first saw this cookbook over 30 years ago. I was thrilled to find it, but disappointed that I wasn’t 8 or 9 at the time. It’s charming, a bit quirky, wholly original, and definitely timeless.

       Pudding with First Pebble Press edition, published in 1983

Very often when I am feeling stuck with my own writing, I’ll thumb through this book. It wakes me up to new possibilities and turns my stilted, rutty thinking inside out. We all need this from time to time.

From the foreword:

This is a cookbook for dolls. It is written for kind climates and summertime.

It is an outdoor cookbook, because dolls dote on mud, when properly prepared. They love the crunch of pine needles and the sweet feel of seaweed on the tongue. The market place, then, will be a forest or a sand dune or your own back yard.

There are recipes for Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Main Dishes, Pastries, Desserts, and Beverages — tempting favorites such as Wood Chip Dip, Tossed Leaves, Gravel En Casserole, and Pencil Sharpener Pudding. This is serious play, and children will love scavenging for ingredients and laying out a fine table for their favorite toys. The recipes are simple but never silly.

Consider Mud Puddle Soup:

Find a mud puddle after a rainstorm and seat your dolls around it. Serve.

Or Putty Fours:

If plumbers or painters are working in your neighborhood, ask them for some putty — enough to fill four acorn cups. These delicate cakes may take days to harden, so plan your party well ahead. Serves 4.

Who could resist Fried Water or Roast Rocks? And Erik Blegvad’s pen and ink drawings throughout are the perfect sides for these doll friendly dishes.

Yesterday, Pudding and I made Boiled Buttons in the alphabet soup test kitchen. We were thrilled with the result, and will serve it at our next teddy bear soiree.


This is a hot soup that is simple but simply delicious. Place a handful of buttons in a saucepan half filled with water. Add a pinch of white sand and dust, 2 fruit tree leaves and a blade of grass for each button. Simmer on a hot rock for a few minutes to bring out the flavor. Ladle into bowls.
                                  Get out there and play!

Stroll on over to Anastasia Suen’s Picture Book of the Day for today’s Nonfiction Roundup.