There are a lot of doll makers I follow and within that group there are a lot of doll-makers who I am impressed by.
And then there are the few that completely amaze me.
Deborah Fisher is in that amazing category.
Doll making can be about so much more than just making the dolls.
First, dolls can bring a sense of comfort to those in need. Doll-making can be about the craft of sewing and creating, or teaching that craft. And doll making can be about using those skills to create employment or a business.
Deborah does all of these things. She is a doll-maker who has taken the craft to a whole new level.
Deborah uses sewing, specifically dolls and quilts to both comfort and empower.
Where do I start?
She is the co-founder and director of Bright Hopes Collaborative Quilt Project. Bright Hopes is a non-profit organization that gives quilts to those without the comfort of a permanent home, such as children in foster homes and homeless families.
They also offer on-site quilting workshops for people living in shelters and group homes.
Deborah did not know how to quilt when she started the collaborative with her mother (who did know how to quilt). Now she can often be found teaching quilting on site.
Although Deborah learned quilting as an adult, she has been sewing since she was a child. She loved to sew dolls.
"I started sewing dolls when I found a Loretta Daum Byrne pattern in a magazine (probably Needlecraft for Today or something like that). I would make the same doll body over and over and make each one a different costume.
"I don't know why it never occurred to me to make one doll with a whole wardrobe of costumes. But it did make for quite a collection of dolls as you can see in the photo below.
"There is an Eskimo in the top left, a bride in the top right corner, Artemis and Aphrodite on the bottom shelf, etc. I never made faces on any of them because I didn't have confidence in my ability to do it right.
Deborah has more than conquered doll faces. Recently two of her dolls won in the details category the SewMamSew Spectacular Softie contest (photo at the top of this post). And the details are amazing—I am smitten with the shoes and hair.
Deborah started a second collaborative, Bo Twal. Bo Twal brings handmade dolls to children internationally. Bo Twal pays women in the community to sew dolls from the Sewing Smiles doll pattern and the dolls are distributed to children in the community. She raises funds for this through the sale of her doll and bunny patterns. Bo Twal is currently working with women in Haiti and soon Indonesia.
Lastly, Deborah is the author of the book Sew Fun: 20 Projects for the Whole Family. The projects are all very creative and designed to be enjoyed by children. With each pattern there are suggestions on how children can help with the sewing.
There are two adorable doll patterns in the book, along with many softies and other clever and fun sewing projects. And stay tuned, there just might be a "Sew Fun" book giveaway