Art Doll Adventures – review

By | 26 November 08

Art Doll Adventures: Exploring Projects and Processes through Cultural Traditions by Lisa Li Hertzi

First, a disclaimer: I know Li (she’s one of our expert reviewers) and she’s a very good friend. That said, I’d rave about her book even if I didn’t know her.

See, I’ve been making art dolls since childhood, and selling them since the early 1970s, so I’m always interested in books about creating dolls of all kinds. I’m also bored out of my mind by vapid, cookie-cutter dolls.

Since I’m venting… the other problem that I have with many dollmaking books is that they’re either too much by-the-numbers, or they’re so advanced, even experts gasp in awe when they see some of the projects.

So, I opened the package with Li’s book and held my breath as I opened the cover. I mean, I hate to write a negative review about a friend’s book, but I also need to be honest.

Whew! (That exclamation should be in neon lights.)

I love this book. Really, it’s one of the few dollmaking books that I can recommend to absolutely anyone with any level of experience, even a total beginner.

Well… okay… If you’re looking for dolls with sweet, realistic faces made from skin-toned fabric, with the correct number of fingers and toes, this probably isn’t the book for you.

For anyone else: Get this book. I mean it. Skip the rest of this review and order it right now. (That’s an link, btw.)

Need more info?

Okay, here it is: Li features all kinds of wild & wonderful cloth dolls, including lots of designs inspired by tribal and primitive art and archaeology. The colors (and sometimes beading) are vivid and juicy.

Li has provided lots of detailed instructions, not just about the dolls, but about the techniques of making them. She doesn’t just say, “Rub ivory black into the crevices,” she has a photo showing exactly how to do it.

This book isn’t just about dolls, either. There are many very cool, fabric art projects.

One of them is a fabric color wheel… unlike any color wheel you’ve ever seen. Then, there’s the Agreements Book Screen, which is a paneled fabric book that’s also a backdrop for displaying your handmade dolls & figures. And, an Etched Petroglyph ATC made from fabric and acrylic artist’s supplies, as well as instructions for a simple, layered-fabric ATC.

If you’re interested in making contemporary cloth dolls and figures, this book belongs in your collection.

If you’re a total beginner and you can buy only one book, this is an ideal choice. It includes full-size pattern pieces, and detailed, illustrated step-by-step directions.

Or, if you’re a professional dollmaker and you’re looking for inspiration, this is one of those books that you’ll consult again and again. Even the step-by-step instructions feature illustrations and tips that make me say, “Ooh, what a great idea!”

I especially like that the basic designs are really simple.

You won’t get bogged down with teensy little sewing details. You won’t spend 20 minutes trying to figure how to attach pieces A and B to piece C.

And, you’ll have plenty of energy left for creative embellishments that will make the figure uniquely yours.

I don’t usually write such long reviews, or rave this much about a book unless it’s truly one of the best in the field. Art Doll Adventures gets my 100% enthusiastic recommendation as a must-own book for dollmakers at all levels.


  • Fun, innovative, highly original cloth doll projects.
  • Great for beginners and advanced fiber artists alike.
  • Nothing insipid! Dolls, ATCs, fabric books & more.

Doll artists with figures in this book include: Inez Brasch, Patti Medaris Culea, Sue Farmer, Cody Goodwin, Linda Hansen, Jan Hayman, Judith Harmon Hertzi, Barb & Doug Keeling, Kathy Kenny, Elizabeth McGrath, Leslie Molen, John Murphy, Rosie Rojas, Rivkah Rosenfeld, and Isabella Zambezi.


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