LS: Art of Quilting Column December 28, 2009

Move over Barbie; Madame Peacock makes her entrance

She’s no Barbie doll, but Madame Peacock dresses to the nines.

Her elegant demeanor and fancy clothes turned some important heads, winning her creator a first-place prize in the Hoffman California Fabric Challenge.

Doll artist Patricia Wormuth of Applegate, Ore., crafted this 23-inch-tall cloth doll and draped her seductive figure in the specified fabric, a large print of richly colored

I remember dressing Barbie and Ken for their many adventures during my pre-adolescent days, and little girls today still fawn over those make-believe icons.

I’d bet Wormuth enjoyed some Barbie days as well. She may be all grown up now, but Wormuth and other artists who still play with dolls know what a fun and rewarding experience
it can be. Many of those who consider themselves material girls continue to enjoy that fantasy world and sew their own as part of a creative enterprise known as art dolls.

So popular are they with some hobbyists that books and magazines are published specifically for doll makers and contests are offered for them to display their talents.

One of those competitions is the annual Hoffman Challenge, which sponsors a doll category, along with quilt, clothing and accessory categories.

This past year’s entries, some of which are traveling in exhibits around North America until October 2009, made the most of the selected peacock fabric.

The doll makers did more than incorporate it into their designs. They adopted the actual peacock theme and dressed their little creations in the most sophisticated of styles.

The top three doll winners included the word peacock in their entry titles. Prizes were $500, $300 and $150. Besides Wormuth’s “Madame Peacock,” other winners were:

•  Second place: Doris Moore of Granbury, Texas, for her entry titled “Oops! Mrs. Peacock was heard saying as she left the ballroom holding a smoking revolver.” The doll is 18 inches tall.

• Third place: Barbara Kanter of Sapulpa, Okla., for “All Dressed Up for the Peacock
Ball.” The entry was 20 inches tall.

The rules for the doll category state that each entry must consist of a cloth body with human features and not be representative of animals. The doll must be finished for viewing from all sides, and non-breakable props must be securely attached.

Fabric for the 2009 contest has been chosen and soon will be available in a quilt shop near you. It’s called Earth Pearl, a large brown and green paisley. Coordinating fabrics also are offered with it, although contestants are not required to use additional Hoffman fabrics.

Other fabric lines are permissible, as long as the main challenge fabric is a recognizable part of each entry.

The deadline for entries in all categories is July 24, so you may want to think about designing a doll, a quilt, a piece of clothing or an accessory for this contest. It would be an exciting project to start as the new year dawns.

A new aspect of the contest for 2009 is the co-sponsorship by Sulky brand decorative thread.

Contestants are not required to use Sulky thread in their designs, but Best Use of Sulky Awards will be given for the top three pieces featuring that brand.

Sulky also added prizes to the Hoffman cash and fabric awards for winners in all categories. 

Pieced, appliqued and mixed technique quilts are accepted with prizes for the top three in each division, as well as honorable mention, curator’s choice, best hand workmanship, best machine workmanship and best first time entry.

Entries in the accessories category can be hats, handbags, boxes, etc.

Judging emphasizes originality and creativity, creative use of the challenge fabric as it relates to other fabrics, visual impact and workmanship.

Go to to view all of the 2008 winners, to see the 2009 Hoffman Challenge fabric and coordinates and to download entry forms and rules. The entry fee is $15.

I can’t wait to see what wonderful creations come from the 2009 fabric. I’ve always been partial to paisley, and I’m glad to see it’s enjoying a renaissance.

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