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Something Fun, Something NEW . . . A Workshop for YOU!

Posted on: September 2nd, 2014 by deborah 2 Comments

Taste O' Honey on my Work Table
This blog and my Facebook page are the places where I have some of my best conversations. You all ask great questions, make fun suggestions and often steer me in new directions and I listen. Which leads me to my post today. I am excited to announce that I will be launching the first in a series of online workshops for cloth doll makers and sculptors.

Expressive Faces in Cloth is a fun workshop focused on how to design faces on stitched, stuffed, and minimally sculpted cloth. I am often asked how I create my cloth faces. This workshop will not only walk you through my process but I will also share information about: where and how to get inspiration, some of my favorite tools and materials, and how to get organized to get things done. Most importantly, together we will tackle one of the biggest issues many of you tell me you struggle with — the (erroneous!) belief that you cannot draw. I will cover this topic in more depth in an upcoming post. For now what I will say is that a core focus of the workshop is to further inspire those of you who already feel confident in drawing and to encourage those of you who are less comfortable with drawing that there is absolutely no reason to feel intimidated!

As part of the workshop you will have full access to our private online doll group via Facebook, a group inspiration board on Pinterest, three patterns to download to help you build your design chops and lots of step-by-step instruction through videos and worksheets. Want to learn more? Sign up below!

Signup now to be the first to learn when registration opens for Expressive Faces in Cloth and to be eligible for a limited number of specially priced seats!

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Confessions of a Cloth Doll Artist

Posted on: August 24th, 2014 by deborah 2 Comments
Here are some examples of my first rag dolls. They were so fun to make.

Here are some examples of my first rag dolls. They were so fun to make.

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I began making cloth dolls initially because of my love of textiles. There is something about the color, texture and tactile qualities of fabric that pulls me in and makes me want to do something with it.  My first attempts at cloth rag dolls were made for children. I adapted the basic pancake rag doll pattern for the bodies for my design tastes and then put an additional artistic stamp on them through the use of unusual materials for hair, clothing in modern prints and drawing the faces with non-toxic pencils and paint. What I noticed after making these dolls for the first several months was the reactions of the adults who saw my work. Typically two things happened:

  1. They talked to me about how and what my dolls made them feel
  2. Our conversations usually ended with them whispering a confession to me that they were actually buying and collecting my work not for a child but for themselves!

My studio practice is not only about what inspires me it is also about how I can help connect you to your own creativity and what inspires you. I am grateful everyday that I get the opportunity to share in this way. Cloth dolls are works of art that evoke feelings of nostalgia and fun. Want to join in on that fun? Sign up for my mailing list to be the first to learn about my new work and new workshops. Your privacy is always protected and safe. Peace, Deborah


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Working in a Series: My First Step

Posted on: February 9th, 2014 by deborah 2 Comments
UrbanWildFlowers in progress by GraysonStudios (c) 2014.

UrbanWildFlowers in progress by GraysonStudios (c) 2014.

View of my work table:  While working on Salt I have also decided to bring back a Grayson Studios collector favorite —  the Urban Wildflower  line. These figures have been reworked to allow for more movement. They are designed to be displayed on the wall or they can sit and be posed for display. All new Urban Wildflowers will be available on this website in March. Images from the Salt series coming up in future posts. #UrbanWildFlower Dolls  #GraysonStudios


For the last 18 months I have had a story rolling around in my head for a new body of work. After several tentative attempts, I am now at the point where I am want to work full out on this project. The series is called Salt. During the next 18 weeks I will use this blog to tell the story of Salt and to show how the story unfolds. I am using clay, natural fibers, seeds and pods for my materials. At the end of 18 weeks the goal is to have 15 figures built. Ambitious but I am going for it. The beauty of working in a series is that it pushes you to avoid the temptation of trying to do too much in one piece. I am looking forward to this being a contemplative and vigorous process where I work through my ideas in 3-D. Could be a scary proposition! lol. Feeling very vulnerable on this one. I am pretty sure that is a sign that I am headed in the right direction. To see more sneak peeks into my studio as well as more in-progress photos be sure to follow Deborah Grayson Studios on facebook.


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How to Get Stuff Done

Posted on: January 31st, 2014 by deborah 10 Comments
Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.39.04 PM


This post was inspired by a post I read on Lisa Call’s blog.  There is other inspiring, practical and very useful content on her site but this specific post really resonated with me. I don’t know about you but there have been times in my art practice when I tricked myself into believing that I was more productive than I actually was. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was extremely busy. But I realized I was busy doing things that would not lead me to where I wanted to go. I realized that I was not identifying the correct tasks for the goals I had set for my business.  The busy-ness that I was involved in often left me in a place where I was missing opportunities to create and exhibit my work. Then I got real with myself. How did I do it? Well I am glad you asked!!!
I found the right tools. Whether you paint, cook or sculpt figures like I do, deciding on and using a system that will allow you to track and document your activities is critical to getting things done. Taking a page from Lisa’s book, I thought I would share what I track and document and the tools I use to do it.


What I Track and Document

  • Studio time
  • yoga practice
  • inspiration
  • books
  • supplies
  • recipes
  • blog posts and e-blasts
  • money


How I Track and Document it

    • Bound sketchbook and inky black pen— my sketchbook goes everywhere with me. I draw a page in it  every month and list the date, the number of hours spent on art work and art business, and the projects/goals I worked on. At the end of each week I total all of the hours so that I have a real picture of the time I am actually spending on my work. I use my phone to track my time while I sculpt or write.


    • iCal— I keep color coded calendars arranged by subject that are synched and accessible across all of my devices.  I use iCal to track: deadlines for exhibition and grants, commissions, and class times for yoga.


    • Pinterest and iPhoneMy Pinterest boards and my iphone are where I collect, curate and post images that inspire and interest me.


    • GoodReads— An avid reader, My Goodreads profile (I am UrbanWildflower on Goodreads) allows me to track the books I have read for the year and to learn about and bookmark new books that I would like to read.


    • Evernote— probably my favorite tool of them all. This is where I clip articles I find on-line that interest me, catalog my business plan and vision statements, and draft my blog posts.  The best part about it? Evernote is accessible from any device. Once you create an account you can log in from anywhere.


    • Excel— yeah, I am old school. Several years ago a friend helped me set up basic P and L sheets along with a few other customized sheets to track the expenses and inventory for my business. I use these spreadsheets monthly to document what comes in and what goes out. I also use excel for inventory. Makes getting organized for tax time a breeze (well, mostly).


The moral of my story: identify simple methods and systems that you like, use them, get stuff done!
Follow me on Pinterest for more examples and inspiration.


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5 Secrets of Successful Artists

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by deborah 6 Comments
photo 1 photo 2 photo 4
A note about the photos: I finished volumes 12 and 13 last year. What a happy coincidence that I started vol 14 of my sketchbooks this month.  The second and third photos are quick snapshots of spreads from volume 13.


I really enjoy listening to, learning from, and looking at the work of other artists. Last year I was really fortunate to  have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from some great ones. Not wanting to miss a moment of my experiences, I spent a good chunk of my time last year documenting as much as I could through drawings, photographs and notes in my sketchbook. What I learned not only increased my passion for art and art making, I also picked up some really good habits to improve my studio practice.  Below is a list of my five favorite “secrets” I learned from working with and observing other artists.


1. Release any negative feelings or thoughts you’re holding. For me that usually means deciding not to beat myself up if I miss or am running behind on a task or deadline. The trick seems to be to not let yourself get paralyzed when you fall short but  instead to try to find a good place to pick up where you left off and keep going.


2. Build real and meaningful community with other artists, art lovers and creative thinkers. If you are a regular reader of this blog or my facebook page you know how much this one means to me.  Actively building circles of creative thinkers and makers can lead to wonderful spaces of mutual inspiration and support.


3. Share what you know and what you have with others. It is a gift to be an artist and to live a creative life. We are given our gifts to share them.


4. Learn about other artists and their lives. Read blogs, catalogs and monographs, visit art galleries museums, attend artists talks. I read something by or from another artist daily. I always try to purchase catalogs or books by or about my favorite artists. And well, anywhere I go the first thing I do is look up the galleries and museums in the area!


5. Experiment. Fearlessly become a beginner over and over again by trying new materials, new approaches, new perspectives. Take a class in something that you know nothing about. Make a trip to an art supply store, a hardware store or a thrift store and pick up something unusual. Play with ways to incorporate the material into a new piece. Creative explorations always lead you somewhere. Let your experiences move you.


Of course none of these steps work unless you show up every day to create.  Even if I only have 15 minutes I try to make a quick sketch or note in a sketchbook. smear some paint in a collage. Something!!!!


What do you think? How about sharing a few of your own secrets of success for artists? Jump in and leave a comment!
Peace and Happiness,



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