Paper Dolls

What to wear? That is the question asked and answered by this paper doll (made by my niece Zoe Paschkis, many years ago.)

zoe paschkis paper doll

zoe paschkis paper dollsRecently I came across an article about Paper Dolls by Francine Kirsch that I had clipped from the magazine Folk Art in 2007. She talked in the article about some paper dolls that were made professionally to show certain styles of clothes, and she also showed these lovely handmade ones.paper dollsI like the way that every outfit has to confirm to the posture of the model.paper dolls with hipsI like the materials used to make the dresses:paper dollspaper dollsAs in almost everything, sometimes what is revealed is not what is intended to be revealed. In this paper doll family from 1907 the creator reveals racism: the black doll is made to be somewhere between a child and an adult in size.1907 paper dollsSome paper outfits are nearly abstract, like these from the blog Accidental Mysteries.FolkArtPaperDollDressCollection_153 FolkArtPaperDollDressCollection_130Here is a mermaid by Deborah Mersky.mersky paper mermaidLately I have been making big paper dolls. Here I am with a new friend, made with no tape, glue or staples.J. Paschkis and  friend One of my goals is to use all of the paper in different parts of the doll. Here are the pieces of a doll called Paper Howdy, cut from one sheet of paper.

Paschkis howdy pieces

Here is what remained from that 12″ x 18″ sheet of paper.

paper scraps

And here is the assembled Paper Howdy.Paschkis paper howdyI hope this post will inspire you to make some paper dolls of your own.







buttons for sale        I love buttons, especially old white ones made of mother of pearl.

The tribes of the Northwest coast made (and still make) button blankets with black and red wool and white buttons. The images and color combinations are bold.

NW Button blanket

This was made by a member of the Haida tribe in 1900.haida1900

In quilts I have only used buttons for eyes. This man, woman and dog were part of my first quilt which I made in a class with Sandy Bonsib. She taught us many traditional patterns, as well as how to design and piece our own imagery, such as this man, woman and dog.

Paschkis quilt manPaschkis quilt ladypaschkis quilt dog

Someday I would like to use LOTS of buttons on a quilt. As inspiration I will look at the Pearly Queens and Kings of England “wiv buttons galore”.

pearly queen

pearly king

Stripes Please

Stripes are simple and satisfying. They speak for themselves, so there are very few words in this post.

Such as…
Russian machine woven stripes from the 19th century:

russian stripes
Uzbek stripes:uzbek stripes

Indigo stripes:


Guatemalan stripes:guatemalan stripes

Hudson Bay stripes:hudson bay blanketCharacters in my paintings often wear striped clothing:

Paschkis reading

They are in good company.
Matisse:matisse painting

Cassatt:mary cassatt

Kuniyaki:kuniyaki sumo


It is as satisfying to wear stripes in life as in art.



Babe Ruth (photo by Nickolas Muray):

Babe Ruth

Jean Paul Gaultier:


and finally a prisoner in the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, St. Gabriel photographed by Deborah Luster in 1988:

I wish I knew her name.



asofo cover

In 2001 I illustrated the book Head, Body, Legs by Won-ldy Paye and Meg Lippert. Won-ldy is a Dan storyteller from Liberia and Meg is a storyteller from the United States – together they turned a Dan origin myth that was told orally into a written tale. My first attempts to illustrate it were not African at all, as I am not African. But when I saw this book of Asafo flags I saw a way in.

asafo flag

Asofo flags were made by the Fante people of Ghana. They began as a Fante response to European flags, and became a unique and vibrant form of art.

asofo airplanes


asofo bridge

I could continue this cross pollination.

asafo tree

Here are some of the illustrations from Head, Body, Legs. I was influenced by the colors and shapes of the flags, but the illustrations were painted, not sewn.head body legs cover

4 head body legs

9 head body legs

About 6 years ago I began sewing some appliqués. I wasn’t trying to make them look like Asafo flags, but some of the shapes were similar. This illustrates a tree in Norwegian legends named Yggdrasil.Paschkis yggdrasil

I sewed the mermaid and octopus for curtains.

Paschkis mermaid appliquePaschkis octopus applique

A friend saw my appliqués and sent me this postcard of an appliqué by M. Quisuit of the Nunavut people in Baker Lake, NWT.

nunavut appliqueWhat I take from the connections between these images is that the process strongly influences the form, and that as people we are all stitched together.

Here is an Asafo flag of Funtum Yempa: a powerful and dangerous bush spirit. “A good spirit nourishes her young.”

asofo spirit


Tablecloths: Fabric of Life

wooden fruit

It’s easy to put a beautiful cloth on a table.

marimekko table

It’s a way to see and enjoy and touch fabric.

easter table

It’s a way to make a small and fleeting still life in the kitchen or dining room.

…This owl and the wooden dove above were made by Mike Zitka…

Mike Zitka owl

Tablecloths are a way to weave beauty into everyday life.


My mother gave me my love of tablecloths. She always did and always will have beautiful fabric on the table – sometimes several cloths at once. A table without a cloth would be naked.  Here is a table at my parent’s home, between meals.


Tablecloths remind me of the people who gave them to me, such as this favorite one from my sister Karla.

yellow tablecloth

They also remind me of places where I have traveled.

guatemalan tablecloth

They are a way to celebrate the colors of the seasons.

yellow table

july 4 tablecloth

fall table

green and blue table

chocolate cake

gold cloth

Tablecloths look beautiful before and during meals.

table runner

blue runnera

and after…


I love to set the table. And of course the best part is sitting around, enjoying life with friends and family.

Vasnetsov magpie

Anna Torma

About 10 years ago I spilled oil on my favorite pants. I embroidered flowers on them to cover up the stain and a new obsession was born. For a while I stitched everything that I could get my hands on, mainly clothing. This shirt was my most elaborate effort.

Paschkis boat shirt

But gradually new obsessions took over (learning Spanish, baking bread, quilting) and my needle mostly lay still.

Paschkis - Insomnia

In December I saw an amazing show of embroidery at the Bellevue Art Museum.

anna torma room

The artist is Anna Torma. She was born in Hungary, but now lives in an old farm house in Canada. Here is a link to her website,  and here is a video interview.

anna torma portrait

She uses time consuming and careful stitching to create wild, loose and free images.

anna torma hanging

Her work tells stories and the more closely you look the more you will see.She embroiders on huge pieces of fabric, but the scale of the embroidery is intimate. The backs and the fronts are beautiful in different ways.

anna torma hangings

torma detail 1 torma detail 2

Since seeing the show I have picked up my needle again. I also hope to pick up some of her freedom and willingness to experiment.

Torma dragon

Louise Bourgeois

Recently a friend gave me a book from an exhibition that Louise Bourgeois had in  Vienna in 2005 when she was 94 years old. I had known of her sculpture, but much of the work in this book was new to me.  In many of these pieces she worked with fabric and with words. 

Here are selections from a book she made out of cloth called Ode A la Bièvre.

bourgeois bievre2002bourgeois bievre1bourgeois bievre2bourgeois bievre3

This is what she calls a fabric drawing.

bourgeois fabric drawing

Here are pages from another cloth book Ode a la Oubli, which she made in 2004. Oubli means oblivion.

bourgeois oublibourgeois oubli1bourgeois oubli 2bourgeois oubli 3

Here are drawings made of lines that look like thread.

bourgeois drawings

It is inspiring that she still made art in her 90′s. Great art that defies categorization! She died in 2010. She said: “My luck was that I became famous so late that fame could not destroy me.”

Here is a portrait of Louise Bourgeois from 1996.

louise bourgeois