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Studio Tour
NOTE: I'm leaving my  Tour the way it was originally written even though
things here have changed a GREAT  deal!!
Magic Threads was  originally located in Lincoln Nebraska from 1981-2000, Lancaster Pennyslvania from 2000-2004 and now in Urbandale Iowa! It's been an interesting trip and we hope you'll come along for the ride!!
Mildred, our senior staff member, does most of the sewing and is also in charge of Public Relations. She is the no-nonsense type who keeps things running smoothly. Nothing gets past her watchful eye. She does keep up with the soaps on the sly, though.
Marsha is in charge of trimming, turning and stuffing. It's her young magic fingers that stuff all those little body parts.
Madeline is our computer wizard and chief pattern folder. She processes orders, sends invoices and generally keeps track of all those tiresome left brain activities.
My three diligent workers keep the business going while I am out teaching. There is a rumor in the building that when I'm not around they invite their friend Max over for long coffee breaks, but I think they deserve the time off. Good help is soooo hard to find!

    I started life as a little girl who liked to play dress up and dolls. I am now a 60 year old who still likes to play dolls! I had a great childhood and just never wanted to leave it behind. We all make dolls for different reasons. I don’t analyze it too much!
    I NEVER liked to sew as a kid but I was always doing some kind of art project. I majored in art in college but only went for 2 years. Got married and got a really boring job in an insurance office. I’d go home at night and CREATE. When my son was born, I stayed home with him. I went through macrame, tie-dye, batik, (remember, this was the 60s) weaving and spinning. I tried it all.
    Oddly enough, everything I did was fiber. I stuck with weaving for 10 years, selling my work at art fairs around the midwest. I liked doing fantasy motifs so many of my weaving were tapestries with dragons and enchanted forests. I eventually got a booth at the Kansas City Renaissance festival and started making
fantasy things out of store bought cloth as well as the woven ones. This meant I had to learn to SEW! UGH! I discovered that I could make things a whole lot faster and sell a lot more when I made things from satin and lame.
        I packed away my loom and started making dragons and quickly became a “Dragon Lady”. For a number of years I did nothing but soft sculpture dragons. I eventually wanted to add fairies and elves and wizards to the flock. I’d never made dolls and had no idea where to begin. I looked through pattern books and discovered only Raggedy Anns and Cabbage Patch styles. Not exactly what I had in mind! I did my first fairy in 1986 and rapidly added more dolls.  About that time I met elinor peace bailey who encouraged me to make patterns. Who, Me!!?? Not with my limited sewing skills! Back then I thought you HAD to do what elinor told you, so I wrote directions for my fairy and dragon. I had a real seamstress read it and make suggestions (like major suggestions and revisions!!) I printed these two, advertised them in The Cloth Doll and figured that was the end of THAT. But people wanted more! So my life as a pattern designer started. It really hasn’t been the same since.
        About that time I moved my little business out of my house and into a real STUDIO with 20 other artists. Our old warehouse was in an area of town with brick streets and the old train station. That was 11 years ago and of course the rest of the world soon discovered “The Haymarket” and now we are the center of the antique stores, boutiques and brew pubs. Our studios have become stores!
        I began teaching at Doll U in 1991 and selling my growing line of patterns to stores around the country. I’ve taught all over the country and in Australia twice. It is a very different life from what I envisioned working out of my spare bedroom long ago.
        My husband of 30 years manages our Community Theatre and our only child Dylan is an actor in New York. Theatre provides a BIG inspiration for me. I still do one of a kind dolls for galleries and special orders. I love the things I get to make that won’t be turned into patterns!
        Travel has become very time and creativity consuming so I’m looking at the on-line teaching as a way to stay home and still teach!! Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed! I can only imagine what new challenges are around the corner. I never would have dreamed that cloth doll making would be so popular! It’s nice to know that there are so many little girls (and boys) who never grew up out there!

Thank you all for making it a fascinating journey.


     PS...   Okay, so when I wrote all that, I didn't know my life was about to change in all kinds of interesting  ways!! After, basically 50 some years in Nebraska, my husband accepted a job offer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and in August 2000 we packed up our house of 18 years, put the 3 howling cats in the car and took off! Don't let anyone tell you that change isn't good.  This has become a grand adventure.  We have bought an 1880's Victorian house in downtown Lancaster and  my colorful new studio is on the 3rd floor.  I've left my staff, friends and family behind and am exploring this beautiful area of Pennsylvania. (Mildred refused to leave The Burkholder Project in Lincoln so she is my old stodgy alter ego left behind.) We can jump on the train and be in New York in 3 hours, Baltimore, D.C., Philadelphia or the sea shore. There are art fairs and antique stores everywhere and the best fruit and vegetables on earth. This has sharpened my senses and made me appreciate life anew!  I recommend it heartily.  I still don't know what is around the next corner and I  find I like the feeling!

PPS....  What was around the corner was a trip back to the Midwest!!  As of November 2004, we are in Urbandale Iowa.  You go where the job takes you and coming back to this part of the country feels very familiar and  comfortable. Our new house has a family of foxes, wood and stream in the back yard so I am happy!!! We are getting good at packing ,although we need a bigger truck each time.  I hauled even more rusty stuff back from the east coast.. We made some great friends in Pennsylvania and our son is still in New York so we will get back often.  The lure of the Garment District calls me even from here.

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