Meet the Maker: Charlie Patricolo | Southern Highland Craft Guild Skip to content

Crafting Dolls for 50 years

Charlie Patricolo of Murphy, NC has been a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild since 2002, accepted for her fine craftsmanship of cloth dolls. She has been teaching her process for last 20 years. Watch as she brings these dolls to life!
handmade dolls, faith hope and love, fairy dolls, handmade appalachian tradition, john c cambell dolls
We had the chance to sit down with February's Featured Maker to talk with her about doll-making.
When did you make your first doll?
I made my first doll at about 16 when I had a job in a fabric store and was ready to try something other than clothing.
That first doll (and the following dozen or so) were from patterns I could purchase. The selection was very limited (way before internet). It wasn't until much later, when I took a workshop with Dee Dee Triplett at John C. Campbell Folk School that I started to design my own. Have rarely looked back to patterns. I try not to look at doll pictures when I am designing new work, so that I avoid the unconscious copying that can occur so easily.
Charlie Patricolo (46)

Who / what was your inspiration to start making dolls? What inspires you today?

My inspiration at the beginning was really just to see if I could do it. As time went on, and the techniques and engineering became a little easier, the thoughts turned to WHO was I going to make next. I am so fortunate to be able to hang out with other creative people. I come from a background in business (computers - software and hardware sales) so the ideas of having a 'message' or 'concept' is not one that comes to me naturally. I have had to really learn to pay attention to what I saw and heard and sometimes felt to begin 'creating' a new doll or series. I get ideas from songs, books, a piece of fabric that speaks to me and sometimes just the raw emotions of my life and the people close to me.

Charlie Patricolo (55)

Do you have a favorite character / doll that you make? Tell us about that doll.

The favorite doll question is really a tough one. Kind of like choosing a favorite child (only have one, so I am not well practiced on that one). I do know that some of them in a series really are tough to let go of. I seem to make a connection with the face and then the clothing just 'works' . Sometimes those particular ones are the pieces I hold back for a bit to make sure I get good images taken. I also prefer to sell those 'directly', so I know they are going to a good home. Crazy, I know! I have loved the Purpose of Angels series. They started with me wanting to do something for family members after my Mom passed away a couple of years ago. I took some of the outfits she had worn to children's and grand children's weddings and used the fabric for their gowns. It was very therapeutic. I loved the form so much that when I had completed them. I looked for fabric that had the same feel and made a series to sell. I still love that form.
Lately I have been playing with natural dyes. The dolls in the spotlight group are a great representation of that activity. Nearly all have at least a bit of hand dyed fiber on them. I used steel and vinegar to make the gold/rust color. The light bluish green is from copper and ammonia and the light pinkish is from avocado pits. It is so much fun. I can't predict the intensity of the colors or even the precise tone as each fabric behaves differently. I like the 'spontaneity' of it. Sometimes I have to do more than one type of fabric to get the color I want. Sometimes I get happy surprises.
Charlie Patricolo (38)

When did you join the Guild and why?

I joined the Guild in 2002 (on my second try).
I have felt like it was a great way to learn about how other creative people get from the 'concept or idea' to the ' thing'.

What is your favorite part of being a Guild Member? What is your participation in the Guild?

I do at least one of the Craft Fairs each year and try to demonstrate at the locations that sell my work at least once a year.

The sense that 'I am not in this alone' is very helpful to an introvert who works alone. I need the opportunities (shops, fairs and demos) to get me 'out there'. That connection with staff and visitors is really important for me.

Do you teach workshops on how to craft dolls?

I do teach - It is a very big part of my life. I travel and see new places and meet new people who appreciate the dolls and the process. I am very proud of having lots of folks who take classes from me again and again. I have been so fortunate to find shops with staff that support the effort of education and let me come back regularly.
In case there is any doubt, I will say it here 'I have a great life!'
Learn how to craft dolls like Charlie! 

Focus on Costuming (February 15, 16, 22, & 23)

(with back up dates the following weekend) for a new class

(some patterns provided) at Asheville Cotton Company in Asheville, NC

Focus on Costuming (March 6, 7, 8 & 9) (some pattern provided) at Sewing Boutique in Ft. Myers, FL

Beaded Mermaid (March 26 & 27) (pattern provided) at Esther's Fabrics on Bainbridge Island, WA

Workshop Cloth a Dollics (March 29 & 39, April 5 & 6) workshop in Victoria, Canada contact me if you are interested

Design Your Own (April 20, 21, 27 & 28) at Freemans Creative in
Durham, NC

Little Swimmer (May 2 & 3) (pattern provided) at 5 Little Monkeys Quilt in Weaverville, NC

Focus on Costuming (May 24 – 30) (some patterns provided) at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC

Design Your Own' at Bee Eclectic Studio & Emporium in Hastings (August 19, 20, 26, 27) MI. 117 W State Street, Hastings, MI 49058
Toll free 888-823-3383 studio 269-331-6122

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