It's a doll's house for Mount Airy woman


November 14, 1997|By Christy Kruhm | Christy Kruhm,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PATRICK IS perched atop a newel in Debbie Michael's foyer, welcoming visitors inside a genuine dollhouse. Patrick is an elf, a doll dressed in whimsical clothes and a fur-trimmed cap.

The Mount Airy home is a showcase for Michael's handmade dolls, which are posed with antique toys and props in the living room and front hallway. Father Christmas leans on a hand-carved walking stick near the fireplace. A Victorian Santa sits in a rocking chair with a child on his lap.

A wizard looks magical in his purple robe and flowing beard. A larger-than-life jack-in-the-box pops out of an antique wooden box.

Michael has no plan when she begins creating a doll. She sculpts the face and hands from polymer clay, hollowing the head so she can place teeth and eyes. She bakes the clay pieces in the oven. The creative process continues with painting and assembling the bodies from wire and polyester batting.

She sews clothes from scraps of material friends and relatives save for her. She likes to use old neckties for elf costumes and hats. She dyes mohair yarn for the doll hair, and has an assortment of trinkets and costume jewelry to adorn outfits.

Michael starts a doll by sculpting the head. She pays close

attention to details on the doll's hands, including gestures.

"The hands have body language and expression," she said.

Gideon, an elf, was Michael's first creation more than three years ago. She made his head by chance one evening, after picking up a block of clay.

"I was so excited; it was easier than I thought," she said.

Ironically, Michael, who majored in drawing and painting at the University of North Carolina, failed sculpting in college. Creating her dolls is especially exciting and rewarding for her because "deep down, I felt I was always a sculptor," she said.

She sells all but a few cherished dolls. She has sold several to friends and family, but with her eldest daughter ready to start college next year, she has started to increase her visibility by selling at craft shows and is considering other markets.

The dolls range in price from $125 for a small angel to more than $1,000 for large Santas.

Michael remembers the first time she tried to sell her dolls at a doll shop. She returned home with them twice before deciding she was ready to sell them.

L She secretly hopes that each of her dolls finds a good home.

Information: 301-829-9004.

Student food drive

Winfield Elementary School PTA hopes to fill the Thanksgiving tables of seven needy families with turkey dinners.

Beginning today and running through Nov. 21, the school will hold its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Students are being asked to bring in donations that will be presented to the "adopted" families for Thanksgiving.

Danielle Weyforth, food drive chairwoman, has organized the donations by grade level, to ensure that all types of items needed will be provided.

Instead of a food donation, kindergarten students are asked to donate a nickel a day for six days. If all 125 kindergarten students donate six nickels, enough money will be collected to buy two or three turkeys.

Volunteer Donna Pope is helping Weyforth with the food drive. The seven families, all of whom have children at Winfield Elementary, were selected by Angela Nunnelley, school guidance counselor, with help from the county's Department of Social Services.

Food and cash donations can be dropped in a box in the school's lobby until Nov. 21.

* Information: 410-635-3022.

Senior art show

Mount Airy Senior Center is showcasing the talent of its members from 8: 30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the center.

The work of local senior artists, including Jack Steele and Charles Beck Jr., will be on display. Admission is free.

Information: 301-829-2407 or 410-795-1017

Christy Kruhm's Southwest Neighborhood column appears each week in the Friday edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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