With scissors in one hand and her mother’s mink coat in the other, Cindi Teague snipped the first cut into the rich fur while her sister looked on.Even though both knew it was coming, that it was a planned and agreed-upon event ever since they had found the old mink coat, stole, and muff from long ago, they each sucked in a short, quick gasp when the coat became halves, then quarters.“I couldn’t see myself wearing the mink coat or the stole with the tail and the feet dangling down. It’s not P.C. anymore,” said Teague, who lives in Concord. “Mother enjoyed it, and now so are we.”A few hours later, the mink coat had become a miniature fur cap and a pair of tiny mittens – all for a jolly fat man in red.It adorned one of many Christmas-themed dolls displayed as centerpieces on tables in the fellowship hall of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ: Santa Claus, an elf and others, each with its own unique story to tell.The dolls were made by members of Flights of Fancy, a doll-making club that meets the second Wednesday of each month at the church in University City.They spend each meeting learning a new skill, like how to make tiny hands and feet, or painting the slightest blush on the cheeks.They sometimes debate over which is more satisfying: cloth or clay or porcelain faces.Panze Roberts, a retired art teacher from Dilworth Elementary, started the club in 1992 with two other members.“We stayed at three people for years,” said Roberts. “Then when we started exhibiting in the local quilt show, we picked up more members.”Today, the club has 25 members, from Concord to Indian Trail, art teachers to business executives, beginners to experts.When asked how long she’s been a doll-maker, Gracie Coleman wasn’t sure how to answer. “I’ve been a doll-maker for eight years, but in my mind I’ve been doing dolls my whole life,” said Coleman, who lives in Ballantyne.Perched atop a folding table sat the first doll she ever made: a Santa Claus with a round face and rosy cheeks that peeked from behind a white beard. She had sculpted the head decades earlier in an art class, and for years it rested without a body. “I was a corporate executive and worked 18-hour days and didn’t have time to do it for the longest time,” said Coleman, who is now retired.Now she spends much of her time in her home studio creating dolls. She keeps a few but gives most as gifts or sells them at prices that range from $60 to $375.She sifts through clearance bins after major holidays, picks up last season’s fabric sample books discarded by interior decorators, and accepts bags of fine silk scraps from a local dress shop.“I am a treasure-hunter,” said Coleman. “Anytime I see anything for a doll I get it.” Nearby, elves she crafted wore miniature sweaters and scarves – leftover novelty wine bottle outfits from a town wine store. Each time Teague begins a new doll, she poses a challenge to herself: “What I say is, ‘I’m not going to buy one thing to make this doll,’ ” she said. Many wear at least a few inches of mink.“We trimmed them with mink because predominantly we had mink,” she said.
Friday, Jan. 04, 2013
Craft group gets all dolled up
Flights of Fancy doll-making club reaches members’ inner child
Cindi Teague created this Santa Claus using remnants from her mother's mink coat. LISA THORNTON
One of the dolls is Jacob Marley from "A Christmas Carol." LISA THORNTON
Want to join? The Flights of Fantasy Doll Club meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, 3501 West W.T. Harris Blvd., Charlotte. For more information, visit www.fofclothdollclub.webs.com.