Christmas in July WINQs

It wasn’t until I started to  put together this list that I realized every non-quilt thing I’ve been working on is Christmas related. And then I realized it’s July. Without even trying I’m living the cliché!

TNBC Advent Calendar Shelf

Finished this TNBC shelf – finally. What should have been a super simple project (the circle and swirl were both purchased laser cuts for crying out loud!) has taken me 6+ months.


I thought purple color change spray paint would make the silhouette look really cool, but it seemed to be discontinued, so tracking down a couple of cans wasn’t easy. Then I found out why it was discontinued – it was impossible to get a smooth, clean coat with that stuff.

No matter what I did, and trust me I tried! Coat after coat after coat. Finally I gave up and now it’s black. Which is fine as I think the mini Funko POPs from the TNBC Advent calendar might show up better against the black anyway. At least it’s done.

Spiral Advent Calendar

Some craft projects you fight with, some just flow, and this Spiral Advent Calendar is one of the latter. At the risk of sounding a little bit sappy, the bright, cheerful colors of this felt penny rug literally make my soul happy.


Every so often I’m scrolling Pinterest and something I’ve never seen before comes across my feed. Most recently, this spiral Advent calendar craze. There’s a few ways you can make them – using textiles or wood are the most common – but the main point is a game-piece like marker moves around a spiral with 24 ‘stops’ towards the center which represents Christmas Day.

It only took 4-5 attempts to get a swirl that looked right! Just kidding, but I was surprised that the layout is not entirely symmetrical. It actually looked best with the center slightly off center.  The felt circles are then decoratively stitched down (a bit of basting glue kept everything in place, but probably wasn’t completely necessary.) French knots have been an embroidery nemesis of mine for decades, but I felt by the end I was getting a really good feel for them. Practice does make perfect!

But the outside border is my favorite part. I’d originally planned to add beads to the blanket stitch, but the beads I thought I had on hand have disappeared. While looking for another option, I realized I had a LOT of the tiny felt circles available and figured out – on my own! – how to attach them. I’m sure someone else has done this before, but I didn’t look at any tutorials at all, just puzzled on it until I figured it out. Proud crafter here!


Elf ranks right up there on my list of favorite Christmas shows – below anything Grinch-related of course – but it’s still a must-watch several times each season year. So, naturally, I fell in love with this tutorial from the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party blog for making your own Buddy the Elf Spirit Clausometer! If singing is the best way to spread Christmas cheer, crafting must be not far behind because, as you can see, Christmas spirit around here is 100% ALL. THE. TIME!


Based on the tutorial, almost any old cheap clock will do, but since I wanted to go a bit larger and make two to use as holiday wreaths on our front doors, mine started as these red diner-styler clocks from the home goods store At Home. Creating the clausometer face image in Photoshop was fun because I’d never really done curved text before. It wasn’t particularly easy to get the spacing just right, but high school geometry came to my rescue (see, kids, you will use it as an adult!) The images were then matte printed on photography paper at Shutterfly.


These particular clocks had a lot of ‘innards’ that blocked where the lights were going to go, so my solution was to build up a couple  layers of rings cut from ¼” craft foam. This raised the face enough to fit battery-operated lights inside so the clausometers will light up for several hours each evening without needing to turn them on every day. You can almost see the lights in this photo of them displayed on our front doors, but it is July and there’s a lot of sunshine getting in the way!

It’s nice to have all three of these projects done, just in time to focus on new Halloween and Christmas quilted countdown calendars for Whimzie Quiltz Etsy! In a way, Christmas in July will be spilling over into Advent in August 🙂 but I don’t want to miss the 2021 selling season. Hopefully, I’ll be posting my new designs here soon as I’ve got some really fun ideas for both holidays – think voodoo dolls, vampires, corgis and pugs (I’ll leave it up to you to imagine which are for which holiday!)

Catching Up

I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since my sewing machine was fixed, but looking back I have accomplished a lot in that small amount of time. (Not enough, of course; it’s never enough. #MoreIdeasThanTime)

Graduation Pillows

We’ve got twin niblings graduating this year – one’s going off to study astrophysics at Arizona State and the other will be a broadcasting/mass communications major at SUNY Oswego. As I do with all our graduating nieces and nephews, I made 24″ x 24″ t-shirt pillow shams for their dorm rooms. These pillows are so handy for extra seating, resting a text book on while reading in bed and just generally a great addition to typically bland dorm decor.


Scrat Pillow

Since I was making pillows anyway, I tossed in this Scrat pillow for myself. The t-shirt with the squirrel from Ice Age was a gift for my birthday a couple of months back, and just a few washes had already made it start to flake in a few spots. Rather than wear the shirt until it fell apart, I decided to turn it into a pillow. Though, to be fair, I’m snuggling with this fun little guy enough to wear the shirt out anyway.


Groundhog Day Quilt

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’ve long wanted to recreate the quilt that appears behind Bill Murray and Andi McDowell as they leave the Groundhog Day celebration at the end of the classic movie. One way or another, this quilt kept getting put off for other projects, that is until the pandemic. I decided that my first post-vaccination fabric shopping trip would be the perfect time to start this one! After all, the teal green fabrics needed to be picked out in person and this was my first in-person shopping trip in 15 months.

Exactly 2 weeks after my second dose – to the hour – I was at Rosie’s Calico Cupboard and gleefully choosing the perfect shades. Then, of course, my machine broke, but I finally got to piece the top two weeks ago –


Here’s the shot from the movie itself, and the actual quilt as displayed in the Woodstock (IL) Public Library movie memorabilia exhibit. Got pretty close, didn’t I?


Krampus Wallhanging

After finishing the Groundhog Day top Friday afternoon, I went to sleep that night thinking I had a slow weekend ahead. Instead I woke up Saturday morning with the idea to make Krampus quilted wallhanging and that idea would. not. go. away.

Fortunately, I had just enough fabric on hand to finish this small top over the next 48 hours. I think what was driving me was including a 3-dimension tongue element – I just couldn’t stop until I figured out how to make it work! 


The solution I landed on was using felt for the ‘batting’ and overstitching a couple of pipe cleaners down the center. The tongue itself was two pieces of red fabric sewn together and turned inside out. I then threaded the felt piece inside and topstitched the whole piece. The pipe cleaners let me shape the curl and the felt is just sturdy enough to hold without too much weight causing a distortion. IT WORKED! (I live tweeted this whole crazy experience. If you are interested in following my Twitter account for more quilt-y process info as it happens, you can find me @whimziequiltz.)

Countdown Calendars

Both the groundhog quilt and Krampus have now gone onto my pile of tops that need long-arm quilting, but that won’t be a while. I realized it’s July, and if don’t get my 2021 holiday countdown calendars done soon, they won’t be listed in time for the prime Etsy shopping season. So I’m currently in the middle of making 34 Halloween and Christmas calendars!


It looks like the last quarter of 2021 will be focused on finishing a lot of the quilt tops I’ve made recently, hopefully while also selling a lot on Etsy… so I can save up money to buy more fabric for more quilt tops in 2022. You know, when I started quilting in 1997, no one warned me it would actually never end! 😀

Look Who’s Back!

My sewing machine has returned!


It’s broken arm has been replaced and the stitch lengths appear much more regular (so far.) The repair team at Janome also cleaned and tuned it, so it’s practically brand new. My hope is that I’ll get another 15-20 years of happy sewing from this machine. We’ve made so many great quilts together – somewhere around 300! – and I’m glad that that streak will continue…

In the three weeks my machine was gone, I started WAY too many WINQ (When I’m Not Quilting) projects, many of which are still in process. #MoreIdeasThanTime amirite? But I was able to finish a few things, including these new pieces for our bathroom –


The sign is just decorative, but the shelf replaces an over-sized storage unit that was taking up way too much space in our tiny water closet area. We might have only three backup toilet paper rolls now, but at least there’s room to open the door!

Also finished is this Spool Advent Calendar –


Considering how many of these wooden spool holders I own, I can’t believe I didn’t think this up myself, but the brilliant idea actually belongs to Cathe Holden at Just Something I Made.

Wanting to do something colorful instead of my usual pink/red holiday scheme, I decided to go with a Christmas tree theme. This meant dip staining the stand and the spools brown with Rit Dye to better resemble tree trunks and wrapping green crochet thread around each spool to form 25 little Christmas ‘trees’. I was blown away by how well Rit dyes wood! It did take a few days to make sure the wet wood dried completely, but the look is totally worth it.

The bows are also crochet thread and the faux ornaments are 2mm acrylic dragee beads (the kind used in making fake food or decorative finger nails.) The calendar numbers were sourced from Poland! If you are interested at all in making advent calendars, definitely check out JoCraftShop on Etsy – she has an amazing selection of wooden numbers in all shapes and sizes. And, as a final touch, my husband suggested the phrase “Sew Ready for Christmas” which truly pulls it all together.

I plan to be back sewing full time on Monday. Which is good, because I also spent the last three weeks pre-cutting quilty projects and have a lot to catch up on! Just off the top of my head, there’s 4 large floor pillows for our graduating niblings and a baby quilt for a friend, as well as three large quilts (the Monster at the End of this Quilt, gingerbread neighborhood and Groundhog Day) and a decorative pillow for me. Oh, and 18 Halloween countdown calendars for my Etsy store. So, yeah, me and my sewing machine are going to be over here busy for a while.

I’m really glad it’s home.

Another Pair of Feminist Funkos

With my sewing machine in the shop, I’ve been working on a few WINQ (When I’m Not Quilting) projects, including adding two new feminist Funko POPs to my collection ~ help me welcome, Stacey Abrams and Janet Yellen!

Stacey Abrams


staceyabrams2After using the body of the Eve Moneypenny Funko for my custom Campaign Kamala POP, I realized that the head might be useful for another modern day political icon – Stacey Abrams!  

Abrams turned a stolen Georgia governor race into a nationwide effort to protect voting rights and insure free and fair elections. In the process, she won the heart of one naive former poli-sci major who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still believes democracy is worth fighting for (me.) I cannot tell you how much I admire her, LaTosha Brown and the other grass-roots organizers who turned Georgia blue in 2020. Finding a way to add Abrams to my Feminist Funko collection is one of the highlights of my crafting activism.

Although I had a head in hand, finding an appropriate body donor POP for Abrams was not easy. Funko’s already limited line up of female POPs tends to leaner recreations; there just aren’t a lot of different body shapes available for customizing. (Again, Funko, WTF? More women, more BIPOC, more AAPI, and more body type representation – including disability – is not too much to ask for in 2021.)

But my sculpting skills continue to improve (partly because I’ve upgraded to a better quality air-dry clay.) So when I saw that the dress on the Kim Boggs POP had a neckline similar to the light blue dress Abrams wore while campaigning for governor of Georgia, I thought I might be able to sculpt a fairly accurate outfit. (The photo, above, that I used as inspiration was taken by Ruth Fremson in 2018.) 

Dress aside, there weren’t many modifications beyond paint necessary for this POP. The skin color is a custom mix, but the light blue was a purchase because there weren’t any pastels in my stash (I do like the bright colors :D) I am beyond thrilled with how well she turned out!

Janet Yellen

Yellen_Mainyellen2Janet Yellen has made a life out of being first – currently, she’s the first female US Treasury Secretary. From 2014 to 2018, she served as the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve Board. And, like me, she’s often the first to arrive for any occasion. (Olivier Douliery’s picture to the right is of Yellen at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2014 – the first guest there at a 1000+ person event.) This is my literally my favorite anecdote about any famous person I’ve ever learned (narrowly beating out the fact that Abrams writes romance novels.) Given all this, how could I not want a Janet Yellen POP for my Feminist Funko collection?

The donor POPs I chose for this custom were Mary Jane from SpiderMan and Rachel Duncan from Orphan Black. (After all this time customizing, I finally discovered a number of Etsy stores that sell POP parts separately so I was able to get the Rachel body without the head for dirt cheap.)

Mary Jane’s right hair swoop was perfect for Yellen’s pixie ‘do, but I had to sand the left side of the head down and sculpt new hair there and in the back (MJ had a pony tail, but it popped out pretty easily; thank you, Funko.) I started by attaching paper clay snakes, but they were a bit too heavy, so I eventually scraped clay away in some areas and carved in appropriate dimension where I could with dental picks and bamboo skewers. Now that I’ve upgraded clay, I may need to upgrade tools, too!

I chose the Rachel body because the jacket was close to the style Yellen prefers, but there was lot of modifications here. Starting at the bottom, she needed to wear pants instead of a skirt, so I added clay around the legs and used a Dremel to drill a dividing space in the plastic part of the outfit. Fortunately, this was an older, more solid POP so I didn’t end up with a weird gap that would then need filling.

Removing the martini glass wasn’t too difficult, just a quick cut with an Exacto blade. But it left a clenched fist that needed something for Yellen to hold. The stack of $100 bills is balsa wood with images of money that I printed and decoupaged on the front and back. I cut a very small indent in the wood then pressed it onto the hand – balsa is so soft that it formed itself around the POP fingers and ended up looking surprisingly realistic!

The hardest part of this sculpt, though, was making an upturned collar for the jacket. If you look at photos of Yellen, the upturned collar is, after her hair, her most iconic visual characteristic. I had to include one! But paper clay just isn’t very useful when it comes to creating teeny, tiny details. After 4 or 5 different attempts, I did end up with a fairly good approximation.

There was a 3rd POP that was supposed to be part of this batch (Boudicca) but I’m struggling with the paint job on her – still learning, still improving! But that’s all part of the fun. She’ll move to the next group I have in mind, which includes Amelia Earhart, Guinan from Star Trek and ballerina Maria Tallchief. Hopefully, my sewing machine will be back soon, but if I can’t sew, it’s nice to have these to keep me busy! 

Wishing My Sewing Machine a Speedy Recovery

A couple weeks ago, I started having some issues with stitch regulation while sewing. No worries, I thought, I’ll adjust something here and there, replace the needle, change out the walking foot, it’ll all be fine.

It wasn’t fine.

Turns out, that when used daily for nearly 20 years like I have been doing, the needle arm on a Janome 6500 tends to wear, causing it to wobble back and forth in the needle arm support, producing irregular stitch lengths. After realizing this wasn’t something I could fix at home, I took the machine into the local repair shop. Unfortunately, even they weren’t willing to attempt this repair!

So my little machine is off on a big adventure ~ traveling from the West Coast to Janome headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey ~ to get it’s broken arm boo boo fixed up.

I’m relieved they can still replace the part as the 6500 has been discontinued for a while now. I love this machine (we’ve been a team for so long!) and don’t really want to upgrade to the model available now unless I absolutely have to, so please keep your fingers crossed for me that this solves the stitching problem.

Here’s a quick picture of the last project I finished before my machine left – a set of outdoor pillows for our back yard.


The last set of backyard pillows I made was in 2017 and they really should have been replaced last year. But it wasn’t easy to find an outdoor fabric that matched our blue and brown pool tile AND also fit with teal Adirondack chairs. Luckily, I turned up this tropical resort novelty print and the corresponding brown-ish tweed at earlier this year. Yesterday was our first 80+ degree day of the spring, so these pillows finished just in time for warm weather.

Hopefully, my sewing machine will be back soon because our front porch could use some colorful new pillows, too!

‘Til Death Do Us Part? ~ Married Monsters Appliqué!

There are crafters who work on only one project at time, but I am not one of them. At any given moment I usually have 2-3 main projects, dozens of works in progress and even more “someday” ideas. The pattern for this particular project was purchased in 2009 and it’s been sitting in my “someday” files for 12 years. Yesterday, though, it moved to the #FinallyFinished column! I give you my Married Monsters appliqué wall hangings ~


Happy_Halloween_1024x1024The adorable Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster are part of the Happy Halloween pattern from Amy Bradley Designs (now available as a PDF download). When I purchased the pattern, my intent was to make the whole quilt, but at this point I don’t need another Halloween quilt. Still, the characters are so cute, I had to do something with them, so wall hangings it is!

My versions follow her color choices pretty closely, even though some of the fabrics Bradley used are no longer on the market (many thanks to my overflowing stash closet for saving me once again!)

I satin stitched the appliqués, machine embroidered the decorative touches and added button eyes. OMG, those eyes were such a pain. I had black buttons and I had ⅜” buttons but, did I have black ⅜” buttons? Of course not. Eventually I just gave up and spray painted a couple of blue ⅜” buttons black.

The frames are 12″ embroidery hoops that I painted black, too. I didn’t want the silver hoop latches to show, so a couple of laser cut wood bats from SinisterSupplies hide them nicely. (Seriously, if you are Halloween fan, check out that store. Every Halloween-themed laser cut they offer is wicked cool.) I also took the time to hot glue felt to the back to hide the messy insides of the hoop. Someday, I hope to learn how to sew that felt on. I’ve seen people who do it and it looks so much more polished, but hot glue works in a pinch.

We did not decorate for Halloween last year (pandemic), so this year is probably going to be blast. This is only the first of a few spooky cute decorations that are works in progress that I hope progress a little further before October. Wish me luck!

Hot Chocolate Dragons Quilted Pillow Set

Sometimes I spend hours coming up with the perfect title for these blog posts, but, occasionally, just naming the project is all I need to do ~ a hot chocolate dragons quilted pillow set? Yes, please!


These images are the work of artist KM Steere (she also goes by KeymonsterShop on Etsy.) I just fell in love with her dragons morphing into mugs of hot chocolate when I saw the original prints, but I am totally out of wall space around here. So I inquired about purchasing the rights to print them on fabric and she agreed!

Spoonflower is still the only option for custom small-batch printing on fabric. It’s something of crap shoot to work with them ~ you never know if you’ll get a flawed print or if the colors will fade or even if the fabric will crock during the first wash. But I’ve had the most luck with their cotton sateen, so that’s what these were printed on. I was surprisingly pleased with how well they turned out!

cuppa-cocoa-per-yard-danielle-leone-wilmington-prints-hot-cocoa-words-on-brown-629371_700x700All the scrappy brown fabrics in the borders were from my stash. I did purchase a peppermint for the accent. Although I had a red and white stripe in stock, it was too harsh next to the softer lines of the art; this kind of washed striped works so much better. And I splurged on what may be the last yard of Wilmington Fabrics ‘Cuppa Cocoa’ fabric available in the world. Released in 2019, this line is only 2 years old but it was apparently super popular! Every source I tried was sold out, but then it turned up literally in my own backyard at San Diego’s Quilt in a Day.

I’m always a little worried when I’m doing a collaboration quilt project that I won’t do justice to the original art. But these hot chocolate dragon pillows turned out exactly like I hoped and when I shared them with KM, she was thrilled too ~

OH MY GOODNESS! They are so freaking cute! You did an amazing job!

Because of the fabric printing and pandemic shopping, this pillow set took a bit longer to finish that I hoped. While I purchased the digital files in January, when the weather here was quite cold, we’re having a few 85+ days this week. So I won’t get to enjoy these right away, but hot chocolate season will be here again before I know it! Can’t wait!

World’s Largest Pincushion or World’s Best Pun?

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased an enamel pin to support a crafty friend who was having a sale… and now I’m obsessed with pins. I’m trying* (i.e. not trying hard at all) to rein myself in, but sooner or later I knew I was going to need a place to display a collection.

After a few trips around Pinterest to see how other people show off theirs, I mentioned to my husband that I was looking for a way to display my pins. He misunderstood and thought I wanted a way to display my straight sewing pins. Which, after we figured out what each of us was talking about, led me to brainstorm this pin cushion-shaped enamel pin-holding pillow sham. It’s a giant pin cushion pin cushion!


The red fabric had recently been added to my stash; it was originally meant to be part of a Christmas quilt, but that fell off my to-do list a couple of months ago. Solids aren’t my fabric of choice usually, so I figured that red would be stored away for years… then this idea serendipitously came up! The green felt was from making Grinch gnomes with my sister-in-law before the pandemic and I was even able to use some fusible bamboo batting that’s probably been in my closet since 2010.

What really pulls the whole idea together, though, is the stuffed strawberry. I used a tutorial from Down Grapevine Lane, enlarging their pattern. The directions were super easy ~ in fact, this whole 14″ x 28″ pillow came together in less than 24 hours!

Can’t wait to start filling up my pin cushion pin cushion with pins… and giggle again over this ridiculously funny, punny display with every one added!

8th Annual Quilt Bucket List – Let’s Upd8 What to Cre8!

Today is Worldwide Quilting Day. As is my annual tradition here at Whimzie Quiltz, today I look back on the quilts I’ve finished in the last year and look forward to the quilts I’m going to make before I “kick the bucket”. Business-related quilts don’t count; these are just quilts for me.

Everything about the last year has already been said by others more eloquent and less tired than me, so let’s just move on… check out the quilts I made since last Worldwide Quilting Day! 

Votes for Women and Profanity & Fabric were both on Quilt Bucket List #7, while Somewhere and Protesting Penguins were quilts that had been in the back of my mind for a while but got moved up for a couple of reasons ~

  1. I felt like working on them during a pandemic and
  2. a lot of the fabrics in them were already on hand during a pandemic.

Four completed quilts is pretty good, right? But wait there’s more! While these were the only quilts that I finished, I have 4 more tops ready to be quilted, so they are naturally moving up to the top of Quilt Bucket List #8 –

  • Hats Off to Feminism ~ My improv/Word Play quilt take on feminism and the pussy hat movement
  • Ravenclaw Common Room ~ A quilt that combines the bookcase quilt I’ve long wanted with my Hogwarts House while supporting trans rights 
  • Steven Tyler (my cat, not the rock icon) Quilt ~ Long time Quilt Bucket List followers have seen this one listed a lot (I’ve been trying to finish it since 2013 and the top is finally done!)
  • Amanda Gorman Wallhanging ~ Another improv/Word Play quilt featuring a quote from her Inaugural poem

Not to get too far ahead of myself, because shit happens, but I expect at least those four quilts will be completed by the time Worldwide Quilting Day rolls around yet again.

So, what’s next? Well, a lot. Too many to finish before next March, especially as I have a lot of items to make for my Etsy store too, but hope springs eternal. And, I just realized that every one of these are completely new to the list. Because I cannot stop coming up with new quilt ideas even when I have entirely too many others already underway. #MyQuiltLife**

  • The Monster at the End of this Quilt ~ A quilt based on one of my favorite childhood books, The Monster at the End of this Book, starring lovable, furry old Grover. I’ve already cut the fabrics and this one is ready to sew…
  • Life is Full of Pricks ~ Another improv/Word Play quilt that, like so many others, I thought I had enough fabric in my stash for, but no, I had to purchase additional yardage. This one will be for our cactus and succulent-themed living room.
  • Chaotic AOC ~ SketchbookSam has given me permission to recreate her amazing portrait of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in fabric. I should probably say “attempt to recreate” because this will be my first foray into thread painting, a technique I’ve wanted to try for quite a while now.
  • Let it Sew x 3 ~ There’s this particular shade of blue I’ve been collecting for a couple of years and I think I have enough to start this winter / sewing mash-up soon. Based on the plan I have in place, this may be the largest quilt I’ll ever make for myself!
  • Sunbonnet Trek ~ After finishing Deep Space Mine a couple of years ago, I’ve been feeling the need for a Star Trek TNG quilt, this time with all my favorite characters as Sunbonnet Sues. I’m waffling on whether to use traditional appliqué or machine appliqué. I’d like to try traditional, but this seems an ambition project for so much hand stitching.
  • Cat in a Box ~ Now that Steven Tyler’s memorial quilt is nearly finished (see above), I’d like to start a memorial quilt for Julius, our crazy orange tabby who passed away in 2018.

And if all that wasn’t enough, let’s end Bucket List #8 with a bonus quilt planned for my first post-vaccination fabric shopping trip… 


Quilt from the movie Groundhog Day

Yep, I’m going to finally create my own version of the quilt that hangs in the background of party scene in the movie Groundhog Day. Because I want to match the teal green colors closely, this design is perfect for in-person shopping. Plus this is a quilt I’ve always wanted to do and it’s really giving me something to get excited about while I plan post-COVID life. Bring on that shot!

Warmest wishes and a happy Worldwide Quilting Day to all!

(**Oh, yeah, I’m on Twitter now. I tweet about my works in progress while ooh-ing and ahh-ing over posts by other quilters, as well as stitchers, knitters and artists from the account @whimziequiltz. If you’d rather follow me for the occasional righteously angry tweet about San Diego politics, that account is @Quiltz_Createz.)

Another Feminist Funko! My Custom Ida B. Wells POP

Mary_Garrity_-_Ida_B._Wells-Barnett_-_Google_Art_Project_-_restoration_cropI’d heard of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, but didn’t know much about her until a 2018 ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ podcast. Since then, everything I learn about this woman ~ born enslaved, emancipated then orphaned with younger siblings to care for, a teacher, an investigative journalist and newspaper publisher, anti-lynching activist, suffragist, civil rights pioneer ~ leaves me in awe. Any one of those is enough for a single lifetime, and she was ALL of them.

The more I’ve learned, the more I had to add Wells to my feminist Funko collection. (I still don’t understand why Funko hasn’t added black women to their American History line. Ok, I do understand, it’s the misogyny and the racism, but imagine how Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells POPs would completely change the narrative around Funko. Free marketing advice!)

For inspiration, I looked at a number of pictures, but mostly the Mary Garrity photo of Wells from c. 1893. I knew I’d need to recreate Wells’ iconic hairstyle and wanted an outfit as similar as possible to an old fashioned long dress / gown. My donor POP selections were Black Panther’s Nakia (left) and Mary Poppins (right).

My first plan was to make a mold of Nakia’s hair and use that to shape air-dry paper clay matching Wells’ upswept hair do. But that didn’t work out because, 1) mold making is not as easy as it looks and 2) when the POP is actually out of the box, you can tell Nakia’s hair is pretty curly ~ Wells’ photographed hair style is not.

Instead, I winged it, building up the paper clay in thick layers until I got a good height, adding the bun and then creating brushed texture by pressing a wet terry washcloth into the clay. After waiting about a week to make sure it was really dry… LOOK AT HOW FREAKIN’ GOOD IT TURNED OUT!


Screw being modest. I ROCKED THIS HEAD SCULPT! Less well done, but still pretty good, was the teeny-tiny paper clay bow I added to the front of the dress’ neckline for additional dimension and color.

Speaking of color, I think I was unduly influenced by all the 19th century photographs of Wells. There’s no real way to match her skin tone from a black and white photo, so I custom mixed a brown that felt right. I’m also not sure the about the dress colors. On Michelle Duster’s new book, Ida B. Wells The Queen, the image of Wells is wearing pinks and oranges. But I don’t have pinks or orange paints in my stash right now and bright colors seem anachronistic, even if they aren’t. People today have a warped view of historic colors ~ Greek sculptures were brightly painted, not white! Victorian decor was actually so gaudy the green color literally killed people! ~ but, ultimately, I’m happy with the black and grey gown I ended up with.


(It may be silly, but I imagine this was Wells right before the conductor dragged her off of the train after she refused to give up her seat in 1884 ~ it’s an “Are you kidding me with this shit?” kind of pose.)


After I tweeted about finishing this POP, Wells-Barnett’s great-granddaughter responded! She thought it was very cute and linked me to the family-run Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation that continues to honor the Wells legacy today. If you like my work creating this Ida B. Wells Funko POP, and can afford to, please make a donation to the Foundation. Thank you!