Debbie McCulley shows off some of her Wackadoodle dolls at Shear Illusions  Salon and Boutique in Spokane Valley. (PHOTOS BY J. BART RAYNIAK)
Debbie McCulley shows off some of her Wackadoodle dolls at Shear Illusions Salon and Boutique in Spokane Valley. (PHOTOS BY J. BART RAYNIAK)

Doll-making inspires stylist

Wackadoodle workshops provide easy creative outlet

On Super Bowl Sunday, Psycho Santa, Noddy from New Orleans, Madame Curry of the Spokane Opera, a mermaid named Splash and half a dozen others were conceived in the front room of Shear Illusions Salon and Boutique, 807 N. Argonne Road. The creators were participants in a Wackadoodle Doll Workshop, and they had fun.

“It’s more of an experience than a workshop or class,” said Shear Illusions owner and hair stylist Bert McCollum. “So many women who participated professed not to be creative, but they bloomed and were proud of their creations.”

The workshops provides all the materials needed to spark the imagination, including bags of unique fabric, ribbon, yarn, wings, feathers and miscellaneous embellishments (not to mention snacks and mimosas). The items are used freely to bring a 14-inch doll with bendable arms and legs to life.

The faces are made of clay, some prepainted, some not. A glue gun secures the face to the doll. “Glue guns work great,” said budding artist Henrietta Wolfe. “The event brought out ideas that I didn’t even know I had.” Wolfe created Noddy from New Orleans in tribute to the city and jazz singers.

Linda Spurgen is a client of McCollum’s, and she made a mermaid. She wrapped the doll’s body and legs in shimmering aqua-colored fabric embellished with purple accents, added a long halo of multicolored hair and white netting as if the doll had been captured in a fisherman’s net. To Spurgen, her doll Splash opened her up to different experiences and forms of expression. “The experience was encouraging,” she said. “There’s no wrong way to make a doll and no judgment.”

Spurgen’s comment was encouraging to Debbie McCulley, a hair stylist at Shear Illusions who instigated the event. “I love the creative process and sharing it with others,” she said. “It’s all about bringing out creativity.” She had made Wackadoodle dolls in the past with friends, and her decision to offer the workshop to the public was an attempt to share the art of creating.

McCulley’s artistic nature becomes obvious just walking up to her Spokane Valley front door. Leaves pressed into the once-wet cement have been realistically painted. Once inside, a visitor is immediately inspired by the large acrylic and oil paintings that adorn the walls. A frog peers at you, a buzzard sizes you up, and mixed-media paintings exhibit clock faces, butterflies and more frogs.

Doing hair is McCulley’s bread and butter, but art and creativity add flavor to her life. “Creating sustains me,” she said, adding that the doll workshops are exhilarating.

Barbara Ackerman agreed. “Being creative releases my spirit,” she said, “I get such a positive energy from it.” Ackerman made Psycho Santa, short for psychedelic, not psychotic. Next time, she plans on making an elf.

Dolls that McCulley and McCollum made are displayed at Shear Illusions as a reminder for visitors to unleash their creativity. “Creating makes me feel free,” McCollum said, “and making these dolls is just another avenue.”

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