Trish Hurley has built on a lifetime love of dolls and a tireless creative spark to take her hobby to amazing new levels. For more than a decade, Hurley has created elaborate costumes and dioramas scaled to one or more dolls in her collection, photographed the resulting sets from all angles, and written a story to go with each set of photos. She uses the online service Shutterfly to combine her story and select photos in a book. Then she takes everything apart to make room for her next production.
“I started out really small, with a Volks doll,” Hurley said. After several small dioramas that told short stories, she said, her projects started growing. One of her longer photo books, “Rainbow Falls State Park,” runs to 37 pages. It stars Tonner Doll Company’s Ellowyne Wilde and Rufus as they go horseback riding and other activities in her fictional setting.
Her photo story “Morocco,” which also stars Ellowyne and Rufus, was inspired by Rudolph Valentino’s silent film “The Sheik.” Not only did she create multiple costumes for both dolls, Hurley created a fanciful caparison for the sheik’s horse, and constructed and furnished a room and patio area for the desert hideaway where the sheik takes the kidnapped Ellowyne. Hurley’s “Morocco” is brief, simply told, and lavishly illustrated with photographs.
You’ll find two of the patterns Hurley created for this story in DOLLS magazine’s April 2020 issue; DOLLS subscribers can see Hurley’s complete “Morocco” photo story as a digital bonus feature in our magazine archives.
Hurley uses a combination of purchased and repurposed items for her props and furnishings, making adjustments to fit her needs for any given scenario. She learned to sew at an early age, starting by making outfits for her dolls. She later earned a degree in commercial art. She’s sewn clothes for herself and her family, and worked creating costumes for a local ballet company and for members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval history re-creation group with chapters across the country.
While she enjoyed making clothes and costumes for people, Hurley, who is also a disabled Air Force veteran, said she found it was getting harder to work on the full-sized garments. “So I decided, why not do it for dolls? That’s a lot smaller!”
Many of her creations are period costumes — some of her other projects, either finished or in the works, include an elaborate Depression-ear circus, another Arabian-themed setting, and a tale of two Southern sisters traveling to the West after the Civil War. Hurley’s also excited about a steampunk-style gypsy wedding, as well. “It’s an interaction thing — an adult version of playing with my dolls,” she said. “It also keeps my mind off the daily pain I live with — it keeps me going. That’s what I’d like to pass on to others. I think people need to be encouraged to be creative.
“I think more people would like to do this sort of thing, but they just don’t know how — they don’t know how to get into it, or think it looks too complicated. But once you dive in and start trying to do it, it’s not that hard. I really hope to encourage people to find their own ways to play with their dolls.”
See more of Trish Hurley’s creations at costuming-with-style.blogspot.com
Win Ellowyne’s Princess Outfit
Trish Hurley re-created her princess outfit for Ellowyne in gorgeous blue fabrics expressly to give it to one of our lucky readers! Visit our contest page for your chance to win!
DOLLS Subscriber Bonus!
Trish Hurley has graciously allowed DOLLS to present her complete photo story “Morocco” to our subscribers in digital format. To see the full story, go to dollsmagazine.com/archive, log in, and select the DOLLS April 2020 digital issue to see the full issue (including two of Hurley’s patterns) plus this bonus feature.
Subscribers automatically have access to DOLLS’ digital archives — all you need to do is register using your Customer Number to set up your website login.