The Pillow Case doll Lady shows her stuff
Some parents keep a baby book with significant dates and events recorded for the child’s permanent record? Mary Gonzalez keeps detailed records for all her children. That’s more than 200, at present count.
This Columbia resident, an oncology nurse by profession, found a second calling nearly 20 years ago, when she launched into a career of creating pillowcase dolls. “What I learned from my grandmother in my childhood got me started on this,” she says. “I hung around while she was doing needlework, cross–stitching, embroidery, sewing of all kinds. She would give me a little piece of cloth and some instructions to keep me out of her hair, I suspect. I learned then to love putting scissors and needle to fabric to create something.”
Now she’s known as The Pillowcase Doll Lady at the various crafts shows and events such as Shepherd’s Center where she shows her product.
“The first dolls in my collection were literally made from pillowcases,” she says. “I ordered kits from a catalog that came with the necessary materials and instructions and such accessories as a doll head and face. These kits are still sold from catalogs. After I got going with them, around 1993, I branched out and started picking up lengths of fancy fabric as well as ribbon, flowers, and trim, and making dolls. The creativity would flow as I did more and more.”
A close examination of her dolls reveals what might not be noticed at first glance. They have the faces of cats. “And bunny rabbits, and puppies,” she says. “I love cats, and it’s fun to give these as gifts to other cat lovers too.” A doll made from a kit may take several days/evenings up to a week to complete. The fancier creations need more time, two to three weeks. She threads ribbon through tiny slots, strings beads along wire, and shapes hats and purses for some.
She sells some of her work when showing at a crafts fair, but mainly she makes them because she enjoys doing it and giving them away to special people. “My husband, Dr. Francisco Gonzalez, is an oncologist, so you see we spend a large part of our lives with people who are very ill. My dolls have found homes with many a child as well as adult who has been through serious illness. I like the idea of bringing some pleasure into their lives.”
Mary can tell you where each of her creations now lives and the date of birth. Each one has a name, never to be replicated in the family. The Gonzales family has one son and one grandson. “No little girl to pamper with a doll,” according to Mary. “I guess I’m waiting and hoping for a great–granddaughter some day.”
In the meantime, “Dolls By MaryLiz” (her trade name) will continue to occupy her time and talent.