From Borneo and Around

This blog is all about Borneo (and sometimes elswere) as I experience it. It's about places, people, fauna, food ... and anything I find pleasantly worth sharing in words and pictures.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I just received fresh news from my friend and artistic genius DAF that I can't wait to share. Here it comes:


Hi Annie

Sorry for the delay in answering your email only getting to it now. Very busy with my 2m work in clay. I am now at the stage of hollowing the sculpture out and trying to beat the drying out process which has now speeded up, due to the hollowing and heat combined but I am getting there, if this sculpture works for me there will be no stopping me in what can be done in the clay. The only part than can let me down is technically, but so far so good.

Thank you for the 'post'.. reads well, and all publicity is good. The national Malay paper has done an interview with me, so could be out next weekend. Thank you for your support as a friend and in my art ......

Regards to Ian and the boys,

Can't wait to see what you have been up to.
You can visit DAF's blog at or click his address featured in the right hand side column.


Mia, my first batik mermaid
I am a batik lover and for a long time I had a vision of a mermaid with a blue batik tail. One day I finally made “Mia”

Mia’s tail measures an extraordinary 58cm (the whole doll measures 83cm), she listens to soothing songs caught inside a sea shell and glitters like salt does in the sun. Mia’s whole body is made of cloth; her face is sculptured and painted; extra long eyelashes make her look at once dreamy yet quite cheeky. For the crown that holds together her blue hair I used a combination of tinsels that I fused together on a very fine metallic fabric mesh that I then embroidered with colorful metallic threads and cottons to add interesting hues.

“Tari of the waves” is Mia’s pink sister with purple eye lashes. I created her for my friend (while thinking of her too) Tari who lives in Australia. She has always loved sailing, collecting sea-shells and creating decorative gifts with them, and her favorite color is pink. I absolutely dislike making the same thing twice yet I really wanted to please my friend, so I chose to focus on the challenge of not being able to use shells which would have been rejected by the Australian customs and excises department; instead I used pearls (yes, fake ones).

Tari of the waves

Anywhere I go, at any time I keep my mind and both my eyes open for anything that I could eventually use on a doll. I have a whole treasure room with boxes and drawers filled with tiny jewelry, beads of all kinds, seeds, miniature mirrors from God knows where, feathers, ribbons, artificial hair and eye lashes, glitters, copper shavings etc, etc. All of these need not necessarily be expensive, many are recycled and I have specifically asked my friends to give me their broken costume jewelry.

Although I do sell some of my creations in a local shop, I am more into making dolls to make my friends and family happy. My friend Helen explained to me how she never had any toys to play with when she was little, so I made country dolls for her. I also made Bidayuh dolls for Judy of Kampung Hannah Rais; funky batik cats called Kooch (Kuching is translated “cat”) with an amusing crooked tail typical of our local cats and you may say that Kooch is a Sarwakat; Batik fishes for my four young nephews who love fishing with their grand dad (my brother) and batik hearts because everyone deserves one. For Janice whose suitcase was too full I assembled a miniature French toile de Jouy doll built around a tobacco pipe cleaner, then I used the same technique to make a Bidayuh one carrying a basket made of tree bark and again a Chinese one for Linda.

Jouy angel

When I found myself looking at the unattractive black CPU next to my computer I made Mei Mei (remember Taipan?) a bright Hakka doll; it was in October so I placed a moon cake in her hands .

Ah May
When Janice gave me a pattern for an unarguably western Christmas angel I thought it would be great to have a local protector all year round so I changed the dress to black and painted it with red and gold sparkles, added a garland of gold coins around the bottom of the tunic and let her wear a Bidayuh hat on her jet black hair.

Bidayuh angel

I started my first doll as a challenge to myself : as a student my art teacher always had a tough time deciding between E and F to mark my work; I guess my mark must have depended on whether she was annoyed with my inability or if she felt sorry for me. With such a history, I was convinced that although I would love to make my own dolls, it would be way beyond my capabilities. One fine day at last I figured out the obvious, that I had nothing to lose if I would give it a shot and so I did. I have never stopped since. Very quickly I gave up looking for the rare patterns that sometimes appear in Australian craft magazines; I started creating my own imaginary cross-culture characters. Now I encourage anyone who is interested in craft to dare try their skills and follow their imagination. Really it can’t hurt to try! And if you wish to express your repressed extravagance, and why not, the Lady Gaga in you, then by all means, make dolls!

Above, Irma la Douce, my first doll from a pattern found in an Australian magazine. The fabric for her skirt was brought back all the way from Martinique by my dear friend and quilting artist Claude Mougey. In those days (2002) I did not have good fabric pens.


The Borneo Dolls

A) The Bidayuhs




D) KOOCH, The Batik Cat


Boutis Angel

This Boutis angel is 45cm tall (Now gone to Western Australia). I learned Boutis or Provencal embossed embroidery from a most gifted artist who has become a dear friend, Lucie Berrest who is fiercely involved with the Musee de Provence de Chateau-Gombert, near Marseilles, in in rehabilitating this almost forgotten art.

Jolly Coeur Angel

Angel Doremi
The angels collection was encouraged by my friend Ratna who so kindly organised an exhibition of my dolls in her Inspiration shop, Nexis, no.14 grd. floor. lot 2342, Bormill Estate Commercial Center, Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce in Kuching. Thanks Ratna, I love you!
Miss Bo'
TEO's X'Mas Spirit



Shanghai Blue
Kongsi Mermaid

Dugong Ulu river mermaid from Borneo Highlands

Mermaid in Red June 2011

JULY 2011


Caw-Girl for Jacquie X'mas 2010 Main fabric for the skirt is from Texas, the hat is from Australia, the sheepskin for the boots too.


Mademoiselle Tricolette


Miss Jackson