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Tara Ann Tula – A Gothic Spider Fairy

Tara Ann has a Barbie My Scene head and a graceful Barbie ballerina body.
Her wings are wired, removable, and gently poseable.

This doll was a commission which was delivered at the 2007 IFDC. As usual, I finished it right before we left, so I don’t have as many pictures as I would like. I also suspect that our camera needs to be replaced (it’s almost 5 years old) because the pictures aren’t as sharp as they should be. Some of the pictures were taken while the doll was being constructed and have either a black or a yellow background. The shots with the lavender background were taken after the doll was completed.

Tara’s corset is brilliant blue and black striped velvet with tiny black lace on the top and bottom edges, just like a ‘human’ corset. It laces up the back with silk ribbon through blue metallic eyelets. It cannot be removed. Under the corset Tara is wearing a pair of blue satin panties edged in the same lace as the bottom of the corset. It is not attached to the corset to improve her mobility.

Lace on corset. In this shot you can also see the seams, in-between the stripes, used to shape the corset :

The lacing in the back is not your typical criss-cross style:

Lace on the panties:

Instead of a top, Tara wears a spider-web ‘bra’. This web was hand spun using black thread. Every join is knotted and glued. The web glistens with tiny aquamarine crystals. It overlaps her corset and is attached to it with black diamonds. Crawling up between her breasts is a spider, the web’s owner. Tara is, obviously, not afraid of spiders! This web-bra, and the way it’s attached to her corset, is my favorite part of this doll!

Spider web detail:

Spider web draped over corset:

Tara’s tutu is 28 layers of tulle! Seven different colors were used -- stiff black, stiff navy, fine black, light blue, medium blue, metallic blue and aqua. There are 4 layers of each color and each layer is 25” long for a total of 20 yards of tulle! It’s sewn together into a wavy ruffle and has a black satin band. Under the band is a wire ring to force it to keep its shape. The seam at the back was done in such a way that it is virtually undetectable. The tutu is removable.


How the ends were joined:

Over the tutu, Tara wears an opulent “plate” (the ballet word for skirt) constructed of black lace and brilliant blue satin. It is heavily embellished with Swarovski crystals, glass beads, and jet points in a pattern reminiscent of a spider web. Although the crystals appear to be clear they are actually black diamond, a very elegant color, and much harder to find. There is a smattering of garnet crystals as well, which resemble drops of blood from the spider’s prey. There are spiders crawling around on her skirt, of course, and the plate can be twisted so that they are seen from whichever angle she is displayed.

Tutu detail:

Neither the tutu nor the skirt is attached to the corset. One of the hardest parts of constructing this doll was making an outfit which fit but was flexible enough to allow her to hold all the poses her ballet body is capable of. Because the skirts are not attached, they will move ‘up’ her torso when she sits, so that she CAN sit. They are also removable for shipping and storage. The wings must be removed if she sits in the center of a shelf, as pictured below, but they will hang off the edge of the shelf if they are left attached or can be bent gently upward.

No tutu front:

No tutu back:


Tara’s legs and arms are covered with gossamer blue metallic fishnet. On her arms, it is fashioned into opera-length fingerless gloves with a silk bow at each wrist. On her legs, the seams on her tights were positioned on the INSIDE of her panties, so that they would be at the back of her legs, which are turned out (this is a ballet term which involves the legs being turned out from the hip, so that the inner thigh is facing forwards and the back of the thigh is turned inwards. This turn-out is one of the essential principles of the classical dance, giving the dancer freedom of movement in every direction.)

Fingerless gloves (you can’t see them, but her fingernails are painted black):

My sister, Linda, didn’t think the doll looked ‘gothic’ enough and suggested I cut holes in her tights. I knew I COULD do that but I hated to ruin them until Linda suggested that I put spider webs in the holes. I thought that was such a brilliant idea, I forced myself to slash the tights (yes, that was nerve-wracking!) and then wove a spider web into each hole. I just LOVE how they turned out!
Right leg:

Left leg:

Her toe-shoes were made like real pointe shoes – they have a metal toe box with cotton wool pads under the silk, and leather soles.

Toe-box construction:

Tara’s My Scene head was repainted to give her a coy, mischievous look. Her mohair locks were custom dyed to match her outfit and then individually applied (she is not wearing a wig, her hair is permanent). Four different types of hair were used: curly blue black, curly blue, curly lighter blue, and a straighter blue black for her bangs. The hair was positioned so that the natural curl of the lock would fall the way a lock of hair would fall. I buy my mohair from a woman who shears her goats – in other words, no animals were harmed to produce it.

Part of her hair is caught up in three pigtails which were then styled to frame her face. The bows holding the pigtails are glued and will not come untied. In the back, her hair falls just to the top of the bow on her corset. Around her neck is a silk velvet choker.

Front of face, original and new:

Right side of face:

Right side of face with web:

Right side of face:

Left side of face:

Face pensive:

There is a spider on her head, about to crawl onto her face!

Spider in hair:

Because her outfit is so detailed, her wings are very simple. They are a very light blue with black wire “veins” and cobalt Swarovski crystal finials. The edges are finished with glitter. They were constructed in one piece to make it easy to remove them. Here is a closeup:


Some pictures of the poses she can hold:
Feet further apart and arms to side:

Arabesque (notice the stand under her LEG!):

Arms front:

Arms up:


Tara Ann’s costume is based on the coloration of the cobalt tarantula.
If you are not afraid of spiders, press here for a picture of this spider.
(For those of you who really know your spiders, three of the seven spiders crawling on Tara are not, technically, tarantulas, they are black widows. KC didin’t think anyone would know the difference but, to be accurate, I felt I should mention it.

One last look at her:


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OOAKFolk, Inc., and artist Barbara Healy are not affiliated in any way with the original manufacturers of the dolls pictured in this site. No photograph, text or graphic on this site may be copied without written permission from Barbara Healy. Copyright © 2004 OOAKFolk, Inc.

Last Revised: August 7, 2007
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