ARTISAN: Catherine ten Den
BUSINESS: Thomas Treasures
With so many interests it is hard to pinpoint my craft category.
My first hand-sewn quilt (Grandmother’s flower garden) was done when I was 7. Instead of throwing out the left-over scraps I used them to make cloth dolls and bears. I rarely, if ever, use a pattern. Most of the time, I simply examine the fabric I am using and just cut. Don’t try this at home – it takes years of practice.
I make porcelain, hand sculpted, cloth and mixed media character dolls, ranging in size from 1 1/2” high to life size.
After HAVING to take ‘home economics’ in school my father told me he would buy me a sewing machine if I liked it. Well, I ended up coming first in my class and just loved to sew. My father was true to his word and bought me a sewing machine. School classes were too slow so I taught myself to make garments. I had my own ideas as to style and ended up sewing without patterns. My aunts would get me to make clothes for them (out of pity I think). That progressed to making garments for other people as well as upholstery, draperies, accent pieces, etc.
I prefer to ‘draw’ on the fabric as opposed to using patterns. While at home raising my children I started up what has continued to be a very successful international design business. My degree in interior decorating has helped in the residential part of the business.My father taught me how to knit and my aunts taught me to crochet and do various types of needlework. Over the years I have expanded my line to include a wide range of apparel for all ages, and also home decorating items.
I began working on miniatures as a child. I began working primarily in ½” scale (due to limited work space. And then switched to ¼” scale pioneer/country style, fully functional furniture and accessories. I specialize in custom work in all scales including micro-miniature. In 1995 I produced a commissioned piece for the National Capital Commission, in commemoration of Dutch Princess Beatrix’ birth in Ottawa during the war.
For the past few years I have been conducting classes in doll making, bear making, miniatures, sewing, designing and needlework. Classes are custom designed to suit the students, be it a group or an individual. Out of town clients often stay with us in our museum while attending the workshops.
My husband is an integral part of my endeavors, my toughest critic and most ardent supporter. He manages to come up with the ‘hard to find’ materials.