Dolls by Madelyn McCraney

A Selection of Dolls by Madelyn McCraney of Kuumba Art Design Studio

All dolls in this installation are by Madelyn McCraney of Kuumba Art Design Studio, “whose passion, purpose, and heart’s desire are simple; glorify God in all that she does and bring joy to the hearts of her clientele through her uniquely created Kuumba Art custom dolls.” Madelyn describes her dolls as “3D paintings brought to my audience in doll fashion” (Kuumba Art Bio).

All Kuumba Art Studio dolls have painted yarn hair and painted facial features. They are signed, numbered, and include a certificate of authenticity. According to the artist’s bio, “Each doll is clothed in bright beautiful engaging colors and patterns crafted from her signature burlap. Every detail in her dolls is carefully and loving planned for all projects. From hand painting 95% of the fabric she uses, to custom dyes used for literally every hair on each doll’s head, and selecting the finest beadery for use as accessories, she leaves no details to chance.  Each and every doll, exclusively made by Madelyn herself, has a distinct personality, style, and flair,” as illustrated by the following examples of her work.

The Black Lives Matter Family by Madelyn McCraney of Kuumba Art Design Studio

Name, Year Made: The Black Lives Matter Family, 2020

Joshua (Dad)
Kayla & MaKayla (Mom & baby)
Jeremiah (Son)
Rachel (Daughter)

Material: Papier-mâché, burlap, denim, wood, wire, paint, and yarn


Joshua, 18 inches
Kayla, 16 inches
Jeremiah, 12 inches
Rachel, 10 inches

Clothes: Tops are burlap and canvas; bottoms are denim.

“I was inspired to create this piece after the horrific death of George Floyd. I wanted to encourage, inspire, and strengthen our community, especially children.”

Sparkle Tyonna

Name, Year Made: Sparkle Tyonna, 2020

Material: Papier-mâché, denim, burlap, wood, wire, paint, and yarn

Height:  13-1/2 inches

Clothes: As illustrated, made of glittered denim, burlap, chain earrings, and glittered shoes

I created this doll to celebrate the Holidays of 2020. After a year of tears, I wanted to create a little shine and a smile!” 

Chae, The Social Media Influencer

Name, Year Made:  Chae, The Social Media Influencer, 2021

Material: Papier-mâché, denim, wood, wire, yarn, string, paint, and chip board

Height: 14 inches

Clothes: As illustrated, made of denim and burlap

[Chae is] “a salute to all the influencers who keep us informed about our choices, options and reviews of the products in the marketplace.”

Ms. Nancy in the Summer Time

Name, Year Made:  Ms. Nanci in Summer Time, 2021

Material: Papier-mâché, burlap, canvas, chipboard, beads, wood, wire, jute, and yarn

Height: 18 inches

Clothes: As illustrated, made of burlap, canvas, beads, and jute

I wanted to create a doll that embodied the joy of Summer. I made her using my favorite color palette, different materials, textures, and patterns to create hot fun in the summer time!

Other: To explain the use of burlap for each doll, the artist’s bio further states, “Madelyn’s journey into the art of doll making and the use of her signature burlap materials began simply enough by turning a negative discovery of a burlap bag with an ugly racist image, which appalled her, to a vow to make something beautiful out of the very thing that that was meant to cause harm. She took the bag home, washed it, hung it up to dry and forgot about it. A short while after that experience, Madelyn was commissioned by a gallery owner to design a Tree of Angels for Christmas. As she had never created anything like that before, she prayed and asked God for guidance to make the angels. As the Creator of all things, God was and still is her source. He showed her what she needed to do, and she went to work. Her first designs were made with African fabrics, which after a while became mundane and predictable so she prayed again, this time for new direction. It was time to expand and grow and she remembered the burlap bag and her vow to create beauty from what she considered as ashes. ‘In His Grace,’ she discovered that God really does have a purpose and plan not only for her life, but also to enrich the lives of everyone. She asserts God’s word from Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”


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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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