Seamstress and Doll Maker

dolls, black, haute couture, designers dolls, girls, women

                                           The "Garments of Praize" Diva Bottle Dolls                      

These Bottle Dolls have been in my family since as early has I can remember.  However, they were resurrected when President Obama was elected as our President.  On an outing with the grade school children one of the newscasters asked our little grade school children what they wanted the President to do for them.  One of the little girls replied, keep our landfills clean.  This is when I got the idea to make these plastic Bottle Dolls as Keepsake Dolls. Therefore, I now call them little "Go Green Dolls" to preserve our planet.   I believe this would assist in helping to keep our landfills from filling up with plastic bottles for the next generation.

 

I hope we can introduce this idea around the world to all children and adults.  These dolls can be enjoyed by our youth and elderly.  What away to bring a generation and a world to gather.  I see making these dolls in every nationality.  As, a Fashion Designer I believe sewing as well as millinery (Hat Making) is becoming a dying art to our next generation.  Therefore, I would love to pour the love I have for these dolls and the designs into individuals from six to 106 years old through teaching them how to create fashions for these Bottle Dolls.

Hopefully this will cause our children to unleash their hidden creativity, as well as our senior citizens to remain creative.  These Bottle Dolls can also help them become entrepreneurs, in that these Bottle Dolls can be made and sold for special occasions such as graduation, prom, and wedding memorabilia.

 If you or your organization would like to participate in Doll Making Classes please give Jerbethaqui "Beth" Strickland a email at jerbethaqui@juno.com

 Teaching Fashion Design, Hat Making, Poetry and              writing  e-mail:  jerbethaqui@juno.com                                   

Whitehaven shop offers Haute Couture –African American style
There once was a time Jerbethaqui (Beth) Strickland aspired to be a broadcast journalist. After learning the trade, she switched gears and decided to focus on her first love: fashion design.

 
Jerbethaqui (Beth) Strickland’s “Garments of Praize” is the talk of the town. It’s the name for her bottle doll collection and the name of her ministry. (Photos by Wiley Henry)

 
 
However, after making the switch, Strickland ventured into real estate, doll making and the art of Haute Couture, a French phrase for high fashion. The word “haute” means elegant or high and the word “couture” means dressmaking, sewing or needlework.

Real estate has supplemented Strickland’s income for 21 years. Her husband, Jerome Strickland, also is in real estate, along with the couple’s two grown sons.

It was Strickland’s customized fashion designs, however, that catapulted her to Hollywood, where she designed the wardrobes for director Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” (1992), funnyman Robert Townsend’s “The Meteor Man” (1993), and several spiritual movies such as director Jean-Claude La Marre’s 2006 biopic “Color of the Cross.”

“I was the associate producer and lead designer (in Color of the Cross),” Strickland pointed out.

After a 30-year stint in California, Strickland returned to Memphis – her hometown - six months ago and opened a small dress shop in Whitehaven called Garments of Praize.

“Garments of Praize is the name of my dolls and the name of my ministry,” said Strickland. When the conversation comes up, it becomes apparent why the word “praize” is part of her business name.

She attributes her success to a higher power. First, she survived in the South Memphis community and graduated from Carver High School. Then her talents took her to the stages of Hollywood.

In the little quaint shop in Whitehaven, Strickland’s artistry is on display. There are several exquisitely stitched garments wrapped in plastic bags and hanging along the walls for customer pick-up.

The clothes are sewn exclusively by hand and carefully interlined, tapped and fitted to the customer’s satisfaction, she said. With little room to move around, it still is enough for Strickland’s creativity to unfold from garments to doll making.

A passion for doll making

Doll making is a passion that once sent Strickland over the edge. As a little girl, she recalls being taunted by a boy who poked fun of her bottle doll. “I didn’t like it so I kicked him hard in the head,” said Strickland, demonstrating the force she used.

Strickland takes pride in creating a doll and  gets joy from the satisfaction it brings to customers. After giving a 93-year-old woman one of her dolls the woman “cried like a baby, because it looked like her.”

Bottle dolls aren’t new. They’ve been around for decades. “Women over 50 should know what a Coca Cola bottle doll is,” said Strickland, who started making the dolls when she was around six years old.

“My mother used to say, ‘If you ever want to quiet Beth down, give her a doll.’ But whenever they brought me a doll, it was always a white doll,” Strickland says.

Today her doll collection is mostly African American. “They look like us,” she said. “There was a time we didn’t have dolls looking like us. I make white dolls too, but I specialize in black dolls.”

Strickland said the dolls’ history, creativity, pride and inner-beauty is representative of women of color. “I believe these dolls can teach young girls that they can be beautiful,” she said.

Case in point: While watching talk show host Tara Banks discuss the topic of kinky hair, her guest explained why she had permed her three-year-old daughter’s hair, Strickland said.

“She permed her daughter’s hair to look like someone else,” she said. “So when the little black girl in the group was asked if she likes her own hair or the Hanna Montana wig, she chose the Hanna Montana wig. The baby said she didn’t like the way her hair looks.”

Strickland said she takes great pride in creating bottle dolls as much as she loves fashion design. In fact, her dolls are dressed in some of the exquisitely detailed Haute Couture garments that she makes for her customers.

“The dolls have evolved,” she said. “I tend to go for the things that are challenging and different, because I want to prove that I can do it. Now it’s time to release the gift and give it on to the next generation.”

Teaching the trade

Strickland has customers who tout her mastery of fashion design. The Haute Couture garments are wearable art and they have helped her to develop a faithful clientele.

The bottle dolls are a keepsake; they’re historical, said Strickland, who makes them for proms, graduations and other occasions.

“I envision students becoming fashion designers by working with these bottle dolls,” she said. “I want to tap the untapped wisdom in these young girls.”

On June 1, Strickland will teach a class in doll making for anyone from six to 106. Private lessons and group sessions available as well.

Garments of Praize:. For more information, contact Jerbethaqui (Beth) Strickland  visit her Web site at http://www.gopdolls.webs.com/.or email: jerbethaqui@juno.com

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  • Comment #1 (Posted by Beth)
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    Mr. Henry did an excellent job in helping me get the exposure in the Whitehaven community. I thank him a thousand time for his interest.
     
  • Comment #2 (Posted by Dewight)
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    I think you are doing a great job
     
  • Comment #3 (Posted by bonnie jaxon)
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    Hey girl, So glad I finally found you! We designed clothes and modeled in the '70s in CA. You were sooo creative and I admire you made it work :-* Bonnie Jaxon (vjackson@acbhcs.org)

 

 Click on the link below to view some of my writing: 
Poetry & Songwriting

You can see some of Jerbethaqui's Writing and poetry

 Tri-State Defender article on Jerbethaqui

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Jerbethaqui "Beth" Strickland
jerbethaqui@juno.com