Thursday, July 12, 2012



Temecula, CA – Back in the days of old school comics [“52 pages for a dime”], Batman Comics’ main story usually contained a riddle besides the one presented by the villain as many of The Bat’s foes were intelligent. With that send-off in mind, the title of today’s story contains 3 clues that will be evident by the time you finish this business report. It is a feel-good human interest tale that reflects a can-do attitude that still exists despite the Great Recession created by the Wall Street Banksters, and it is a story that takes place just up the road from French Valley.
So join me now for a look at what a one-time scene photographer is up these days.

Turquoise and light blue checkers, cheetah prints, hippie swirls, dainty white flowers, solid colors, googly eyes, hand-stitched fun facial expressions, X’s for eyes and eyelashes that brighten expressions, patchwork designs, and much more make up a set of hot one-of-a-kind fabric plush dolls called The Flimflam Artists Collection. Each doll, also known as “softies,” is handmade by Ashley Cook, age 33, from Hemet, CA.

“I got the idea when I was browsing around my favorite craft store,” Ashley says. “I saw a magazine called ‘Stuffed,’ and thumbed through its contents. I was immediately intrigued.”

Each softie has a unique name and background story.

“The name ‘The Flimflam Artists Collection’ may seem a little crooked,” says Ashley who used to shoot music artist pics back in the day for the Bandana Man and several print media outlets. “The Collection’s meant to be fun. Some of the background stories are a little dismal, but I think they are true to life. Each of the characters’ story has its own special details, like ‘Owen,’ who has several reasons for not getting out of bed. The color purple can be holding him down. The pillow has eaten his head. Owen also loves to watch particles of dust fly by, and look closely at freshly cut blades of grass.”

Ashley Cook grew up in Fallbrook, CA. She got into sewing and making art when she was 12. For the last four years she has been a journalist for local publications in her area. She is currently a struggling freelance writer, who needs a break from all the stress that comes along with her regular work. Ashley has a B.A. in English from California State Long Beach, and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles.

Making these soft plush toys has been a different and very therapeutic experience for Ashley. She was diagnosed bipolar seven years ago and that has challenged her over the years.

“I love making these dolls, because it’s very relaxing,” she says. “I don’t have to think much, unlike my last job as a news reporter.”

Ashley hopes her new business takes off and she can create the dolls full-time for a living. She said she loves making these dolls.
“I hope to get more people involved with my business, possibly those in the mental health field including patients, doctors, and family members,” Cook says. “I would like to do charitable work, and become a part of the arts and crafts community where I live as well.”

Her target market is collectors, people interested in craft and outsider art, and anyone with an eclectic style.

“I will be selling my items online, and at farmer’s markets and craft fairs,” she says.

The dolls are made with colorful fabrics, using cotton, with hand-stitching for certain details on the faces. The dolls range from 3" to 16" tall. They are priced from $5 to 20. For more information about these dolls, call Cook at (951) 531-5713. She can be reached at Photos of her dolls are also at

[Answer to the riddle: A (Ashley) Doll (collection) He Met (Hemet); extra credit, Ashley lives on Marvel Street in Hemet, CA.]

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