Stitching the Past into the Present: an interview with a great gal who owns and operates FAST DOLL, by Dawn Hunter, published 4.3.2022.

Above, Caroline DeSanctis, owner of FAST DOLL Hand Embroidery, Charleston, SC. Photo by Michelle Hart, Palmetto Snapshots, Charleston, SC.

Introduction: Based on her original drawings and unique designs, owner and operator of FAST DOLL Caroline DeSanctis creates 100% hand-stitched patches, custom clothing & accessories influenced by the tattoo flash of the 1940s & 1950s. All embroidery and designs are drawn and stitched by Ms. DeSanctis. Most designs you see here are original to the shop unless otherwise noted (i.e., the Sailor Jerry designs and some custom commissioned work). The cost of her hand embroidered patches range from $20.00 - $125.00. Her shop additionally features hats, pennant, key chains, tattoo passes and custom orders. All patches are cruelty-free: made from eco-felt, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, and 100% cotton embroidery floss. Let's catch up with Caroline and find out more about her unique shop and business.

Above, an example of some of Caroline's custom work. Hand-dyed, hand-stitched & hand-drawn patch flash sheets prior to being framed.

Dawn Hunter: When and where did you establish FAST DOLL?

Caroline DeSanctis: I started Fast Doll in 2015 when I still lived in Atlanta, Georgia. Back then it was still known as Fast Doll Fine Vintage, and I was exclusively selling vintage clothing from the 1920s-1960s online. When I first started I was still working full-time for MAC Cosmetics and was selling vintage on the side after clocking out at MAC every day. I resigned at MAC in April 2016 and I remember as I was leaving the counter that day my phone was buzzing with orders from Etsy, and I remember smiling, and thinking that I had made the right decision to leave.

Hand-dyed, hand-stitched & hand-drawn framed "patch flash sheets."™

Dawn Hunter: Has the business always focuses on hand embroidery? If not, how did that evolve?

Caroline DeSanctis: It was exclusively vintage clothing & accessories for almost 3 years, until I taught myself how to embroider by hand and eventually evolving that into the current style of the things I make today. I remember stitching the first thing, which was the words Fast Doll on the back of one of my denim vest, and then thinking “oh no, I’m already addicted to this“. I started to post my creations on social media and there was immediate interest. They started to sell more and more and eventually became more popular than any other vintage items that I was selling. I got so busy during the holiday season of 2019 that it became the only thing I had time to do, and I officially stopped selling vintage clothing and renamed the company to simply ‘Fast Doll’. And I’ve been stitching full-time ever since.

Portrait of Caroline DeSanctis by Michelle Hart of Palmetto Snapshots.

Dawn Hunter: When did you locate to Charleston?

Caroline DeSanctis: I moved to Charleston in August 2020 in the middle of the pandemic! I got here and got straight to work and tried not to miss a beat. I think I took off maybe one full day to unpack when I moved, but that was it, haha.

Dawn Hunter: How do you come up with ideas for designs? What is your inspiration?

Caroline DeSanctis: I draw inspiration from a lot of vintage 1940s and 1950s iconography, ephemera, magazines, illustrations and tattoos from that era of American history. They had bold black lines and were limited to only a few colors — these designs translate so well to embroidery and look very clean and satisfying when they’re done. I also love pinup art and often make things that represent or remind me of vintage glamour and aesthetics.

Dawn Hunter: What is your most popular design?

Caroline DeSanctis: I think my most popular designs are any of the flowers that I do, any of the skulls, and the ‘Mama Tried’ patches & trucker hats, haha.

The imagery in this work was taken directly from a Sailor Jerry sheet of flash featuring an eagle. This is not one of Caroline's designs. The embroidery is straight-up satin stitching. The eagle is embroidered with white, red, and dark & yellow gold embroidery floss. Flag is sewn with deep navy blue, white, red, gold and brown embroidery floss. Flowers are sewn with mustard yellow, green and black embroidery floss. Images are sewn to an off-white piece of sturdy felt that are then sewn on top of a black piece of felt with black embroidery floss (creating a border) and trimmed to fit. Since each patch is handmade, there may be slight, minor differences and no two patches will be 100% alike. If you'd like a different color scheme for your patch, feel free to make a custom request. Please allow additional processing time for custom requests.

Dawn Hunter: What are the range of products that you sell?

Caroline DeSanctis: I try to keep a lot of patches in stock of all sizes, but I also embroider cotton bandannas, assemble DIY kits featuring my patch designs, and have been working more frequently on creating more merch with my designs as screen-printed line drawings. I also enjoy hand-staining watercolor paper with coffee and then painting that as a background to mount patches on, making it a framable piece of art. I called them patch flash sheets and they’re pretty popular with my customers as well.

Hand-embroidered, hand-sewn and hand-cut black and off-white felt patch. The patch flash sheet features pointy-tipped daggers with a hearts detail and dots details. Image is sewn to an off-white piece of sturdy felt that is then sewn on top of a black piece of felt with off-white embroidery floss (creating a border) and trimmed to fit.

Classic & timeless traditional-style rose that looks good on everything. Hand-embroidered, hand-sewn and hand-cut felt patches in 4 different color schemes. Patch features a traditional-tattoo-style rose with three leaves. Great for a leather or denim jacket / vest.

Dawn Hunter: Where can people buy your work?

Caroline DeSanctis: My work is always available online at my website — — and you can also commission a custom piece from me there as well. I also sell items on my Instagram feed from time to time — @fast.doll. I do lots of local handmade & vintage markets regularly in the Park Circle and North Charleston area. I also have pieces available at The Station, which is located locally in Park Circle.

In case you forgot — The boots stay on 😉
‘The Boots Stay On’ felt pennant featured in two different color ways.
• 100% hand-stitched & hand-assembled (no machine! ❤️)
• Each measure 12” x 6”

Did you ever wonder how the trees got their scarves? by Dawn Hunter, published 3.7.2022.

An interview feature with 2021 Jefferson Award recipient, Cola City Yarnbombing leader and Columbia Art Center Director, Bohumila Augustinova.

Above, Bohumila Augustinova, Director of the Columbia Art Center. Photo by Dawn Hunter.

Introduction: While aesthetically improving the forefront of a local business five years ago, Bohumila Augustinova, unwittingly launched a Cola City art installation winter staple by YarnBombers of Columbia on Main Street and beyond. The Yarnbombers of Columbia is a group that Bohumila spearheaded brings together over one hundred local artists who create unique, brightly colored, and patterned crocheted and knitted forms that they wrap around trees or parking meters during the winter months. The project evolved beyond aesthetics with the emergence of the “Giving Tree” located on the corner of Main and Taylor, downtown Columbia. As part of the tradition, artists hang hundreds of scarfs, hats, and gloves for anyone to take and use from that tree. This past December, Bohumila was recognized for her hard work and community investment with a Jefferson Service Award.

Yarnbombers of Columbia art, downtown Columbia, SC. Photo by Bohumila Augustinova.

Dawn Hunter: How did the "Giving Tree" get started?

Bohumila Augustinova: Our first installation by the Yarnbombers of Columbia was on Main Street, and it was during the winter. At the end of our first installation day, an artist noticed a man "stealing" part of an installation wrapped around the bottom of a tree. Later, we saw him walking downtown, and he was wearing it as a scarf, and then we realized that it was not an act of theft but necessity. After that, the group created scarfs, hats, and gloves and offered them free at the tree site to anyone who needed them. It is now an annual tradition. Items are installed during November and are up until mid-March.

Yarnbombers of Columbia art, downtown Columbia, SC. Photo by Bohumila Augustinova.

Dawn Hunter: Your Jefferson Award is incredible and well deserved. The Jefferson Award, also known as Multiplying Good, recognizes members in the community who selflessly give of their time, embrace service to others as an essential part of life, and have a positive impact on the community. What are other initiatives that you participate in, other than Yarnbombing?

Bohumila Augustinova: I have volunteered at Transitions for years. In that capacity I have offered classes in crafts, like teaching others how to crochet. I also collaborated in workshops with Brenda Oliver, the former Columbia Art Center Director, at Transitions and we were part of a team of volunteers. I haven't been able to volunteer as much as I would like to during the pandemic. I am able to continue community service and outreach through my role as director at the Columbia Art Center.

Scraffito ceramic bowl by Bohumila Augustinova. Photo by Dawn Hunter.

Dawn Hunter: Tell me more about that.

Bohumila Augustinova: Other than our regular roster of classes that we offer at the Columbia Art Center, we work with members and organized groups from the community. Examples of groups that we work with are veterans, the Girls Scouts, homeless, and international groups. We also have a partnership with Sister Care, a national organization that assists women who are trying to escape abusive relationships. There are other initiatives that we participate in, too, like, Art Along the Trail, a dynamic visual and performing arts experience that occurs at Columbia's Riverfront Park.

Scraffito ceramic bowl by Bohumila Augustinova. Photo by Bohumila Augustinova.

Dawn Hunter: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Bohumila Augustinova: All of it. There are so many examples. I love our international programming because the event is for an entire family, and I witness multiple generations conceive of and create a collaborative art project on those occasions. Our programming features fantastic teachers who are dynamic members of the local art community. I am always looking for people who want to volunteer or participate in some capacity. It is exciting because it is a community-driven job, and my day-to-day activities change based on needs - so it is unpredictable. We offer Open Studio memberships to local artists who utilize the work studio space to create ceramic work. Through their membership, artists are given a 25-pound bag of clay, use of the studio, a shelf for storage, access to various glazes, and use of our kilns. They are able to hand build work or throw pottery on the wheel.

Scraffito ceramic bowl by Bohumila Augustinova. Photo by Bohumila Augustinova.

Dawn Hunter: Tell me about your art. Have you always created ceramics?

Bohumila Augustinova: No, but I have always been creative. All of my life, I was sewing my own clothes as a young child - when I was the same age as Darcy!

Dawn Hunter: Didn't you win the Columbia Design League's Runaway Runway twice?

Bohumila Augustinova: Yes.

Dawn Hunter: How do you decide what materials to use?

Bohumila Augustinova: My mom was always making something creative, and she was very innovative. I didn't think it was unusual. Making things was just part of life, and it really didn't matter what the material was. I went to college for fashion design, but when I was done with school, I knew I didn't want to pursue a career in the industry. I have never felt afraid to try new forms of expression, and I have made a lot of art work from recycled materials, and I teach classes that focus on sustainability and use recycled materials, too.

Dawn Hunter: You used wire for many projects, too, right?

Bohumila Augustinova: Yes, that is correct. I am originally from Czechoslavakia, now known as the Czech Republic. One summer, when I was visiting home after moving to South Carolina, I borrowed my niece and took a class structured for mothers with small children. Not all of the projects were collaborative, and they offered workshops that were just for adults. One of the workshops was in traditional Slovakia tinkering. That is a tradition where experts in the craft travel from town to town to create a wire cover, or casing, for the clay cooking pots. It prevents them from cracking or breaking during use. I took to the medium naturally, and when I returned to the United States, I started making jewelry, too. I expanded the language of the wire beyond its traditional use, and I have created many projects out of it, including my Supper Table setting for Jasper. That table setting was symbolic and expressive of the late Elizabeth Evelyn Wright's life.

Dawn Hunter: Your current sgraffito work in clay is expressive, too. How do you come up with the color and patterns?

Bohumila Augustinova: When I first started, I found inspiration in mid-century design. Now I find inspiration from the natural outdoor surroundings of my home, like patterns and colors from my garden or ripples from the fish swimming in the pond.

Dawn Hunter: What's next?

Bohumila Augustinova: Well, this week I am participating in the Cottontown Art Crawl on March 12th, and as things slowly open up more, I hope to expand my volunteer work - both personally and professionally. The pandemic has made it challenging to gather in the numbers that some outreach initiatives require. Outreach has been a big part of my life and artistic practice, and I am looking forward to future projects. When I came to Columbia, I immediately felt a sense of community and belonging. I love my work at the Columbia Art Center, and it is rewarding to be part of the process that enables people to be inspired and create. That inspires me.

Yarnbombers of Coulumbia art. Photo by Bohumila Augustinova.