Here are some posts from
the first few months of the list. New are posts from Marie-Claude
Dupont, my first doll correspondent, and a very charming idea about
making molds from appleheads from Dian Crayne.
I just looked over the list and
it looks like we're starting to get some
people signed up. I'm glad to see it getting started. I don't know
anyone in my area who makes dolls, and I've been starving for some
So far, I make original polymer
clay dolls, mostly with a fantasy theme,
although my most recently completed doll is a portrait of my daughter
a karate girl. I'm hoping to have a doll that I'm happy enough with
make a mold from and start doing a few porcelain dolls by the end
year, but so far I don't like any of my faces enough to want more
one of them. I'm very new at this. I got started last winter and
finished five dolls so far, and two partially completed dolls that
to be costumed. Now, I'm working on a Harlequin and a New Age pseudo-indian
doll (I'm hoping she'll be really funny when she's
finished.) These two current dolls are projects to use up all the
that I made that didn't look remotely like my daughter when I was
to do the portrait of her!
I'm looking forward to hearing
what everyone else is working on.
It is been almost three days now
since the mailing list started (thank you
Dawn!) and we already got some interesting questions to think about.
sure we will find great new ideas that will help us creating our
Let me introduce myself. First
of all, as a French speaking woman ( I live
in Montreal, QuÈbec), I hope you will all forgive me for
making mistakes in
English. Sometimes it is hard for me to translate what I mean. Anyway,
glad to join the list and share some tips or information with you!
I am quite new in the dollmaking
field. I started making dolls in January
1995, after I read a book that pictured E. J. Taylor's dolls. Anybody
him? It was a smashing discovery and since then, I have not stopped
thinking about contemporary dolls. That led me to create three dolls
fourth one is about to be finished). There heads, arms and legs
are made of
Creative Paperclay, and the body is fabric over a wire armature.
Following Dawn's question, I guess
there is no simple way to create a bikini
beauty without showing all the imperfection you can find in a normally
dressed doll. Lisa Lichtenfels (correct spelling Catharine!) has
successful with her personal technique, but I do not know her secrets.
has made some very nice nude bodies (very difficult) that are absolutely
amazing. The most famous one I guess depicts Demi Moore while she
pregnant ( it is replica of a famous photograph published a few
years ago in
an american magazine). To my knowledge ( I saw most of them in past
of CDM), she also created a few other soft sculptures (one with
another with two wings, etc.) that are quite realistic. But when
you look at
her dolls in a close-up, you can see that everything is illusion
It seems easier for me to work
with cloth, for that kind of project, than
with clay. I think of Lenore Davis's dolls (she is also a painter)
very simple, made of fabric over a wire armature. Each of them is
expressive. She paints her dolls to suggest a pair of socks, or
acrobat's suit. But before being painted, each doll is in a way
with all those strategic stitches that help to create the nice and
movement she is looking for. Finally,
each doll is the expression of the
human body in its most natural way. She could let them white, unpainted,
I would be as interested by her sculptures than by the achieved
I am not sure we have to be ashamed
of leaving what we call imperfections
when we create a doll. What do you think? I think we usually tend
to be over
realistic, but sometimes a little default gets very interesting.
example, in a doll duet called Delicious (a lady pig dancing with
Jo-Ellen Trilling left lots of stiches for the pig's legs and face.
amazingly, very nice, because it simply gives personnality to the
She did the same thing in another beautiful duet depicting Cinderella
rhinoceros. I like her way to make us FEEL the body instead of admiring
for its perfection.
So, that was my first message to
the list, hope it did not bore you too much!
I was idly wondering, the other night, whether it would be possible
make a press mold from an applehead, so I tried it.
The answer is "yes,"
provided the apple is bone dry and solid. I picked a
head that had minimum undercuts and a rather short nose, and pressed
into a very soft conditioned slab of Sculpy, about 1" thick.
it, I dusted the mold with talcum powder and took an impression
I pressed two small seed beads
into slits in the eye sockets, and deepened
the nasal-labio lines a bit with an Xacto knife, then baked and
it. I mounted it on a chenille stick* armature (by drilling a small
up through the bottom of the chin, with a hand-held drill bit),
dressed it as a little old lady in a long skirt. I glued on a scrap
rolled up quilt batting to fill out the back of the head, and added
another scrap around the face to look like hair, finishing off with
bandana tied under the chin. It came out quite nice, and retains
wrinkly dried-apple look. Total time (including making the mold
impression): about 90 minutes.
This is a good alternative for
those of you who like the look of the apple
heads, but worry about them deteriorating over time. The molds are
nice to have when apples are in short supply. I think I'll make
more molds, so that I'll have a variety, and I'm going to try taking
impressions with Fimo and Cernit.
-- Dian Crayne
* I don't care what the craft supply
people claim, *I* say they're pipe
It is so wonderful to see the mailing list is having so much success!
As some of you may already know,
I was lucky enough last week to attend the
Niada Annual Conference for the first time. (there is no privilege
I paid for!;-) ) The conference was held in Dallas, Texas (very
there!) and there were around 200 hundred dollmakers attending it
sharing, with lots of energy, their incredible passion for dollmaking.
All dollmaking techniques were
represented, polymer clay as well as
porcelaine, paperclay and cloth dolls. The whole conference was
organized; the patrons and the artists (especially Nancy Walters,
Oroyan, and Bill Nelson) were all very kind to me and very welcoming.
The conference included lots of
programs with artists, master classes on
specific subjects, a gallery show with the newest Niada member's
dolls and a
doll show on the last day. There were also critics session: dollmakers
bring a doll or two and have them judged by Niada members.
I can't tell you how great and
inspiring it is for a novice dollmaker as I
am to see, very closely, the dolls made by the best artists in the
Most of the time, the photographs we see in the doll magazines don't
justice to the dolls, to their craftmanship, their beauty, and,
most of all,
to the personal rendering of one's work. Seeing so close the dolls
Taylor, Shelley Thornton, Akira Blount, Bill Nelson, Connie Smith,
Wrestling, Antonette Cely, Scott Gray, Lisa Lichtenfels, etc. and
by a new elite of Japanese artists (they make stunning contemporary
dolls!) is a real emotional experience! I must say though that it
depressing at a certain moment because I felt I had a lot of work
before reaching my personal artistic goals. But anyway, it was worth
For those who might be interested by this organization, it is important
know that it is not easy to enter it. There are three differents
go through before beeing accepted as a formal member. First of all,
submit slides of your work. Then, if you pass this step, you will
submit a porfolio of your work, describing your method and showing
make your dolls at every step (in order to evaluate the quality
of the whole
process). This portfolio will be examined and judged by a group
artists. Then, if I remember well, the applicant will have to bring
dolls to the next Niada Conference and have them judged. If everything
well, you can become a member of Niada.
It seems that most people who apply
or are asked to apply as a member, have
been making dolls for many years, they are not hobbyists anymore.
professional dollmakers or have such talent they get attention by
community of dollmakers.
I suggest that, if you want to see how it goes, to attend a conference
day. You can see how your favorite artists sculpt and make their
can also give you THE tip you are looking for or help you solve
problem you have with the anatomy, the wigging or with sculpting
instance. Having your dolls in a critic can be a great and inspiring
(you learn a lot about your own work) but also a painful experience,
especially if you bring your first dolls. Being so close to the
perfection and getting bad comments about a doll you have taken
months to finish are not easy to accept. But, it is, in the end,
worth it if you plan to get higher in this milieu.
Some of you, who have heard about
Niada, may have other questions about what
I experienced last week, so feel free to ask me more questions.
I don't know
where to start.
I told my new friends we had this
mailing list going on, so that many of
them might suscribe to our list shortly. I also discovered (June
told me about it) there was a doll forum on Compuserve. But you
must be a
Compuserve subscriber to get into it (around 10$ a month). Members
on-line and chat in real time. They also hold regular conferences
celebrities and have a library where you can view photographs of
your favorite artist's work. If you want to have more information
forum, please contact June Goodnow at 103223.1165@Compuserve.com
But my preference goes to our new
list and all of you!
Does anyone have any ideas on how
to make a doll that succeeds both as an art doll, something that
an intelligent adult might like, and a child's
toy? My daughter loves the dolls I make, but it's difficult for
play with them at all. I usually use promat for the heads, which
strong enough to deal with gentle supervised play, but the wire
in the cloth bodies makes the bodies unfriendly to little hands.
bet so far was a doll with a soft cloth body and limbs, sculpted
and no armature, but she is so top heavy that she slumps over in
stand and doesn't look very interesting without a lot of support.
the dolls mostly for me, but I don't like the idea of a doll that
sit on a shelf and never be touched or played with. To me, the whole
of a doll rather than sculpture is the compromise between art and
and I'd like to find ways to make that compromise more successful.
It's been so quiet lately. I hope
that you're all lucky enough to have
been working on dolls or going to classes, and that's why you're
In my case, I've sadly just been busy with work and other things
haven't touched a doll in weeks. I must get twenty different ideas
dolls for every one that I get to make.
My favorite source of ideas for
dolls is children's books. I like
fantasy dolls, and children's books are usually so richly illustrated.
One of my daughter's fairy tale books had a great picture for the
Emperor's Nightingale of Death sitting on the Emperor's chest. I'm
sure if it is an authentic Chinese vision of Death, but it is very
different from the western man with a scythe, and I hope to find
sculpt one sometime. He is a nasty little goblin with a gold face
and long knobby grey limbs wearing rags. It would be fun to try
the whole body and then trying to make jointed limbs. He's about
twenty dolls down on my list.
I'm embarrassed to admit this,
but I've also been getting ideas from
watching Legends of Hercules and Xena the Warrior Princess (*really*
cheesy american adventure shows, for those of you out of the country
who haven't heard of them yet.) The shows are about as campy as
campy can get, but whoever does their costuming is very talented
I am writing this a) to make sure
the list is still functioning properly,
b) to express some frustration in being too cerebral and not
physical/creative lately and c) to see if anyone will throw out
places to get new doll ideas. Not that I need ideas because if I
get another idea it will still take me ten years to finish dolls
I've sketched out, but just because I think it is fun to talk about.