I’ll come clean on this: my interest in dolls goes back a long way. But by a long way I actually don’t mean that long. I wasn’t super keen on them as a child, though of course I had some Barbies and I think they were called Chelsea?? dolls, growing up. I’d been given a porcelain doll at birth by my great-grandmother, but I rarely saw it, growing up. At first I thought that perhaps my parents were worried I might be clumsy with it – it’s funny to say that now, given my current context. I work with ceramics on a daily basis. I am meticulous in the care I take of my belongings, not only in the care of my ceramic works; well, turns out it was put away due to my lack of interest.
Leaving secondary school, my final project was an ambitiously-scaled paperclay doll, jointed by way of elastic throughout. I have an album on Flickr with it, along with the other things I made back then.
But the rabbit hole goes deeper.
I got into the world of Ball-jointed dolls in my teens, marvelling at the breadth of talents which people in that community possessed. Sewing, wig-making, make-up and body-painting, illustration, sculpting, all-round manual or creative work… It was a work scene filled with possibilities and reassured me that it was possible to be a Jack-of-all-trades or a Master-of-one and be happy with oneself either way, or somewhere in the middle. The DIY threads I followed in Denofangels.com (a doll forum) were eye-opening, and I was mesmerised by videos of people’s hands at work on these small-scale wonders, the photographic diaries of those working on large-scale modifications of their dolls. There were always new companies, and small start-ups would enjoy immense success if the quality of their products matched or exceeded that of larger companies. Two I remember well are Marti Presents‘s dolls (where the artist made an intensely personal doll; the story was moving) and Marina Bychkova’s Enchanted Doll, a one-person company which has only recently garnered wider media attention. I made an extended wardrobe for my own dolls, revelling in the creation of extravagant clothes, the type of which I would never wear. It felt like a great way to explore femininity and gender outside of my own body. Later, this kindled an interest in the large-headed Blythe dolls, whose wardrobe I could make on an even smaller scale.
AND THUS –
Looking at projects such as the one described here, of a Japanese company replacing toys’ limbs with those of ‘donor toys’, sending out a letter to the child ‘donor’ – I was really moved by this story.
I also recently found this FANTASTIC etsy listing (picture below) which fascinated me in the extreme. I had to find out more about the company, Quon-Quon Inc., but my searches have yielded nothing as of yet.
anyway, there seems to be a lot out there on Etsy, including many animal figurines like this one or those by Ms Lynch, such as this rabbit doll. I’ve mentioned her work in a previous post as well. Stunning stuff!!!
I was also thrilled to find the work of another artist hailing from Russia (the first being Oso_Polar <–previous post by me) on animal dolls featured online. Santani‘s work is equally thrilling. Seems like it’s a popular field, too, with Katyushka selling their dolls from Poland.
Similarly, this duo’s work combining organic animal forms with densely patterned imagery ON CERAMIC!!! was a stupendous find.
I’m also happy to see this kind of small-scale, delicate creature-crafting work as well.