Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Challeges of sculpting Historically Referenced dolls

To begin with , I want to credit doll artist Susie McMahon with introducing me to the term 'Historically Referenced' dolls, a term that fits very nicely with allot of my doll work. I love old dolls, and often use them as a jump-off point for my own work. But how do you know if you have something timeless, like the old dolls you love, but also make the doll your own ?

I am taking an online class with Gail Wilson where we are creating a Queen Anne doll , including a marvelous hand carved body. I encourage you if you are interested in making your own Queen Ann, to check out her class. Its a real bargain considering you end up with a wooden doll, completely hand made. You can get more information at . I am a big fan of Gail's style of historically referenced dolls, because she gets the balance of recreating the 'essence' of the original doll, but also puts her own artistic stamp ( her original sculpts).

I was overly ambitious with her class, and decided to order an extra body to carve, which I wanted to add my own hand sculpt head. So I will end up with a doll of Gail's design, and one hybrid doll with Gail's body, and my head. The pictures summarize my first efforts to sculpt a head. There is allot of refining left to do on this head, but honestly, I am disappointed with what I made and am trying to decide if I should start again, or press on with this one. I am not sure it 'goes' with the wooden body. This brings me to what I wanted to blog about, how to find the balance in a historically referenced doll of your own style, but make clear what classic doll is inspiring your work!

My original idea was to make the doll look like a peg wooden of the 1910's and dress ala Jane Austin style. I had looked at some carved wooden dolls, but didn't refer to them as I sculpted... I just wanted to go with it... and I am not sure I like where I went. I will add sculpt hair on this one, and will wait to judge if she belongs on the wooden body.

So what is it that you need stylistically to get a peg wooden doll that nods to the 1810s ? I am looking at these dolls ( from John Darcy Nobles book) and although there is often a high degree of realism in the sculpting, there is also some stylistic elements. Namely the features are further down on the sculpt ( bottom third to half of the head) than my head. The rest of this, I am trying to figure out. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment.

It is my opinion my own sculpting style works well for late Victorian and Edwardian style dolls. What do I need to do to reflect an earlier time period ?