Judy Skeel is one of those artists who has probably tried nearly everything at least once. After fifteen years of dollmaking, she has focused her art into a style that is colorful, charming, whimsical and sometimes fierce. In addition to her work as a dollmaker, she is a popular dollmaking instructor and produces a newsletter highlighting doll clubs and events.
I really like her artist statement, so I’ll quote it here:
“There is nothing more rewarding to me than creating something that speaks. When I create art of my own design I begin with an idea and let the process and the work itself tell me where it wants to go. I allow the art to take over, as if it were my subconscious, pulling from deep within me. When I complete a piece in this manner not only do I feel the ecstasy of completion; I also am enchanted by the creation. In some way, any new creation for me connects me to God as I begin to understand what joy He must savor in creating His works. I see my work as my children, and often find it difficult to let them go off into the world and speak for themselves. I wonder if the world will understand them as I do if I am not there to share for them. I must remind myself that just as in parenting, if we create and instill the concepts we require our children to have, when they go on their own our efforts will shine through for anyone that sincerely looks at our work.
When you view my work all I ask is that you view it with sincerity and an open mind, and then I believe that my art will speak to you as it does to me.”
Take note of the way she styles the faces of her dolls, using a skillful combination of needle sculpting and painting. Additionally, every doll she makes just drips with beading, ribbon embroidery, machine embroidery and other textile techniques. These pictures probably don’t do them any justice at all.
If you really want to know what’s going on in the dollmaking scene, check out her newsletter, The Association for People Who Play With Dolls (APWPWD), and be sure to check her schedule to see if she’s attending any events near you. You can also get to know Skeel better by reading her blog or dropping her an e-mail at her website.
I’m going to be out of town this week and I won’t be able to post on Friday, so I’m going to give you a quick message today, just so you have something pretty to look at. Check out this faery fantasy bed by Tatiana Katana:
For more of her amazing miniature architecture and furniture, visit her Fairy Society Page.
Guess what? My grandmother was just telling me that she has a ton of letters written by my great-grandma Ruby. Apparently she was quite the news reporter. As Grandma was describing her, it struck me that Grandma Ruby would have been a blogger, just like me. Lol.
But on to the topic at hand. I just discovered Ana Salvador, a Portuguese-born artist living in the Netherlands. Her fantasy sculptures combine several of my favorite elements: beautiful, expressive faces and poses, delicate costuming, and elegant fairy wings. Her polymer clay figures are so smooth, they look larger than their diminutive 8-12 inches, and her color choices are superb.
As if that weren’t enough, though, her website, Dragonfly Works, features a second category, called “Original Dolls.” The distinction seems to be that her “dolls” are fully poseable ball-jointed beauties. These sculptures have big-eyed faces that seem to be influenced by Asian ball-jointed dolls, although she lists influences as varied as Art Nouveau and Tim Burton in her “about me” page. I really love these costumes, with their artful use of lace and other textures, and again the beautiful color schemes.
Salvador’s work is available on eBay, and you can visit her on The Fairy Network, (which you should definitely visit if you’re interested in fantasy art or fairies), as well as her own site. If you like her work and the work of other Dutch and Belgian artists, you can now buy a book full of high-quality pictures of their work for much less than it would cost to buy an actual doll.
EDIT: Ana Salvador was kind enough to e-mail me and point out that of her “art doll” figures, only Lana (who isn’t pictured here) is actually ball-jointed. The other “art dolls” are slightly poseable but not ball-jointed.
Centaurs are very rare in the doll world, I think because most dollmakers don’t know how to sculpt the horse parts. Kate Sjoberg is an exception to the rule. Her DeviantArt account includes as many horses, unicorns, dragons and other imaginative beasties as humanoid types. Her horses are as naturalistic as they are elegant, and I just love her tiny little dragons. They’re so cute, I want one for a pet!
But it’s not enough for Sjoberg to excel at four-legged critters, she’s also into something I’m dying to learn more about: ball-jointed dolls. Take a look at her bear-rider, below, in two different poses. I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of hand-made ball-jointed dolls; I think they might just be the wave of the future. (I blogged about ball-jointed dolls a while ago when I featured Marina Bychkova.)
You can see more of Sjoberg’s work on her Elfwood page, and you can buy her pieces on eBay and at Fairies World, She also offers an e-book tutorial on sculpting horses and other four-legged critters, and you can place orders for custom figures on her DeviantArt account. I sprang for the e-book a couple of weeks ago, and it has some great info in it, including a tutorial for rooting hair, which would be useful for dollmakers, too.