Judy Skeel’s Skeelhaven

March 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )


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.”

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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.

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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.


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Bonnie Jones

November 13, 2007 at 6:11 pm (Christmas, Halloween/creepy or goth, sculpture) (, , , , , )

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Bonnie Jones is an ODACA artist who lives in Mississippi. Her career as a doll artist has traveled from cloth dolls, where she made her start, to elegant Old-World style Santas to fantasy figures.

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Her Santas are well-costumed, sometimes based on Santa traditions in other countries. They carry bags of vintage or vintage-looking toys and some of them are amazingly lifelike sculpts. I really like the one pictured above with Santa in his nightshirt titled, “The Night Before.”

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Jones has a taste for Halloween as well, and I wish I had found her when I was looking for Halloween artists. Her Halloween line is more vintage than creepy, but there are definite Goth influences. If her work is any guide, I have to say that Halloween at her house looks like a lot of fun.

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Jones uses her Santa-sculpting experience to good benefit in her fantasy figures, which include elderly witches, angels and wizards, as well as the typical lineup of youthful fairies and elegant ladies. All her pieces have a mystical quality and a kind of peaceful ambience that I like very much. Her costuming relies on texture more than color to draw your interest, and in my opinion does so quite well.

You can see a sampling of Jones’ work in her PictureTrail album, or visit her blog to see what she’s currently up to.

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Ahoy 2007

November 5, 2007 at 4:29 pm (doll events, sculpture, Tutorials and how-tos) (, , , , , , , , , , )

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Today I’d like to share some pictures from the Ahoy International Doll Show in Rotterdam. These pictures were taken by doll artist Marika Spijkers, who has kindly supplied the names and web addresses of the artists. I’ve selected my favorite pictures from this show, but please check out the longer list at PhotoBucket for even more. The show was full of fairies, mermaids, trolls, dragons, castles and Arabian princesses, but the first prize went to Claudine Roelens‘ Ballet Dancers, pictured above.

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Above are two fairy palaces: Dreamworld by Marij Van Der Ham, and Arabian Dreamworld by Annelize Bos, which appears to have working lights. Below are a pair of adorably life-like babies, a fantasy mermaid and her baby by Joyce Kelder, and a charming fairy child by Edith Taylor:

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There were lots of nonhumanoid critters at the show, too, including this fiery orange dragon by Joan Coster, a Blue Dragon with lovely fantasy film wings made by Paula Daling, and this hilarious turtle reminiscent of Christie Friesen‘s work by Netty Stege. I love how the shell looks like it’s made of plaid fabric!

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Then there were gorgeously-sculpted and delicately posed fairies. From left to right, the first two are by Astrid Mulder; the third one, whose wings I adore, is by Hannie Sarris; and the fourth is by Saskia Hoeboer.

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Here are a stick puppet by Nannette Schenk and a mermaid with a really fascinating tail fin made by Astrid Mulder again (apparently I’m a big fan of hers, maybe I should feature her sometime.)

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And, last but not least, there seems to have been a challenge relating to Arabian Nights, because there were quite a few belly dancers, Arabian princes and genies, including this fabulously posed sword dancer by Iris Linstra, a well-costumed pair of Arabian ladies, and a charming prince with his princess. Both of the last tableaus were made by Margriet Nijs and are actually sculpted from hard media but painted like cloth dolls.

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You can look at the rest of the pictures here, and some photos of the artists with their dolls here. Oh, and be sure to check out Marika’s dollmaking tutorials.

Happy November!

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