Family Album Dolls
Many years ago,
I was born in Omaha, Nebraska. My doll sculptures are influenced by my
experiences in that unique Midwestern town. Back then there were Golden Spike
Days when Native Americans from the
Dakotas, Oklahoma and other areas came to town and I got to wear my prairie
dress and bonnet.
I still like long dresses and some of my sculptures are dressed as I did
during that celebration.
There was no television. My
friends and I made things, and imagined things; then met on
Saturdays to compare what we had done.
My grandmother taught me to
weave, and my sister taught me to draw. Paper
doll making became the competition between friends.
I began making yarn dolls in high school, but by the time I reached
college I was side tracked by other things.
About forty years ago, I began teaching in Michigan, moved
back to Omaha and taught several years
and finally my three
children were ready for college. I moved to Maryland to teach another
twenty-three years. I started
painting and since faces interested me,
and I focused on portraits. For a retirement party I made a cloth doll and painted the person’s face on it.
My interest in “ people making “ began.
I bought a book
by Rotraut Schrott on making dolls , and discovered polymer clay. The joy
began, and I found that the three
dimensional figure was at least as much fun
as the two dimensional painting. .
For the last five years, I have been making “ Family Album Dolls”. My dolls represent the influences of people in my life. I like people. Although I may forget a name, I never forget a face. At some point in time, you begin to reflect. I was going through my mother’s photo albums and her college memory book. I began using pictures of her friends and our relatives as the models for my dolls. “The Shoppers” and “The Librarian” represent my mother and her friends. “The Deaconess” portrays my grandmother. Each of my dolls has a little story. I tried different clays, but I like the feel of Cernit and by mixing I can get a variety of skin tones. I have also used ProSculpt and like the ease of sculpting in that medium. I love Philip Heath’s dolls because they are so real. I really try to create an intimate quality with each doll. I want people to feel as though they know or have met the person the doll represents. When a doll is almost complete, it sits in my bedroom so we can connect; then I finish it.
After all those years of teaching, I now have time. In the past, I worked on a doll each evening and most of the weekend. It took a long time. I am hoping to get my dolls “out of the house” more. I have twelve on exhibit at Asbury Cultural Arts Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I feel I have come a long way since my first block of clay. I get a great satisfaction from the comments and expressions of viewers. When they smile, point or say ”that doll looks like..” I feel I have accomplished something. I really want to be accepted as a doll artist. When I was teaching, I tried to enhance the lives of my students. Now, with my dolls, I want to do the same thing. I want to bring back a good memory, a smile and a little laughter.
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