I have been interested in dollmaking for almost 20 years. I took classes in porcelain dollmaking and I experimented with making soft dolls with armatures, but I wasn't really satisfied with any of the dolls I created using these techniques. I wanted to create articulated, posable dolls, but did not want to focus a lot of time and effort on engineering articulated bodies from scratch. Also, the idea of using old, unwanted, and/or broken things to create something new has a special appeal for me. So I decided to create altered art dolls using doll and toy parts I found in thrift stores.
You can see more photos of some of these dolls in the Art Dolls section in my Etsy shop.
There is certainly nothing new in the idea of humans with animal heads, or anthropomorphized animals with human-like bodies and clothing. Humans have been envisioning animal-people for thousands of years, from the gods of ancient Egypt to classic children's books such as "The Wind in the Willows" (a particular favorite of mine). Despite this - or maybe even because of it - the concept still seems fresh to me, not overdone. It has a special charm and power that speaks to me.
I cut off the original heads and sculpted new ones using materials such as armature wire, cork, paper clay, and acrylic molding medium. In a few cases I used old Barbie horses (or other old plastic horse toys) and sawed their heads off, sculpted new necks to seamlessly graft them onto the human bodies, and completely repainted them. I sewed all the clothes myself, trying to use vintage and thrifted fabric as much as possible.
In addition to the animal-headed dolls, I also enjoy making dolls representing creatures from Greek mythology. This flirtatious centaurette is my favorite of the ones I've created thus far. I love that her human + horse body language "works." In addition to this centaurette I created several bloody lamias (snake-bodied horrors). You can see more photos of this Centaurette on Etsy.
Madame Wolf is currently on display at Art Not Terminal in downtown Seattle. She is the chatelaine of the manor and carries the keys at her waist. I am especially proud of the tailoring of her dress, which though simple, turned out quite lovely. Trying to sew doll clothes makes me feel all thumbs due to the frustrating tinyness of everything, so I'm pleased when they turn out well.
Nanny Dog is also in the November show at Art Not Terminal in Seattle. She was inspired by two special Staffordshire Bull Terriers I had the privilege to know, my sister's dogs Ripley and Basil. Bull Terriers get a bad rap, and I wanted to create something to remind people that once they were known as Nanny Dogs, with a reputation for being extra good at protecting children. Ripley and Basil were the two sweetest, best dogs I ever knew. I don't know very many Pit Bulls myself, but I trust that they have as much potential to be good as any other breed of dog.
Mr. Steed's body used to be a sort of army/GI Joe man. The whole time I was painting him I could hear his little voice in my head saying "I coulda been a contendah!" So I guess he must be a frustrated boxer. You can see more photos of Mr. Steed on Etsy.
I love how creepy she turned out. As with a lot of my art, I kind of made her up as I went along. You can see more photos of Creepy Horse Girl on Etsy.
I am proud of the dapple-gray paint job I did on Mr. Gray. His outfit covers up some of it (his body has the same dapple gray all over). His head used to belong to a horrid pink and white Barbie horse, so I think he is probably happier now. You can see more photos of Mr. Gray on Etsy.
You can see more photos of this Antlered Deer Queen on Etsy. In addition to the animal-headed dolls I created several demon queens. Each doll I make is an experiment and a learning experience. I am not as satisfied with the demon queen dolls as I am with the animal-headed ones, but it was still fun to make them, design and sew their outfits, and envision stories for them.