Over twenty-five years ago, from the first lump of clay placed in my hand, a felt my life’s path directed towards what would come to be my career as an artist. Having always been a lover of dolls since a young child, it was the gift of a sculpting class from my husband that kindled the inspiration to expand my knowledge of the doll industry and seek the experience of being a doll maker.
Jack Johnston was my first teacher, guiding the very beginning of my abilities into sculptures. The finished products were not beautiful, technically or aesthetically, but I was so excited about my ability to create something from clay that I was hooked. Without awareness of the doll industry, much less the sculpture aspect of the fine art industry, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my new found desires to sculpt. Within my local community, I sought out doll artists for direction and advice, finding almost all of them to be succeeding within the limited edition porcelain doll market. Heeding their advice, I began what would become a ten year adventure into the world of porcelain doll making.
During this period of time in the late 1990’s, I designed a line of dolls for Home Shopping Network. My experience with HSN was invaluable in expanding my knowledge of how the reproduction aspect of the doll industry operates. Through this relationship, I discovered that the joy I experienced when creating a new doll was lost when the detailing was minimalized for reproduction. This led me to try using resin for smaller limited-edition collections of dolls where more detailing could be maintained. Still, I found that the need to source enough materials to replicate the same doll multiple times hinged my ability to utilize the antique laces and rare materials that I loved to incorporate into my pieces. Simply put, this period of my career truly showed me that I found the most joy in my art when creating dolls that didn’t need to be replicated. From here, I decided that I wanted original one of a kind pieces to be the focus of my work.
As I withdrew from the world of porcelain and resin in search of a medium more fitting of a one of a kind artist, I felt a weight lifted. With the boundaries of requirements needed for reproduction removed, I began to create anything and everything I felt inspiration towards. My breadth of subject matter and style became inconsistent. I was creating and trying new things – new clays, new armature techniques, new painting methods – anything I could do to challenge myself. I pursued educational courses to further my skills and understanding of sculpture from all corners of the industry, hoping to learn as much as I could about the world of sculpting and creating finished work.
In an unexpected way, once of the most pivotal moments in my career was a course with E.J. Taylor. I enrolled in the course with E.J. in hopes of learning the art of oil painting. Before diving into the paints, E.J. had us sculpt a head from paper clay – a medium I had never experienced before. Having experience in mostly oil-based and polymer products, I expressed apprehensiveness about the paper clay in which he joked with me that once I tried it, I would never go back to polymer. He was right. With the paper clay, I was able to achieve the softness and detailing of a one of a kind piece that I had been searching for. This was the point where my style I felt really began to take form.
Inspired, I tried all varieties of paper clay, stone clay, different armatures, different painting methods, and different costuming methods. I sought guidance from other artists in the industry as I worked to hone my skills for full-body sculpture through more courses. Friendships were developed with artists like Diane Keeler and Mark Dennis as I continually sought their mentorship regarding my work. For the first time, I truly felt that I developing my art into the style that was entirely me. I wasn’t creating pieces by request or based on what I thought would sell. I was giddy with the idea of creating art that I felt truly represented me as an artist.
With this new clarity of who I was as an artist and the style I wanted to achieve, I began working with a fresh outlook. My work took form into a collection of consistent pieces that could be stylistically recognized as my own; something I always knew I was lacking. Looking towards the future and always in pursuit of refining my skills and methods, I aspire to incorporate more realism and movement into my work while maintaining my soft, romantic, ethereal style.
The journey to this point has been long – over twenty-five years in the making – but every step has brought me closer to who I am as an artist and the legacy I hope to leave in the art world. I hope that my art will bring joy to others in the same way it has brought joy to me to create.