Since 1993 I have made cloth dolls as my mode of artistic expression. My figures feature embroidered needle-sculpted faces, wooden ball joints, costumes that reflect my passion for color and patterns, and my signature-style stuffed cloth hair. I was elected into the prestigious National Institute of American Doll Artists www.niada.org in 1995. My work as a doll artist has afforded me treasured opportunities to exhibit or teach in Russia, Japan, Ukraine, England, Ireland, Belgium, and many parts of the Unites States.
Often, the idea for a doll is inspired by a piece of fabric that I’ve fallen in love with. I think of my dolls as collages, the juxtaposition of disparate found patterns, colors, and textures into unexpected, meaningful relationships. The contrast of the large scale patterns of many of the fabrics that I use with the small size of the figures and their simplified anatomical forms exaggerates the impression that these are stylized dolls; they are not inhabiting the realm of artistic realism. My dolls seem to embody a quiet, complex inner life and a striving for loveliness of spirit. My intention is to render a human shape that can serve as a familiar, approachable canvas on which to express, in the languages of form and color, the sentiments of comfort, serenity, compassion, and optimism that I aspire to contribute to a difficult world.
My dolls are made of wool-stuffed cloth forms with wooden ball joints for articulation. They stand about 28 inches tall, supported by a metal custom-made saddle stand with a cloth-covered base. Their heads begin as a seamed, stuffed basic shape made of hemp and cotton knit fleece. Facial shapes are refined with needle-sculpting stitches, then covered with a cotton knit “skin” fabric. Embroidery defines the eyes and lips.
The most recognizable element of my signature design style is my stuffed cloth hair. A fitted cap made of the hair fabric is stitched to the head; then hair shapes are constructed piece by piece and stitched into place.
I create wooden ball joints at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. Shoulder balls are double drilled at right angles to allow arm raising and lowering as well as rotation. Cloth hip joints are formed by the method of leg attachment commonly used on classic rag dolls.