As life moves faster and our culture gets more and more focused on instant rewards, I find my heart yearning for things that will last – things with significance. And I’m not alone.
In today’s post I talk to 6 amazing doll-makers inspired by creating imaginary lands or seeing the world once again through their children’s eyes. With the emphasis on craftsmanship, imagination and old-fashioned play, I asked these makers to share their biggest challenges and inspirations in making their work.
Despite the stories we often hear, I found that each was not necessarily an overnight success and had different obstacles to overcome, from a lack of self-confidence to physical health concerns – before they started to make the great work they’re doing now.
These are six makers with incredible Instagram feeds you won’t want to miss – and most likely you will not have yet heard of them. Read on to find out more about the artists behind the dolls.
“It’s very easy to look at other artists amazing work and try to replicate that and envy their creative talent. I did that for a bit and the dolls didn’t sell or look quite right. As soon as I got my eyes off other work and started to do my very own style and stay true to what I actually love, my dolls started to sell.” Jo, Deer Darling Dolls.
“The biggest challenge for me so far has been jumping back up every time after something goes wrong. I have about 15 or so dolls that are half-made, faulty, ripped or just ones I wasn’t happy with (mainly from when I first started out) and it’s incredibly frustrating to get half way or even more through making something that take so much time and so much love for it to be a ‘failed creation’. The thing is though that I did keep going and creating and now realise that there’s no such thing as a failed attempt at improving because it means you are moving forwards. It’s a great exercise in patience and persistence and then when it does go right and I end up with a doll that I am really pleased with and that someone is thrilled to purchase. It’s a really great feeling.” Lucy, Blossom and Friday
“I find inspiration in many different things: in the beautiful illustrated work of Elena Odriozola or Oamul or the amazing paintings from Bosch, in the fresh and mediterranean music from Manel, in most of my readings, specially short tales by Cortázar, but above all, in walking around and enjoying the charm of Valencia…” Teresa, Ploudoll
“I have loved making dolls since I was a little girl. The magic of the process has always fascinated me, the art of breathing life into little more than cloth and stuffing. A wonderful doll can become an important companion for a child and a treasured heirloom for the adult. Some dolls even maintain their specialness for several generations! The fact that I get to be a part of that relationship inspires me every day.” Eleanor, Lakeside Needleworks
“My dad used to make beautiful wooden beds for our dolls and my mum would make bedlinen and tiny clothes. Toymaking is obviously in my genes! I developed arthritis in my late 20’s and eventually had to give up sewing. Thankfully after several years of amazing treatment I am back to full health and making again. I’m designing and making dolls and toy rabbits with beautiful Liberty of London fabrics and loving being able to sew in my workshop at the bottom of the garden.” Katy, Stitch and Sprig
“I find myself preoccupied with everyday life, but not my own – that of the fairy. My sculptures evoke a sense of nostalgia, escapism and make-believe necessary to remove the viewer temporarily from their worries. I endeavor to capture every imagination!” Samantha, Samantha Bryan
I love the lessons from these artists – make what you love, do away with comparison, look for inspiration in your surroundings and let your imagination run wild. There are no rules here, just a desire to bring cloth, thread and story to life in a personal and lasting way.
Do you have a favourite doll-maker who inspires you or a favourite Instagram feed? Leave me a comment and let me know.