Forgotten Dolls

an encyclopedia of dolls and doll collecting

Art dolls -- OOAK, limited, and handmade

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art dolls

Art dolls are created by an artist as artwork for display by adults rather than used as a child's toy. They may be created in a variety of media to bring to life an artist's vision -- clay including paperclay and polymer clay, fabric, wood, beads, wax, or natural products such as hair or plant materials. The dolls are as realistic or not as the artist envisions them to be. If more than one type of material is used in a particular doll, the doll is termed a "mixed-media assemblage".

Some artists may specialize in creating OOAK (One Of A Kind) art dolls. This means each doll is made by the artist from the start of designing process to completion of the doll to be unique in its features and attributes. Once that particular doll is complete, it will never be recreated in the same form.

Note: OOAK means different things to different artists. Did the artist create the doll entirely from scratch? Were are molds used in the process? Will this piece be reproduced in the future as a limited edition, or even an unlimited edition with slight variants?

Profiles

 
Anastasia
  Name: Anastasia
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: 1989
Made by: Gretchen Lima
Signed: tagged on bottom
Size: 13" tall

Notes: Her hang tag is missing, so I have no idea if she had a "proper" name. She has a lot of jewelry and is holding a crystal ball.

 
 
Aniwata
  Name: Aniwata the Butterfly Woman
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: 2007
Made by: Gretchen Lima
Signed: on back
Size: 20" tall

Notes: This is one of the large "wall-hanger" dolls from this artist.

 
 
Annelise
  Name: Annelise
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: 1987
Made by: Gretchen Lima
Signed: tagged on bottom
Size: 13" tall

Notes: Her hang tag is missing, so I have no idea if she had a "proper" name. Her basket is full of bread and flour.

 
 
Bena
  Name: Bena the Guardian Spirit
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: 1997
Made by: Gretchen Lima
Signed: on back
Size: 12" tall
 
 
Loiyetu
  Name: Loiyetu the Guardian Spirit
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: 1996
Made by: Gretchen Lima
Signed: on back
Size: 12" tall
 
 
Magenta
  Name: Magenta the Guardian Spirit
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: 1996
Made by: Gretchen Lima
Signed: on back
Size: 12" tall
 
 
Nuna
  Name: Nuna the Guardian Spirit
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: 2000
Made by: Gretchen Lima
Signed: on back
Size: 12" tall
 
 
Prudence
  Name: Prudence
Medium: artist-made cloth doll
Year: 2010
Made by: Shari Lutz
Signed: on leg
Size: 10" tall
 
 
Stella
  Name: Stella
Medium: artist-made cloth doll
Year: 2005
Made by: Susan Fosnot
Signed: lithographed on front
Size: 11" tall

Notes: Kansas City UFDC 2005 "A Dream Come True" event doll, limited to 900 pieces. She came with a carry bag.

 
 
Tzotolin
  Name: Tzotolin
Medium: artist-made mixed-media doll
Year: unknown
Made by: M. Huntley
Signed: on hang tag
Size: 7" tall

Notes: Desert Spirit Doll #202. "Tzotolin" is from the Nahuatl word for "long-leaved palm".

 

Further reading

Anatomy of a Doll Anatomy of a Doll by Susanna Oroyan (C&T Publishing, 1997): An artist's guide to designing and assembling a mixed-media art doll. Most of the book consists of instructions for creating different styles of body. An excellent reference for fabric artists. Batik For Artists and Quilters Batik For Artists and Quilters by Eloise Piper (Hand Books Press, 2001): Although this is primarily a guide for designing batik fabric and creating art with it, it includes suggestions for art dolls which effectively incorporate both commercial and hand-dyed batik fabrics in their designs.
Fantastic Figures Fantastic Figures by Susanna Oroyan (C&T Publishing, 1994): An artist's guide to doll-making in clay-based media. Includes information on each clay type, sculpting and firing, and dressing the completed doll. A bit dated by now since these clays are no longer new, but still an excellent reference. Designing the Doll Designing the Doll by Susanna Oroyan (C&T Publishing, 1999): An excellent reference for the start to finish process of designing and creating an art doll. Includes preliminary sketching, materials options, jointing, armature, and mold-making.
The Doll by Contemporary Artists The Doll by Contemporary Artists by Krystyna Poray Goddu (Abbeville Press, 1995): An excellent reference for contemporary doll artists with photos of each artist's work.  

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:

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