Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on tiny dolls. The Tic, Tac, Toe dolls (10 dolls) were completed. Then I began creating some tinier dolls (3.5 cm). And then some even tinier dolls (2.9 to 3.3 cm). At some point in the future, I will create even tinier dolls (2.5 cm? 2.2 cm?).
It could appear to some people that I have a compulsion of sorts. Scratch at an artist or other creative makers and you’ll find something similar. Calling it a compulsion sounds a bit uncontrollable. Admittedly, there have been times that even I feel an uncontrollable need to create. But it’s more complicated than that.
So, for people looking at my artwork, and for myself. I’ll outline my creative rationale for the teenie-tiny doll army I seem to be creating.
Where do they come from?
My fascination with tiny dolls started very young. Liddle Kiddles and Flatsie dolls in particular. There was a line of Liddle Kiddle Dolls called Jewelry Kiddles. For the Jewelry Kiddles, you got a teeny-tiny doll that was housed inside a little locket like container. This was attached to a necklace, pin, ring or bracelet.
Some of my earliest memories of are of these dolls. I was so young when they were sold, that I have a feeling that they may have been hand-me-down toys from my older sister. She never seemed to really be into dolls as a kid. So this scenario is a likely one. Well..I also had a rather nasty habit of simply claiming things I wanted as a toddler. So I suppose I could have simply pinched them from her as well.
These dolls absolutely fascinated me. They were just so absolutely tiny! They seemed so incredibly precious to me too. It very well could be that my twin loves of dolls and miniatures was born through them.
Not a recreation:
As you might suspect, teeny-tiny dolls in the hands of a three to six year old child have a way of getting lost. Only two or three of my Liddle Kiddle and Flatsy dolls are around today. Their clothing long lost. And their hair a total mess.
As a visual artist, I have no interest in re-creating those dolls. You won’t see me making moulds of their faces. Or painting them on canvas nine meters tall. It doesn’t interest me creatively to simply make another Shirley Strawberry or Cleo Cola. What those dolls do is inspire me to create my own tiny dolls.
The teeny-tiny dolls I’ve created recently are the dolls that I so achingly wanted to make when I was a little five year old girl and lost my last Jewelry Kiddle doll. I’m soothing that part of me that knows that I’ll never see or hold that tiny little precious confidant doll that I would talk to and share all my little kid problems with every again.
After all of the personal (emotional) intrinsic motivation is laid-out. From the standpoint of a small business, my main objective is to sell my artwork to obtain money so that I can pay my bills. It’s a pretty simple equation. As an art-creating small business entrepreneur, I’m not marketing a labor-saving device, a tasty new food product, or even a novel new service.
What an artist offers is an object that is purely ornamental. Even superfluous. And while there are customers who do purchase my dolls simply because they find them attractive and want to have them. There are other potential customers that see the purchase of a doll as not making sense. This may also have something to do with thinking of a doll as a toy as well.
The potential customer may like my artwork, but feel it has no place within their lives. Creating an object that serves a specific purpose, like a brooch or pin (to start with) may entice potential customers to purchase a piece for themselves, or for someone they know. This might also result in additional referrals from people who do not purchase my work, to people they feel may wish to purchase my work
It’s been about a year now that I’ve been pushing around an idea in my mind. Creating some kind of pins, or brooches that have my small and tiny dolls as a major component. The major reason for my resistance is that the concept removes the component of play from the doll itself. It becomes an accessory.
I was gifted a doll pin when I was little. It was so disappointing that I couldn’t actually play with the doll. It wasn’t a doll anymore. My frustration pushed me to remove the pin back. In fact, I had to destroy the pin back in removing it. But the doll was free. That was all that mattered to me.
The appeal of the Jewelry Kiddles for me was that the doll was removable. The doll could also be returned to it’s little protective plastic see-through locket for safe keeping as well. There was something kind of magical about that for me as a little kid. As an adult artist, I wondered if I could create something similar.
Is this giving in?
Creating tiny dolls, actually teenie-tiny dolls that are specifically for pins or brooches — I think what I have in mind is more along the brooch type of description — is that ‘giving in’ to the market? There isn’t a hard and fast, yes or no type of answer to this question. Perhaps it’s simply better to say that my views have evolved.
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you will have seen some of the artwork that I created for the Matara Käytävä Galleria. This exhibit space pushed me as an artist to create artwork that could be displayed vertically, instead of in the round. I began to experiment with how to integrate my dolls into frames and shadow-boxes. The whole experience opened up many creatively interesting ideas for me to explore.
I realized that part of my fascination with placing my dolls behind glass (or plastic as it were) stirred-up all kinds of different emotional responses within me. Some of which could be traced back to those Jewelry Kiddles dolls. To be honest, I was disturbing myself with my own art. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.
Well, for starters, I’ve begun the brooches themselves. As with all my artwork, they seem to be equal parts planned and highly experimental. The brooches are being made from recycled materials and will be paper mâché. Pictures are of the various stages of my progress are posted daily on my Instagram.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.