Happy New Year!
Chad and I spent the remainder of the Old Year with two dozen of our old friends from high school and university, on a week-long vacation in the remote winter wonderland of British Columbian Interior. It was so cold! We ice skated on the frozen lake, played hockey, skied and I had lots of down time to lay around in the cozy log cabin, drink Baileys-spiked hot chocolate and read the Golden Compass. We celebrated the last moments of 2010 and the first minutes of 2011 by going out onto the dark, frozen expanse of the lake to watch the incredibly bright stars, have fireworks and drink champagne, which quickly froze in the -20Â°C. I saw 3 falling stars and made three wishes for the new year. It was wonderful!
I didn’t make any dolls this week, but i did get to paint real people, when one night someone approached me with a box of face paint and a request to paint his face for fun. While I made him into a bunny-butterfly (a very dangerous and totally real creature), there formed a line up of others who wanted their face done. I spent the night painting my friends into bears, tigers, scarred pirates and other strange creatures. It was my work fix for the week and it was awesome!
Now I’m back and itching for some doll painting. Luckily there is never a shortage of projects around here and I’ve got lots of things planned and in progress. I’ve been keeping them a secret from you, but it’s time I begin to reveal them one by one. There are some announcements coming up regarding shows, birthday contest, new dolls and other things- so stay tuned!
It will be a great year!
It’s Christmas Eve, guys. It’s raining cats and dogs in Vancouver today, but somewhere else in the world it’s a white and snowy winter wonderland. I miss white Christmases. I hear that Heathrow airport is so wondrous and magical right now, that it’s shut down and holiday travelers are stranded. I imagine it must be horrible, but in Vancouver it’s difficult to tell one season apart from another-it’s always green. But at least it’s colder, stormier and windier today than usual, and that is actually giving me the feeling of holiday cheer. Seriously, It’s lovely.
One more year is almost at an end, and it’s time to reflect on what’s been accomplished in 2010 and make grand plans for 2011. It’s been a very hectic, but also an extremely fantastic year for Enchanted Doll and for Chad and I. It was so prolific, that my head spins when I think back to it and it seems that I blinked, and a year was gone.
Despite all the projects that got done this year, there are still some things that didn’t work out as I planned. I was hoping to unveil the resin line this year, but technical difficulties have delayed the release. The new year should bring a resolution to those problems and I’m looking forward to 2011 with a sense of great expectation and excitement.
This drawing by Sulamith Wulfing embodies the feeling of Christmas for me and gives me a sense of peace and warmth and happiness. Perhaps it will give you that warm feeling too.
My Dear Fans, I’d like express my gratitude for your support and your love for Enchanted Doll. You help me create every day. Thank you. Thank you.
So, from the bottom of my heart I’d like to wish you a very Merry, very Happy Christmas and an amazing New Year!
We are having a Christmas Sale on Enchanted Doll tins for 20% off until December 24th, 2010. All tins come with special custom shaped foam inserts to safely store and transport an Enchanted Doll, but even if you don’t have a doll the foam can be removed allowing the tin to be used to store all kinds of things. I’m a bit of a box fanatic; I just love keeping things in metal tins, from art supplies to photographs and other nick-nacks.
For more information on the tins, please visit the Enchanted Doll Tins page. That is where you will also be able to fill out an order form for purchasing.
This sale is for a limited time, so now’s your chance to order a tin!
Wax models for Marie-Antoinette and Hopscotch shoes.
I have my own little superstitions when it comes to metal projects: I don’t like to show pictures of any wax models until I have my first successful cast. That way I know I have tangible results before I disclose it, but I also have this irrational belief that if I show progress shots before the end result, it might somehow jinx everything. This refers almost exclusively to metal projects though. I know it’s silly, but I don’t like to deviate from that.
Below is the inspiration for the Hopscotch shoes.
This beautiful illustration was my very first exposure to Sulamith Wulfing’s work in 2001. It reminds me of a Siberian Winter landscape so much. I think that the contrast of her uncharacteristically light outfit and particularly her little shoes against the coldness of the setting made a really strong impression on me. “Why is she wearing those summer shoes in the snow?”- I kept thinking as I held the book in my hands: ” That’s not an appropriate outfit at all. She’ll die of exposure!” There is probably an evil stepmother involved in this business somehow.
It actually reminds me of one particular Russian fairy tale “The Twelve Months”, where a stepdaughter gets sent to the forest in the dead of winter to pick some flowers and instructed not to return without any. In the middle of this suicide mission she meets human representations of each of the 12 months of the year and they save her, setting up further event in the story.
Anyway. Every time I look at this picture, it makes me want to drink hot chocolate and wear warm socks.
My childhood leather sandals + Sulamith Wulfing illustrations + Japanese schoolgirl stereotype = Hopscotch.
Although, these are Sulamith Wulfing more than anything else, as the design is directly inspired by a certain illustration of hers. I’ll show you later.
These are replicas of the pair my one of a kind doll Alice in Wonderland wears, except instead of leather, they are cast in bronze, plated with 24k gold and painted with synthetic enamel.
Introducing a new feature- the strap button: a simpler, yet equally elegant solution to the teeny tiny buckle. I love it.
Hopscotch Styles From left to right: Sunday Best, First Ball and September.
Experimentation with the most basic finishes and color combination. More experiments required, of course. Especially the kind where I wear gloves and laugh like an evil scientist from time to time. While working on specimens of miniature footwear. “Chad, scalpel please, quickly!…”
Two styles Hopscotch and Marie-Antoinettes, both 24k gold-plated and enameled. Marie-Antoinette style features my signature, tiny buckle strap and decorative ornamentation on the front, back and heel, while Hopscotch is a simpler, less decorative style reminiscent of classical child’s shoes.
My place is just crawling with dolls and their tiny shoes, amongst other doll things right now. Some of my guests find it a little strange here. Can’t blame them-sometimes I find my own home quite strange. But lovely.
Any favorites? Yes, yes, I know everyone likes Macaroons.
I’m adding more designs to the Enchanted Doll line of cast metal footwear. I call this style Marie-Antoinette. These are Cast in bronze.
Marie-Antoinettes from left to right: MACAROON – 24k gold plate and synthetic enamel finish, in the middle CLASSIC BLUE – silver plate with black patina finish and on the right is WARM LAVENDER – bronze cast with satin finish.
I’ve been wanting to make slippers in this 17th century/Rococo style for months, but had to put it off and off and off until I just couldn’t wait anymore.
Some more experiments are needed with different enamel colors and finishes, but i’m already quite infatuated with these.
I’d also like to see how they can be accessorized and which of these styles can be made available to order.
I love the enameled look, but it’s quite a challenge to apply. If there is enough interest in them, they may become available for orders occasionally. I donno yet. So far, only the creative part of the shoes has been done. Sill need to figure out the logistics of orders.
I’ll be announcing more information about Marie-Antoinettes, such as the price and wait-listing in a bit, meanwhile, stay tuned for more photos. And more shoes.
Ruby by Enchanted Doll -a ball jointed, porcelain doll.
Listing number 330500804771
Starting Price: $4,050 USD
Ruby is a brand new, hand made, ball jointed, porcelain doll with a unique steel spring articulation and a permanent China painting and blushing on her features and body. Her removable, magnetic wig is hand made from soft, natural mohair and can be washed and styled with ease. Ruby can mimic a wide range of human movements and has a custom-made, flexible stand to support her without restricting her flexibility. She comes with a beautiful custom tin box for easy storage and transportation.
Her china-painted, porcelain complexion renders her permanently resistant to UV radiation and non-absorbent of any kind of dirt, such as finger oil, solvent and many other chemicals. The doll can be safely wiped down with water and/or cleaning agents to easily remove any dirt or dust without ever removing her china paint. However, the doll must not be immersed in water to prevent corrosion of the metal springs inside her. Like all Enchanted Dolls, Ruby is very well balanced, but she must always be supported by stand when in standing position for maximum safety.
Items included in this auction are: 1) A nude Enchanted Doll Ruby, 2) a flexible metal stand 3) a removable, magnetic wig and 4) a custom tin box. The outfits and accessories shown in photographs are NOT a part of this auction. All of the above mentioned items are made entirely by hand and I, Marina Bychkova, am their maker.
A full payment must me made within 7 days of the auctionâ€™s end to receive Ruby by Christmas. However, a 30-day layaway plan is available upon request. In case of layaway, a 50% NON- REFUNDABLE deposit must be paid within 7 days of auctionâ€™s end in order to hold the doll for the duration of layaway. Payment accepted through paypal. International shipping is available.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
The Auction runs untilÂ Dec 02, 201022:31:56 EST
Also, what is your favorite picture of Ruby?
In the morning, Ruby is sitting on my desk and waiting patiently for her wig. Taken by her beauty, I stop mid-stride on my way to the desk and admire her smooth, pretty profile bathed in the grey light of the studio. I’m loving the soft lines of her features and her delicate chin and I reach outÂ impulsivelyÂ and stroke her silky cheek with my index finger. As usual, I feel a small pang of regret of having to part with her soon, but quickly chase it away. I can’t allow myself such sentimentality – it’s a slippery slope for an artist.
Making a wig is a messy work. The glue ends up all over my hands and the doll’s head, but the upside is that I don’t have to use any protective surfaces for the doll because glue, no matter how sticky, can not damage a china-painted, porcelain surface. I just scrape it off the face with my metal carving tools once the wig is done and that’s the end of clean up.
My wigging system requires that for the best quality wig, I spend about half an hour holding the strands down in strategic places while the glue sets. This frees up my mind and leaves me with plenty of time to think while both my hands are busy. I get comfortable in my Thinking leather arm chair accented with brass studs, put my feet up on the matching ottoman and with Ruby on my lap, and with her little head in my hands I return to my recurring, unsolvableÂ dilemmas.
……Minimalism vs Excess.
Moderation seems to be the right answer to a lot of things, but not a day goes by without a struggle with my ambivalence towards being an artist who makes objects, thus contributing to consumerism. When I create another doll, I always feel a little guilty of adding more physical clutter into our clutter-filled world. I keep trying to rationalize it by telling myself that the need to create things is a part of human nature. We’ve been crafting stuff with our hands, attributing great value to physical objects Â and hoarding them since the dawn of evolution. It’s been the way of things ever since we grew a big brain and two opposable thumbs.
But with the coming of industrial revolution and modernization of manual labor, our relationship to our valued possession and objects has changed. They became simple to mass produce, readily available and easily disposable andÂ replaceable. A lot of those object make our life easy and enjoyable. I for example, don’t remember how to live without a microwave and I don’t have to spend most of my energy on basic survival. I am largely freed from domesticity and can dedicate my life mostly to the pursuits of creative and intellectualÂ fulfillment and pleasure. And here I am, creating and crafting objects for thatÂ fulfillment. Why?
I despise clutter. I despise gift shops with cheap trinkets and pointless nicknacks. I can’t stand hoarding and never own more than one functional bag (not a purse) at a time. Who cares whether it matches my shoes or not? That’s not what happiness is, no matter what those shallow broads on Sex and the City are trying to sell me. I wonder how many girls that show has simultaneously, liberated,Â emancipatedÂ and damaged?Â But strangely enough, I love watching it. Like a car wreck, I suppose. For the record-I hate Carrie.
When the glue in the wig is set, I leave it for several more hours and then wash and brush the hair. I put it back on Ruby while it’s still wet and watch droplets of water run down her forehead as I take this snapshot. She is lovely and I feel another pang of regret.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love possessions. I love comfort and beauty of interior design and I love some expensive things. But I absolutely don’t own what I don’t need. Having said this, I believe that one can not use moderation when it comes to art. Art must be what it must be, and I love extravagant art. My constantÂ dilemmaÂ with who I am isÂ whetherÂ I’m contributing to the problem of rampant, pointless consumerism, or if I’m somehow adding to the beauty of the world with what I create. Perhaps I’m doing both and I can’t help myself. I can’t stop doing what I do because I’m in love with the process of creation.
But If I must make things with my hands, if I can’t live any other way, then I must make them in a meaningful way. The universe is a fantastic creation that appeared out of the void. If I’m going to add objects to that universe, then I have Â an obligation to honor it with my creations, not clutter it with thoughtless, meaningless, cheap, disposable and forgettable trash. The objects I make, must be more than things-they must become meaningful experiences for people. That’s the only way to justify our possessions. My dolls must enhance theÂ quality of life in some small measure in order to validate their existence. And I vow to do that.
Ruby is complete.
Reminder, this Ruby will be put on eBay on November 25th
I’m on the home stretch with Ruby. The glue in the leather lining will begin to enter its maximum strength stage in 12 hours and while it’s setting I lay out the parts neatly on the tray and begin to measure out pins and connect the springs in the required configuration. I have my formula down and I follow it.
Assembly itself is not the most interesting part of the doll-making process, but the fact that it’s shortest and the last stage of it, makes it very exciting. It’s a culmination of all the work that has gone into the project, when everything is literally pulled together. For days the doll exists only in my mind’s eye and in small bits of porcelain. But when I begin to assemble those parts, then the vision becomes a reality.
At the end of each assembly I can’t help but feel a slight awe at the fact that only a few days ago this creature did not exist at all now it’s here, and I’m its maker.
I’ve been brought up to be a humble person. My parents have taught my sisters and I that a person should be a good human being first, and everything else later. I try to live by it and not let my pride get the best of me most of the time. After all, no matter how good you are at something, there is always some one who is better than you. But at the moment of assembly I allow myself a moment of glee and triumph: ‘Damn, I’m good!’-I think to myself:’ I made this out of nothing!’
I let those feelings wash over me for a few moments, then gently move them aside and begin to think of ways to improve myself: my concepts, my techniques, my work ethic and my general performance as a human being. We have to be so many things in our lives, and I’m all too aware of how one aspect of you can evolve at the expense of others. It’s hard to keep all parts of you in a semblance of a balance, in fact, it’s almost impossible. The law of Relativity. Sadly, we are governed by the laws of physics. Even art.
I like to celebrate the assembly of each doll in my own small ways. Sometimes I go to sleep while other times I watch a movie. The actual celebration happens inside my head with the sense of accomplishment and a fleeting, temporary peace, only to be broken again a short time later with the thoughts of making another, better doll.
Painting a doll is hands down the most rewarding part of the doll-making process.
As usual, I set up my painting surface with a mixture of anticipation and nervousness, knowing that even after countless faces and lots of practice it’s still all too easy to fail at creating a beautiful face. In fact, I believe I’m still in need of a whole lifetime of practice. Painting a porcelain doll takes several days because China paint is transparent and the depth of colour must be built up in layers with a firing between each layer.
While the mouth is the most sensual, the eyes are the most expressive and therefore, the most important part of the face. They are a window to the soul. To create a living face, one must not paint the eyes, but the soul of the doll. To some extent, the artist paints fragments of their own soul looking through the eyes of their subjects.
I pause in my brushwork, one of my tiny brushes balanced in my fingers while the other in my mouth, and stare unseeing into the space right in front of me, pondering what in means in the context of my work. It’s been noted by countless observes that most, if not all of my dolls have sad eyes. Just about every single media interview i’ve done up to now features the question about that. ‘What does that say about who I am?’, I ask of myself, ‘and is there a deep-seated, subconscious sadness in me, straining to escape through my doll’s eyes?’ If there is, then I don’t feel it.
I shake off my thoughts and go back to painting, just to return to them only moments later. I’m in a philosophical mood today. My gaze wonders to the original Ruby doll sitting in front of me as my model and my mind drifts. ‘Does she really look sad?’, I ask no one in particular, straining to see sadness…..nothing. ‘She’s just not that sad to me.’-I conclude for a millionth time and reach out to pick up more paint from my pallet with the tip of my brush.
I believe that all those universally preconceived notions of artists being an emotional, sentimental mess of feelings are kind of insulting. It implies that creative people are not in control of themselves. Art may be art, but at the end of the day it is also a job. It has to be done well.
‘I suppose that there are some subconscious driving forces behind my doll’s seemingly consistent sad eyes, which are too internalized for me to comprehend, but there is also a very calculated reason for that.’- I repeat to myself and to my imaginary listener: ‘It’s a deliberate strategy, a manipulation in a sense, to elicit the strongest emotional responses in my audience and to steer their perception in the direction I want it to go. My personal emotional state has very little to do with it.’
Somewhere between layers two and four I decide that this particular Ruby needs freckles to enhance her face. I’ve never tried freckles on a Ruby before and didn’t know how that would work out for me. Tight deadlines are usually not a good time for experimentation as things are quite likely to go sideways, consuming precious time, but limited work time may actually add a strange sense of completion to a project as well. I’m pleased with Ruby’s new Lucy Liu freckles.
I also put some extra highlights in her pupils to see if it will give her eye a new dimension or capture any other emotions not present in the other Rubys. Perhaps there is a little trace of sadness in them. Like they say: eye of the beholder.
I believe that we are defined by what we do, and what we do is defined by who we are, but it’s impossible to say where one ends and the other begins. How far does my identity define my work, and at what point does my work begin to define me and the choices I make?
But more importantly, are my doll’s eyes indeed sad?