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1 year, 10 months ago 67

The question I get asked a lot is whether it’s difficult for me to part with my dolls when I sell them. The answer is no. It’s not hard at all, because selling them is necessary for me to be able to continue making more art. It’s a very simple and easy decision driven by economics. Also, I’m not interested in collecting my own work – I play with dolls by designing and making them.

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And yet, I do keep a few special dolls, in my personal collection. Mostly it’s for the purpose of short notice traveling exhibitions, but also because I consider them to be important milestones in my creative process and useful tools for development, experimentation and refinement of my techniques.

Usually most of these Travel Exhibition dolls are away in storage, but there are a few Chosen Ones that get the honour of being displayed in various locations in my home. My Chosen Ones usually earn their keep by being my working models. I work with them while designing and costuming. I observe their mechanics overtime and make notes on any needed improvements to my future work. So in essence, the Chosen Ones are my control group for all Enchanted Doll.

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I like to slowly rotate my Chosen group by selling off one of my favourites once every couple of years. I choose a doll which I feel has fulfilled me completely and which can’t teach me anything else about my craft. Our game together comes to an end and I let her go to fulfill somebody else with her presence. That is the job of a doll – to bring us existential comfort by acting as a projection and a reflection of ourselves, made in our own image.

Doing this culling’ helps me innovate, practice discipline, and stay hungry for new work. I often play a game with myself, a sort of mental exercise where I try to decide which one of my Chosen dolls I would save from a fire if I could only save one. After years of trying, I haven’t been able to decide yet. Perhaps I’d let them all perish, and then start over.

Which one of these would you save?

1 year, 10 months ago 29
Posted in: Uncategorized

Today is March 8th – Happy Women’s Day, ladies!

I wish for all of my fellow women to be loved, appreciated and honoured by the men of the world all year round, but especially on this day dedicated to us. Perhaps even more importantly what I wish for is self-respect and respect for one another, as well as bodily and economic autonomy, strength, confidence, and solidarity in our long march for gender equality.

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The woman this doll is based on, is the inspiring Madame de Pompadour, who was a Royal mistress to the King of France Louis the 15th and a very influential woman of the Enlightenment. Among her other accomplishments, she was an avid interior designer and loved porcelain! She supported and promoted porcelain manufacturing in France and even had shade of porcelain named in her honour – Rose Pompadour.

Because of her love for porcelain, I thought that it would be appropriate to make a porcelain doll of her, in her honour. It’s called Porcelain Pompadour!

Happy Women’s day!

1 year, 10 months ago 17
Posted in: New Doll

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I wanted to begin this post by thanking you guys for all your emotional support and good vibes in my post-surgery recovery. Your concern is like a pain-killer for my busted knee. Thank you for being there for me. I feel so lucky to have your love.

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Please enjoy these process photos of Madame de Pompadour face painting from a few weeks ago. This doll has been a very challenging, year-long journey of nerves, tears, anger and exasperation, but I’m grateful for the learning opportunities she gave me and for the lessons she taught me. I am a better doll-artist now than when I began this project, but I am immensely relieved to be finished. I was in serious danger of beginning to hate her for all those endless lessons and learning opportunities if they went on for even a few more days.

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Now I just have to get through her photoshoot while being temporarily disabled by my knee injury/surgery. Hopefully that will be the last lesson she teaches me. I don’t think I can stand any more just yet. I’m literally on my last leg! Haha.

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1 year, 10 months ago 53
Posted in: Uncategorized

From time to time I have the pleasure of repairing a broken porcelain part, but this week I had to get repaired, because I broke myself!

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I had arthroscopic knee surgery, and at such an inopportune time too, because I only have 48 hours left to finish Madame de Pompadour’s photoshoot. She needs to ship out to Hong Kong on Monday. I know I should feel more stressed out, panicked even, about being incapacitated right before a hard deadline, but as it turns out the pain meds they have me on are pretty strong, so all I can muster is a mild, detached concern. I hope I don’t have a heart attack tomorrow once my meds wear off and I can grasp the concept of time again.

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The good news is that I’ve been discharged from the hospital to recover at home, so all is not lost yet. I’ll direct the photoshoot from the wheel chair – Frida Khalo style. If she could make art and attend her show opening from her own bed, I can certainly manage to take some pictures from a chair, with a few stitches in my knee.

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I have a feeling it’s all going work out OK. But then again, it might be just the meds talking. We’ll see Tuesday.

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1 year, 11 months ago 14
Posted in: Work in Progress

This doll is some piece of work….and not in the most positive way right now. She’s been trying my skills and pushing the outer boundaries of my patience. Some dolls are ‘born’ easily from my hand, almost effortlessly sometimes – but not this one. This one’s been challenging me on almost daily basis, daring me to be better and to evolve past my comfortable place.

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At least once a week I have to fight down a strong urge to hurl it out of my window, and cackle maniacally as I watch it shatter on the pavement below. In fact, I kinda feel this way right now, so I’m taking a little time-out from work for some complaining therapy.

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Feeling better already.

 

Applying white highlights on Madame de Pompadour's engraved tattoo. #porcelain #enchanteddoll #bjd #tattoo #workinprogress

A video posted by Marina Bychkova (@marinabychkova) on

1 year, 11 months ago 18
Posted in: Work in Progress

Having been blessed with a good eyesight (thanks dad!), I’d always scoffed at the idea of working under magnification, even though I suspected it would have been helpful for the small scale of my dolls. But working with bare eyes was a source of pride for me and I stubbornly refused to accept any artificial optic assistance before it was absolutely medically necessary for me to wear glasses. I was such a fool. I had no idea what I was missing.

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Getting a magnifier a year ago gave the ability to engrave the finest micro tattoos I never imagined possible. It instantly upped my skills and unlocked a new difficulty level in this doll-making game. I’m playing on hard mode now. And loving the results.

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This doll, Marquise de Pompadour, is my first doll tattooed entirely under a magnifier. Because of that, she features the most advanced tattoo engravings ever seen on Enchanted Dolls that took almost a year to engrave. If I wasn’t feeling slightly unhinged from all that tattooing (at the moment), I’d be giddy with joy at the sight of this little French beauty. She is going to be auctioned off on May 13th. I’ll show and tell you more about her in the days to come.

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As for me, I’m never going back to pre-magnifier tattooing. Not because I can’t, but because I don’t want to. Those years are behind me.

 

 

1 year, 11 months ago 9
Posted in: Work in Progress

Attention Enchanted Doll collectors – this doll will be auctioned off on May 13th – 16th, 2016! More details will be posted with more progress shots in the upcoming days and weeks. Get ready!
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2 years ago 11
Posted in: Work in Progress

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Tattooing, I mean engraving, the last arm of my Marquise de Pompadour doll. Whew… Judging by the number of months it took me to finish tattooing this doll, one would be forgiven for thinking she has a couple dozen of them arms. Anyway…whew.

This doll will be auctioned off in this spring! Stay tuned for more details, pictures and everything!

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2 years ago 11
Posted in: Press

Just got this in the mail from the Swedish publisher of The Lunar Chronicles book series, authored by Marissa Meyer! I think they look great! Cress is probably my favourite of the three in this context, but they are all very lovely. I hope Marissa likes them too.

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The Lunar Chronicles is a series of young adult fantasy novels – they are our most treasured fairy tales, with our favourite heroines, retold and set in the future. I think the concept is pretty cool. Revisionist fairy tales are my absolute favourite!

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This isn’t the first time an Enchanted Doll has made the cover of Marissa’s books, the first Cinderella was on the Spanish version of “Cinder”.

2 years ago 17
Posted in: Work in Progress

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I’ve been running tests on my new china paints for the last couple of weeks, and I’m almost done! My plan is to finish and fire all my porcelain tiles by Sunday, so that on Monday I can go ahead and finally begin painting my new porcelain doll.

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I’ve been using white, matt porcelain tiles as ground for my paint samples. Saves me a whole tedious step of casting, cleaning and firing my own porcelain chips, which would have added up another two weeks to the testing phase. Why make life difficult for yourself when there’s an easier and better alternative?

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Also, tiles make it all look homogenous and organized, as opposed to loose porcelain chips.

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Aaaand as an added bonus, I’ve stumbled on another possible china-painting method with a quill, while labelling my colours! I’ll have to test it out more on an actual three-dimensional doll before I can try to integrate it into my own painting technique. I don’t know how this never occurred to me before!

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Oh no-o-o! A firing casualty to fatigue fracture and thermal shock. On second thought, I think it’s now perfect.

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