Category : Work in Progress

9 years, 5 months ago 35


This New Year for Enchanted Doll begins with a group exhibition at the ShowStudio gallery in London UK, titled To Bed.

I’m contributing one doll to this show, which will include photography and video installations by various artists, including Andy Warhol’s Sleep. I don’t have the full list of participating artists yet, but I’ll be posting more information about this exhibition. The show opens on January 26th.

Above, is a snap shot of the new wax model for the show doll. She is in the last stages of completion, and I plan to finish her by the middle of next week. This piece, titled Twenty To Midnight is a nude, featuring a monochrome, one of a kind tattoo on her torso and thighs, the new Marie-Antoinette shoes and of course this fabulous, new ultra-limited edition head dress with one of a kind accents. I already have it cast and everything. Can’t wait to show you.

I will post purchasing details next week, after I send her on her way and get some down time. In the meantime, I think I’ll post a concept sketch for her tattoo in a day or two; as soon as I get around to scanning it.

For those who are not acquainted with this doll face yet, she is my wax-modeling head and not the doll which will be featured in this show. That one will be much better.

9 years, 5 months ago 16


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.

9 years, 6 months ago 35


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.

9 years, 6 months ago 42


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.


9 years, 6 months ago 27
Posted in: Work in Progress


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 out impulsively 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, unsolvable 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  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 and 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 intellectual fulfillment and pleasure. And here I am, creating and crafting objects for that 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, emancipated and damaged? 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 constant dilemma with who I am is whether 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  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 the 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

9 years, 6 months ago 17
Posted in: Work in Progress


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.

9 years, 6 months ago 40
Posted in: Work in Progress


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.


Layer 2.

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.


Layer 3

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.’


Layer 5

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?

9 years, 6 months ago 27
Posted in: Work in Progress


An FTL error message flashes on the display of my kiln at the end of an extraordinary long firing, confirming my growing certainty that the heating elements are burned out and require immediate replacement. Although I’ve been anticipating the elements to fail any day now and ordered replacement parts early, I’m still annoyed at having to deal with it right this minute, particularly because it will delay Ruby’s bisque firing.

After a day of procrastination and another 11 hours of cleaning she is finally smooth and perfect enough to fire to maturity, but that will have to wait. Normally I would use my alternate kiln in this situation, but that needs repairs as well. I don’t think I’m going to make that house warming party after all – both of my kilns need to be taken apart.


I walk over to the tool closet to get my Ohm meter and measure the resistance in the elements, then change my mind: there is no point – I already know the are quite toast.

When my work surface is set up, I open up the control box to disconnect the wires, change the element connectors and then stick my arms into the kiln to carefully pull out its burned, brittle insides and replace them with brand new ones. My arms sting from the skin irritation and scratches caused by the contact with the fire brick, but having done it many times, the operation itself no longer bothers me like it did the first time I had to take my kilns apart. I was rather scared and nervous of not being able to put them back together again. In fact, I was so frustrated with it, that I even briefly considered just getting a new kiln every time the elements wore down, just to avoid the replacement procedure once every few months. How silly of me. But I got the hang of it and now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

A wire slips and cuts my hand just above the wrist. This is the 4th time. I curse under my breath, unable to stop what I’m doing. It will have to wait a bit. Sadly, superficial injuries are a part of the process. A kiln is worse than an angry cat sometimes.


I’ve only recently become aware that almost every stage of my work, perhaps with the exception of bead embroidery, ends with applying a moisturizer to my hands. It’s not really that surprising, as creation is usually a messy, skin irritating process, but what’s weird is that I never noticed this habit until I began to verbalize and externalize my creative process in writing, and suddenly the pattern came to my attention.

Today is no different either, only this time I need some Band-Aids as well.

Attention: Ruby is back on schedule now and will go up on the ebay auction November 25th.

9 years, 6 months ago 32
Posted in: Work in Progress


Soft-fired doll parts have been laid out in front of me for quite some time now and my desk is all set up for cleaning.

Water bucket – check, sanding sponges – check, an assortment of various tools – also check. Still, I sit there, eyeing the parts through squinted eyes like they are my mortal enemies, challenging them to either get the hell out of my sight or clean themselves for once. I catch myself sighing with resignation for the fourth time as I anticipate the mind-numbing repetitiveness and inevitable length of the upcoming cleaning session, pick up a tiny hand and place it in the hot water. I procrastinate some more by watching a stream of air-bubbles emerge from it as sinks and think of how I always start with a hand for some reason. What a creature of habit.


This is the one stage of the doll-making process I really don’t ever look forward to. It’s difficult, draining and worst of all, boring. This is the only stage I would eliminate if I could, and nothing else, but, it’s also the main reason why Enchanted Dolls have such a glowing, silky complexion, so I have to work myself up to it almost every single time. As usual, every cell in my body whines at me about not wanting to do this, and there are times when my discipline disintegrates during a particularly nasty case of Aversiontoworkanitis.

‘Perhaps I should check my email real quick before I start on these parts,’ I think to myself: ‘And then it’s probably a good idea to get a snack. I do feel a little tired. I know it’s only one past noon, but, maybe I’ll just rest my eyes for just a few minutes to get refreshed, or even catch an episode of Dexter….yea, that’s what I’ll do and then, and then I’ll totally start working right away.’

I steal a sly look at the doll parts on the desk, as if I had just outsmarted them, and make my way straight to the bedroom, deciding to skip the email and the snack after all, knowing deep down that I ain’t working today no more.

Tomorrow I will, no doubt regret this self-indulgence and will have to play catch up, but tomorrow is tomorrow. Today I need a nap.


9 years, 6 months ago 20
Posted in: Work in Progress


The rhythmic clicks of relay switches worm their way into my subconsciousness as I stare distractedly through the rain, into the yellow wetness of the trees, pliers in my hand. A glistening Maple leaf sticks momentarily to the wet glass like a little fire beacon, before being carried away again. I follow its flight trajectory with my eyes until it’s gone, mentally counting the frequency of clicks behind me; one, pause, two, pause, three, pause…, then, reluctantly tear myself away from the hypnotic rain patter outside and turn my head towards the clicking machine.

Red numbers flash on the digital display, continuously updating me with the current conditions inside its chamber. Casually, and mostly out of habit I scan the updates and then dismiss them from my mind, returning my attention to the work at hand and my liquid thoughts.

At art school I absolutely hated kilns and never wanted to own one, because our ceramics department had only manual kilns that needed constant attention. The temperature required to be manually increased every 2 or so hours, and someone from the class had to hang around campus all day just to do that. I loathed the awful inconvenience of it…. but to be fair, I wasn’t really motivated by the curriculum or my own work enough to be bothered with the whole kiln attendance thing. I swear, I spent most of my art school experience resenting everything and being constantly annoyed. I didn’t really appreciate how far my education would take me in the long run. I especially hated ceramics classes and their manual kilns.

Turning again to look appreciatively at my clicking, blinking digital kilns in the dark corner of the studio, I wonder with slight bewilderment how I got to this point in my life. Not just owning the once hated kilns, but also the whole deal of being an artist. If someone had told me back then what would be, I would have laughed in their face with disdain. Disillusioned and confused by art education, I really didn’t see any art future for myself, and wondered desperately what I would do with my life, my impractical art degree and my seemingly pointless skills after graduation.

It suddenly occurs to me how very much like microwaves my digital kilns are: load the parts, close the lid, program firing sequence into the computer and press start, only instead of a lunch, you get a doll. Well, maybe it’s not quite that simple…but the thought amuses me as I work.

Ruby is firing. Hours go by, the studio gets darker, relays click away with reassuring regularity, fading in and out of my subconsciousness and measuring the passing of the gloomy afternoon in their electronic way; one, pause, two, pause, three, pause….   Then, replaced by random thoughts, they fade from my mind again.