Category : Sketch of the week

10 years, 6 months ago 35


As a little girl, I was enchanted by the idea of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. I still am. They seem almost magical because they are so utterly shrouded in mystery and myth. They are considered a wonder of the world, and yet their existence has not even been proven. The legendary ancient city of Babylon has the same, entrancing effect on me and for several years I’ve been thinking of a way to translate that into an Enchanted Doll project.

This is how, around a year ago, the Mask Project was born. These are the concept sketches. The mask is just a work in progress tittle for a doll named Amytis of Media, the wife of a Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar the 2nd. The legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar built the Hanging Gardens around 600 BC for his wife, who was home sick for her luscious, mountainous  homeland of Persia.

The mask head ornament worn by Amytis is a representation of God Marduk, the head deity of Babylon. Like I mentioned before, this mask was inspired partially by ancient Aztec art, as well as early Mesopotamian artifacts. Marduk was a god of judgment and magic and had a water element associated with him. His origins are somewhat unclear, and the information about his physical appearance is pretty much limited to a couple of images of him. My interpretation of Marduk was mainly driven by the sound of his name and the images it stirred in my mind. It sounded aggressive and strong, and when I found that he was a god of judgment, I had decided to give him a somewhat malevolent look, because gods generally possess  both benevolence and cruelty in their personalities and acts.

I imagined Amytis wearing this elaborate headpiece in the image of Marduk, as well as other splendid, richly ornamented clothing and jewelry as she strolls through the green, shadowed alleys of the Hanging Gardens, enjoying the relative coolness and listening to the sounds of birds in this artificially created paradise- her husband’s gift to her.

10 years, 6 months ago 49


This is an old doodle from my Emily Carr days. During particularly boring periods of three hour long lectures in a semi-dark auditorium with a hundred and fifty other students scribbling notes around me, I would get distracted and start drawing random things. I’m sure many of my other fellow students did the very same thing.

At the time this sketch was made, I have not made a single porcelain doll, but my mind was heavily preoccupied with planning of how to go about making them: what I had to do, what I had to learn, what equipment I had to buy,  what my dolls should look like- stuff like that. For several months I just thought and thought and thought about it and sketched my thoughts out. These sketches appear to be dealing with doll’s accessories.

Oh, what a titillatingly uncertain and intimidating time of my life it was! I think most of young, fresh-out-of-high-school art students are terrified all throughout art school, because as they progress with their degree, they begin to realize that they are not being trained for any specific trade. While an accountant student became an accountant after school and a medical student became a doctor, an art student is a very confused creature in a very confusing situation because they don’t get a straightforward, this-is-what-you-will-be-doing-until-you-retire career training. Which in retrospect, is not such a bad thing. The feelings of incompetence and uselessness haunts most of art students at one point or another through their schooling. In 2nd and 3rd years most of us began to wonder why we’re paying so much money for a useless degree and how the hell are we going to survive.

This acute uncertainty and fear of the future is  the most vivid memory I have from my art school years. It was a very powerful, if hellish experience which I’m grateful for and which I probably wouldn’t choose to go through again. Well, maybe. If I had decided to go back and do a 2-3 year master’s degree at this point in my life, I probably would have a very different and a much more enjoyable and productive time in school than I did the first time around, because I wouldn’t have the element of fear of the future and lack of security. My career path is fairly determined and I think I would concentrate more on refining my creative thought, than trying to desperately devise a way to survive after I graduate. I’ve already been through all that.

Ultimately, an art degree is not useless. Its usefulness is like art itself- subjective and dependent on how much effort you put in it. Today, thinking back to those desperate, fear-filled days brings a smile to my face and a light pang of nostalgia to my heart.  I learned more than I ever thought I did. I am still only beginning to realize the full scope of what my seemingly-useless-at-the- time-art-education had given me.

Please feel free to write me and share your post secondary education experience. I would love to hear it.

10 years, 7 months ago 35


Pencil sketch of the Enchanted Doll logo. I’ve since inked the drawing and passed it on to Chad for digital processig. The purpose of this logo shall remain a secret for now, but soon you will find out what it’s for. You will have to trust me that it’s something really cool. Soon…..

10 years, 7 months ago 31


This is an old sketch from 2003 exemplifying my attempts at figuring out how to connect my first porcelain dolls.

I started out with a very traditional way of making porcelain dolls; lower porcelain extremities with cloth and wire connecting them to the body. I only made two dolls this way before I moved on to making  fully porcelain, ball-jointed dolls. I found that I wanted a doll that could move and be played with freely, while the cloth and wire method allowed for only basic and non-expressive movement. Porcelain dolls made this way are better suited for sitting on the shelf like dressed figurines and that wasn’t enough for me. So, I abandoned it and began developing a different way.

A lot of people ask me how I learned making dolls and I never really know how give a simple answer, because it wasn’t a simple, straightforward journey. It’s not like I went to a bookstore one day, picked up a book and went:” Oh, look everything I need to know about making dolls is right here. I’ll just read it and become a doll artist!” It wasn’t like that. I figured it out as I went. I’m still figuring it out. You just have to want something bad enough and then you can turn the world over to get it.

My present method of making articulated dolls is combination of several different techniques and a result of years of research, observation and trial and error.  I can’t attribute it to any single source or even fifty sources, because I looked and studied and absorbed and discarded a lot of information for a long time before I put it all together in a comprehensive technique. Thank goodness for the Internet- I honestly don’t know how artists did it before.

10 years, 8 months ago 34


I had a really vivid dream the other night, about looking down at a beautiful doll clad in bronze armor in my hands.

Even though my dolls are strung so tight that they never go limp, this doll just hung limp in my hands under the weight of this enourmous, intricate armor as it was sliding off her shoulders. Her long, jet black hair was spilling all across her bare shoulders and streamed like sand through my fingers as I held her, in thick, wavy locks. She was sleeping.

I woke up with this image burned into the back of my eyelids like a still frame. I might make it someday. When I have time to learn how to make armor for dolls. I think I’ve got my hands full with learning how to make bronze coffins for the moment. I know it’s possible. This amazing Canadian artist Jeff de Boer made armor suits for mice. And if it’s possible to make armor for a mouse, then making one for a 13″  tall, ball-jointed, porcelain doll has got to be a piece of cake, right? How hard can it be really?(Read: sarcasm)


Isn’t this amazing?                                                                                                                                                                                                      I should look into chasing and other metal shaping techniques. Off I go.


The deadline for mailing in the entries has been extended to March 13th.

10 years, 9 months ago 25


I was so busy the last two weeks that I haven’t had time to do my sketch of the week post. In fact, I missed a few weeks over the last couple of months, but I will do my best to be more frequent again.

These are the sketches for Cosmos Exploratum Genesis project I had mentioned in late November. They are quite old-older than the doll itself, but due to a strange indecision I’m suffering in regards with this doll, I haven’t been able to take any of these costume ideas to the next level. The only thing that has ever felt somewhat right is the ink sketch in the foreground. That was the first one and it appears has remained the only one after all this time.

Right now I’m sketching down the oxygen tank ideas, but I don’t know how I’m going to approach it yet. There is something incredibly challenging about this doll. The solution is probably so simple….

10 years, 10 months ago 57


I need to finish this doll. I’ve  never experienced this much indecision about anything as I have with this project. It’s like I can’t find the perfect solution for the outfit, that will reflect the headdress. When I made this sketch, I was intending for the helmet to be made of leather and cast brass, with cabochon stones set into it. But eventually I decided that the effect would be stronger if the thing was made entirely with bead embroidery.


The trouble is, that I’ve started making her outfit several times, and each time abandoned it after a considerable amount of effort and time. It just didn’t feel right. Nothing seems to feel right. Perhaps I should just go with my original idea of giving her an embroidered, black catsuit with stilletos. That was the plan, but after considering it further, I had abandoned that because it felt a bit Star Trek-ish. Perhaps the reason I can’t seem to do anything else, is because that’s what I’m supposed to make to begin with. The other option that I’m seriously considering, is a heavily embroidered, black mini-dress. But that also felt a bit space-ish.

The truth is- I have some sort of an artist block with this doll. Have had it for over a year, and still no solution. I should just clear my schedule for a week and work on nothing but this-start over again.

10 years, 11 months ago 4


11 years ago 19


Just a quick post this time because this is the last thing I’m doing before going to sleep.

The Siren is my mother’s favorite doll after Safia. She was also my first attempt at tattooing porcelain. I tried painting the designs onto her body with china that once, and realizing how difficult it was , didn’t try it again for over two years. Though the designs turned out quite well for my first try, i was still deterred from attempting it any time soon. Then, it had occurred to me to engrave the design into porcelain prior to firing in order to give me reference points while painting, and that’s how my present technique was developed.

Sadly, I can’t even remember what had given me the idea to do that, because I wish I had memory of that moment. I think that for two years after the Siren I was subconsciously trying to solve the problem of tattooing dolls, until the critical mass of mental exercise was reached and one day I woke up and thought:”My god, it is so simple. How could I have not thought of this before?!” And then, I tried it and it worked, but by this point in already knew it was going to work. Although the idea was simple, the execution was still very difficult, but the results were much more successful than before. I loved tattooing so much that I just can’t stop experimenting with it. I have such grand plans for it. You’ll see.

Meanwhile, I think that tomorrow I will show you the work in progress of my latest tattoo. The reason I haven’t done it yet is because I’ve had my hands full with ebay and pictures of Lolita have flooded my blog. Time for fresh stuff.

11 years ago 62


This is the only sketch I have for Banshee. It’s very old; a lot older than the doll itself. I didn’t know it was going to become Banshee when I drew it, I just really wanted to make a peasant-like, summer dress. I noticed I’m really drawn to the look of folk embroidery on white, however, i don’t really like doing needle and thread embroidery myself. I learned some basic stitches as a part of home making course in grade six, but I never really took to it. I think it’s because the actual application of those skills was really boring, such as embroidering puppies and flowers on place mats and handkerchiefs. You know, the kind of stuff you would buy at a yard sale after it’s been sitting in  someone’s  basement for 20 years. Although I was pretty good with the technique, I don’t think I ever completed a single pattern out of sheer boredom and after a third or a fourth failed attempt at embroidering a flower I was like: “Alright, I am so done with that.” And then the next thing I ever embroidered was Alice in Wonderland doll’s stockings 14 years later. And that’s when I was wishing I had had a little bit more practice.

I just remembered that I have never done a full shoot for Banshee. I should really do that soon. Probably when I get home from Europe.