Category : Sketch of the week

10 years, 3 months ago 10


I had so many ideas about what look to give my Scheherazade doll, that I dedicated a whole note book to sketching out various middle eastern inspired costumes. Wait, actually it was the other way around: for several years I’ve been so infatuated by the Asian costume aesthetic, that I kept sketching them out and collecting magazine clippings or anything relevant to my interest, until a whole note book was filled with it.

In my third year at Emily Carr Institute, (now a university) I took Non-Western art studies. The very name of the course clearly indicates how Euro-Centric Western art education is. The one course which wasn’t about western culture and our art was pretty much called “The Other kind of Art”. I guess it’s like that in every country though- you can only teach what you know, right? Anyway. There were a few different Non-Western art courses available, and one semester I registered for a History of Middle-Eastern Dance course. It turned out to be the most memorable class I ever took because it was so interesting. Technically an academic course, it focused on the theory surrounding Belly Dancing, its enormous cultural impact on the Western civilization and had little to do with the actual dancing part.

To make the most use of my natural sensibilities, I wrote my final essay for this class on the influence of Middle-Eastern dance on Western fashion. Perhaps I was not the first one to make this observation, but during my research I arrived at the conclusion that the introduction of the Belly Dance to West has had a profound effect on the evolution of fashion as we know it today, because it is directly responsible for the abolition of the corset. That, and the industrial revolution and the disintegration of social classes. But anyway.


I spent several days at the library, collecting supporting evidence for my paper, surrounded by piles of ethnic costume and fashion books from every culture I could find. To present my final essay I made a leather-bound book (I also took 2 book binding courses) and illustrated it heavily with clippings from those books to show the evolution of Western women’s costume over the last few hundred years and the covert influence of oriental dance. It turned out so beautifully. My professor loved my project so much that he never returned it to me. This I regret to this day because I would love to have it for both sentimental and practical reasons. At the end of the school semester he left to teach elsewhere and his office was cleared out of all the unclaimed projects and given to another teacher. I presume it was destroyed, but I hope that it still exists somewhere, in some one’s possession.

Taking that class and doing that project has had a profound impact on my life because I learned so much from it and went on to interpret that in my costumed, porcelain dolls. It influenced my creative direction and aesthetic preferences.

10 years, 3 months ago 12


Yup, I had a totally different vision of Alice when I had made this sketch. My sketch book provides a glimpses into the evolution of my aesthetical preferences over time.

Some of the earliest Alice sketches from 2006 show an entirely different concept than what the completed doll looks like. In the end, I did incorporate some of the classical features of Disney Alice into my own interpretation to maintain a sentimental connection to this well known character.


When is Tim Burton’s Alice coming out? Kind of curious to see that movie.

10 years, 3 months ago 9


Sorry I’m a bit late with my sketch of the week segment. I fell asleep really early yesterday.

This sketch was shown at the Villa Terrace museum during my first solo show in April-June 2009. Almost every doll in the show was accompanied with a concept sketch. This one is for The Bride of Frankenstein doll. I think I will show all the sketches that were in the show in the upcoming Sketch of the Week segments. Enjoy.

click the image for a larger version

10 years, 3 months ago 8



Some of you have been asking to see Agnetha‘s sketches. There are several pages of Agnetha related drawings and doodles in my sketch book, but these three are the most relevant ones. From top to bottom are sketches for crown, collar and dress fringe. I did a lot of preliminary work drawing some aspects of the costume out, before actually starting it, making Agnetha one of the least improvised ball jointed, costumed dolls of mine. She was also the very first doll on 1:6 scale, I’ve made in my quest for a perfect doll.


To get symmetry in the violate dress fringe, I drew out a single matrix of the design by hand and then had Chad reproduce and tile the rest of it in photoshop, thus creating a repetitive pattern for embroidery. But, of course it got changed around once I began embroidering it.

Metal is not as permitting of improvisation as other mediums, such as embroidery. Such precision is required in sawing out a design with a saw blade the thickness of dental floss, that you can’t just change your mind about this or that right in the middle of it. The unforgiving hardness of metal coupled with a small size of the design and the thinness and delicacy of the sawing blade which tends to break with the smallest changes in direction, won’t allow it. Every single detail must be worked out in the sketching stage and once that is done, you’re committed to that design. This crown took me a week to design and get the necessary materials, about two hours to saw it out of a sheet of Sterling silver and about 12 hours to file, sand, solder and set with stones. Once I started making it, I didn’t stop until it was finished. Soldering was the most nerve wracking part, always is for me because of my fear of open flame and flammable gasses and the danger of making a mistake and accidentally melting the project. Or, having a leaky gas tank or a torch and blowing myself up. I actually did almost melt this crown. It’s so thin and delicate, I’m surpirsed I didn’t.

And there you have it, ladies and gents.

I just got a fashion magazine from Copenhagen, Denmark with a short, one page feature on Enchanted Doll. I’ll post it soon.

10 years, 3 months ago 20



Another example of me not following my sketch.

My initial idea for a concubine was heavily influenced by ancient Mesopotamian, tribal clothes. She started out looking very ethnic, like a Bedouin princess, but gradually evolved into a more refined, regal lady of the court. So, I pretty much started out with one doll and ended up with something totally different. And this is often the case. While I work and follow my instincts, it all makes sense, but then the project is finished and I look at the disparity between the sketch and the doll and wonder, “How the heck did this happen?” But I’ve learned to trust my instincts. The heart wants what it wants, and my hands comply subconsciously, making decisions seemingly on their own.

But I always second guess my instincts anyway. A lot of times it’s a waste of time, but I have to do that in order to negotiate the proper course of action and achieve the balance between ideas and execution.

Imperial Concubine’s Gallery

10 years, 3 months ago 27



This is a sketch for a project from 2006. This early doll Nitocris is a portrayal of a Egyptian pharaoh of the sixth dynasty who avenged the political assassination of her brother at the hands of traitors by inviting them to a banquet in a sealed room and then flooding it with Nile. Some stories say that she chose to remain inside and die with her victims while others claim that she committed suicide later. Her very existence is not a proven, historical fact, but since not many things from four thousand years ago are, I choose to believe in her life and death.

You can see significant differences between the sketch and the actual piece. Although a sketch is a good thing to have before embroidering a design with beads, I often deviate from it quite a bit. My beading style is very instinctive and tactile. I let my needle and my beads take me in the direction that feels right, regardless of the sketch, relying instead on my immediate sense of composition, color and shape. So, every bead embroidery session is a form of improvisation with changes, surprises and excitement about the evolution of the design.  Making up the design as I go is like discovering a secret, one bead, one stone, one pearl at a time. The process is incredibly slow but interesting at the same time because you feel that all that repetition is going to turn into something wonderful when it’s complete. And that makes it all worth it.

The monotony begins as soon as I finish the design on one side and start replicating it on the other. Repeating a pattern is definitely easier and less time consuming than figuring it all out, but it’s not very entertaining. And that’s why I never replicate beaded costumes: I’ve already discovered its secret and without that mystery, the bead-work is nothing but hundreds of hours of soulless repetition. And that is not worth my precious time.

10 years, 3 months ago 21


These sketches are from summer 2007 when I was road-tripping in Italy with Chad and his parents. We had an RV and we drove around the whole country from Milan to Sicily for almost two months. It was fantastic. I got to see everything I had studied in Art History 101 in my first year of art school.

In the upper left corner and bottom right corner of the sketches you can read Venice 2007 and Florence 2007. That’s where I was when I made these. You can see that I was heavily influenced by the religious iconography, which dominated Italian Renaissance art. Honestly, it was all about Jesus and the Virgin. Frankly, it kind of got a bit monotonous after about 300 paintings and  four dozen cathedrals or so, but it was inspirational too. Throughout history people have produced some breathtakingly beautiful things in the name of the invisible man who lives in the sky and controls the world. I find it awe-inspiring and deeply disturbing at the same time. Religion makes no sense to me.

So, obviously I’ve had the whole halo and religious reference project on my mind for quite some time. It’s good to be finally working on it.

10 years, 4 months ago 22


Concept sketches for a pregnant doll. I was imagining her with short hair and actually made her a very short Edie-like wig at first, but it didn’t work with her face. I don’t usually make such detailed sketches anymore as I consider it a little bit of a waste of time. It isn’t really, but I figure why spend lots of time on a detailed sketch when I could spend it on actually making the thing. All I usually draw these days is a quick outline or a doodle just to remind me of the project while most of the sketch gets stored inside my head. The reason I made these is because a magazine asked me for them to go along with the article. I don’t know if they will end up using either one.


10 years, 4 months ago 28


I realized that I have so many sketches that it would take me years to post them all here at the rate of one per week. So, I decided to post a sketch twice a week instead- to speed this up a little. At this rate it will only take me 10 years! One sketch will be posted every Monday and the another one two days later-every Thursday.

This is a concept sketch for a Dorian Gray doll. I made it quite a while ago and have yet to start working on the project. Although I love Oscar Wilde’s style of character development, I am ambivalent about the book itself. Ultimately I enjoyed it, but I thought it was missing something and I can’t quite put my finger on that elusive something. 


Perhaps it was the fact that I could not fully comprehend why Dorian was condemned as a horrible human being. Yeah, sure he ends up murdering somebody, but that doesn’t happen until the end of the book while he is regarded as an indecent and a corrupted man all throughout. His great sins seem to consist of being an ever-young and immortal, drop-dead-gorgeous, charming hedonist who enjoyed money, sex and recreational drugs. Oooooooo! Big deal! Who doesn’t?!

I think the meaning of the book lays in the times and the social context of its inception. Today, many of the puritan social attitudes of the Victorian era have become irrelevant and extinct. Dorian’s behavior may have been considered scandalous then, but has since been normalized. He was made into a monster, for acting like a human. True, he was not the best human being around. He was a vein, arrogant, narcissistic, heartless and inconsiderate- but that describes the majority of young people. Many of us tend to grow out of it. Dorian was an immortal stuck in eternal youth: In constant pursuit of new sensations and pleasures with no fear of consequences, aging or death – how lucky for him. Frankly, I’m jealous.


The Picture of Dorian Gray is a multi layered book and perhaps the reason I thought that something was missing from it is because I felt like it approached these really heavy and complex philosophical questions of life, death and humanity in a very light, simplified almost playful tone. But now that I think about it: why not? They have no concrete answers, why not play with them? On the surface the book definitely felt more entertaining than insightful, but it did make me think a lot afterward. I’m still thinking about it. And that’s what makes a good book in my opinion.

The sketch in the lower left corner has nothing to do with Dorian Gray.

It’s quick drawing of  a vivid scene from a terrifying, erotic nightmare I had one night, about being tortured with scissors by a attractive man, who kind of resembled a young Benicio del Toro. I swear I’ve never felt anything more painful in my life than when he cut my thigh with slow, deliberate strokes. The pain was so real. I actually woke up weeping and choking. The strange thing is that I’m not that into sadomasochism, maybe just a little, but that dream experience was very….exciting.

I have pretty awesome dreams. I’ve been wanting to start a big project of painting scenes from my dreams, but i don’t even have time to sketch them down daily. Oh, how I need more time!

10 years, 4 months ago 23


Introducing a new, weekly blog feature: sketch of the week. Every Monday I will choose a page from my sketchbook and post it here. The sketch can be a recent or an old one and will not necessarily be doll-related.

This corset sketch have been shown at the Villa Terrace museum during my solo show. I made these concept sketches a couple of years ago when I took a lost wax casting, jewelry class. I’ve been dreaming of creating metal clothes for my dolls for several years and when I began familiarizing myself with wax carving I knew right away that this method would allow me to do it. So, after my first class I came up with this very ambitious design for a 1:6 scale, silver corset. I’ve yet to make it, though I have a feeling that it won’t be long now. However, now that I have some experience with carving jeweler’s wax, I’m not sure that this design can be replicated by hand. I will most definitely give it my best shot, but this might be better suited for a machine carving. I really want one. One day I’ll get it.

Anyway, my first attempt at carving a functional, silver corset for a doll turned out like this. It’s not bad, but I can and will do better next time.


You can find this corset in the Cinderella gallery. I’m thinking about making it available for orders at one point, only without the breast cups. I don’t know exactly yet.