Category : Stream of Consciousness

3 weeks, 6 days ago 8

I think I might have accidentally recreated one of my favourite Sulamith Wulfing illustrations on my shelf, with a doll, a fern, and a pickle castor.

The tableau evolved over a course of 6 weeks as my fern grew around the doll, gradually enshrining her in a cascade of delicate, green fronds. Then, one day I looked at it, and noticed something familiar about it, like I’d seen it somewhere before and only just remembered it. And then I had it. It was Der Garten, by Sulamith Wulfing, of course.

It made me wonder how many other images I observe and then subconsciously internalize, appropriate, incorporate, and recreate into my own work on daily basis? Little fragments of information gathered up from a myriad of sources, coalescing into one form…How much of it is my thought, and how much of it is a book I read when I was five, or an oil painting I saw when I was seven, or a film I watched when I was 10?… How much of our identity comes from external influences, and how much of it is intrinsic? How much of Enchanted Doll is made up of my first impressions collected over the years, and how much of it was me?

I don’t know.

1 year, 8 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.

IMG_9792

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.

IMG_9773

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?