Me, working….

10 years, 8 months ago 32
Posted in: Work in Progress


Chad shot a series of photos of me finishing the first prototypes of the resin parts. It was very different, new process to me as I was familiarizing myself with the new medium. It’s not very rational, but somehow I felt overcome by guilt over working with resin, as if I was cheating on porcelain.  And as I worked, I kept gazing over at my kilns and my porcelain cleaning tools with longing and tenderness, anticipating the moment when i could start another porcelain doll.

At one point I caught myself nostalgically recalling all the endless, mentally straining and incredibly repetitive cleaning sessions of porcelain parts, and those memories were all in slow motion, with soft focus glow and a romantic soundtrack in the background. The very things I hate the most about porcelain process, seemed attractive and pleasant just because they were old, familiar and comfortable friends to me. I’m such a creature of habit. I realized that I was suffering a little bit of separation anxiety and some nervousness in the face of a new creative adventure.


I did a lot of drilling to expand the inside cavities for springs and even some seam line sanding, even though parts came mostly finished. Porcelain, when sanded in proper set up doesn’t create any dust, nor should it ever be allowed to create dust because it will give you lung cancer. This was different with resin, as these resin parts created a lot of toxic dust, which really freaked me out a lot. Today I ordered a special, industrial dust extraction system for work with resin as well as other sanding and drilling applications. I’ve wanted to have one installed for 3 years now for my jewelry work, and I finally ran out of excuses to not do it. Our health is our most valuable commodity, and a few thousand dollars is a cheap price to pay for not getting lung cancer. So, today I’m happy for my lungs.


I never take safety regulations for granted anymore and always observe work safe rules, even it seems excessive at times.  Accidents happen when you’re sloppy, distracted or when you’re too confident in your abilities and think you’re above mistakes. I’ve been all of the above at one point or a another, and luckily, suffered only minor injuries and learned to be my own rigorous safety technician. I want to keep all my eyes and fingers intact for as long as I can, to make the most beautiful dolls the world has ever seen. My health is my most valuable commodity.


These are all the process pictures for now. I will be doing more documentation of the resin line, so, stay tuned.

32 Responses

  1. terri says:

    This is a side to doll making that is rarely shown. Thanks for sharing the dirty parts and keep that mask on! Can’t wait to see more of the process!

  2. Crystal says:

    Thanks for reminding me of the importance of following safety guidelines. I just happen to be drilling polymer today trying to make a prototype and there was a lot of dust flying. I knew I should have had a mask on and your sharing this is like the universe giving me a message.
    Thanks again!

  3. Annina says:

    i’m so glad you’re taking all these safety measures!
    these pictures of you are so cute and i love reading your blog posts!
    i so much look forward to your book, i will treasure it deeply!!

  4. Anelise says:

    I always wonder why people dont consider using a fume hood when working with resin. I used to use them in a medical lab setting, they are the optimal in safety, and not uncomfortable. Nothing covering face, or special clothes.
    link for example

  5. Marina says:

    Yes, at least a fume hood should be mandatory.

    However. Fume extraction and dust extraction systems are rather different, with different types of filters, speed and suction type and power. Each is geared to capturing different sized particles.

    When I melt wax and the smell is overpowering, my fume hood in the kitchen is not really powerful enough to extract it. I need something of higher grade.

  6. noxy says:

    Oh how I love behind the scenes photos! I’m so glad to hear you’re worrying about safety first! I hate hate HATE masks… or anything that feels suffocating: masks, scarves when worn over the face, goggles, gloves, socks, shoes, blankets when covering face/hands/feet… basically… anything that promotes safety and health… I hate. Which, is probably not a good thing. But at least I’m not currently working on anything too dangerous right? lol. *hugs!*

  7. Leah says:

    Wow, such a tiny little doll hand :3

  8. katui says:

    you look like gold miner…cute!

  9. Uyek says:

    While I love the photos of the completed dolls, I confess my favourites are always the process photos: whether of the equipment, the molds, the beading, wig making, painting, ktl.
    It is so exciting that you plan to share more of these!
    It will be great fun to follow along on your resin “adventure.”

  10. jslord says:

    Marina, you are the only person I know who looks beautiful in a face mask. I swear, in the last picture, you look like one of your dolls who is about to go snorkling.
    As for making the most beautiful dolls the world has ever seen–you’re already there.
    That tiny little hand makes me more excited about the resin line than ever.
    “Always working…never not working.” Seems to be true.

  11. daniseyu says:

    you are working like a scientist lol
    waiting for the new fairies,so excited

  12. monika says:

    Echoing the above, I really enjoyed both the photographs, and your musings about the process.

    Ever eager to always see and learn more, good work marina!
    Like jslord mentioned too… your eyes seem so big and blue beneath those goggles, just like one of your dolls!

  13. Marina says:

    What can I say? I get lost in my own big, blue eyes at time when I look in the mirror. I inspire myself. LOL!

    OK, seriously now. That’s actually a very valid point, Monika. Most artist actually tend to make an auto-biographic work. This is especially evident if their work is figurative. In that case, their characters tend to resemble themselves more often than not. Most of the time it’s easy to determine the gender and age of the artist just by studying their recent body of work.

  14. Amal says:

    Hehe, you look so geeky!! :p

    Glad you’re setting a good example… I remember in your speech at the opening of your Milwaukee show, you admitted that you may have been neglecting your health and safety slightly…

    Sometimes I don’t realise how much dust I’m making, until I have to wash it out of my ears.

    Any news on your book yet?!

  15. indiebrown says:

    Your health IS your most vital commodity – thank you for reminding us all that prevention is better than cure/treatment!

  16. Cheryl says:

    I amd the editor for Manitoba Doll Club Newsletter and would love to feature or advertise your dolls in our March newsletter. Do I I require special permission to include any of your photos in our newsletter? I use PDF…looking forward to your reply. than you for your consideratin. .

  17. Helene says:

    My husband used to say that doll artists make dolls that look like themselves. Sometimes I dragged him to an exhibition with me, and he would make a remark along the lines of “OK I know who made this doll, it’s this lady here because they look just the same”. Didn’t always see it myself though I must say I think Kish dolls look like Helen Kish and it seems credible that someone trying to sculpt a human form would look at themselves.
    However having met Marina in person I can testify that she does not look like the Bride of Frankenstein!

  18. Alexandra says:

    Thank you for the post, Marina!
    I love to read your blog too!

  19. Marina says:


    I would be delighted. Please email me to discuss the details.

  20. Maura says:

    Safety first! You lead by your example. It’s easy to become complacent and cut corners to save time/money, but the consequences might be dire. I work in a research lab and, although sometimes it’s really boring to obey all those rules and procedures, I know (by experience)how essential they are to my wellbeing. Thank you for reminding us that also in art precautions and safety recommendation need to be followed.

  21. silvana says:

    Wow…i loved your jobs shot!!!! You are all right your health is so much important and accidents may be happen….need care!!!!! we want to see more and more beautiful ED, the world has ever seen.

  22. joan says:

    looks like resin is harder to work with than porcelain. why did you decide to use a resin medium? for the challenge?

  23. Hazel says:

    I’m really curious about these resin dolls, Marina. I’ve always had the impression that they’d be easier to produce that porcelain dolls, but now it seems that they are every bit as difficult!

    I’m glad you’re taking care of your health, though. And make sure you’re getting enough sleep. :D

  24. Marina says:

    Joan, Hazel:

    Both resin and porcelain are challenging materials to work with that require knowledge, experience and proper equipment for quality results. I have all those with porcelain and very little still with resin.

    Don’t misinterpret the newness of resin (to me)for its complexity or superiority over my primary medium- porcelain. You should have seen my first attempts at porcelain dolls.

    Porcelain requires a lot more finishing than resin. That’s why my porcelain nude wait list is several years long. That’s why you don’t see many porcelain ball jointed dolls come out of China and Korea.

    Resin will allow me to satisfy some of the demand for Enchanted Dolls easier and faster because I don’t have to do any casting myself, just assembling and painting.

    Ultimately: Porcelain is for art, Resin is for efficiency.

  25. Hazel says:

    I did expect resin to be more efficient, though. I was surprised to see all the sanding, all the refining that still had to be done. But I don’t really have any experience with creating dolls, so I wouldn’t really know, would I?
    On the other hand, it does look worth the trouble, because the beauty and poseability of your porcelain dolls carry on to the resin ones in ways I never expected.

  26. Anika says:

    I’m sure you can’t drill underwater, but you might want to try sanding underwater (still wear that safety stuff though) because the dust then stays in the water.

    Makes it harder to see what you’re doing though if you’re like me and tend to bring things right up to your face when you’re working.

  27. Ilona says:

    I’m also really glad that you’re making sure you’re safe Marina! I know how toxic resin is and, like it’s been said before, sanding doll parts with at least some use of water helps. Although the extractor is probably enough?

    One more thing, I know that it would be very hard to let go of that part of the process but perhaps you could have someone (and I don’t mean Chad) to do the sanding for you? I am not saying this to inflict health risk and suffering on other people who would deal with your resin line but if there was a whole team working on this… Would it not make things a tad easier for you? I guess I’m thinking that you have loads and loads of resin dolls to make but that might very wrong, as I’m aware that you would never want s production line for your gorgeous creations.

    I’m just trying to imagine some easier ways for you to deal with resin. It seems kind of unfair that the nice parts like casting, taking the dolls out of their molds etc you won’t do but you’ll have to do all the sanding.

    Perhaps I just really hate sanding. :) But I did know a guy who loves it a lot and would always buy dolls with seams just in order to be able to sand them away!

  28. joan says:

    all the dolls are beautiful and i will be awesomely happy to own one of each (porcelain and resin).

  29. Congratulations Marina. My brother is an airbrush artist and enjoys the freedom this medium offers. I’m looking forward to reading about your experiences.

  30. Rose says:

    It’s funny, you’re part of the reason I’ve started fabricating and you’ve started using the same material as me.

    I like to use a respirator mask, not just a dust one. I wish I could afford a fume hood, but for now I just have to look like I’m in a science fiction film with all my gear on.

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