The birth of Ruby – The fire

10 years 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.

20 Responses

  1. Annina says:

    my earlier comment:
    now i’m curious to hear that sound of relay switches..

    i felt a little as if i was next to you from this post, thank you! :)

    might you share some video footage later in this process of making Ruby? (i love those videos of you playing with the dolls, would love something new like that)

    and: wow, you really made this post EVEN BETTER (to quote you) ;)
    seriously though, now i saw actual images in my mind’s eye!

  2. Michele Hunt says:


    What a privilege it is to be a part of the birth of Ruby! To be with you in your ‘zone’ is an amazing experience indeed! Thank you so much!

  3. MissLK says:

    The rain, the relection on the kiln, the past, and the night came upon…

    The brooding atmosphere paints a beautiful picture of solitude – not quite, Ruby is resonating inside the kiln.

    I am addicted to your writing on the process as musch as I am addicted to EDs.

  4. kelly says:

    I hated many things about art school too. Mostly now I hate the student loans I’ve yet to pay off. Great post, Marina, thanks for sharing! I like the kiln clicks too.

  5. Crystal says:

    I have to say I’m a bit shocked at the size of the kiln, surely you have another bigger one as well? I have yet to fire my own kiln and look forward to experiencing it. I like this clicking thing, I was unaware that it clicks, cool!

  6. Hazel says:

    Marina, you write so beautifully about the dollmaking process (and the journey it took you to get here) that I want to applaud.

  7. Cjoy says:

    Marina, it sounds like you’re really having fun writing. I am loving every minute of this experience and look forward to each post!

  8. Manü says:

    Thanks to share all the process Marina, reading this blog it’s like all of your fan are inside the studio participating with you at Ruby birth, it’s full of emotions.

  9. Sarandipitty says:

    I love this particular post for so many reasons. Your beautiful description is only part of this. I really admire how you bridge two worlds. One is the incredible dreamy fantasy world of your dolls. The other is the reality of the work that goes into them and the practical every day decisions you have to make. Your school dilema is one that many people face and it is very comforting and inspiring to know that all you have accomplished didn’t happen overnight. If you do put together a book, I really hope you have more entries like this in it. :) You are not just a doll Goddess giving or taking away life, you are also a human. I love that we get to know you better.

  10. MigMig says:

    Sarandipitty beautifully expressed what I thought after reading these blog entries related to Ruby. I love to read about your creative process as well as about the practical side of dollmaking. I can relate to the moments, when things are happening and your mind drifts away. Thank you for sharing your inner self with us.

  11. Maura says:

    I am spellbound by this tale of creativity and hard work…and of course I have a question…Is it at this point that you can introduce subtle differences in the facial features of the doll (if you choose to do so, of course) or is it after the second “maturing” firing?

  12. Marina says:

    No, Maura. At this point the face is hard and set and changes are nearly impossible. (Although nothing is impossible for me hehe)
    All the necessary resculpting is done immediately after the head is taken out of the mold and while it’s still soft.

  13. Maura says:

    Oooh, I see! That tells you how little I know/understand of the process…:D. Thanks to these posts and your answers the mystery is slowly unfogging for me!

    PS: Nothing is impossible: that’s the spirit!

  14. Alison says:

    I love hearing about your processes. I took some ceramics at art school and was always a bit terrified of the kilns- giant roaring things. Yours looks quite tiny- what kind is it?

  15. Marina, are you never thought, what there is more simple and beautiful way of processing of porcelain? I now look at process of manufacturing of your dolls and I see only махохизм.

  16. Марина восхешён вашыми куклами,но изотовошто я мальчик я живу в казахстане в городе алматы я с 10 лет мечтаю о вашей кукле даже есле она будет без окраски, я в августе ходил на гончарное искуство я слепил там части тела для куклы я уже скрипил их проволкой но я очень очень силно пожалуста не моглибы вы прислать мне одну из кукол, пусть без окраски но я вас очень прошу,я у вас про шу по то му что у меня нет токих денег чтоб купить одну из кукол. пожалуста ответи мне на мой меил-

  17. я хочу расказать что иза то вошто я так хотел вашу куклу моя тёты поехала в конаду но не смогла купить ету куклу а моя тутя ездела туда роботать и учитса

  18. не смогла купить что она стоила так дорога што не смогла купит

  19. марина я сижу в интернет кофе и уменя зоканчиваетса время пожалуста я вас прошу пожалуста пришлите любую куклу

  20. Orangey says:

    My goodness, the way you write is captivating, I immediately am able to capture the images in my mind. You really should write a book, I think you were planning that, weren’t you. I appreciate how you’ve composed your words so poetically.

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