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Sculpting an Original Doll, Part I
the views, experiences and expressions of Michelle N. Lightner -
Original Doll Artist and Designer
Where do ideas come from? or, just a tad bit of "history"
Though I have sketched and painted most of my life, my sculpture did not come to life until a few years ago. As a child, I sat on the rocks overlooking what seemed like a vast valley to me, in the small community where grew I up in Kentucky. Looking back on it today, the mountains were not so vast, the world was not so remote and the dreams were not so far removed. That child's mind created the imagination needed to become an artist. It was an escape at that time, but is a reality now.
Sketching the rocks and landscapes quickly grew into sketching skirts and dresses, with dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Being a 60s child in KY demanded you learn the artistry of stitching and homemaking. I learned the artistry of many hand stitches including crochet and embroidery. I put the "artist" dreams aside to become a wife and mother, but continued to nourish the dream of being an artist "someday".
Create your mental image - I first decided to sculpt as a means of improving my painting. I felt working in a three-dimensional form would provide discipline and allow me to transfer the quality of solidity to my paintings. As I mentioned earlier, abstracts didn't interested me. I was interested in modeling a likeness in clay, a portrait of my grandchildren, a sculpt of my favorite animal, those things near and dear to ME. Nestled deep in my heart was the memories of my first bride doll, the one my Mother gave me when I was 8 years old. Sprawled lavishly on top of a quilt in my upstairs bedroom, nestled among my very few toy dolls, she was delicate yet strong. My prize possession, the doll I never really played with, made our farmhouse come to life with fantasies for a little girl. Those memories, and the desire to sculpt a doll instilled the need, but - I lacked the full mental image of the doll I wanted to create.
My initial sculpt produced a much more innocent and gentle demeanor than that of my husband. As the cleaning and costuming evolved, the child-like appearance of a young Roman Emperor came to life in my mind. His tiny feet would look great in sandals! The ideas poured from my head and I began to research authentic Roman Costuming, names, and the mental image came to life. I decided to do Agustus, the Roman Emperor, as shown on the GUS page.
Changing Directions Creating a necessary mental image and concept of your doll is the first step but, don't hold those ideas so rigid they prevent your creativity from proceeding. As the clay develops it's own form, allow yourself to "redirect" if necessary. This is the stuff of art. Sometimes you have to stop looking.
Using my husband for a model was a necessary part of my journey. It allowed me to gain the confidence needed to let my imagination work, as well as a more complete study of the anatomy and how to give my sculpt form. Not all artist take this approach. And, not all artist choose the same media. Lessons-learned are unique for each of us.
The more I sculpt, the more ideas come to me. I recently started making a list or journal of these ideas, whether they result from a dream, a thought while riding in the car, or anytime during the day. Sometimes I begin a sculpt with one of these ideas in mind and the piece takes on a "mind of itŐs own". The result is sometimes totally different than what I intended. Let your hands do the creative part that the brain is telling you to do, and your sculpt will result in feeling and expression.
Feel free to add your comments. If you like this article and are interested in follow-up writings in the series about sculpting a doll, you may email the contact below and we will notify you when the next article is posted. We do not do mass emailings and do not mail Ezines. We will be happy to notify you if the articles pages change. Thank You! You can contact the writer at Contact Michelle Lightner.
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