I had hoped to come up with something witty and original and terribly charming for this post, but, due to a last-minute dinner invitation, I won't have time. I was recently interviewed by the lovely Jessica of Wayside Violet, so I'm including the Q & A here, and my apologies if some of this is old news. I promise to try to scrape together at least a smidge of wit and charm for my next post. I'm also including some photos of two recently finished dolls that will be included in my Sept. 26th shop update, as well as a few work-in-progress shots. These are my smallest dolls to date - 8 to 10 inches. I almost feel like they should be called Black-Eyed Suzettes. Suzettinis?
Q. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a writer and graduate student currently completing a degree in Literature and Creative Writing. I’m trying to finish my first novel, which involves much time alone, self-doubt and staring out into the abyss, hoping not to fall in. I love Virginia Woolf, but hope not to suffer for my art quite as much as her. I live in Montreal with my husband and three loony cats. Sometimes, I truly can’t believe I’m in my thirties, as I feel mostly ill-equipped for adulthood. After almost two decades of waitressing, nannying and teaching, I now do whatever I can to avoid having a ‘real job’. I talk to my cats and, sometimes, my dolls.
Q. When did you begin making dolls?
I started making dolls in 2004. I was living in a trailer in the Maine woods with my husband but, as a Canadian, was unable to work. I stayed home alone for hours each day to work on my novel (yes, the same one I’m working on now!) while my husband went off to work, but soon feared I was going a bit whacky (along the lines of Jack Nicholson in The Shining). My husband had given me a Dame Darcy Doll for my birthday, and I was transfixed by how much character and beauty was contained in this tiny creature. Making dolls saved my sanity that year; I made little friends for myself.
Q. Every item in your shop is so beautiful and gloomy! What is your creative process like?
Why, thank you! My process varies. I don’t usually sketch my dolls first, but rather just start sculpting and see how the doll turns out. I sometimes start with a particular colour scheme in mind, but often, once I’ve painted the doll’s face, she looks very different from how I imagined and ends up with completely different hair and clothing than what I initially had in mind. It sounds odd, but it sort of feels a bit like the doll is making itself and I don’t really have that much control.
This is almost an embarrassing question to answer, because at the moment I’m taking the semester off school to finish my thesis/novel - a normal day in my life is extremely cushy and self-centered. My husband brings me tea in bed and I drink it while I stare out the window or read for a while – it’s often my favourite part of the day. I try to write my fiction first thing when I get up, before I can be distracted by some of the more mundane aspects of my day such as email, bills, cleaning, etc… There is a lovely little library near my house where I like to write, and once I’m done I usually browse through back issues of Paris Vogue (for dolly fashion inspiration) or Martha Stewart (knowing full well I’ll never do more than 3% of the things I read in there, if that, but still enjoying the domestic porn-ness of it all). In the afternoon I work on my dolls, answer emails, blog, tidy up (I’m clean but incorrigibly messy, as my husband always points out). I used to go swimming in the afternoon, but I broke my knee this summer and haven’t yet worked up the enthusiasm to exercise again. In the evening, I either make dinner or work on my dolls some more, depending on whom the domestic duties have fallen upon that day. After dinner, I usually read, craft or watch one my ‘stories’ (I’m addicted to True Blood, Mad Men and Project Runway). If I were in school, there would be a few classes and whole bunch more reading thrown into that day, but still a very pleasant day all around. When I was younger I imagined my future self as some kind of fabulous itinerant bohemian who would never settle down, and it turns out I’m the opposite: a very grateful and contented homebody.
Do I sound like a prat if I say beauty? And maybe also decay… I do have a somewhat dark, Victorian or old-timey aesthetic, so I’m very inspired by old fairy tale books by Arthur Rackham and Dulac. I often get ideas from the novels I read, which tend to be Fin-de-Siecle or Modernist, and I look at a lot of costume books from those periods. I studied anatomy for two years, so I also use my old textbook as a reference. While my dolls’ proportions are very exaggerated, I like them to have aspects that are drawn from accurate anatomical images. But most of all? My man. He writes beautifully, and he’s the kindest, most encouraging person I’ve ever known. He helps me choose the names for my dolls, makes their stands, thinks very seriously about whether this one needs bangs or that one, an upsweep without ever making me feel silly. I have to keep those little dollies in line – they’re always throwing themselves at him!