Monday, December 21, 2009

101 with Tina

I thought I would do a post with some common questions I get, just so you get to know me a little better :)

Q. When did you first start sculpting?
A. I started sculpting when I was 7 years old. My mother, who is an artist of a different kind herself, gave me some Cernit to occupy me and I sculpted a little cat. I was thrilled I could bake it and keep it forever.

Q. Did you always sculpt babies?
A. No. Actually babies is a "new" thing for me. Originally I sculpted little animals, caricature people, fairies, string puppets and hand puppets. I made my first money from selling string and hand puppets to local schools. Unfortunately this was before digital cameras and I have no pictures of them :( I do have a couple of puppets though somewhere. If I find them I will post pictures.

Q. So why did you start sculpting babies?
A. Up until I was about 12 I was a total tomboy with no interest in dolls. I did love real babies though and I've always wanted one of my own. I started collecting realistic baby dolls when I was 12 or so..
When I was 19, one day I found a website with realistic OOAKs. It was either Linda Webb's or Lorna Miller, I can't remember but anyway I read they were made out of polymer clay and the light bulb went on in my head and I thought, I can do that!!
And I did... and the rest is history.

Q. What did your first baby look like?
A. Ugh, it was hideous!! You have to remember 12 years ago, things weren't today. There was no free flowing information available, Google wasn't like it is today and NOBODY shared anything. You couldn't write to an artist and get help.. there were very few artists and they weren't talking, NOT that I blame them, don't me wrong lol :)
There were a few books but mostly a display of dolls rather than the real juicy details of how to make them. So if you take this into consideration, I went in BLIND.
My tools were the back of a paintbrush, a toothpick and wooden skewers. I made my first baby out of Cernit which was a bad choice. The hands were from air drying clay!
The body was a stuffed babygro.. and she had real women lashes lol. She looked human and everything, no problem, but she was more like a cheap Chinese play doll than an OOAK!

Q. When did you get markedly better do you think?
A. Definitely after the births of my sons in 2005. It was one thing to see babies in photos and another to see, touch and breathe in a real baby. My first dolls after the boys were born sold for $2900 and $3500 on eBay which is more than I charge for them now, 4 years later!! :) I took my artistic "turn" after they were born.

Q. Is there something that really frustrates you?
A. Loads of things. First of all, a doll never leaves this house until I am happy with it and I am a perfectionist. That does not mean the doll is perfect, I am not God lol, but each and every one has a piece of my heart in it and has to be up to my standards otherwise I take it apart and doing it again.

Another thing I get frustrated with it, when I am trying for a look and can't get it. I struggle especially with open eyed babies. I just can't get the look I want and for year I avoided them but then realized I really wanted to do older babies and children as well, so unless I wanted to be known as the sleeping artist, I needed to dive in... and I did. I started small but I now feel more comfortable doing big BIG dolls that are awake. Scale has never been a problem for me, I sculpt anything from 1/12th to 40" !! It's the older look/anatomy of an older baby that throws me off. I have spent countless hours studying preemie and newborn anatomy, I mean REALLY study it... now I am investing the same amount of time for older babies and children and I am sure at some point this will pay off and I will be happy with my awake babies as well :)

Q. Where do you make the dolls?
A. Ah! The million dollar question. I don't have a studio.. Well I have a room my mother in law allows me to use in another building but since the apartment is occupied by her elderly parents, I have some stuff there but don't go much.
I have a desk at home (we live in a very small apartment in the heart of Athens! and I do mean SMALL) and a breakfast table... yes ladies, your babies are made on a breakfast table... :)
But it's like they say in photography; it's not the camera that matters, it's the photographer. I've sculpted EVERYWHERE from kitchen tables to hotel beds... I'm easy ;) A Fancy dedicated organized studio would make my life easier, yes, but it's not a prerequisite.. although when the boys are 18 and go off to College, I am totally turning their room into a studio ;) TOTALLY lol.


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