Monday, July 7, 2008

Interview with Mary (Cottonwool Baby Studio)

I'm new to the world of doll making and new to an Etsy street team called EGADS. This stands for "Etsy Guild For Art Dolls and Such" and is comprised of many talented, creative and wonderful people. It's where I met Mary, who brings cloth, batting, wire, clay and paint to life through her doll making. And, it's with great pleasure I bring you this interview with her.

"I have always been described as a dreamer," Mary tells me, "as being someone who sees things as I want them to be, and I guess that's true."

Mary is the creative inspiration behind Cottonwool Baby Studio located "South of the Endless Mountains." A visit to her website or shop reveals an array of soft sculptured, ball-jointed dolls, and other fun stuff (like magnets of your favorite dolls) sure to delight.

"As a child," Mary says, "if a doll that I envisioned didn't exist, I'd make one or draw it on paper." Although she thought a lot about being an artist, Mary spent fourteen years working with children in a Daycare School. She experienced an epiphany while attending a seminar for her job. The instructor asked the group to complete this sentence as part of an exercise: "I am..." Common answers to this question from other participants included I am...a advocate for children...a nurturer. For Mary, the answer in her mind was resoundingly different. "My only thought was I am an artist."

"I had known for some time," Mary continues, "that after fourteen years it was time to go. As much as I loved my job and would miss the children, it was time to stop thinking about being an artist and go be one."

That was about five years ago. She's been making dolls ever since.

"My work represents the children, currently in doll form and Soft Sculpture. My goal is to suggest that you may have seen this child before; in a photograph or your own past, or on the street yesterday."

"To be able to start a project I have to be moved by something in a face, not necessarily a pretty one. I love to work with cloth, although messier mediums are fun too. When I have a vision about creating a particular doll, usually from a drawing or photograph, I sometimes put off the creation until I'm sure it's best represented by the medium I've chosen."

As you can see from the photographs on Mary's website, the Soft Sculpture process is an intricate one. To start, Mary constructs a wire skeleton built from anatomically proportionate drawings. The wire skeleton is then layered with cotton batting until the desired thickness and shape is achieved. Mary's work is so intricate she even sculpts muscles to give her dolls a realistic look and feel. Layers of nylon "skin" are then applied to create the desired tone. Next, Mary chooses fabrics of interesting texture and color to clothe her dolls and add the perfect final touches.

When life throws challenges Mary's way, she is "always uplifted by that calm reassurance that this is what I'm supposed to be doing, even though others may not see it that way. Also, trees can soothe me when nothing else is going right. If I lived another life it was either as a Druid or a squirrel!"

Mary finds classical music or (she hates to admit) Show tunes can sometimes work miracles when she has a painting or sculpting "hurdle" to jump.

As to what shoes Mary wears? She says, simply, "cowboy boots."

More information about Mary and her work may be found at her website or shop.

Mary is a member of Etsy Guild for Art Dolls and Such


Mystic Silks said...

Very nice interview with a creative and lovely spirited lady!

Jean Levert Hood said...

What an inspiring lady! I love that even as a child, she drew what she saw if it didn't exist, and that as an adult, she is calmly reassured that all things are as they should be. Lovely, Janyce!

On a Whimsey said...

What a wonderful interview! Such a talented lady who has really thought through her craft.

Thank you so much for sharing and allowing us into her world.