|Heart of a Child|
Miller-Sands’ exposure to and interest in art began when she was very young, creating the artist she is today. “I come from a long line of creative people, and the gene seems to have been passed on to my own children,” she says. “I have loved art in all its forms from as far back as I can remember. My mother said I came out of the womb with a paintbrush in hand. I remember being in the second grade at my elementary school in the Bahamas where my principal was proudly showing off one of my drawings displayed in his office. Straight through to 12th grade, art was most definitely my thing! From school I went to Oakland College of Arts and Crafts in California where I received a bachelor of fine arts in drawing.”
Miller-Sands was first inspired to sculpt dolls when she visited Hamburg, Germany, in 1990 and was captivated by the realism the German artists’ sculpts exhibited. “Until that moment, I had never even considered sculpting. That point was most definitely my lightbulb moment,” Miller-Sands reveals.
“I started creating very expressive, realistic black children, who were generally 18 to 23 inches in size, using polymer clay. I created these children exclusively from 1991 to 2000. Then I was hit with the baby bug, and this was my main focus until last year when I returned to my roots of sculpting older children. I do, however, still sculpt babies [that are] available to collectors.”
Of once again creating children Miller-Sands says, “I truly feel I have come full circle in my artwork with my return to the older children—only now they are a lot bigger, averaging between 30 and 36 inches in height. I find these creations very challenging and exciting.”
She was recently challenged to take on a 33-inch portrait sculpt of her friend’s child, titled “Alice in Wonderland.” “It was indeed a real accomplishment for me because I am not generally known for sculpting white children. They are created with mixed polymer clay; they have glass eyes; and their hair is meticulously applied layer by layer to give maximum realism. This process takes an eternity it seems, but the final results really make all the hard work worth it,” Miller-Sands says.
Miller-Sands achieves superb realism with fine materials, as well as painstaking artistry. “I use only the finest mohair which can be styled any way including [in] tiny French braids as seen on my piece ‘Gracie.’ My children are very expressive, and one of the things I missed doing during my break from the children sculpts was their very detailed open mouths; they are meticulously sculpted and all teeth are accounted for from the roof of their mouths to the back of their throats. It’s quite a treat for collectors to enjoy.
“A very closely guarded secret has always been how I achieve the realistic skin tones of my creations,” Miller-Sands continues. “To me black skin tone is the most complex of all to capture, as the skin has so many subtle hues and tones to it, but it’s something I feel needs to be as realistic as possible. The children also have a fully articulated lock armature that adds to their poseability. Being able to offer a very diverse group of children, in both expression and nationality, is very exciting for me.”
Miller-Sands isn’t the only one who’s excited about her work. Avid collector Susan Smith of England is a big fan. “I absolutely adore Lorna's babies; each one is so very very special to me. I am a very deep person, and I feel Lorna's bubbly personality almost embrace me when I look at one of her babies; they are unbelievably lifelike. The toddlers are just quite simply the best, and I am overwhelmed with the artistry and work involved in these little ones. These works of art just get better and better. I am so excited when a new family member comes home, and it’s always very thrilling to add another masterpiece to my collection.”
In the future, Miller-Sands has no plans to slow down and only hopes to improve as an artist. Her hope is that “I will continue to sculpt for many years to come. I feel very strongly that I am not even close to reaching my full potential. I am always trying to push the envelope a little more. To be able to work from home doing something I absolutely love and knowing my work is loved and cherished by so many. … It really does not get any better than that.”
The winners of the 2013 Industry’s Choice DOLLS Awards of Excellence (DAEs) were announced April 12 at the Debut of Dolls Banquet held at IDEX in Orlando, Fla. Each entry in this year’s competition was evaluated by our panel of judges: Doll industry consultant Pat Burns, doll writer and historian Penny Herbst, Simon Farnworth of DollObservers.com, author and DOLLS contributor Stephanie Finnegan,
DOLLS editor-at-large Jill Jackson, and Modern Doll President Patsy Moyer. This year’s Industry’s Choice winners go on to become the nominees for the Public’s Choice awards voted on by DOLLS readers. Look for photos of all the nominees, ballot, and online voting instructions in the July 2013 issue of DOLLS.
Iola, Wis. – Jan. 9, 2013 – DOLLS magazine publisher and former editor Carie Ferg received a special VIP Award for Outstanding Achievement in the 2012 Colliii Awards. The Colliii Awards are the largest online dollmaking competition in the world.
“We wanted to present the 2012 VIP Award to Carie Ferg as a recognition of the dynamism and innovation she has brought to the doll industry over the past few years,” said Colliii Awards Director James Carlsson. “The VIP Award is presented every year to a person or organisation that has made a significant contribution to the doll world. It was Colliii.com’s pleasure to present this to Carie as a token of appreciation for her hard work.”
Past VIP Award winners include DOLLS’ Editor-at-Large Jill Jackson for her work with "Doll Reader," the Biemann family from Schildkröt dolls in Germany, and such atists as Stephanie Sullivan.Registration for the 2013 Colliii Awards will begin in July. For more information about the competition, go to www.colliii.com/en.
The winners of the 2012 ProSculpt Annual Sculpting Contest have been chosen by collectors and artists from around the world. Winners this year are from England, Italy, Japan, South America, and the United States. Photos of all the winners can be viewed at the Johnston Original Art Dolls website. The winners are:
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Haute Doll introduces its new exclusive by Horsman Ltd., the modern-style “Heart Chair” perfect for 16-inch fashion dolls. The design was inspired by Verner Panton’s 1959 full-scale contemporary chair design.
The fourth Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event (PUDDLE) drew 60 doll lovers from 10 different states and Canada to the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn in June. This year’s theme, cranes, was inspired by the sandhill cranes at the group's charity organization, the Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Six custom dolls and other items donated by sponsors like The Sleeping Elf and Denise's Dolls were raffled off at the event, raising $500 for the center.
The weekend started Friday night with dinner at Mitsuwa Japanese Mall in Arlington Heights, followed by a tea party at the hotel. PUDDLE officially kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday, starting with an organized buy-sell-trade opportunity, and dozens of fans milled around trading and buying doll wigs, eye chips, bodies, clothing, and more.
Every attendee received a door prize, thanks to generous donations from many sponsors. Distribution of the door prizes was followed by a secret gift swap and lunch break. Afterwards, an informal Q&A-format customizing workshop answered questions for many fans new to the hobby, followed by a display of fully customized and modified dolls entered in the customization contest. Winners of an online photo/art contest which was held and judged before the event were announced along with the customization contest winners. The photo and art entries can be seen at www.puddlestyle.com/photoart.html.
Many fans continued the fun over dinner in the hotel restaurant and in the hotel lobby until the wee hours. Krista Farmer, who traveled from Toronto for the event, said “It was a crazy cool day.” Although the event officially ended Saturday night, 11 fans stayed for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Willowbrook Wildlife Center Sunday. — Jane EasterlyFor information on PUDDLE 2012, visit www.puddlestyle.com.read more
Attendees at the third annual R. John Wright Convention enjoyed the festivities of several major holidays coupled with outstanding dolls, all rolled into four fun-filled days! R. John and Susan Wright chose “Celebrations!” as the theme for their 2011 event held at the historic Desmond Hotel in Albany, N.Y., which was co-chaired by Loretta Nardone and Lillian Wright.
The convention opened with St. Patrick’s Day reception Wednesday evening, where everyone laid claim to being a wee bit Irish while enjoying a scrumptious dessert buffet. The sales room opened immediately after this kick-off event, with conventioneers hoping the “luck of the Irish” would help them find that perfect doll or dolls.
Thursday began early with the Easter Morning Breakfast; those attending this ticketed event didn’t have to search for large, beautifully decorated baskets serving as table centerpieces. They were filled with molded felt eggs in pastel colors. At the end of the breakfast, the eggs were distributed and the happy new owners opened them to find “Peep,” a 3-inch yellow mohair chick as their event souvenir. His companion, “Posey,” was available for sale. After breakfast the special and competitive exhibits opened, along with the helper room. This year’s special exhibit, arranged by John and Susan Wright’s daughter Emily, was titled “Happy Holidays” and showcased R. John Wright dolls and animal characters and the traditional holidays that inspired them.
That afternoon, attendees boarded buses for the short trip to Bennington, Vt., for a tour of the R. John Wright facility along with other local activities. The Wrights explained the development of their creations from concept through completion before everyone had the opportunity to visit with their employees as they made various doll parts and accessories and shopped in the R. John Wright store. The day culminated with a Fourth of July BBQ followed by fireworks at dusk.
Workshops by dollmaker Gail Wilson and a program by Alan Pate, a leading American expert on Japanese dolls, were offered on Friday, along with several roundtable discussions on various topics. Attendees dressed up for the frightfully fabulous costume parade leading into the Halloween Masquerade luncheon, with prizes awarded in five categories. After lunch, the newest piece from R. John Wright’s Wizard of Oz collection, “Wicked Witch of the West,” made her debut in front of an enthusiastic audience.
The ticketed Victorian Yuletide Dinner featured traditional table decorations and an enchanting program, “A Victorian Christmas,” presented by Nardone. The event souvenir was the 10-inch “Mary Frances,” the latest addition to the Victorian Children Collection. Available for purchase was her 7-inch little sister, “Baby Grace.”
Saturday morning’s activities included another program by Pate and a workshop conducted by Emily Wright. That afternoon, a Valentine’s Day High Tea charmed conventioneers with fine teas and delicacies. The newest addition to the Flower Fairies series, “Rose Fairy,” was available for purchase. The evening’s closing event was a New Year’s Eve Gala Celebration. This elegant banquet featured another entertaining program produced and presented by Nardone. When the souvenir dolls were distributed, delighted attendees found the adorable 12½-inch “Celebration Scootles” would be going home with them. As an added bonus, her delightful twin brother was available for purchase.As the convention ended, attendees were already making plans for next year’s “Around the World” event, which will be held at the same location June 20-23, 2012 and will celebrate the magic of children around the globe. There will also be an added treat as the first bear event held at an R. John Wright convention will be incorporated into the excursion to the Wrights’ facility in Vermont. For more information, visit www.rjohnwright.com or call (802) 447-7072. — Pat Burnsread more