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Home Artist/Limited-Edition Dolls
Artist/Limited-Edition Dolls
A Fairy Tale Vocation: Nancy Wiley combines love of dolls, books
Written by Sharon Verbeten   
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:31
“Little Red Riding Hood” by The Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Nancy Wiley.
Wiley posed her handmade dolls in front of painted backdrops to illustrate her edition of “Little Red Riding Hood” by The Brothers Grimm. Photos courtesy of Nancy Wiley
Wiley hand-painted the cast resin dolls she used to illustrate “Little Red Riding Hood.” “Red Riding Hood” is an 11-inch doll with bendable arms and hand-painted costume. “Wolf” is a 13-inch doll with faux fur, bendable arms and head, and hand-painted costume. Both dolls are available in limited editions of 200 priced at 0.
Nancy Wiley signs copies of her “Little Red Riding Hood” book at the launch party. <em>Photo by Michele Kisley</em>
“Little Red Riding Hood” by The Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Nancy Wiley.
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Artist and dollmaker Nancy Wiley admits to having very focused goals, even from a very young age. “I was very single minded from the time I was little,” she said. “Drawing and making things was all I did.”


But as she pursued an education in illustration (she graduated from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design), she always saw herself becoming a children’s book illustrator. “I really love fairy tales and children’s literature,” said Wiley, 48. She especially admired the work of illustrators Arthur Rackham and Maurice Sendak.


“My artistic journey has certainly followed a circuitous route,” Wiley added, who lives in Canandaiga, N.Y., with her husband and two children. “I was sidetracked — it was a good sidetracking — from my initial interest in children’s illustration when I apprenticed after school with my brother, William Wiley [the late doll artist]. He was really passionate about making dolls. Bill encouraged me to try ‘his’ medium, and I was captivated. A whole world opened up to me. I hadn’t realized how artistic you could be.”


Painterly Creations

Wiley’s love of illustration isn’t lost on her dolls — in fact, her two most recent projects have seamlessly married her interest in both fairy tales and dollmaking. In 2009 she merged those interests when she created hand-painted, limited-edition dolls based on the characters in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” then photographed them to illustrate her own hardcover edition of Carroll’s book.


“I just really wanted to try the illustration,” she recalled. “Since I had been doing the dolls for 20 years, I thought I’d combine the two.”  Wiley said the 88-page “Alice” book — featuring handmade dolls of Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, the Duchess, the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit — took about a year to complete (you can watch a video of Wiley creating her book illustrations at and in this issue’s digital edition).


“When I photographed my work to serve as illustrations for [the Alice book], I felt I had come full circle,” Wiley said. After her success with that book and doll collection, Wiley’s work took a Grimm turn, as she created dolls and an accompanying book based on the Brothers Grimm tale “Little Red Riding Hood.”  “I wanted to do a simpler one for the second story,” she said.


Her research began last summer, when she visited the Adirondacks and took pictures of forest scenes — including shots of her 6-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, roaming the woods in a red hooded sweatshirt. “Red Riding Hood” features the heroine as an 11-inch hand-painted cast resin doll. The daunting “Wolf,” with his menacing eyes, is made in the same medium and measures 13 inches. In Wiley’s book, the dolls are photographed against backdrops to set the scenes. “I make the characters first, then I paint a backdrop on canvas. This particular story was supposed to look like a stage play,” Wiley said. Wiley published both children’s books herself, with computer design assistance from Florida doll artist Chris Chomick.


Next up for Wiley, a longtime member of the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA), is her interpretation of Charles Perrault’s tale “Cinderella” — probably for 2013. “I want it to be very over-the-top,” she said, adding that she’s particularly interested in designing a fabulous coach for Cinderella. Down the road, Wiley said, she’d love to do more book-related projects, maybe even an original tale. “I’m not ready yet,” she concluded.


See more of Nancy Wiley’s work at


Of Note …

Among Nancy Wiley’s buzzworthy clientele are novelist Anne Rice and actors Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia, and Demi Moore. In fact, Moore was so taken with Wiley’s work that in 1996, she tapped Wiley to design the costume she wore on the cover of the now-defunct magazine “George.” You can see the image by searching Google images for “Demi Moore and George magazine.”


Wiley will also present a solo show at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., displaying her “Red Riding Hood” book layout as well as the dolls. The show will run from mid-October to January 2013. For more information, visit
Maggie Made in Mini Mode
Written by Nayda Rondon   
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 19:22


Maggie Made’s latest creative project started out on a small scale … literally.

Maggie Iacono—always searching for new ways to delight her collectors—designed five tiny doll dresses, only 2 inches in size

Miss Ingenuity
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Saturday, 01 August 2009 00:00


Kari Byron is the typical girl-next-door; that is, if the girl-next-door can detonate a bomb, swim with a shark and good-naturedly pal around with a frat house of techno-savvy dudes. The Californian native is the cheerful and remarkably competent host of the Discovery Channel’s MythBusters series.

Kazuyo Oshima in Paris PDF  | Print |
Written by Chieko Hazeki   
Monday, 02 February 2009 19:39

"Voeu de Paix is a collection of walnut babies that Oshima has created as her prayer and plea for world peace.Kazuyo Oshima was born on the Awajishima Island of Japan in 1946, just one year after the defeat of World War II. At the time the Japanese were very poor, far from where they are today. Her father, an atomic bomb victim, worked entire days in the fields as a farmer; while her mother, a kimono dealer without a shop, daily rode a bicycle piled up with merchandise selling her goods. Meanwhile, little Kazuyo was left at home during the day playing with dolls, such as “Ichimatsu-ningyo,” fashion dolls, or popular toy dolls like “Dakko-chan” (manufactured by Ta­kara in 1960). The dolls were gifts from her mother, who wished she could spend more time with her daughter.

Patricia Rose
Written by Linda White-Francis   
Tuesday, 23 December 2008 00:00

patricia-rose-goddess-celestaHer Art Is as Lyrical as Her Name

Patricia Rose is a “girlie-girl” kind of woman. When she joined the Women’s Army Corp in the late 1960s, she showed up for basic training wearing a sexy dress, white gloves, high heels and a wide-brimmed hat, with matching white luggage in tow. She swears the 1980 movie Pvt. Benjamin, starring Goldie Hawn, must have been written about her.

Alive and Kicking
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Tuesday, 23 December 2008 00:00

michelle-fagan-august-birthstone-babiesMichelle Fagan’s Realistic Babies Seem Poised to Giggle and Wriggle

When South Carolina artist Michelle Fagan is asked, “What would you be doing if you weren’t creating unbelievable baby dolls?” she immediately answers, “I’d love to be a photographer.” Though that secret yearning is undoubtedly true, she could have just as easily answered, “A juggler. A world-famous, ovation-grabbing juggler.” Fagan, a 41-year-old supermom of two, is a master at balancing artistic pursuits, home chores, professional obligations and a hectic, energetic life. She has mastered the art of mixing the mundane with the marvelous.

Universal Illusion
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 01 December 2008 00:00

ropar-lunah911International Artists Showcase Otherworldly Creatures and Surreal Specters

There’s been much talk recently of global responsibility and citizenship. The popular mantra, “think globally, act locally,” has permeated political, environmental and artistic movements from all corners of the world. Talented men and women in the doll art movement dig deeply into themselves and unleash works of staggering beauty and brilliant imagination. Whether the artist resides in the steamy environs of Brazil or the cold clime of New Hampshire, they share the common bond of fantasizing and making their dreams come true.

Raising the Bar
Written by Sharon Verbeten   
Monday, 01 December 2008 00:00

The theme of Heidi Plusczok’s 2009 line is Merry-Go-Round. The universal nature of the 150-year-old game allowed her to tie together past and present as well as children of all cultures. Cutie With Every Successive Line, Heidi Plusczok Seeks to Outdo Herself—Her 2009 Line is No Exception

One heartfelt request. That’s all it took for Heidi Plusczok to embark on a craft that would lead her to becoming a revered and award-winning doll artist.  Almost 30 years ago, when her then 10-year-old daughter, Katja, asked for a porcelain doll, the die was cast, introducing Plusczok into the wonderful world of dollmaking—a career that has served her well.

Array of Artistry
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Saturday, 01 November 2008 00:00

falconi-julianneLorella Falconi’s Dolls Are Adorable and Ethereal, Winsome and Realistic

Fire and ice are a dynamic pairing—definitely opposites, the two elements are often linked in poetry, mythology and popular culture. In doll artist Lorella Falconi’s life, fire and ice, likewise, mesh together. Born in Italy, in a small town by the Adriatic Sea, the talented sculptor resides today in the colder clime of Toronto, Ontario. Passionate by nature and proud to declare that “dollmaking is the fuel that feeds my fire,” Falconi glided toward this vocation because of ice hockey. The coldest of sports led her to discover her most fiery ambition.

Dolls Around the World
Written by Sharon Verbeten   
Wednesday, 01 October 2008 00:00

dolsballad-arethusaCompanies, Artists Offer Stunning Work and New Perspectives

Can’t afford a trip around the world? Fortunately, doll artists and companies bring international flavor and their dollmaking perspectives to collectors everywhere. Each widens the scope and breadth of dollmaking in her own special way.

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