Friday, February 26, 2010

Historical characters to join the lineup of Xenis jointed wooden dolls

I received an email from Xenis, a family-owned company in Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada that creates stunning jointed maple wood dolls.  The company was founded by artist Marlene Xenis in 1994 who was later joined by her daughters Tania and Jesse.  In 1996, sculptor and painter Ross Adams joined the team.  Since then, most of the wonderfully detailed faces of the dolls have been applied by Ross.

Tania trained talented carver Young Ho who now does some of the original sculpts directly from wood.  Two more ladies round out the team.  Seamstress Marjorie creates the doll costumes and, along with Sarah, handles the logistics of doll assembly.

Each doll begins as a beautiful pencil, charcoal and watercolor sketch by Ross Adams.  Then a sculpt is made of the head, hands and feet.  When all adjustments have been made, a resin cast is made for each piece and the carving process begins.  Each doll is carved from maple that is harvested from West Coast forests then dried for up to 12 months to ensure proper moisture content for optimum carving.

The actual carving is done by a carving machine that follows the resin cast of each part like a key cutter, producing a duplicate from a mounted maple block. The rough cut maple duplicates are then smoothed with dremel tools, files and hand sanding.  Artists then seal, stain and paint the pieces to add the final details before assembly and costuming.  To allow the beauty of the wood to show through, faces are applied using very thin coats of acrylic paint.

Some of the dolls are equipped with music boxes while others may sport accessories imported from Europe.  All are wonderfully endearing.  I particularly like their "Anne of Green Gables" with her trusting eyes and liberal sprinkle of freckles.  When my sister and I visited Victoria, British Columbia several years ago, I noticed that "Anne of Green Gables" dolls and books were particular tourist favorites.


Xenis is now branching out into historical dolls as well.  Their 26" Abe Lincoln is scheduled to be available in Spring 2010 along with this Mark Twain to be followed by some of Mark Twain's literary characters like Huckleberry Finn.

Xenis dolls are priced for serious collectors.  Some of their more intricate dolls are priced well over $1,000.  [Images courtesy of Xenis Fine Wooden Dolls]

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