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]

The Hand-Carved Marionettes of Gustave Baumann : Share Their World   Dolls in Motion

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kimport Dolls a legacy of award winning artist Ruby Short McKim

Queen Marie Antoinette is a popular personality for doll artists and I have an Ebay alert that checks the latest auctions for dolls that depict her.  Today, I received a notice of a nice example of a Kimport Doll designed to represent the famous French queen.

Kimport Dolls were produced by McKim Studios, founded in Independence, Missouri by artist Ruby Short McKim, 1891-1976.

"Ruby Short McKim, 1891-1976, was the prototype for today's modern woman. Artist, author, businesswoman, wife and mother - she excelled in all areas. A graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York City, Ruby returned to Independence to become the Art Supervisor for the Kansas City Public Schools. After her marriage to Arthur McKim, she began her work as an advisor to Child Life Magazine and created a continuity strip that was one of the first in syndication. This feature in the Chicago Daily News ran for many years. As a couple, the McKims opened a mail-order outlet, McKim Studios, which specialized in needlecraft items and in antique and foreign dolls. At this same time, Ruby was Art Needlework Editor for Better Homes and Gardens." - McKim Studios Revival: Ruby Short McKim 

[Image (right) courtesy of McKim Studios]

Her artistry was also expressed in water colors and oils as well as quilt designs that she syndicated to newspapers and eventually incorporated into the book One Hundred and One Patchwork Patterns.  Her talent was formally recognized after her death when she was posthumously named to the Quilters Hall of Fame in 2002.

McKim Studios still offers many of her award-winning patterns for sale on their website.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey    Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution   The Private Realm of Marie Antoinette   Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles   Marie Antoinette   Marie-Therese: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Cleopatra OOAK by Joe Bourland victim of recession

Sadly, another collector is forced to part with some of her more treasured dolls because of the recession.  I saw this nicely done OOAK Cleopatra repaint by Joe Bourland in my Ebay alerts today.

 Joe's MSN website is closed and I could not find any replacement. But, I found a brief bio for Joe (a woman) on another collector's website.

Joe was born and lives in west Texas. She started designing dolls in March of 2001 after being encouraged by her sister who is also a doll designer. She says her first attempt with a used Barbie and a few scraps of material from a nearby Wal-Mart was a nightmare but after several months and many scrapped designs later she really began to enjoy it. She is purely self taught and has no degrees or formal training but has garnered some impressive awards including the BMAA Reader's Choice and the Custom Dolls convention Best of Show. 

In addition to the Cleopatra offered for sale on Ebay, I also found images of several more of Joe's designs with a historical flair:

[Image: "Empire's Queen" OOAK by Doll Artist Joe Bourland]

   ["Emperor's Treasure" OOAK by doll artist Joe Bourland]
  ["Promise" OOAK by doll artist Joe Bourland]

If you're still out there, Joe, I hope you haven't stopped having fun with your doll designs.  You are obviously very gifted! 

Creating Fashion Dolls: A Step-By-Step Guide to Face Repainting   Creating Fashion Dolls: A Step-By-Step Guide to One-Of-A-Kind Dolls