For some the beginning of November may seem like a long time ago, but not many I would hazard a guess. For me the beginning of November is just a few days back, truly, well not truly, as we all know time has passed and if you are reading this when published then it is now the 13th of December, so that is over 6 weeks in fact of real-time. But does anyone feel 6 weeks as 6 weeks anymore or more like 2 or even less.

I seem to have been catapulted out of summer, whizzing through the prep for Halloween and pumpkins everywhere, to suddenly landing at “oh my god” Christmas, and it is only 11 days away. That’s less than 2 weeks; that’s less than a third of the time since the beginning of November.

pumpkins and a mummy art doll

What happened?

Can someone reset time so it can start going at the correct speed please!!

I hope this may actually happen now. Yesterday, I was at my last market of the year and it is really too late for made-to-order postal gifts now.

I want to take a breath and think about my Christmas, my family and have sometime to make them the things that I want to make them and actually start to feel Christmassy. I haven’t got that joyous little spark yet, but I can see it may be starting to kindle now as I draw a breath, take stock and unwind. Please don’t get me wrong I love the makers life and wouldn’t have it any other way but working for yourself can mean long hours, when time blurs.

Now the real reason I started this little bit of a rant about time was to write a blog post about Doll Prague which was at the beginning of November. Well not really actually the beginning but the 8th, 9th and 10th of November but I traveled over to Prague on Monday the 4th returning on the 11th and had every intention of getting a blog post written within a few days and now here we are over a month later and I’m just putting pen to paper. Really actually pencil as I wrote this yesterday in the quiet parts of the market in readiness for typing up today. I do actually enjoy the process of real writing. I like to watch the words flow out of the lead, but that is quite beside the point.

Doll Prague

Anyone still here who wanted to know about Doll Prague? Or maybe you all just jumped ahead and started reading here? Don’t blame you if you did.

For those that don’t know Doll Prague is an exhibition that happens each November in Prague. It started off as a table in a quilt show and expanded until now it is 3 days of wonderful dolls, workshops, mini courses and lots of meeting and greeting.

Prague

Maurice in Prague
Maurice in Prague
Maurice in Prague
Maurice in Prague

I went early so that I could spend a few days sightseeing as I haven’t been to Prague before. Prague is beautiful, it is true. The Architecture is amazing everywhere, so much so that after a while you stop noticing. You stop being amazed. When I first arrived, I was surprised that not everyone was walking slowly, looking up all the time but after a few days I was the same. One thing I really do need to say is the clock really isn’t worth it. I mean it is good but even the tour guide said most people wait for the magical striking of the hour, watch and then turn around disappointed afterwards. But if you like cherubs than this is really the place for you, they are everywhere, like really everywhere. I would hazard that they are more cherubs in Prague than any other city I have been in, probably double the amount.

Dolls

Maurice next to the Doll Prague poster
Maurice next to the Doll Prague poster

“but what about the dolls?” I hear you cry. I apologise you have been reading this forever now and your time is so precious so here is a bit about the dolls.

They were amazing, truly amazing.  In the gorgeous setting of the Palac Lucerna, the dolls’ delighted and enchanted just like I hoped they would. There must have been over 100 artists from all around the world converging on that little spot in Europe. The creativity and inspiration were almost palatable.

I was lucky enough to be offered a VIP ticket which had sadly missed me in the post arriving in England as I left for Prague but Bohdana one of the very kind organisers sorted me out a new one in no time at all.

This allowed me early entry with a glass of bubbly and the chance to browse around while it was still quiet before the main crowds. And what a delight. Once I had gotten over “wow, just wow”, my next thought was the actual size of most of the dolls there. They were a lot bigger than I had imagined a lot bigger than my dolls, which tend to be half the size of most of the dolls there. You just can’t tell from a photo.

Side note: as a little titbit, on Esty,  many moons ago, it was all the rage to put a coin next to your item so people could tell the size but that is out of fashion now as we all become a lot more professional with our photos. It did help though.

I really can’t say anything adequate about the wonderfulness and variety of the dolls so pictures will hopefully do the job.

Also, can I say that I apologise completely for not noticing the names of all these amazing artists, I was just in too much awe to really make notes.

Doll Sizes

Interestingly when I spoke to various artists they sad that people look at smaller dolls and expect them to be cheaper, 1/2 the size half the price. but this doesn’t work when making dolls, making smaller features, delicate tiny fingers and sewing miniature clothes all takes long, is harder and much more fiddly. Therefore if anything the price should go up to cover the time and effort, but people don’t want to pay that. Consequently a lot of artists make larger dolls.

Friday evening was the opening ceremony and drinks reception with the prizes and speeches. This was an amazing affair. They even had a wonderful troop of dancers doing a Charleston to keep in with the 20s 30s theme.

At least three languages were being used all the time and during the speeches it started to feel very much like the Eurovision Song Contest with four people on stage repeating each other in each language so that everyone knew what was happening. Some of the jokes may have lost a little in translation but it was great fun.

I had entered the competition but I’m in no way surprised that I ranked nowhere. The winners were superb. Maybe next year??

my entry in to the competition
my entry in to the competition

Dolores - art doll
1920’s style mixed media art doll

My next two days were taken up with workshops held by the fantastic Marlaine Verhelst;

Day 1 sculpting a face
face sculpted at the Doll Prague workshop
face sculpted at the Doll Prague workshop
Day 2 Painting a face
face painted at the Doll Prague workshop
face painted at the Doll Prague workshop

I’d already taken some of her online courses (you can find here) and really benefited from them but to see her work in the flesh to get all the wonderful feedback and help was the highlight of my trip, which is saying something.

Another great doll artist I met while I was there was Connie Smith, a fabulous dollmaker. Connie uses button joints a lot like my joints but also nothing like my joints, far more professional and well executed. After a little bit of stalking on my return, I discovered that she has tutorial PDFs on Esty.

Guess what I’m asking for for Christmas?

NIADA

Both Connie and Marlaine are members of NIADA, worth a look for any doll enthusiast. click here

 Connie Smith joint details
Connie Smith joint details

Although I have been back several weeks now, with the rush of preparing for Christmas markets etc, I haven’t had time to put any thought into what I learnt or practicing those new skills. So from Monday, fingers crossed, I’m taking some time for me and working on practicing faces and bodies and trying to incorporate new styles using fabric and clay together, something I haven’t really had time to work on too much yet, but something that really appeals.

Also, I really want to get some self-standing dolls either cloth with armatures or wooden or maybe something else altogether that is the beauty of this exploration into doll making; there is always more to learn and more to try. And next year I intend to make the most of every opportunity again. Prague has given me some much to think about and be inspired by, I hope I can live up to it as I try to find my own artistic style.

Alison Jackson and her art dolls
Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas everyone I really hope next year is creative for all of us.

Ally x