Toys and curiosities
I love toys and dolls! I didn’t play with dolls much as a child, but now I am completely fascinated with them. I began “playing” with art dolls by simply painting my own faces onto regular purchased or discarded dolls. Having a basic knowledge of dressmaking also came in handy. As with all my creations, my dolls have elaborate back stories, secrets and unique personalities.
Once people noticed how oddly personal my dolls are they began placing specific orders, describing their dream doll’s personality to me and allowing me artistic freedom to do whatever is necessary to bring that personality to life in toy form. Some creations surprised even me.
I began to use various doll body parts to construct my own creatures, at times even giving them additional limbs. I carve the faces to reshape them and use various adhesives to re-sculpt the features to my (or my client’s) liking. I cut and color their hair, hand paint the bodies, and decorate them with jewelry or artifacts like wings, which I usually make from feathers gathered from my own birds. Today, I hand carve all of my dolls and marionettes from wood, set and color their hair, eyes and other features, and sew their unique costumes.
Not all of my toys are dolls. I am also a big fan of creatures, and I often get very specific commissions describing imaginary animals. This Cheshire cat, for instance, who incidentally ended up in Cheshire, England, was the fourth in a series of grinning cats that started years ago. He is the only one of his kind with a bushy and movable tail.
Speaking of creatures, they are not are not all fluff and plastic. I also practice what I call “roadkill taxidermy”. Where I live, in Central Chile, we have a huge feral dog and cat population. Unfortunately, that also means a great deal of accidental roadkill. There is no animal remains removal service here, so these corpses end up decorating the roadsides for as long as it takes them to decompose. Finding that a bit disrespectful, not to mention wasteful, I always travel with trash bags and latex gloves on the off chance that I see some animal remains. I take them home and try to use as much of the animal as I can before discarding or burying the rest. I feel that these animals die in vain and the least I can do is honor their lives by making art from their remains. I use the skins if I can, having recently learned how to tan hides, but my favorite thing to do is to collect the skull, prep it, treat it, paint it and lacquer it. Processing a feline or a canine skull takes about a month of various baths, bleaching, reassembling of jaw bones and resetting all the teeth in their appropriate places, painting the bone, decorating it with a unique design, and finally coating it with shiny lacquer.
In addition to preparing collectible painted skulls, I also make taxidermy insect and spider displays. Just as with other animals, the “roadkill taxidermy” rule applies to creepy crawlies. They have to be dead when I find them. This makes insect and arachnid specimens difficult to come by, but a code is a code. I stick to mine.