(a comical sort of person...)
I was raised on the shores of eastern Long Island and went to college on the plateaus
of western New York State, where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1976.
When I made my first doll, I wasnt actually at school- I was at home during a summer
break. There were no teachers around or classmates to compare myself with- there
was no critique or grade.
I made a ballerina doll using my mothers sewing machine. The doll I made was for
myself, as a response to a longing inside of myself -for the first time in art school
something meaningful to me had surfaced.
It was a doll who showed me the way art comes- the way we are moved from within to
express ourselves- how we reach out for whatever materials may be available to bring a
vision to manifestation.
That dolls presence in my life moved me to create an Independent Study in Toy and
Doll Making in my senior year, where I became familiar with soft-sculpture techniques.
Four years later, I came in to Galveston, Texas, on the Galveston/Bolivar Ferry, was
completely charmed by the ferryboat ride and applied for a job as a deckhand.
My friends were the old salt of the earth men I worked with. (You can see them
reflected in my Ancient One dolls.) They encouraged me repeatedly to do what I
really loved to do- so I bought a sewing machine and started making dolls again.
These were the first Wee Peeple Dolls. My first show was in 1980 at the Galvez Mall in
Galveston, where I sold 32 dolls and declared myself- in business.
Twenty-nine years later Im still in the doll-making business. Ive made over eight
thousand soft sculpture dolls, each one different from all the others.
The dolls have evolved with my own evolving Intentions- I want my dolls to help people-
I expect that of them- so if and when they do, it's like a fulfilled destiny- a job they
are supposed to do.
A friend recently said to me:
You don't create dolls. You create art that just happens to be in doll form.
Your dolls "talk" to people and can best be described as guides to whatever a person
needs to know or experience at the time they are brought together.
Thats the true test of great art,
the emotional reaction people experience by looking at it.
My Intention is to serve humanity through doing what I love to do,
may my talents and efforts be ever aligned with that purpose.
now for the Whole Story....
The Dollmaker's True Story
(also published in the September 2008 Wee Peeple Newsletter)
Once upon a time, a wayward little Dollmaker, (who at that time might have vaguely
suspected that she was- but didn't actually know she was- a Dollmaker yet,) found
herself living in the wild and wooley coastal village of Galveston, an Island resort. She
mostly consorted with gruff but friendly old fishermen and ferrymen- who never could
figure out how she had bluffed her way into getting a job as a deckhand on a ferryboat,
and though they all shook their heads in disbelief, these "rough types" accepted her
presence after a while, and regarded her as one of them (more or less) with raunchy
good humor and unmerciful teasing.
Well, it wasn't just that the uniform fit her badly- both too tight and too baggy... it was
just real obvious and others kind of politely noticed it too... that she just seemed out of
place...kind of ...clueless... Her jovial old fishermen buddies would say- What are YOU
doing here? You have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree! You're an idiot!
Always kidding around! They were quite a bunch of characters!
All this encouragement got her to thinking, though. Doll-making. hmmm. Back in college,
she had really taken a fancy to Doll-making... she wondered... hmmm... maybe she should
buy a sewing machine... maybe make another Doll... maybe make lots of Dolls... maybe
she could even sell them...
That was in 1980.
So the little Dollmaker did buy the sewing machine and did make a bunch of dolls, and
she did sell them, and one day, tearfully waving farewell to her dear old comrades at
the ferry, and armed with 32 dolls she had made from scrap fabrics, she set her little
boat adrift on the much wilder Seas of her Dollmaking Career.
It wasn't long after she quit her job at the ferry before she REALLY felt like an idiot
because being a Doll-maker was kicking her butt! It was not really that easy to just go
out and sell dolls. But, though the rising and receding Seas of her Dollmaking Career
often left her little ship high in the dunes, the Dollmaker was not to be swayed from
her course. She now had a new bunch of friends... the Flea-Marketeers! These buddies
were hip to the selling scene. The Dollmaker was taken under wing. They were a jovial
group. They would say, "What are YOU doing here? The Flea Market is no place for
dolls like that! You're an idiot!"
The poor confused Dollmaker, who never took a business course in college.
What was she to do?
Her new friends knew exactly what she should do, and they told her-
"You need to be in the Texas Renaissance Festival!"
The Dollmaker, not being from around those parts,
had never heard of a Renaissance Festival.
That was in 1983.
However, once again, the humble (clueless) Dollmaker did listen to the sage advice of
her friends who knew so much more about what she was doing than she did.
She applied to the Texas Renaissance Festival.
She was told that there was a stern and powerful King-
one King George- who ruled over his Kingdom with great discrimination-
(that is more or less what she was told), and in those days the King himself presided
over the Application Procedure... so it was with fear and trembling that the little
Dollmaker arrived to present her dolls to the King.
That day, now 30 years ago, the great King gave a nod, and one of the most important
decisions of the Dollmaker's life was made- she was now officially a participant in
(even then, the biggest Renaissance Festival in the country)...
the Texas Renaissance Festival.
The only problem-
she still had no idea what a Renaissance Festival was!
She had never heard of one, much less attended one.
Joyce, the craft coordinator at the time, gave her a location (an "Arbor Area"),
and a set of rules, which included- wear a costume.
Wear a costume. Right. What kind of costume?
Well, that was easy- the dolls were magical, so- she and her husband dressed up like
Wizards. Wizards? Yes, Wizards.
They went to the Halloween section of Walmart and bought big black witch hats
and decorated them with astrological symbols (in gold and silver glitter paint!),
and the Dollmaker made them a set of long flowing black robes- matching of course.
They looked positively ludicrous, but, bless their hearts, they didn't know it.
The fact is, all these 30 years later, the Dollmaker still cringes when she recalls
that during an interview with Texas Highways Magazine, she invited the Interviewers
to come and take pictures of her at her new location at the Texas Renaissance Festival,
which the writer thought would make excellent copy; and the happy photographer
snapped lots of pictures of those hideous black outfits and worse yet- published one of
them! (See the December 1983 article published in Texas Highways Magazine
of the Dollmaker in her black astrologically symbolic witch hat! oh groan!).
That year the Dollmaker made new friends- her fellow merchants in her neighborhood,
who jovially suggested, "You might want to dress like a shopkeeper,
you look like an idiot!"
She aquired a green leather vest from Lewd Lloyd that year, to the relief of everyone in
the neighborhood, and she and her husband built a shoppe the following year.
There was one good memory of those "Wizard costumes" that first year though, as the
Dollmaker fondly remembers: It was the day that Real Musgrave, Hap Hendrickson, and
Don White (all of whom were also dressed like Wizards!) cordially invited the
Dollmaker and her husband, who qualified, as Wizards, to join their newly formed
All-Wizards Kazoo Marching Band
and march in the parade playing
"We're off to See the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz" on kazoos.
(What a bunch of characters!)
In fact, that was the first of a long series of memorably bizarre occurrences at the
Texas Renaissance Festival, most of which the Dollmaker would, at best, not print, and
at worst, flat- out deny. In spite of all that, and to this day, the Dollmaker is still
having a jolly time participating in the Texas Renaissance Festival and will happily
attempt to serve you should you wander into her little Doll Shoppe there.
Other Contact Information
Phone Kandra: 512-332-6680
Write: PO Box 326 Smithville, Tx. 78957