Doll Making with Octogenarian Andrea

Following on from Julie's post on Marie Prett's Circus Ceramcis today I want to introduce you to Octogenarian Andrea who makes the most amazing dolls.

If you visit Andrea's beautiful home in country Victoria (Australia) you will be delighted by the glorious art works that adorn the walls - prints, original paintings, ceramic works collected from all around the world.

But you will be more amazed by the presence of the family of dolls that live in the home - some purchased for their special qualities but most have been individually and lovingly made by Andrea over years and years of dedicated and skilled work.

Let's meet some of the dolls. Above on the left, very much at home under the coffee table, are dolls representing The Seasons. Far left is Spring with her yellow hair and bunch of wattle. To her right is Summer also in a floral print dress. Relaxing on her own couch is Autumn and on the far right standing out in blue and white is Winter.

Gathered around the armchair on the right are several characters. The little girl in the red dress and straw hat is Jill from Jack (obscured) and Jill. Sitting or riding on the chair are three characters from the world of fairies and witches - the front view of which is shown below.

Fairies and Witch by Octogenarian Andrea ©

The dolls in the image above are the Gypsy Fairy (left), the Pirate Fairy (right) and riding on the top of the chair The Witch. In the background, on the tea trolley you might just catch a glimpse of Commedia dell'arte characters which we will see in a future post in the series.

Andrea explains a little about her passion for dolls and doll making which you will see over several posts and learn a little more about how she came to be so passionately involved in this form of art. I'll hand over to Andrea.

I would like to begin with a short account of how doll making became my hobby.

Dolls and toys have always interested me and a few much loved childhood friends became the nucleus of a small collection. I particularly enjoyed making clothes for old dolls, appropriate to their era. This was long before the Internet so I also built up a small collection of books for ideas and information - pictures and descriptions of dolls from all ages; how to carry out repairs; patterns for bodies, clothes and accessories; the history of costume.

Some years ago I decided to try making dolls from scratch, and for my first attempt I bought a complete kit. This taught me a lot and I progressed to commercial patterns which I experimented with: learning by trial and error how to make changes in body shape, facial expression etc. There patterns and the ones in my old books continue to be very useful.

Below we have some of the characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Andrea is not only a creative and talented doll maker, her dolls represents themes such as The Seasons, characters from Nursery Rhymes and even Shakespeare. There is a narrative that accompanies every doll.

Let us have a closer look at the Midsummer Night's Dream where the dolls were not made by Andrea but the costumes and Bottom's donkey head were. In the left hand image we have Oberon, King of the Fairies in his long blonde wig and on his left is Puck. In the centre is Bottom sitting on a tree stump reading - note his donkey head which Andrea made. And on the right we have Titania, Queen of the Fairies reclining on a mossy bank.

A wonderful scene which endorses the viewer to step into the world of imagination.

Or maybe you would like to sit down and have bit of a conversation with Phoebe who is a bit posh!!! Andrea didn't make Phoebe who was purchased and imported from Korea. Being posh Phoebe has a costume which Andrea made for each of the seasons.

When this photo was taken it was winter and so Phoebe is all rugged up in her beautiful mauve outfit.

My favourites are the pair below who are the best of friends but come from greatly different cultural backgrounds. The Lion was not made by Andrea but was made by a Women's Coop in Kenya who spin the wool and knit to make such wonderful creations as the lion. He travelled all the way from Kenya to country Victoria and was purchased locally by Andrea's daughter as a gift to her parents. He seems very much at home with his friend The Fairy Godmother who was made (doll and costume) by Andrea. I particularly like her gold purse.

Before you leave the house perhaps you would like to have your fortune told! Or perhaps not!!! The Fortune Teller (also totally made by Andrea) is a charlatan but looks shocked because she has seen something.

Or perhaps she is just annoyed because she has learnt that in the next post on Octogenarian Andrea's dolls you will meet the crazy, the zany, the mischievous Hippy Elves!!!

If you are a doll lover this series will return in about a week with Post No 2.

© Thank you to Octogenerian Andrea who kindly gave permission for the images of her work and description to be shared on AnArt4Life.