(4 Nov 2019) LEAD IN:
The art of doll making isn’t new, but in Georgia the craft is enjoying a resurgence and people are flocking to see exhibitions of the most elaborate and finely made.
Doll art festivals in Georgia now draw artists from around the world.
These aren’t the sort of dolls that get stuffed into a child’s Christmas stocking.
Each detail on every shoe, dress or hair adornment is in itself a work of art.
Dolls like this one by the celebrated German doll maker Sylvia Weser command price tags of up to ten thousand US dollars.
The bodies of her dolls are made with a skeleton covered in leather, the faces and arms are of porcelain which will have been hand painted several times to get the complexion as well as the features right.
Some of the dolls are ornamented with semi precious stones, or crystals.
Weser explains: “I am a doll maker now since 25 years and I started to build my own collection of antique dolls. They were very expensive at this time in 1980s and I bought them on flea markets and antique shops and most of them were kind of damaged and I repaired a little nose, and a little ear, or a figure which was broken. And then, one day I had the idea to sculpt my own doll and from this moment I was in love with my dolls and I never thought I would sell them. I made them just for me for my own collection and today I’m worldwide invited in Moscow, in New York, Florida. All want my dolls.”
Some of the dolls here are individually quirky, their expressions capturing a unique look. Others are inspired by operatic heroines, queens, princesses and fairytales.
“I was showing dolls for a while and around seven years ago I thought that I had exhausted myself in this craft and I needed to make something new. Thus, I started making dolls, little by little with much work I have achieved a result. Now it is my life, without this I cannot imagine myself, it is such great happiness,” says another doll maker Nana Kaulashvili.
Kaulashvili is an ophthalmologist by profession, but she cannot imagine her life without making dolls.
She starting sewing dolls years ago but soon realised that her imagination was searching for other forms of expression and that’s when she discovered the world of art dolls.
Kaulashvili has been a dedicated doll maker since then.
At this year’s festival in Tblisi there is a special feature and the dolls reflect the traditions and heroes of fashion houses. Some sport the twinset suits and pearls which became a byline for Coco Chanel. There is even an unmistakable wardrobe of Karl Largerfeld who led the fashion house for more than three decades.
Looking remarkably like Largerfeld is a doll for his cat Choupette.
German art doll enthusiast Eva de Mai treats the craft as a collection of different types of art.
She says: “If you take disciplines of fine art known today, dolls accumulate all of them, except music, but if there is a desire, one can put the music too and use the soundtrack. It (doll making) involves the reproduction of costume and architectural composition, also making of sculpted body, hands, faces, hands and eyes, and transformation of the emotions; painting is also involved, as well as hairdressing and costume designing and a makeup. All art is inside the art doll.”
Art dolls presented at the exhibition vary in style, palette and technique, but as authors say this diversity makes art doll unique.
Certainly for the visitors here it’s compulsive viewing.
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