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Member Spotlight: Alana Garmonsway

Welcome to Art Dolls Only's Member SPOTLIGHT! ADO shares an article focusing on it's members on the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th and 30th of each month! (February's 30th installment will share on the 28th)

Today's member spotlight is Alana Garmonsway. Alana is from South Canterbury, New Zealand.

How long have you been a doll maker?

I made Peer Gynt and Solvieg for an Art assignment in High School, sadly I have no idea what happened to them.
These dolls are the reason I don't like working with Fimo

The doll in the next photo was also made when I was 17 - she has a carved wood head and hands, her body is reversed thermal curtain fabric, and I think I put plasticine in her feet to weigh them down (she was a marionette). My mother kept her. I'm not sure why...

Where did you learn to make dolls?

Thanks to the Internet, I am essentially self taught, but need to give credit to my training as an Animator. I had years of very critical technical instruction on how the body works and moves, and how to make an appealing drawing. Sculpting uses the same skill set - it's just in three dimensions.

How has your practice changed over time?

I have become far more disciplined about actually sitting down and completing work. I still have UFOs (UnFinishedObjects) from the early 2000's, but I'm getting better about finishing what I start. It's a confidence thing as much as it is avoiding the bits of the process that I don't enjoy so much.

What are your favorite materials to create with?

I've worked in a variety of media. I have skipped about a bit depending on who was inspiring me at the time.I have tried my hand at all-cloth dolls, hard head/hands-cloth bodies, straight sculpts (no articulation), and fully articulated Ball Jointed Dolls. 

Full cloth soft sculpture.

Polymer clay face and hands, wrapped wire body.

Paperclay OOAK

Polymer clay face and hands, wrapped wire body.

Polymer clay - I'm currently working on replicating this one in 3D.

 I'm a bit resistant to the whole concept of having a "style", and my dolls reflect that. I don't really have a signature look - they bounce about from quite simple and cartoonish to wrinkled and detailed. I'm pretty sure this is a by-product of the animation training - the ability to be adaptable.

What is your favourite technique?

My preferred method currently is to do a relatively careful sculpt, cure (bake, dry - whatever) it, then brutally refine it by carving, sanding, filling, sanding, and then some more sanding.

But the things I've been working on recently have been prototypes for moulds, so they need all that sanding now, to prevent even more sanding later. I try not to sand at all when making small one-off's.
I also utilise some of that animation training and I've modelled and had one doll 3D printed (and I have another three models in various stages of completion)

3D model and printed doll.

What is the most difficult aspect in your process, (anatomy/costuming/doing the bloody hair) and how you manage it?

If I could get away with it, a doll would be finished naked and bald.

That's not cheating, right?

Do have any doll artists that inspire you?

Jan McLean, who is a New Zealand doll artist, inspired me to believe that it may just be possible for a woman living at the bottom of the world to make it as a professional doll maker. My development has also been shaped by the work of Lisa Lichtenfels, Patti Medaris Celua, Antoinette Cely,  Marina Bychkova, and Therese Olsen (Twigling).

What advice would you give new doll artists?

Mistakes are the best teachers. Don't be scared to try new techniques, the worst that'll happen is that doll sucks. You can always make another one.

What’s the best piece of advice you've been given?

That's good. Do it again.  

What are you currently working on? 

Reworking a prototype from 2007

This doll will eventually be reproduced in porcelain. 
Making BJDs stemmed from wanting to make a shoulder-plate type porcelain doll (the type that Jan McLean made), and finding Marina Bychkova's Enchanted doll through a web search while researching how to go about making a porcelain doll. Porcelain turned out to be prohibitive due to the specialized equipment (i.e. a kiln), so I worked with resin for a while.
I'm now a paid-up member of the local pottery club, and while there's no slip-casting happening there at the moment, the tutor is happy to support me with experimenting with how to do it, and I'm very excited about the different possibilities porcelain holds.

Where can our fans find you online? 

I'm posting all my new work on my Facebook Page

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