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Member Spotlight: Ulla Anobile

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 Ulla Anobile. Check out her beautiful work!

I grew up in Finland and spent my childhood summers in the unspoiled Finnish countryside. That experience has shaped me more than anything else, both in my work and in my life.

My first career in Finland was that of a journalist. Becoming an artist happened later, years after I had moved to the US. I have now lived in Los Angeles almost 40 years, longer than anywhere else. I love LA for its diversity, and for the fact that though it's an urban metropolis, there is also plenty of nature. I think Los Angeles also has a big influence on my art.

What kind of Art Dolls do you create?

I make two kinds of dolls. My paper mache doll statues are more sculpture-like, with painted clothes and accessories made of cross-stitched and/or embroidered felt and burlap. My soft felt dolls, which I like to keep fairly simple, are completely hand stitched and embroidered. I also make small 'funny felt' pieces: little characters that are humorous, or naughty, or both.

How did you get your start in doll making?

I was invited to show my paper mache sculptures in a doll show at Palos Verdes Art Center. That was when I realized I was a doll artist! Which was great. I think dolls are little soul creatures, and even we grown-ups have a deep relationship to them.

Where did you learn to make dolls?

Trial and error, mostly. In Finland, I went to several old-fashioned girls' schools, where we were taught embroidery and crochet and all such necessary women's skills, as they were then called. Those skills became useful in my doll making and my other artwork.

What art do you most identify with?

I love folk and ethnic art. Haitian and African art come to mind, but many others as well.

Do you have a favorite doll that you have made?

I have several. 'Queen Bee' is one of them. I just love the way she turned out, and what she implies, symbolically. And I like 'Miss Kitty' - she's so confident. I'm also very fond of my Fertility Dolls, and my collectors seem to like them also. I've had quite a few commissions of those. 'Eve' is an example of what they're like.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Nature, folklore, fairy tales, dreams. My inner life. Sometimes just from some funny little saying or phrase that's stuck in my head. Sometimes an artist friend gives me some materials, and then I'm challenged to make use of them.

What food, drink, song inspires you?

I love to cook and eat, and that probably shows up in my art too. When I work, I often listen to ethnic music. Lately I've been hugely inspired by Eastern European vocal music, such groups as Kitka, Le Mysteres de Voix Bulgares, etc. I also like klezmer, Russian gypsy music, African music, reggae - you name it.

What is your favorite venue to share your work?

I have a personal Facebook page, and my friends there see photos of my new work as soon as it's created. I prefer to sell my work through galleries, though I also do some studio sales. Cactus Gallery in Eagle Rock is one my main venues. I've also had work at Chicago's Woman Made Gallery (their Artisan Gallery) for years. Also The Folk Tree in Pasadena, and Pasadena Museum of History's gift shop usually carry my work.

What is your dream project?

I love commissions. I like the challenge, and the interaction between me and the collector. And I always end up being surprised by the end result! 'Vampire Family' was my latest commission. I really like the way it turned out.

Where can your fans find you online?

As I said, I'm on Facebook, though in order for you to be my friend, you need to tell me who you are and why you're sending me a friend request. I'm also on Pinterest And I can of course be found here on ADO. Here are a couple of other links:, and I don't have a personal website yet; getting one is on my very long to-do list.

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