An article about my art dolls…

Ghost Talker- Sam Crow’s Art Dolls

written by  = rosajhberlandartconsultant.com

Ghost Talker- Sam Crow’s Art Dolls

Sam Crow is a contemporary UK based artist and doll maker whose spooky dolls have earned her a cult following.

mouth

Some say we lose as much as we gain once we enter adulthood. Think about it, the imagination of childhood –all that richness, the adventure, the strange almost supernatural character of this space. It seems that something joyful exists along with a certain rawness of experience.

This is the space of the artist and doll maker Sam Crow. She is a weaver of extraordinary fairy tales, so whether your taste is for the neo-gothic or curious or just the hand crafted, you will find her creations undeniably arresting. Her world posesses a certain sorcery to it, opening chambers long hidden, in the tradition of old mysteries…a place to escape.

Crow’s dolls speak in a different language than many artist’s dolls of women. She instead focuses on that expansive realm of childhood imagination, all cleverly inflected with a magical realism, and neo-gothic sensibility. One rather thinks perhaps the dolls have popped out of an early Expressionist film, so stylished attired and made up, they are the pictures of the heroic other…

It’s a delight to interview Sam and premiere these two dolls from Sam’s second set of the Children of the Pied Piper: Vincent and Vanessa Vespertilio.

 

f60 (2)

Sam Crow, Vanessa, Handmade doll, 2016

There are 13 dolls in total, fabricated using a mix of textile and clay over a wire frame and clay heads. Sam notes they reflect most strongly her time in Germany as a child and the influence of the Brothers Grimm.

 

“Each story explains who they were before the piper arrived in town, what they were doing when he arrived, and hints at what they are doing now…after the piper led them away.”

 

c143

Vincent by Sam Crow

From The Children of the Piper (Rattenfänger) – The Story of Vincent and Vanessa Vespertilio

Time really begins to drag when you’re undead; especially if you’re a child. And making new friends is practically impossible. Any potential candidates are usually getting tucked up into bed when you’re being dragged out of yours. Sleepovers could be a solution, but apparently, no one wants to risk a sleepover at a vampire’s house.

No matter how friendly Vanessa tried to make her face, or how many invitations she sent out with little hand drawn promises not to bite guests, no one ever seemed willing to accept. She’d long since given up trying. Who needed friends anyway, they just turned into adults.

d64



Sam, it seems,  exists perpetually in the world of childhood imagination, telling an incredulous but rapt listener, that her ghost-like dolls reveal their stories to her once she has created their costumes. Clearly, I for one, shall never fully escape the allure of the Victorian era, and neither shall Crow’s dolls who appear stuck forever in a Dickensian era purgatory, yet can coaxed out of their solitude and quiet, through encouraging words, care and of course, and a sort of simpatico for magical things.


“As I am working on the creatures they tend to start to come alive and give me little clues about their lives–I have to keep rushing off to grab a pen to scribble them down – some are more vocal than others, and start telling me things almost immediately some stay quiet until I am working on their costumes, and others refuse to talk until I have finished them and sit down with a pen and ask them to tell me their stories.”

book page 10

Pages from Crow’s 2016 custom hand-made book The Story of Vincent and Vanessa Vespertilio

Each doll is entirely hand-made and unique, she begins the process with a template, followed by the construction of a wire skeleton, clay, or fabric and finally clay sculpted bodies. She uses wool for the hair, and hand paints each face. Sam creates the costumes from new, vintage, and repurposed fabrics. For some costumes, she achieves a sense of time-worn shabbiness over-sewing layers of cloth. The artist meticulously photographs each doll, and makes a book telling each story with photos and the creation process.

 

More Dolls waiting to be finished by Sam Crow

This process is slow and meticulous, but ultimately richly rewarding incorporating as it does all of the artist’s technical interests costume, set making, drawing, sculpting, textiles, painting, and penchant for story telling…

Each stage fulfills a different creative need, from the sketches and daydreaming at the beginning, the making of the figures and their accessories out of wire and clay and fabric, the painting of their faces and accessories, the costume making and use of various textile techniques, the set making, to the completed drawings of the finished characters and the stories they tell, at the end.”

 

Dolls waiting or more...Sam Crow Artist

Her own childhood as well feeds this pictorial vision, or at least her memory of this time. I would count Sam as a lucky adult, to be able to tap into this childish wellspring of endless imagination, fantasy, myth-making, and most of all youthful heroines and heroes. The story books remind me of the tales told during playtime, creative stories told as you go. One rather feels that one has fallen down the rabbit hole, so it is no surprise that the artist is enamored with the work of Lewis Carol.

Doll waiting to be dressed by Sam Crow

Sam reveals of her creatures, “they most definitely become who they want to become, and not who I want them to be. Often their personalities and stories are quite different from the creature I had in mind when I began creating them – which is why writing their story is always the final stage, coming just after making a setting for them to pose for photos in – they do love to pose for photos.”

 

The only child of a career soldier, the artist spent her childhood moving from place to place, creating an interior world for friendship and entertainment, reading, writing, and drawing. She shares that she was a very lonely child with a rich imagination that often took her to dark places including nightmares and hallucinations.

 

Sam Crow Doll

 

A period spent at a boarding school run by nuns was the beginning of Sam’s imaginative stories of the lives of people past. This school in an old manor was of course, replete with hidden passages and towers, a place for refuge for the young girl. Sam found a trunk of old photographs in one of the off-limits towers, and became a constant visitor, making up stories about the subjects in the pictures. Another forbidden room contained old clothing. What richness she found, in the school where one was not allowed to bring toys or keepsakes along. She notes she never took a thing, afraid of the vengeance of ghosts.

 

Sam Crow Doll

 

RB: How did you begin making doll sculptures?

SC: I studied theatre design at university, and we had to make tiny little figures to inhabit our model box theatre sets-mine were created from paper and clay – and I think creating them was probably my favorite part of the whole process. I made my first art doll in 2012 – Katia and her Puppet – she was a complete serendipitous experiment – at the time I was working with textiles, creating my ‘drawings with stitches’ pieces –freehand machine embroidered drawings on fabric, and I had a pile of canvas off cuts on my studio table that caught my attention –I found myself sewing them all together to form the beginning of a little figure.

 

Sam Crow Katia and her Puppet

 

RB: This was a transitional point for you?

SC: Once I realized what I was making, I created a wire skeleton and padded it out with wadding and continued sewing the patchwork skin on to this skeleton. My little figure needed a face, so I made a head of clay, painted the face, and added a wig from wool scraps. I made her a dress out of the fabric offcuts from the textile piece I was working on at the time.

I decided to make the little figure a tiny stringed puppet. As I was working on her, she began to come alive and took on a personality –she actually became quite vocal – so I gathered up everything she had told me whilst we were working and wrote a little story to go with her!

At the time, I had no idea that there was such a thing as art dolls, and I wondered how on earth to categorize her. She sat in the window of my next textile exhibition and to my surprise drew a lot of attention.

Little Red Riding Hood Sam Crow Doll

 

RB: And today you work in a similar way?

 

SC: The dolls are all one of a kind and unique, much like us larger people. I don’t make any molds from them, or use any in their making – it is an organic process. They all end up looking different and having different quirks and idiosyncrasies.

Some of the faces are crooked, none are perfect, but I like this, as it is rare to find a perfectly symmetrical face in us larger beings too, and this adds personality, and makes them more alive for me.

Sam Crow Waiting Dolls

 

RB: Do you make the dolls in groups or series?

 

SC: I tend to make the dolls in batches, so that I am working on a few at the same time during each different process that goes into their making. After my first doll Katia and her puppet, I made my first collection of about 11 dolls. These all had a clay body and wooden limbs sometimes covered in clay, with wooden bead and string joints, and fully clay heads, and stood with the aid of doll stands.

 

Front View of Sam Cox Moving Sculpture Professor Mercurio Mann and his extraordinary Ambulating Auditarium contraption

 

RB: And you also have made moving dolls such as Professor Mercurio Mann and his extraordinary Ambulating Auditorium contraption?

 

SC: Yes, these are inspired enchanting Victorian style clockwork toys that clap or play that have always enthralled and terrified me! As well, my grandfather made moving wooden sculptures driven by wind.

 

View of Sam Cox Moving Sculpture Professor Mercurio Mann and his extraordinary Ambulating Auditarium contraption

 

SC: Professor Mercurio Mann is a one-man band. I made his instruments too and they move about and bang with the pull of strings or the winding of handles, which can be seen in video.

 

 

Sam Crow Dolls in Black

Advertisements

this years DollsArt exhibition…

12074548_1683897828507628_7216341811609463631_n

https://www.facebook.com/dollstlv

my Curious Creatures Drawings are in this years DollsArt2 exhibition in the old jaffa museum, Tel Aviv, Israel.

12066071_10153672780658497_7028107955331739065_n 12107955_10153674474023497_480926827277386371_n12122633_10153674473918497_1124200047353596540_n

with my Children of the Piper art dolls,

(which are now part of a private collection in Israel- thank you to the wonderful lady who is exhibiting them for me!)

12141541_10153674473798497_2126105773785471543_n 12109033_10153674473753497_5586125326318967744_n 12096210_10153674473858497_7553110074465756794_n 12079132_10153672780958497_6342123056746114582_n

here are a few of the other exhibits by some amazing artists ….

10013025_10153672779678497_378810008529529688_n11148438_10153672780538497_1568914271350627056_n 12075036_10153672780233497_3016151588139170975_n 12079271_10153672781038497_3471201286469576060_n 12079685_10153672779383497_6068241732908750722_n 12088005_10153672780813497_5700633513966296985_n 12088069_10153672778993497_8716626748089379862_n 12096403_10153672781338497_4862133533405733429_n 12096554_10153672781753497_173503735113247903_n 12107279_10153672778528497_7309216974509950733_n 12116009_10153672779473497_2270967971719337578_n (1) 12122816_10153672779253497_8278091168968078717_n 12140837_10153672779958497_221408572046228137_n 12140837_10153672781493497_7980243613043164281_n 12143191_10153672780053497_821099405160461477_n12115495_10153674474238497_1820295280268340391_n12115737_10153674473698497_6546441256378209168_n

my etsy shop updates…

http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RubyTrinket
I have added some more brooches, small prints and blank greetings cards to the shop – and will continue adding more…before I disappear again for a while to do more illustrations/ scribblings and Curious Creature making xla 2015-01-10 23.32.41 2015-01-10 23.36.432015-01-10 23.40.532015-01-10 23.39.33d e2015-01-12 01.25.03 2015-01-12 01.27.31 f h k

my etsy shop

11986987_970896909644213_5524818230612089642_n12003896_970896972977540_237025968996249482_n

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SamsCuriousCreatures
Because I am so busy working on the new Curious Creatures and illustrations, and haven’t had the chance to post very often, I have made some brooches in the quieter moments to pop in my etsy shop as a way to say ”HELLO!!” to you all, and ”I am still working away!”
Over the next few weeks whilst I am making the new little people and scribbling away, I will continue to add some more Curious Creatures brooches, some Inky Fingers ones too, and, if i get a chance -(these little creatures can be quite mischevious or demanding)- some cards and mini prints…xxx

busy working on more Curious creatures – stay tuned for updates …

My work table is coming alive … they’re all chatting at once – demanding paint, hair , bodies… hopefully they’ll fall asleep soon xxx
(armatures made – awaiting fleshing out, which begins tommorrow – as does the painting- stay tuned xxx)2015-02-13 05.57.05

First of the New Collection of Children of the Piper Art Dolls…

This little fellow was found scampering around the presents under my christmas tree … I managed to capture him with the aid of some peanut butter on toast and sent him off to France and his new home ….1 2 3

Elliot = little Ellie in his christmas crown, the first of my new collection of Children of the Piper art dolls … now living in France …

10

 

7

i am working on the next ones …

DSCF6078

A very Merry Christmas xxx

Publication1xmas

Thank you all for your visits and encouraging / inspiring words and support – May you all have a wonderful winter time – filled with much love and fulfilled wishes – and may the new year be merry and bright! x from me and the Curious Creatures x
More great news … both Goggins the ticket collector and Alicia (new wings and all ) are off to new homes in the new year xxx Thank you Chris and Fran –  both Goggins and Alicia are very excited x
I have begun work on a new collection of Children of the Piper – the first finished one has already flown off to France to join Ingrid and her lovely family in time for Christmas – so i can’t show pictures until after the parcel is opened!!!! I will post updates and pictures of that little fellow and the works in progress after the holidays xxx
  Best wishes to you all xxx

Children of the Piper ….

all soldMy Children of the Piper Dolls – never returned from exhibiting at the Old Jaffa Museum in Israel – they all sold!
Thank you lots and lots – I hope you enjoy their company!
Now I need to get back into the studio and start work on more!!!!!

The three art dolls  = red riding hood, Evangeline, and Alicia have now returned from Israel and are currently available in my etsy shop xxx Along with prints in card form – of some of my dolls, ink art and drawing with stitches embroidery work …
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RubyTrinket or just click on my store link at the top of the page xxx

 

exhib etsy pic
 
They each come with their very own unique – one of a kind book, which contains their personal  story especially written for them and pictures, a signed certificate of authenticity,  a stand and heaps of attitude !
the dolls in the left hand corner belong to another doll artist – who is wonderful = Neta Levy, here is a link to her face book page = https://www.facebook.com/neta.levy.73
 
 
 
 
 
 
aliciaalicia2
 
eva3eva2
 
red1red2
 
you can now click on the store sign at the top of the page to go straight to my shop xxx
 

 

I have finally finished what i have been scribbling away on –

I have finished her…. scroll down to see the finished piece … Eve, pen and ink drawing…

drawingdrawing1

drawing2

eve

i just need to get a clearer picture taken of it!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inky-fingers/218555358352138

and  I have updated my etsy shop with some prints of my ink art and drawing with stitches work as blank greetings cards – here are just a couple examples  =

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/RubyTrinket

24b 23b 21b 20b 19b 16b 15b 14b 13b 2b 1b

Children of the Piper in Israel …

A friend kindly sent me a picture of my little creations … Children of the Piper, and Red Riding hood, Evangeline the dancer and Alicia … holidaying in Israel at the ‘Dolls Art ‘exhibition … with Neta Levy’s art dolls …

http://www.facebook.com/dollstlv

1977552_390367101104467_1662668502_o

jasper1932407_205347729675314_384238035_n - Copy 1975219_205347773008643_594169305_n rxJQeZ811977552_390367101104467_1662668502_o 1978800_205347766341977_751899717_n

and my cabinet buddy Neta Levy and her wonderful art dolls

There are some wonderful art dolls in the exhibition, have a look at its face page!

And  visit mine too…

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Curious-Creatures/655623024504938

here is a link to the video of the opening of the exhibition that was on the t.v news … i can’t understand what they are saying, but see if you can spot my art dolls … twice!

<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152270311729659″&gt;