Members of the Collective

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Introducing... #7

It's the time of year when we invite a few American artists to join us in our upload. This year we've added an element of surprise. Can you guess who our seventh guest vendor is?

My name is Melissa and I came to the art of doll making, in many ways, through children.  While my formal school education is in Studio Art, after graduating I became intrigued by Montessori Education.  Up until just two years ago I have lived life as a teacher, a Head of School, and a Montessori preschool owner!  During these years, I was also blessed to have married my partner for life, Rob, travelled extensively, and given birth to two amazing little girls.
Initially I was drawn to dolls in general, and waldorf-inspired specifically, as playmates for my own girls.  Natural materials and handmade energy have always been a passion of mine (ever since throwing my first clay pot in high school!).  My childhood was spent on a large farm surrounded by only family, animals, and trees...lots and lots of trees.  I had long sought out natural handmade toys, clothing and products for my family.  When my girls' eyes landed on their first natural doll I was delighted!

A few years after that first doll (and many more lovelies along the way!) I closed my preschool to be home with my children while they were still young.  A magical thing occurred!  I had time…lots and lots of time.  Time to breathe, time to play, time to let my imagination and thoughts wander.  Creative pursuits suddenly seemed quite possible!  My grandmother had spent many afternoon hours teaching me to knit as a child, and my hands once again began moving.  And then IT happened; I began seeing so much in my girls' every movement and expression.  It feels as if it happened overnight, but, here I am, two years later and making love-filled joys for you and your children.
I am a creator by nature; my hands and heart are always happiest when moving and molding. After becoming a stay at home parent, I decided to follow that path to happiness. My degree is in studio arts and I always felt as if somehow I would find my way back. Dolls fulfill a number of my focuses within the art world; I am most inspired by sculpture, and, in particular, the movement of shapes through sculpture. I am also most inspired by natural materials such as clay and textiles. It really is a perfect match!
I chose my name because my oldest daughter has a nickname for being by far and away, the slowest eater on the planet and my youngest, has a nickname for her appearance. Their movements, personalities, dimensions, proportions all inspire my dolls on a daily basis.
After closing my preschool to stay home with the girls, the relief in our family was absolutely palpable. Everyone was more relaxed and able to spend time together doing the things we loved. Both my husband and I were adamant that we did not want that to change. However, I still felt as if I needed an outlet for my own creative process and some space for personal growth. Owning a doll making shop was a wonderful way for me to continue to be there physically and emotionally for my family, as well as take some time personally to explore. My studio is in our home and I am able to find bits of time to continue that exploration!
I think my least favorite thing is also my favorite. I find it difficult to draw boundaries between my home life and my work. It feels as if the work never stops; I always have knitting going or piles of wool around!

I am a fitness advocate in my off time and enjoying kickboxing at least three times per week and weight lifting when I can fit it in. Fitness is a key to my well-being just as my family and my creative process is. My family enjoys swimming and biking outdoors during the summer months and skiing when the temperature drops (as it does often here in Wisconsin). My husband is Swedish and we also love to visit family there and in Bulgaria; travel has been a huge part of my relationship with hubby!
While I do subscribe to the belief that there are only so many ways to sculpt with wool and fabric, I do think there are so many makers who have made their own unique work out of these materials. I enjoy simpler faces on my dolls. I really like the focus to be on the long lanky limbs and floppiness of the arms and legs in relation to the torso. My kids are 8 years old and 4 years and at this point, they are both all arms and legs! Watching them throughout the day is the inspiration for the impressionistic feel of my work.

What is your favourite thing about the USA? About being American? Good question! I have travelled quite a bit and have seen many things about other countries that I love and also some that I don’t like. I think the same can be said about the US. I enjoy many privileges for having been born in this country, but the same cannot be said for everyone. Living abroad has made me face the good, the bad, and the ugly things that America has said, done, and portrayed worldwide. This kind of thinking has made it more difficult to be absolutely proud to be an American.

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