Maria Padilla Morris
"We all have God-given talents. I am blessed to be able to share mine"
Who Am I?
My journey as a doll artist didn't begin till my forties when I received a handmade cloth doll from a relative. With her pattern I decided to make ethnic dolls utilizing the sewing skills learned from my mother. Years later I discovered polymer clay and another world of endless possibiliites was born.
I'm mostly self taught but having a backgound in nursing made the anatomy easier to duplicate. I've taken classes from two incredible doll artists:
Jack Johnston (http://www.artdolls.com/)
Mark Dennis (https://mad-sculptor.com/).
I've used tapes (Judith Klaiwitter, Robert Mckinley, Nan Roche, Susanna Oroyan), books, and magazines to learn this fun but challenging craft. I have an immence amount of gratitude towards these teachers for sharing their knowledge.
I've been blessed with international work and travel facillitating the collection of unique fabrics, trims, miniatures and objects. My character dolls and figurines favor the Middle Eastern culture and non tradtional Santa Claus. I also enjoy creating fantasy figurines inspired by my children's bed time stories. I have created dolls for over a decade, and it remains my passion to this day.
The Creative Process
Each doll is created from my imagination and is usually a one-of-a-kind creation. Inspiration comes from traveling internationally, children’s books, and everyday people. The size of the head determines the height, hand, and feet size of the doll. All my dolls begin with a polymer clay sculpted head and glass eyes. Hair and beards are applied after baking.
Genesis paints are used to enhance skin tones and natural creases. I follow my instincts as to what the doll should wear and what it will carry.
As many creative people have stated, you can begin with one idea in mind and end up with a totally different but better product. Over the years I’ve learned to tune in to spiritual guidance with each step.
The inner skeleton is a combination of tubes and wiring, including rods from shoulder to a wooden base for stability. If the doll is to carry a heavy object, I sometimes use a layer of air-dry clay and additional wiring in the hands up to the shoulders. A cloth body is sewn from heavy cotton and upholstery thread to ensure the inner body remains strong for years.
The fingers are individually wired and include fingernails.
Boots or shoes have a foil core followed by clay, soft leather from vintage gloves or fabric.
The men wear traditional robes and head coverings. Figurines are created in standing or sitting positions. Attention to small details include textured designs on the clothes and glass eyes
Creating the outfits and repurposing accessories is a very time consuming but wonderful process.
I sew all the outfits, if a robe or jacket opens, it is usually lined with a contrasting color.
I try to incorporate at least one object, fabric, or trim from my travels. Head coverings and crowns are created with jewelry findings, fabric, and any object that will enhance the doll’s uniqueness.
Last year I lost a favorite brother who left behind a huge assortment of unused silk ties so I honor his memory by including a piece of a tie in the dolls. I enjoy working with Japanese kimono remnants, wool, and unusually textured fabrics. Dupioni Indian silk and Indian saris materials are my favorites for the luxurious feel and gorgeous designs. Vintage recycled furs are also used. I wash and dye the fleece for the Santa beards
Past hobbies have found their way into doll creating such as fabric painting, printing on cotton using computer software, needle felting on wool, or constructing a camel’s chair using wood. Recently I discovered how to use a Dremel drill with a long attachment to spin fibers into dreadlocks for my African dolls.
Since the figurines are only 7-8 inches tall, I use a mold to sculpt the face and change the expression. polymer clay is used to create hair.
The body of the figurine includes a strong armature with wirings across the shoulders to support objects in the hands. These objects must be able to tolerate the temperatures necessary to bake the clay.
Each figurine requires several layers of clay to create a unique outfit. Polymer clay has the qualities of fabric for creating folds, overlapping, and creating movement without the need for sewing. It accepts all textures and its colors are enhanced with Jacquard powders
The ladies have eye makeup, custom made handbags or jewelry reflecting a Middle Eastern influence. Henna designs are applied to the hands. The men wear traditional robes and head coverings. Figurines are created in standing or sitting positions. Attention to small details include textured designs on the clothes and glass eyes
The creative process is both challenging and spiritually uplifting. I hope to continue to learn and grow from this God-given talent and to provide visual joy with my work. I would be thrilled to create a custom-made artist doll or figurine from the Middle East or another culture to enhance the beauty of your home.
Thanks for visiting,
- Maria Padilla Morris -