Rather than featuring the work of a dance photographer for our Sunday Snapshot today, I’m featuring a different kind of artist. It seems appropriate during our series of Nutcracker-themed articles to feature a doll maker who has created dance-inspired art. I think you’ll agree, this Nutcracker Ballerina is a beauty:
About a year and a half ago, Abi Monroe found a book by the master doll maker, Patti Medaris Culea. “I loved her work,” says Abi, “and used her patterns to learn the art of cloth doll making but, I soon moved on to clay, finding it easier to work with.”
Abi’s dolls are constructed from two types of clay. The head and trunk are made with creative paper clay, and the limbs, hands and feet, from puppen fimo. She has adopted an articulated style with ribbon connecting the joints. “I found rigid dolls to be frustrating,” Abi explains. “This gives the dolls the ability to be manipulated to a certain degree.” She paints the clay with acrylics, and the hair is created from either English multi-yarn or bamboo viscose.
Armed with a passion for fashion and design, Abi creates her dolls’ feminine and stylish attire from a fusion of new and vintage fabric. Ribbons and scrapbooking embellishments enhance the dolls’ identity. “I am fascinated how a doll can evolve, and expressions alter, simply by the use of different materials,” remarks Abi.
Apart from ballroom dancing as a child, Abi claims no dance connection. However, she is a ballet lover and even owns a pair of Mirella pointe shoes. She was asked to be the featured artist in a Winter/Christmas magazine issue this year. “Since I didn’t have a Christmas themed doll, I decided I would make the Nutcracker Ballerina, since it’s one of my favorite Christmastime stories, and of course, ballets.”
Each of Abi’s dolls is ‘one of a kind’. They are handmade from clay, without the use of molds, making exact reproduction impossible. She could make many Nutcracker Ballerina’s, but each would be unique. Abi’s dolls are sold at her Etsy store, and occasionally on Ebay. She also works with many customers to create custom dolls of their choice. You can see more of her fascinating work on her blog. If you’d like to inquire about a custom-made doll or find out more about Abi’s work, she can be contacted via email: abimonroe AT live DoT com or connect with her on Facebook.
About the artist: Abi Monroe was born in England, and spent 38 years growing up there, surrounded by art. Before moving to America with her American husband, she spent nineteen years managing day and residential services for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues, working for the National Health Service. Now, she makes Art Dolls in her art room at home, surrounded by twelve cats and seven dogs, who were mostly once-upon-a-time strays or rescued.
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.