Why I Bought an Izannah Walker Doll Kit

This may seem like an odd post from someone who sculpts her own Izannah Walker inspired dolls and has designed her own Izannah Walker doll pattern AND writes a blog dedicated to original antique Izannah Walker dolls since 2008 (the Izannah Walker Chronicles). 

Why buy a molded head if you can sculpt your own
and you own an antique Izannah Walker doll?

Molded doll head from molds owned by Lynda Hampton.
Painting by Dixie Redmond. 
I have two heads made from the molds which Lynda Hampton of The Little Hamptons now owns. One was given to me as a gift by a friend (not Lynda), and the other I purchased to finish for a friend, because that specific face/head mold is meaningful. After having spent some time working with and painting this molded head I have some thoughts to share. These are my thoughts and others will have other opinions. That's fine. 

First off.  There is nothing wrong with making reproductions and 3D copies of original antique artworks as long as you are not passing them off as original antique dolls. Think of the many posters or reproduction giclees out there of master paintings.  We can still enjoy them, knowing that we are only seeing a piece of what the original work is about.  These molded heads do that - they give some of the feeling of an Izannah Walker doll.   Some.  But they cannot convey the complex beauty of the original cloth antique dolls.  

Will these casts of original Izannah Walker doll heads hurt the market for one of a kind artisan-made dolls inspired by Izannah Walker? Maybe in the short term. I think they will be their own kind of series. It will be interesting to see what people do with them. As the ability to easily make 3 dimensional copies of things increases we will see more of this.  But the very technology which makes it easier to make 3D copies will eventually underscore the value of the completely handmade item by an artisan. 

It was fun to paint this head.  I suspect many people out there would enjoy painting them, especially people who feel they cannot sculpt.  But you still have to have (or develop) painting skills in order to end up with a satisfying doll.  A plus for working on a head like this is you get the feel of the shape of the volume of the original Izannah dolls while handling it.  Not that you want to copy the head, (Not at all! Never!) but handling gives you a sense of mass of the original head when you work on your own one of a kind sculpts. A con to making a doll with this head is the most I can lay claim to is the painting.  I would sign it, "painted by Dixie Redmond."  I like to be more fully involved than that.  And I like painting on a stockinette fabric covered head. 

Bottom line?  Doll Artists, keep at it.  There is something special about a creation sculpted and painted by one hand.  But there is room for both kinds of creations. I wrote a similar post on MAIDA Today a few years ago when dolls made from molds of original Izannah Walker dolls first came on the scene.  The reasons I will still be making Izannah Walker inspired dolls are there.  

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden


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