These dark days in December are always a reflective time, and I started pondering my beginning days as a doll artist. When I started in the 70s, there wasn’t even really a name for what I was doing.Back then, making dolls was rather frivolous, and wasn’t really seen as a useful craft. Luckily, times have changed.
Sietske found some old photos and scanned them for me, so you can see my first dolls and the development of my craft. Though the first dolls haven’t really survived, I was so caught with the virus of making, that soon a collection of dolls emerged.
The first dolls were made from a homemade paper maché, using paper and starch. Luckily, not much later, air-drying modeling clay appeared on the market.
The next step was to share these dolls with the outside world. My husband Lammert was my biggest fan, and arranged a market stall at the anual fair in our old hometown of Joure. I was very excited, and a little nervous, but to my surprise I absolutely loved it. Many more markets followed, and I was asked to exhibit my work. This too I greatly enjoyed. But to have my own space where I could work and exhibit my dolls from home was what I really dreamt of – a dream that came true in the late 80s when we moved to our current house in Sloten.
We bought a beautiful old home that had a small authentic shop space that I turned into a little gallery. Things couldn’t be better! Each day I would work there on my dolls. They sold rapidly, so I had to work hard to keep the collections going. I also took on commisions at the time, something I didn’t really enjoy as much. Having to make something someone else dreamt up wasn’t what I really wanted to do. My husband was in charge of dropping off the orders – something he greatly enjoyed. But for me, the pressure of having to make more commissions was getting in the way of my enjoyment of the creation. In the end, I completely quit making dolls.
For years I didn’t have anything to do with doll making, as painting had taken over. For years I had wanted to paint, but I never had time for that. I always kept my doll making equipment, despite not having any interest in making them any more (something that took me by surprise!). It was lucky that I kept it all, as a few years later, I started modeling a little on-and-off, whilst working in the studio. I started missing the physical making and modeling, as painting is a different beast altogether. Slowly, the passion to make dolls was reignited, and you can find me every day in my studio again – modeling, sanding, painting, sewing… Dolls are no longer produced on commission, but purely for my own enjoyment. I’m more careful now with my making time, and am grateful that I can create each day.