In this, the first of a new regular feature, we take a closer look at Doll Observers member Lilly, July 2011's "Superstar Member".
Lilly has been with us since the very beginning and has been winner of the monthly theme photo competition no less than four times! Little wonder with her creative know how and a knack for dioramas.
Lilly is always quick to share her tips and support others. She recently won the accolade of "Official Greeter" here on Doll Observers and recently started her own group Sew Much Fun.
I hope you enjoy the interview and that it inspires you to be our next "Superstar"!
What made you join Doll Observers?
I discovered "Fashion Doll Amigos" while browsing the web for new information about the latest dolls and registered in August 2009. Then when (Simon) started "Doll Observers" it was the logical move for me. I had found a warm welcoming group of friends I did not want to loose.
When did you start collecting/playing dolls?
In 1989, Hubby and I arrived in Edmonton (Canada) in the University student housing. I found an old Barbie doll in the laundry sharing bin (place were people left items they did not want/use anymore to be freely shared with other students). She was a beautiful black lady and looked like Dance Club Devon Barbie. I brought her home and started hand sewing a dress (with fabric from the same laundry bin). After this, I looked for more and brought home all the Barbie’s I could find and dressed them. When a charity event occurred I was asked for help and I presented some of my dolls. I was very pleased with the response.
I started buying new Barbies (basic ones) dressed them OOAK and sold them at doll events and craft shows. Later on I did the same in Mexico City and Quebec. Then, in Alberta, the leader of the Barbie Club of Alberta asked me to join and I gladly complied. In 2000, following a design from my good friend Glenn Mielke (himself member of the Barbie Club of Alberta), I created the Doll Club outfit.
After being part of the Barbie club for a number of years, some friends and I started gathering on a regular basis, and when one of them brought Gene (from Mel Odom) I fell totally in love. The face did not seduce me at first, I should admit, but the size, proportions, the elegance! How wonderful she was! After that I bought Tyler from Robert Tonner. I was and still am totally hooked!
Tell us about the dolls in your collection.
I have about 30 dolls in "My Gang". The first was a Basic brunette Gene Marshal. Gene not being a name that suits her (from my point of view) she became Marie (Lilly’s mom). However Tyler is my favorite. She's Lilly and she is my muse and inspiration.
Later on, I bought other male/female Mel Odom dolls and other Tonner dolls. Then Mme Alexander dolls caught my heart with their articulated bodies! I bought two Sandra Bilotto dolls because their faces inspired me, and more recently a Horseman Vita doll arrived in my Gang and became Lizbeth Smith-Evans.
More and more my Gang took life and as I needed a little "world", it became natural to look for different ethnicity and body shape. Olga (Elle Jakks doll) with articulated legs, Davina (Emme by Tonner) with her full body. Then blonde, brunette, red haired, male, female, African, Asian and all I could think of was a new doll with a new history, a new background. So thanks to my friends and Hubby "My Gang" kept on growing.
Of course nowadays the body of the doll is definitely more articulated, but My Gang members have whatever (few) articulations dolls had in the time of their arrival. Now indeed I would love them all to be articulated, but I love them as is, even if they are not perfect.
Your dolls have a life of their own with the names and stories you give them. Where do you get your inspiration?
I know what doll I need, I do not know why. Right now I need Russell Williams (Tonner) because I don’t have any African guy in "my Gang" I do not know his name, neither his story nor profession. I will know this when he arrives. It’s like he came with it, he tells me when I open the box. I did try before to imagine a name/job/story about a doll before she/he comes home but when I opened the box... it didn't "go with it". I cannot explain why.
My dolls have their own taste/favorite colors/pet/profession/address/hobby etc and I just "listen to them" (and no, I do not hear voices!!). I do keep an ID journal though.
We know you love to craft and sew for your dolls. What got you started?
My mom being a dressmaker I had to learn to sew (not really my choice but…) so I have a French sewing certificate of aptitude (after 3 years of study). Even if I didn’t like this too much when I was younger, today it comes naturally to me to sew for my Gang. I still need patterns though.
As for the craft, I try, I make mistakes, insult myself, then try again until I am satisfied. But I rarely do the same thing twice as I get bored quickly.
Any diorama tips for our members?
Scale is a must. Choose small patterns for the furniture, add little tiny objects as they will bring life to the décor. Look around everywhere when shopping and you will find tooth picks, shampoo caps, pill boxes… they will become BBQ picks, bowls, light fixtures...etc You do not have to spend a dime, but as you are going to spend time doing it, have fun, and it will do.
What do your family make of your love of dolls?
My Hubby, was and still is the most supportive of all. He knows my dolls by their names; he knows their origin and profession as well as their character traits. He is well informed about their value. Some times this is quite important as he is often the one buying them on E-Bay :)
For the rest of my family my Mom, being the most interested, asks for pictures of my latest diorama but being a dressmaker herself she is more interested by the outfits. My two children were always very supportive and now my five grand children are in on the “secret”. We have fun creating stories of princesses saved by glorious knights at the dusk of a dull day!
Other than playing with dolls what else do you do to relax?
Lastly how would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Resourcefulness, Imagination, Patience!
Thank you Lilly for a wonderful interview and insight into your world. Let's see who is next month's "Superstar Member"!
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