“Is it weird that I feel kind of sad for the characters that the dolls originally started out as?”
This question was asked by my friend Doug when I posted a picture of a Kaoru in progress.
First, you get to feel what you feel.
We all go through enough stress that we don’t need to be negatively judging our feelings if they aren’t causing us (or others) emotional or physical duress. Feel Away!
It’s natural to have feelings about what I’m doing to dolls.
Dolls are powerful. They contain emotional resonance. Dolls are small representations of humans with a long, varied history. They’ve been used for rituals (magic/religious) since we’ve been able to create them. They range from high art objects to rudimentary crafts. The dolls (or action figures) we played with as children are no different, we imbued them with a wide range of emotions and tasks in our creative play.
Some of my friends have pediophobia, a fear of dolls, and which is also due to the power of how human representation in dolls affects us….not that any of those friends are following this blog.
How Doug feels about the characters I’m changing might also have something to do with how I know Doug. We met at American based Anime conventions in the late 90’s. I don’t think it’s any fluke that the character face that finally made him ask this was quintessentially Japanese/Anime-like.
I don’t know who the head I’m transforming into Kaoru is. I have no clue if it was any character from a particular series or just a cute head. I bought it as a head in a bag….no context…but Doug has identified the base anime characters I’ve picked up before for transformations. He probably has more emotional connection to them by knowing them as anime/manga characters and knowing what their backstory is, wherein I’m just picking them as blanks to make them into a character or an idea that resonates with me.
I also know nothing about Ever After High dolls or Monster High Dolls. I look into the characters once I have a doll, but it doesn’t influence their transformation.
Now, as for if I feel remorse for the original dolls I’m working on.
Easy answer: No.
I’ve long been fascinated with doll mutilation, HI BARBIE!
My Freshman or Sophomore year of art school we had to bring in a collection of a certain type of objects for one of my art classes. I chose mutilated barbies. It was easy. I know girls and boys are rough on Barbies. I asked my high school friends if they could provide me with naturally child-mutilated Barbies and I quickly had a pile of gnawed/melted/broken bodies and a few shorn heads.
Shout out to my Sophomore year roommate, Tor Imsland, who often had to endure these things all around the apartment, sometimes opening the bathroom door to find them floating in the bathtub.
I also read up on Barbie and followed up on Barbie related artists (many of whom mutilate Barbies and deal with the psychology of how we react to dolls in peril).
The idea of working with damaged dolls has never emotionally bothered me.
No, because I don’t mess with dolls I’m emotionally attached to.
If I get a vibe from a doll that it’s fine the way it is, I don’t mess with it. I love the sculpt of the Baby Moana from the Disney Animators dolls. It also reminds me a little of my friend Ebony. When I got one in great shape I knew I’d make some outfits for it and enjoy it as it is. I’ve since received a messier Moana baby but I’ll probably just transform it into a cuter Moana.
I think of myself as making dolls better..which also is a testament to emotional attachment.
The first used Groove/Pullip/Dal I bought was a combination of “Hmmm, what are these dolls about” and “OMFG what did they DO to you poor doll? I’ll make it better”
I love a baggie doll. I’ve learned to have boundaries about how much work to put into dinged-up humans if I’m not getting anything from that relationship. With dolls I get SOMETHING, some change, from the work I put in.
Let’s look at two dolls to illustrate how my emotions fluctuate from doll to doll.
For my birthday, Ebony gave me two baggie dolls.
I love that my friend went into Dollyteria, not quite knowing what she was looking for but knowing I like dolls in baggies and that I need more dolls of color. She came to me with these two My Scene dolls.
My Scene: Madison and Hudson.
My Scene “Hudson”…I do not have ANY emotional attachment to him. I think he looks like a douche.
So, within a day I was sending Ebony pictures like this, to let her know I was getting THE MOST out of Hudson….my way.
Yup, cutting his hands of to try and get more articulation. Removing his insane hair. I’ve sawed off parts of his feet to sculpt him new ones.
This is how I will make Hudson a better man.
Hopefully, this man:
As for My Scene Madison?
Far gentler treatment in how I handle her and present her. I’ll saw off Hudson’s flat feet in a hot instant and show you the pictures. If I sawed of a doll of color’s feet I probably wouldn’t show the process of it until those feet were right again.
BECAUSE DOLLS AND IMAGES HAVE POWER.
No one needs disembodied Black heads on their feeds. No one needs to see hand-less Black Dolls. Maybe someday dolls of color will be as mass produced as white/white passing dolls (Licca) and those images won’t resonate but we’re not at that point.
But Madison isn’t getting sawed.
She’s going to chill on the shelf until I’ve worked up the nerve to try and turn her into a woman I DON’T WANT TO FAIL in making. There will be no naked object photos of this process. Too much feelings there.
Legit scared about falling short on this but know I won’t get better at dolls of color if I don’t try.
It’s ok to have your feelings about my dolls, or your dolls, or your action figures. It’s natural to shift between seeing them as dolls/humans/personalities/totems/ritualistic objects.
They are ultimately your feelings to have.