Doll making is more an art form then a simple craft. The first known dolls were constructed of wood, clay material and even bone or ivory. You might say the industry has come a long way from the dolls Egyptians would put in tombs to help guide souls. Designer dolls are not only an art form, but they are valued collectors items. They sell for a couple of dollars to thousands for extravagant designs. Collecting designer dolls is an investment that can be both rewarding and fun.
The Beginning of Highline Dolls
It was the industrial age of the 19th century that initially sparked doll collecting and designer forms. Craftsmen began making doll heads in porcelain to give them a more realistic appearance. The early dolls have bodies constructed of a composite material, wood or leather. The industry has expanded to include China, bisque and fashion dolls. Designer dolls are sub specialty for artisans in the field.
What are Designer Dolls?
Simply put, designer dolls are generally one of a kind or even a limited series of doll. The true specialty comes in customization. Designer dolls have a distinctive look that is individualized. They can be fashioned after a person or a fictional character. For example, there are dolls made to resemble Princess Diana in her wedding dress. There are many dolls crafted to celebrate Disney characters like the Little Mermaid.
Is It a Doll or a Sculpture?
It is a fine line between the two. Designer dolls essentially are sculptures. Many are still molded with porcelain or bisque. Artists make dolls using polymer clay that are literally sculpted layer upon layer. The true indicator is the dressing, however. Underneath the fancy duds, many dolls might disappoint you in their similarity. The outside designs, the clothes, hair and accessories make them truly unique pieces of art.
OOAK Dolls: One Of A Kind Dolls – What are they?
Ooak dolls are unique handcrafted dolls made of diverse materials. Many are created from polymer clay, which then may or may not be plasticized. Some are made by starting with barbie-style plastic dolls, which are then molded and/or painted to give an incredibly original style and personality to each creation. And yet others are soft-bodied, cloth creations. They are the most sophisticated of rag dolls. There are also ooaks made of porcelaine or any other material of the artist’s choosing. An Ooak doll must be unique. If starting with an existing doll, the body is generally finely repainted, altering the coloring and expression, at the very least. The hair usually must be entirely revamped as well. The custom clothing can be very fine, with real silk or zippers, lace, and endless attention to fine miniature details.
The dolls might represent fantasy or period creatures, or can be representations of a famous star. They can be as small as 3 inches or can be as big as 13 inches and each one has a great deal of detail, unique facial and other features. They are veritable works or art, not commercial mass produced items. Not surprisingly, when they are sold, they go for hundreds and even thousands of dollars per item.
Ideally the doll should come with an authentication certificate indicating the artist and the date of creation. It’s not unusual for an avid collector to find a doll creator that he or she appreciates and buy several works from the same artist.
Of course one of a kind dolls are not new. Traditionally, dolls were homemade by aunts, grannies, and mothers of the tykes in each home. Modern-day ooaks, however, are stunning collectors items, that one would be unlikely to leave for long in the hands of a toddler.
For those doll collectors looking for something a little different, there exists the sub niche of gothic dolls created relatively recently, with the majority of these dolls appearing within the last few decades. These dolls wear the latest in gothic fashions, taken from a combination of medieval culture, the Renaissance, and the late Victorian era. Gothic dolls tend to be made with lots of black and white or black and red clothing, black leather corsets or bodices, full dresses with layers of see through lace, fishnet or striped stockings, and fishnet gloves that only cover the hand. Black wedged heel shoes or boots are common on these dolls as well, as are striking hair colors of blacks, purples and reds and facial designs that include heavy black liner around the eyes, bringing out the prominent eye color of the doll. This is usually finished off with bright red or black lips contrasted against pale skin tones.
Taking the gothic doll a step further, Mezco toys has a line of gothic dolls dubbed the Living Dead dolls, sold complete with death certificate unique to each doll. Originally designed in 1998, Mezco bought the rights shortly after and have since produced sixteen series of the original line. The Living Dead dolls are each produced in limited quantities and only for a short time. When bought new, the cost per doll averages $25.00 to $30, but can double or triple in price once the production stops and the dolls can only then be acquired through auction sites and private collectors. Other outlets for gothic dolls include Ashton Drake, providing their line of gothic fantasy dolls, ranging in price from around $60.00 to $180.00. In addition, when shopping collectible gothic dolls through auction sites, prices can vary widely, with some selling for several hundred dollars.