What is an art doll? I get this question all the time when I sell at conventions and fairs. But I have found that when I explain what an art doll is, they get even more confused. I only have limited time with them and a few sentences don’t really get the idea across. Which is why a blog post is perfect for this!
Definition: Art dolls are objects of art, rather than children’s toys, created in a wide variety of styles and media, and may include both pre-manufactured parts or wholly original works.
Even with the definition of an art doll, it still kind of limited. Let me elaborate for you. There are a few key points that make an art doll an art doll. All art dolls are handmade. I think this is one of the most important parts. There are some dolls out there that have pre-manufactured parts, (if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of handmade) but overall mostly handmade. Meaning, assembled by hand.
The other important aspect that defines an art doll is that they are not toys. They may have the word doll in the name, but not that means they are a doll. We make these dolls with very delicate material like porcelain or paper-mache and in the hands of a small child, would mean certain death for these dolls. Even my dolls, which I had designed and developed to be durable, are not toys. To get technical about it, toys meant for children need to meet up with government regulations to get the label toy.
Collected and admired at a distance is the purpose of art dolls. I kind of put them in the same area as those porcelain dolls that people collect and put on the self. I even have a porcelain doll and I treat it the same as any of my art dolls.
Now you are probably asking, how can I figure out what is an art doll and what is like a toy or a porcelain doll. Do they look a certain look? I can tell you no, art dolls don’t all look the same. Which is what makes them stand apart from other collectible dolls like porcelain dolls. Most art dolls are One Of A Kind types of dolls or OOAK dolls.
Definition OOAK: An OOAK art doll should be an original doll (made from start to finish by the individual artist; from conception through design, sculpting, and finishing the piece) that will not be reproduced again.)
Meaning, the artist usually only makes one of that design or style and then moves onto a new doll. This makes that doll special and highly collectible. Unlike factory-made porcelain dolls which have an entire line, art dolls usually only have one or two of the same styles/type of dolls. It’s what makes them unique.
The other thing you should know about art dolls is that they come in several unique styles. Along with unique types like human, humanoid, anthropomorphic, alien, fantasy, sci-fi, or just about anything in between. Which makes the term Art Doll more of a spectrum of dolls than a defined type of doll. Just a few are poseable art dolls (what I make), soft sculptures, taxidermy dolls, and altered dolls. That is just to name a few.
I hope that helped you at least get an idea of what an art doll and why it has such a following with collectors. If you want to learn more about them, check out the links below and my other blog posts.
Reference Links and Helpful Resources
Other Blogs Posts