What is your background? Did you have a creative childhood? How and when did you first begin to create dolls or figures? Describe the first doll you made.
Growing up in Zurich in the 1940s as the daughter of the painter and graphic artist Hans Tomamichel, drawing and painting were part of my life, as well as sewing clothing for my dolls and making fabric collages. Materials for art were always available in our home. I designed paper dolls and used them to play theater. In my teen years, while learning in a professional dressmaking school (3 years), I also became interested in creating jewelry with enameling on copper and silver.
My family was German-speaking, and after school I attended classes in French and Italian, two of Switzerland's other official languages. My education also included study in England for the Cambridge Lower Certificate and then fashion design. I worked in that field until I married and my son was born.
In 1977 a magazine competition launched my dollmaking career. My entry was a slim BJD with 13 joints. This doll was one of the 500 chosen for an exhibition from the 2500 that had been submitted. This success encouraged me to continue, but I felt I needed more training in figurative sculpture and painting, so I returned to art school.
In 1983 an exhibition with porcelain dolls led me to take a workshop in making reproductions, where I mastered working with slip and ceramic painting. The next step was creating my original clowns, some with musical instruments and others wearing elaborate Rococo costumes. Their stuffed cloth bodies had wire armatures and were set in a pose. They were well received at various European doll shows and conventions.
Gail Enid Zimmer, who was attempting to write a book about contemporary dollmakers, had discovered me through that magazine competition, and in 1987 she suggested that I attend the NIADA conference. Contact with the artists I met there was inspiring. My newest efforts were small editions of porcelain babies and children, including Ursli, a character in a popular Swiss children's book.
How has your art, style, or technique changed over the years?
Changing direction again, in 1991 I started making the monochromatic white figures with blue eyes that have become my trademark. A series of people "waiting" became popular and was easily identified as my work. The next year NIADA invited me to become its fourth foreign member.
My newest dolls are one-of-a-kind figures for which I have developed special stands that are unobtrusive. When my husband Henry passed away I transferred my sculpting skill into producing an angel for his tomb, which was cast in bronze.
What is your favorite medium, what do you like most about it?
I have enjoyed experimenting with a variety of mediums and now use Paperclay®, Sculpey® and Super Sculpey®, sometimes in combination. My bodies are once again soft sculpted on a wire armature or fully modeled. I love the entire process of creating a doll, from sketching, collecting materials, creating the bodies, modeling, painting, costuming and fashioning their accessories.
What inspires you? Are there specific images, artists, locations, or materials that flavor your work?
Ideas come to me from many directions, and sometimes I am invited to give form to a particular theme. For example, for an exhibition in 2012 the museum in my father's village in Ticino in Switzerland asked me to make dolls representing local myths and legends from their oral traditions. I spent four years producing 20 dolls.
For more information on this exhibition chose www.dieweltderweltu.ch Please don't miss to double-click on the titles like "exhibition", my name and on the name of Kurt Hutterli, another artist who is participating in that show with his objects, inspired by these stories.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Künstlerpuppen - Artist Dolls, Elisabeth Flueler-Tomamichel | Artist member: 1992
Mail: Bodenacherstrasse 87 CH-8121 Benglen ZH, Switzerland | Ph: 011 41 44 825 07 35 From Europe: + 41 (0)44 825 07 35
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.eft.ch | Exhibit: www.dieweltderweltu.ch