Message from the NIADA 2020 Conference Co-ordinator

Last week I received a message from Arrowmont School Director Jim Scarsella announcing that they are cancelling all classes through August 8. In discussion with the Board this week, we have decided to cancel our onsite conference and school for 2020. This decision was not made lightly as the conference committee has been working for almost 2 years to make this conference a success.
I’d like to thank NIADA President Cindee Moyer for her constant support as we tried to navigate through these difficult times. I would like to especially thank my co-chair Stephanie Blythe, School coordinator Gracie Coleman and website guru Chris Chomick. We all worked hard to bring you an exciting, fun-filled school and conference full of teachers and programs from all over the world and the US.
It is pretty disheartening to see it come to naught, but at least we can say we did not endanger anyone in the process and our decisions were all made with our students, teachers and guests in mind.
Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who, whether veteran attendees or newcomers, are so dedicated in supporting and attending our school and conference year after year. You are the reason we do this and I hope you will join me in looking forward to next year in Seattle.
Stay Safe,
Larry Blount
2020 Conference Co-ordinator

NIADA 2020 Conference & Dollmaking School at Arrowmont is cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus

Please note you do not have to request a Refund due to the cancellation of our 2020 NIADA Dollmaking School & Conference at Arrowmont. We will be refunding all deposits and registration monies via PayPal. This is a time consuming task.

If you have not received your refund in a reasonable amount of time please contact

The Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is a national leader in contemporary arts and crafts education set in beautiful wooded, hilly natural surroundings. The spacious and well equipped studios, art supply store, auditorium, gallery and library is the perfect venue for our annual Dollmaking School and Conference.

NIADA 2020

Thursday, August 13th
Sunday, August 16th

Click here for more about the 2020 Conference

Your Conference registration gives you access to:

Conference Programs + Exhibitions + Events + Participation in the Challenge Doll + Critiques + Banquet + Helper Drawing + Flea Market + 2020 Conference Souvenir made by NIADA Artists

Keynote Speaker

We are pleased to announce the Keynote Speaker for the 2020 NIADA Conference: Figurative automata artist Tom Haney. Visit his website to learn about his work

Visiting Artists 10 x 12 Program

Up to Twelve Visiting Artists will have an opportunity to introduce their dolls to all NIADA Conference attendees in a special program in which each participant will show ten projected images of their work. Each photo will be allotted twenty seconds for artists to add their description or commentary. If you are a Visiting Artist registering for the NIADA Conference, this is your chance to introduce your work to NIADA Artists and Patrons.

NIADA Artists Demos

NIADA Artists will demonstrate some of their techniques and share invaluable information about their dollmaking process.

Visiting Artist Critique

All Visiting Artists are welcome to register for a Visiting Artist Critique. This is a great opportunity to discuss your dollmaking goals, troubleshoot technical issues and develop your work under the guidance of NIADA Artists, you may bring up to three of dolls to be critiqued. The fee for each Critique is $25.00.

If you are in the process of applying for NIADA Artist membership you must participate in Artist Membership Critique as a component of your application process, the fee is $25.00. This Critique is an opportunity to discuss what is required to become an Artist Member.

Learn about the Visiting Artist Critique Register for a Critique

Critique Exhibition

All Visiting Artists registered for a Critique are invited to exhibit their dolls at the Critique Exhibition for Conference attendees to view. If you have any questions please contact the Critique Registrar.

NIADA 2020
Dollmaking School

Monday, August 10th
Wednesday, August 12th

Click here for more about the 2020 Dollmaking School

Master Artists will teach classes on the art of doll making

The NIADA Dollmaking School offers classes for anyone wishing to learn dollmaking techniques from NIADA Artists. Classes are taught for all skill levels in techniques such as sculpting, painting, fabric-figure making, textile design, armature design, costuming and more.

NIADA membership or Conference registration is not required to attend the Dollmaking School.

2020 Classes taught by NIADA Artists:

Kate Church, Eva Hodinková, Lesley Keeble, Leslie O’Leary, Anna Potapova, Donna May Robinson, Christine Shively-Benjamin, Shelley Thornton, Marlaine Verhelst

2020 Class-Shelley Thornton Costume


NIADA offers two scholarships to Visiting Artists to help them to attend the NIADA Conference.
Application Deadline: April 30th, 2020

The Helen Bullard Scholarship recipient is awarded a free Conference registration.

The Susanna Oroyan Memorial Scholarship helps to cover extra expenses and/ or pay for a Dollmaking Class of the recipients choice.

Apply for a NIADA Scholarship

to keep updated on Conference developments

Free Events open to the Public

NIADA Artists Gallery Night

Thursday, August 13th @ 6:00-9:00pm

NIADA Artists Exhibition and Sale

Sunday, August 16th – 11:00am to 4:00pm

All are Welcome to attend

2020 Challenge Doll : “Origins”

Origins: All human societies have creation myths, or origin stories….stories about the power of DNA, and the diversity of evolved organisms. Our stories may be different but serve a similar point  and have brought us to similar creative paths as makers of handmade art dolls. Whether various cultures view their first ancestors as human, males, females, animals or other mythical beings we are curious about how we became the person we are, where our pedigree began and how our origins are linked to DNA.

And what about the origins of the objects we make?  What part did ancient dolls play in the development of arts and culture in the long history of humans making objects for rituals, protection, magic and play?

The 2020 challenge is to summon your Clio (history) muse and share your origin narrative using the history of dolls or your ancestral heritage and influences, legends, myths, fables, parables or vignettes.

About the Challenge Doll

A challenge doll is an artistic exploration of how each individual interprets and represents the theme. This theme may be well-defined or merely a phrase. Each participant renders his or her work, in this case, honoring the doll making tradition, and submits it for exhibition at the Conference. Submitted dolls should be all original designs and completely fabricated by the artist using any material.

Dolls must be no larger than 24″ in diameter and must not exceed 30″ in height.
The “Origins” Challenge dolls will be on display during the Conference.  We look forward to seeing your interpretation in August!

Conference & School Venue

Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts

556 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

All are welcome! Membership is not required to attend the Conference or Dollmaking School.
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