I grew up in a family of artists. My mother often made dolls for me when I was a child from paper or papier mache. She instilled in me a love of needlework and an interest in the doll as an art object. My serious hobby began with collecting antique dolls. In my collection there were two very old wooden dolls from the 17th-18th centuries. By education I am an artist, so I wanted to try to make a doll of my own from wood.
The basswood is a very noble and rewarding material. It is a pleasure to work, despite the time-consuming process. I delved into the history of dolls-especially early wooden dolls. There are many great masters that copy and perfect replicas of the original Queen Anne dolls, but I was more interested in developing a theme of wooden dolls that were not limited to the work requirements of the fashion for “imitation antiques.”
My dolls are not replicas or copies; they are old-style wooden dolls. I make an adjustment to the development of the image of wooden dolls, such as the carved feet and the details of the face image. It is interesting to work with portraits, such as the image of Marie Antoinette, or the Russian Empress Elizabeth Petrovna.
My main teacher has been my mother, Nelly Fedchun. She is a great sculptor, and all my master-classes were taught by her. My love for the Baroque and Rococo periods, as well as classical painting and sculpture, has also had a great influence on my work. I have learned that it is very helpful to have knowledge of the history of the costumes. All my dolls’ clothes match the era of the 18th century, and are made of natural fabrics, vintage and antique. I do not use a sewing machine; I do all my seams by hand. I scour flea markets and use Internet resources to buy my fabrics.
The sequence of work on the doll is as follows: My dolls are first machined from bars of wood, like a baluster, for the basic form. They are then hand-carved and sanded. When the work is finished with the wood, I build glass eyes, and a wood base covered with a gesso mixture of chalk and animal glue. The gesso layer is applied, followed by drying and grinding. When the gesso is dry and sanded it is painted with tempera, varnished, and fastened with wax. Then I fasten on the hair, and the doll is ready and waiting for clothes. My dolls are expensive, but their cost is justified by the quality and the time it takes to execute; usually 2-3 months.
My dolls leave me and travel to many different parts of the world to their fans and owners. Parting is always sad, because there is a part of my heart in each one of my dolls, but I know that they will be loved and that they are created to bring joy to the eye.