I love the voyeuristic nature of Flickr, where a random photograph can draw you into someone else’s world….
Katarina Carlsson is a Swedish artist who creates beautiful dolls from scratch. Some are cute and twee, some are eerie and macabre… all of them are utterly compelling. Make your day complete and check out her wonderful blog and flickr sites…
Describe a typical working day…
I have to get started early - I’m the most creative and productive in the early morning. I like working on a few different things during one day - maybe I’ll work on making a wig in the morning and then sewing clothes in the afternoon. It varies a lot depending on what stage the dolls I’m working on are in - I might spend the day in my shared studio workplace casting new dolls or painting doll parts, other times I work mainly on sculpting new prototypes to make molds from. Some weeks are all about sewing - wigs, clothing - and finishing dolls, taking photos of them and so on. I love how varied the work is, the many different materials and methods of creating involved in making a doll!
You’re quite open about the creative process behind making your dolls… does it not feel intrusive to have the public see them in mid-creation?
I love looking at process photos, I guess that's why I take those kinds of photos. Sometimes I find that the unfinished state of something is more intriguing than the finished piece! But sure, I know what you mean, and for my last completed doll “Blå”, I kept the process of sculpting her to myself until she was a finished doll. I also have dolls that I haven’t shown photos of at all - mostly because I don’t want to hear anyones opinion of them yet - but also because these dolls are much more characters than dolls, if that makes any sense at all. I have ideas about their worlds, stories they appear in and so on, so it feels too private to post photos of them (in their unfinished state) at this point in time.
“Myling” was the first sculpt I took all the way to being a completed doll - I learnt all of the steps of dollmaking while creating Myling, so for me it feels natural to keep posting photos of these dolls in process!
Doll making is an alien world to the uninitiated like me, but there’s a serene beauty in the
photographs you put online that draws people in. What sort of reaction have you had from people after seeing them?
A lot of people seem to percieve that the dolls have a soul, a presence of their own... I’m amazed when someone describes this to me - it feels like playing, like storytelling. To me that’s when a doll really comes alive - when I hear someone describing it to me or interpreting what it’s saying to them. It’s an amazing feeling to have created something that moves people, even just in a playful way!
What dictates the eventual character of a doll? Do you plan their personalities or does that evolve as you create them?
Some dolls evolve as I work on them, others I have a very specific idea about even before casting them or even sculpting them. Some dolls have to lie around unfinished for months on my desk before I find the right spark to complete them!
Does creativity run in your family?
I don’t think anyone made their living as an artist in my family, but a lot of them seem to have enjoyed building and making things. I can relate to that!
What led to the path of creating porcelain dolls? Is it quite an unusual creative outlet or is there a whole community of dollmakers online?
I really enjoy sculpting. I remember always liking messing around with clay, and I just never stopped making stuff as I grew up. I would make static sculptures or models in clay with hair and clothes also made from clay - but got bored with them quickly. I realized I had to start experimenting with making something like dolls that one can pose and be able to change clothes on.
As a child I never played that much with dolls, but I was fascinated with miniatures, like dollhouses for example, miniature worlds - ships in bottles and so on.
I have no idea if it’s an unusual creative outlet - but it seems like a growing hobby to collect dolls, and some of the collectors start experiment with making their own dolls, I guess. I think there is something so playful and wonderful about approaching sculpting/painting from the point of view of wanting to make a doll!
What is the ultimate destination of your dolls? Are they sold or exhibited?
Right now I make dolls to sell. Some I keep. For myself. I tell myself it’s because I need some dolls to show the clothes I make and so on, but really I just fall in love with some of them.
How important to you is the online community in terms of feedback or inspiration?
Extremly important in terms of feedback - I hardly know anyone in real life who likes, collects or makes dolls! Inspiration comes from so many different things and places, I couldn’t say I’m inspired by dolls exactly, more just a strange mix of impressions collected over the years.
Describe yourself with a song, a movie and a book…
Song - On Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz
Movie - Wow, this is difficult! Maybe The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec because she has her own egyptian mummy and because I love the comic books about Adele by Tardi. And I envy Adele’s beautiful apartment (with mummy) and her courage!
Book - The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman. I love Sandman! And Neil Gaiman!
Finally, who are you today – Katarina, Myling or Hemlig?
Katarina! I’m always Katarina. I just like to hide under different names now and then...
Thanks to Katarina for the words and pics..