Tuesday, January 5, 2010

HOUSE CALLS: Heather Louise Bennett from The Doll Farm

If you haven't seen one of Heather Louise Bennett's dolls, you will not believe your eyes. Formerly known as Milkrun, The Doll Farm is home to Heather Louise's dramatic, poetic, elaborate, and brilliant creations. Her dolls take inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, Edith Piaf, the French Revolution and so much more. They are richly embellished with embroidery, buttons, applique and vintage fabric. This is the ultimate essence of handmade, her pieces are ENTIRELY hand sewn, no machines!

I fell in love the first time I spied one of her Marie Antoinette Dolls in the corner of a picture on some blog somewhere. This was the first time that I really scoured the design blog world for a specific item. I tracked her down eventually, and recently I asked her to share her inspirations and the creative process she undertakes to craft these astonishing works of art. In my opinion, Heather Louise is one of the most unique and madly creative artists around.

Describe the work that you do.
"I make dolls out of fabric and wool entirely by hand (no machine). I use a lot of semi precious stones, hand made buttons and charms made from various artisans and found objects."

What was the career/education path you took to get to this point?
"I actually went to college to get a degree in painting and printmaking. Never in a zillion years would I have believed you if you told me I'd be making dolls in the future."

Where do you get your inspirations?
"I get my inspiration from anything and everything: someone with a goofy expression at the grocery store, fashion magazines, cartoons, music, food, animals, paintings, silent movies, wood grain...you name it!"

Describe the creative process in designing and constructing a particular piece.
"I always sketch out a doll a thousand times before I make the pattern so I'm wading in notebooks filled with scribbles and sketches.Then I make the pattern, cut out the base and start piecing it together. Most of the time I start out with the fabrics already mapped out for the doll, but often I change my mind during the process."

Where do you create your work?
"I have a fabulous studio that is being renovated right now so mostly I'm confined to my living room. It's working for me now because I try to contain my madness to one big work table. But sometimes my fabrics and junk parts escape my table, then the house looks like a crafter's bomb went off.

Where the magic happens, Heather Louise's workspace.

Share a few of your favourite artisans, whose work you admire.
"There are a lot of doll makers out there who are fabulous--too many to mention really.
Julien Martinez has always been a great inspiration for characters. Of course I love Alexander Mcqueen's work. This particular collection rules my world. And the Brothers Quay have always inspired me to keep it weird."

Where do you sell your work?
"People can go to my blog to find the various retailers that carry my dolls (there are quite a few, but I do not know if all of them have dolls still in stock). I usually have a large collection of dolls available in my etsy shop."

What/who are the things you love most in your life?
"I love my husband, son and cat (Crispy) of course,and I love discovering new and wonderful things. I don't really have a favorite dish but I know that I love coffee like some kind of maniac."

What would you do “in your wildest dreams”, if there were no restrictions (like money, or responsibilities!)?
"I'd have a pool filled with tapioca pudding and Id swim in it while wearing marshmallow water wings."

What is your greatest professional achievement?
"I'm not sure if I've had a great professional moment yet. I still feel like I'm in diapers ..professionally speaking."

What is new with you and your work?
"I'm always coming up with new characters and landscapes. The Medicine Girls is my latest collection and the landscape is about sickness, healing, magic, nature,fevers, medicine, spoons and escapism. You can follow this collection on my Facebook page."

Medicine Girl 4000

Medicine Girl 2000

Do you have a motto for life?
"I don't really have a motto so much as I just try to be as honest as I can be, in my day to day life and also in the work that I do :o)"

Incredible work, isn't it? I just can't stop marvelling over the detail and craftsmanship that goes into each of her pieces. Thanks to Heather Louise for taking the time to share her thoughts on her work and life. I think my Apothecary needs a Medicine Girl!

(Images: Heather Louise Bennett)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so very much for your lovely blog entry about my dolls!!!
    I am truly grateful!

    Heather Louise
    the doll farm


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