Some of Brooklyn’s top Black doll artists will be going Uptown to showcase and sell their unique, handcrafted dolls on Saturday, December 3 at the annual Morrisania Doll Society’s 2016 Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale at the Dwyer Cultural Center, 258 St. Nicholas Avenue at 123rdStreet. Show hours are 11:00am to 7:00pm. It’s free to the public.
Using found objects from cardboard boxes to fabric remnants, Bedford Stuyvesant’s Kellan Waverly makes unique dollhouses. Her company Kels Mini Mansion Dollhouses specializes in creating one room designs tailored by buyers.
Creativity has always been a of Shaquora Bey’s life. Born and raised in Brooklyn, the self-taught doll artist has been using crochet and fabric to create sophisticated soft sculpture figures for over 20 years. “My soft sculpture dolls are unique because they have a body language that speak volumes,” she explained. “They have a raw and natural beauty that people can relate to.”
Bey’s artistry extends to hair. Her Sophisticated Loc’s By Shaquora in Bedford Stuyvesant is a go-to destination for natural hair braiding and locs. “My handmade dolls and soft sculptures are directly related to me as a natural hair artist,” she said. “My concepts and inspiration comes from my clients and the many years of cultivating beautiful hairstyles for beautiful women of every hue shape and size. They are the embodiment of femininity, beauty and sophistication.”
At the Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale, there will be handcrafted dolls to fit every budget from $10 to $1,000. “Visitors are always awed by the outstanding level of craftsmanship evidenced by the doll artists,” said Ellen Ferebee, president and founder of the Morrisania Doll Society, based in Harlem.
Morrisania Doll Society was formed in 2000 to bring together doll collectors and doll artists and to help preserve the history and culture of African-American doll making.
Park Slope resident Valerie Gladstone is considered one of the leading doll artists in the country. Her work is featured in a new book titled “The Art of the Contemporary Doll,” where she is one of the 50 doll artists profiled.
Through her company Brooklyn Dollworks, Gladstone specializes in creating one-of-a-kind art dolls. She uses cloth and sculpture to develop Black dolls that range from prim Victorian historic figures to fantasy magical figures. Her facial sculptures and clothing attire is amazing. “As an artist I create what is my reality,” she said. “Since my dolls are one-of- a- kind, every sale is unique.”
Gladstone not only studied art, she is also an accomplished theatrical costume designer. A former dancer in Alvin Ailey’s school company, she also designed costumes for Dance Theatre of Harlem. “I have a series of “Tiny Dancers” that I created for Dance Theatre of Harlem. We have sold quite a few,” she pointed out. “They are still one-of- kind, but small and affordable enough for an NYC apartment and everybody loves a ballet dancer.”
To Gladstone, the more people become engrossed in technology, the more there is a yearning for handmade items. “There are more doll artists and because of the internet there is more exposure to this art form,” explained Gladstone, who also sells dolls on Etsy. “Collectors and consumers would rather have a beautifully handmade art piece, than a doll that is mass produced in China.”
While the internet has exploded as a popular place to buy collectible dolls, Gladstone still recommends that buyers actually see and feel the doll. “Collectors have to connect with the piece to buy it,” she pointed out. “Go to a doll show. Buy what you love. If a piece speaks to you, regardless of the price, you will always have that same feeling when you look at it.”
For more information on The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale, please visitwww.morrisaniadollsociety.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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