ARTIST SPOTLIGHT ZOE THOMAS CURIOUS BOUDOIR DOLLS
Q. What kind of Art Dolls do you create?
A. I make one of a kind art dolls. My dolls have been described as Gothic, I think because often I use black and red fabrics. Or maybe because their faces look a little sad or thoughtful? It really depends on what’s inspiring me at the time, be it fairy tales, myths, Victorian circus, tattoos, conjoined twins or spider women. I really just love to create something unusual to entertain myself while I am making it!
Q. Where did you learn to make dolls?
A. My Grandma made reproduction, porcelain Victorian dolls. Then my Mum got hooked for a while. We had a shed with a kiln and shelves full body parts, wigs and jars of eyes. I found it enjoyably eerie, and although I never actually made one, I must have learnt without realising.
Q. Tell us a little about your first doll
A. The first doll I made was very large! About 4 feet! I wanted a doll to use for a series of paintings at the time. I remember so well the excitement of making her, and the strange feeling of her seemingly coming to life! I photographed her and then made paintings, it felt like a safe way to express my feelings and ideas without actually putting myself in the painting.
Q. How has your practice changed over time?
A. I used to make a lot of dolls with fabric and painted faces, but have been using paper clay for about 5 years or so. It feels like I have come full circle with my art, from making dolls to photograph and paint. I stopped painting when I had my first child, and found doll making enjoyable and manageable in the limited time I had. I looked forward to one day painting again. But now that my children are at school and I have more time to create, I find that I am exploring my ideas more naturally through doll making and am bringing more elements into that. I am using more clay and paint in place of fabrics and hair and enjoying making doll sculptures that can hang on the wall.
What art do you most identify with?
A. I really love the new pop surrealism that I have discovered in the past few years. I am also inspired by classical renaissance art. But the two artists that I love and have had a direct influence on me are Paula Rego and Ana Maria Pacheco.
Q. Do you have a favorite doll that you have made?
A. My favourite is usually my most recent, or whatever I am working on. But I will choose my most recent twins, as I was really so happy with how their faces came out and it felt like a turning point for me.
Q. Where does your inspiration come from?
A. I have always been interested in dream symbols, fairy tales, myths and psychology.. I try to work intuitively and just have fun seeing what pops up!
Q. What are your favorite supplies to work with?
A. I think all artist will understand when I say I just love the feeling of getting a clay delivery! Oh, and new paints and paintbrushes!!
What is the most difficult aspect in your process?
A. Sometimes I find my favourite part, the face painting, is also the most difficult, because I want to get it just right! I usually paint at least four layers. If I find it becoming a struggle, I move onto a different aspect, or a different doll.
Q. Do have any doll artists that inspire you?
A. Scott Radke was the first doll maker to really inspire me, I love all of his work, but it is his earlier marionettes that really have my heart! I love Klaudia Gaugier’s Horkadolls, but really there are so many amazing Doll Artists!
I live in a village just outside Cambridge, uk, with my Husband, two children and my cat.. after I drop my children off at school ,come home, make a cup of coffee and am grateful to spend most of the rest of my day in the land of creation!
You can find Zoe and her marvelous dolls at: