Spotlight on Guest Artist Cindee Moyer

Art Dolls Only is so pleased and honored to have The National Institute of American Doll Artists ( NIADA ) Vice President Cindee Moyer with us to kick off 2019. What a way to start the year! Cindee will be sharing a little about herself and her doll making journey with all of us.

Q. What kind of Art Dolls do you create? 

A. My dolls could probably be classified as fashion dolls. They resemble the fashion illustrator’s croquis in that the legs are much longer than normal. I have always loved haute couture and designing these costumes gives me a place to create them. (or my version of them!) I study fashion editorial photos for poses and costume ideas.

Q.  What is your primary medium/ What is your favorite supply to work with?

A. I create my dolls using a wire armature, aluminum foil and Creative Paper Clay. It is a very forgiving medium. For example, if I don’t like how the head and neck are positioned, I can break the neck, carve out a little extra, wet the dried clay and add new clay to re-position the neck. If any part of the doll breaks, it can be fixed. That’s the beauty of the product over polymer clays.

Q. How long have you been an artist/doll maker?

A. I made dolls using other artist’s patterns most of my adult life. In 2003, I discovered the art doll in the ‘new’ publication Art Doll Quarterly, (which sadly, stopped publication in 2018.) In the issue was an article on the art dolls of Akira Blount. I had never seen an ‘art’ doll and I had never seen anything that meshed art with doll so clearly. I found a workshop she was teaching and signed up. I made my first doll in that workshop using a pattern I made myself. It was the beginning of my doll making journey.

Q. Are you self taught or did you learn another way?

A. I have sewn since I was in junior high school. Over the years I tried all sorts of crafts from basket weaving to quilting to wood working. I also love dolls. I made dolls for my daughters, who by the way, could have cared less! I also bought dolls for ‘them’ knowing full well they would be mine! I always used purchased patterns. Having a little bit of sewing background and the love of the doll lent itself naturally to creating my own.

Q. Share a little about your first doll. 

A. I came home from Once I signed up for Akira’s workshop, I had 6 months to wait. I had never taken a doll workshop before and it was going to be for three days. Heaven! I didn’t know what I would be creating but I collected fabrics, bits and pieces for that workshop for 6 months. The doll I made hangs in my studio today. I came home from that workshop and made doll after doll. I was smitten.

Q.What books, videos, or other visual aides do you use when you create a new doll. 

A. I have quite a large library of fashion illustration, fashion design, art books etc. Books are one of my weaknesses. I also use Pinterest a lot.

Q. How has your practice changed over time?

A. As I continued to make dolls, I grew more confident of my abilities. My earlier dolls were quite a bit larger. I wanted the doll to present more as art, therefore, I wanted a smaller piece that someone would be able to display easily. I also loved the faces of Modigliani and began altering the faces to try and mimic that. Most of my early patterns have that face. Then I began making ‘prettier’ faces. I transitioned to paper clay after another workshop where we sculpted the whole doll. I loved the freedom to pose and not stuff!

Q. What art do you most identify with?

A. Painting was my major in college and I am still drawn to fine art. But I love anything with a face. A coffee pot or planter or jacket. It doesn’t matter. I guess if anything, I identify most with the art of fashion design.

Q. Do you have a favorite doll that you’ve made? 

A.  This is hard. Usually, the last doll I finish is my favorite. I recently did a series of dolls inspired by friends or family. That series is the first that just burst forth on its own. And I love each of the pieces. But probably my favorite is one called ‘Delia’ after my grandmother. It didn’t start out to be her but when I finished, she was there.

Q. Where does your inspiration come from?

A. I draw a lot of inspiration from fashion designers, fashion photography, sculpture and paintings. I love Pinterest for immediate access to a myriad of photos of all types of art. My folders are categorized by artist. I choose some for their poses, some for their color pallet, some for their painting style. And sometimes it’s just a piece of fabric that starts the ball rolling.

Q.  What is your favorite part of making your dolls?

A.  I think my favorite thing to do is the hair. I try not to use conventional hair choices. When I use wool or typical ‘hair’ materials, it just doesn’t seem to work. I have used horse hair, peacock herl, metallic pieces from seasonal floral stems, Angelina fibers, black fiberfil, tassels and silk yarn. I am always on the lookout for ‘hair’.

Q. What is the most difficult aspect in your process, and how you manage it?

A. I don’t like making hands. I would love for someone to sneak in and make the hands for me while I sleep! I struggle with them on every doll. It seems like I try something different each time. I haven’t found the best way for me yet, but continue to work on it. They are the last thing I make and the least favorite.

Q. How do you overcome a creative block?  

A. Go through my picture file, books, and Pinterest to see if anything sparks my interest.

Q. Do have any doll artists that inspire you? Or other artists that inspire you to create dolls?

A. I belong the National Institute of American Doll Artists, NIADA. It is a professional group of artists whose impeccable workmanship inspires me to do better with each doll. There are a variety of styles of art dolls within the organization and the one constant is that they are masters of their art form. Akira Blount inspired me to make my own dolls.

Q. What memorable responses have you had to your work?

A. ‘Never mind that your dolls are drop-dead gorgeous, do you have a degree in fashion design?’ was a recent response. That was pretty cool.

Q. What advice would you give new doll artists?

A. To create for themselves first. If you are making dolls to sell, your creativity will be limited by what’s popular. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to evolve you need to create what you love. If you look at successful doll artists, they each have an identity of design. That doesn’t happen overnight and even successful artists continue to grow.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A. In the workshop where I made my first paper clay doll, the instructor, Olga Roehl, noticed that I wasn’t a ‘perfectionist’. She said, that’s okay. That is you. Don’t try to make what others make. She freed me from driving myself crazy trying to make something look like someone else’s. And in doing so, allowed me to evolve on my own.

Q. What research do you do before you create?

A. In addition to my Pinterest page, I print off favorites and glue into small notebooks. If I don’t have an plan, I go through those books or PInterest and try to find a pose or costume idea as a starting point. I try to have at least a vague idea where I’m going. I will also make sketches to give me a better idea of what I need to do.

Q. What is your dream project? or who would you love to do collaboration with?  

A. My good friend Dustin Poche’ and I have wanted to collaborate for awhile. We even know what we’re going to make, we just haven’t made it happen yet.

You can find out more about Cindee and her fabulous Dolls online: