Art dolls by Claudine Roelens

I’m a Belgian doll maker. Ever since I was a little girl I was into arts and crafts. As long as I can remember I have been making things, drawing and painting. My parents were very creative too. They were always doing so many things. Always pursuing new crafts. We ( my sister and I) were always encouraged to be creative ourselves. I was a huge fan of Tony Hart. He made the most fantastic things on television. Things I obviously had to make myself too.
I started of painting oil paintings. I loved doing portraits. Especially with people in historical costumes.
About 20 years ago I discovered a book by Ankie Daanen. It was a book about making fantasy dolls. Although I immediately fell in love with it, it stayed in the cupboard for several months. When I finally decided to give it a try I had to go on a quest for some doll making materials. And believe me it was a difficult quest. Clay and spatulas were not easy to come by.
Those first dolls were made in air drying clay darwi. They were really heavy. They also took a long time to dry. Soon after that I discovered la doll. Another type of air drying clay. Now this type was even harder to find. Luckily there was a doll show in Bruges where I could buy the clay once a year. On the doll show I discovered a lot of other doll makers. This set me of to try different types of dolls.
Eventually I made very large dolls with a fabric body. Some were even little over 1 meter tall. Because of the loc-line armature inside the dolls they were completely poseable. In 1999 I started teaching workshops in my studio. That turned out to be a huge success. I still do three workshops of 3 hours every week. In the holidays I teach 6 day workshops. That gives people who have to come from far away a chance to come over too. They can stay in a hotel or B&B in the neighbourhood. I also do private workshops on demand.
Several years ago I discovered polymer clay. I now make dolls in polymer clay. Much smaller than what I used to make. The dolls vary a lot. They may be little children, adult ballerina’s or whimsical fairies. Doll making is still a quest for me. I discover new things, new techniques every day. Who knows what I will be making tomorrow.

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