Judy Skeel’s Skeelhaven

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Judy Skeel is one of those artists who has probably tried nearly everything at least once. After fifteen years of dollmaking, she has focused her art into a style that is colorful, charming, whimsical and sometimes fierce. In addition to her work as a dollmaker, she is a popular dollmaking instructor and produces a newsletter highlighting doll clubs and events.

I really like her artist statement, so I’ll quote it here:

There is nothing more rewarding to me than creating something that speaks. When I create art of my own design I begin with an idea and let the process and the work itself tell me where it wants to go. I allow the art to take over, as if it were my subconscious, pulling from deep within me. When I complete a piece in this manner not only do I feel the ecstasy of completion; I also am enchanted by the creation. In some way, any new creation for me connects me to God as I begin to understand what joy He must savor in creating His works. I see my work as my children, and often find it difficult to let them go off into the world and speak for themselves. I wonder if the world will understand them as I do if I am not there to share for them. I must remind myself that just as in parenting, if we create and instill the concepts we require our children to have, when they go on their own our efforts will shine through for anyone that sincerely looks at our work.
When you view my work all I ask is that you view it with sincerity and an open mind, and then I believe that my art will speak to you as it does to me.”

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Take note of the way she styles the faces of her dolls, using a skillful combination of needle sculpting and painting. Additionally, every doll she makes just drips with beading, ribbon embroidery, machine embroidery and other textile techniques. These pictures probably don’t do them any justice at all.

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If you really want to know what’s going on in the dollmaking scene, check out her newsletter, The Association for People Who Play With Dolls (APWPWD), and be sure to check her schedule to see if she’s attending any events near you. You can also get to know Skeel better by reading her blog or dropping her an e-mail at her website.