Monday, July 10, 2017

Black Dolls by Svetlana Lukina

Boy and girl dolls by Svetlana Lukina were inspired by the works of nineteenth century doll artists,
Ella Smith and Martha Chase 

Russian doll artist, Svetlana Lukina’s doll making is inspired by nineteenth century dollmaker, Izannah F. Walker.  Some of her dolls have been inspired by other nineteenth century dollmakers, such as Martha Chase, Ella Smith, and others from that period.  Having recently donated her first two black dolls to the National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture, Svetlana agreed to share her inspiration for making that pair with the readers of Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.  She also shared information about her most recently made black doll.

US postage stamp, released in 1997, features dolls by Ella Smith and Martha Chase.  Ella Smith designed the cloth Alabama Baby doll with molded and painted features.  These dolls were originally named "The Alabama Indestructible Doll" and were made from 1900-1925.  The second doll was created by Martha Chase and is an all-cloth doll made between 1890-1925.

“I have been a fan of the early American dolls for many years.  I was inspired by the black dolls of Martha Chase and Ella Smith, whose dolls are depicted on the US postage stamp. I made a girl with a red apron and a boy in a sailor's suit.  I love these dolls.   They are my first black dolls made to sell.  Unfortunately, these children could not find a home for a long time.  After learning about the National Black Doll Museum, I wrote a letter to the director. I’m glad to know about such museum, because I’m sure every nation must know its history, culture, and traditions. I am happy my dolls now live in the American museum.   Of course, I would like to sell my dolls, but I'm very pleased they will be seen by many people!  It is an honor, very exciting, and I appreciate the exposure."  

Before traveling to America, Svetlana's Martha Chase-inspired girl sat quietly in her chair.

“My dolls range from 17-20 inches. I use natural fabrics (cotton, linen, silk). I make the body of the dolls from fabric.  They are stuffed, gessoed, and painted. The heads are made of paper-clay, papier-mâché or gypsum (it depends on the kind of doll, because I try to repeat traditional old technology).   My Izannah Walker dolls’ heads are made only of textiles (layers of silk knitting and cotton fabric)."

Although he traveled from Russia to America by airplane, Svetlana's Alabama Baby-inspired boy
remained ready for a nautical adventure.

“At first I was a student of Dixie Redmond (2012).  Later in 2013, I was a student of Paula Walton and bought lessons from her. The technology of the head is the know-how of Paula Walton.  First I must make a sculpture of a head of plasticine (wax) or plastic.  The mold is removed from gypsum. Then I lay the fabric (cotton and silk) in the mold.  For each doll, I make personal clothing patterns.  The dolls’ clothing can be removed and washed."  

Each doll receives great attention to detail in keeping with traditional dollmaking styles.

“I have a textile and art education and try to make my dolls qualitatively and professionally. Time spent on each doll is very extensive, between 90-100 hours of pure time.  Therefore, such dolls cannot be inexpensive. They are made for the adult collector.   My dolls are all different.   No two are the same.”

Svetlana’s New Black Girl

This sweet girl is approximately 18-inches tall.  She wears a colorful lined dress with sash, matching head wrap, pantaloons, beaded necklace and anklet.

“After my first two black dolls were sent to the National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture, I wanted to make more.    My newest sweet black doll is about 17-18 inches, also made of fabric and paper clay.  Inspiration for this doll came from dolls of Martha Chase.  It was very difficult to find the fabric for the dress, but I found it!  The hair is made of natural sheepskin.  She is currently available in my Etsy shop."  

The newest girl poses without her head wrap to illustrate the texture of her natural sheepskin hair.

Where to Buy
“I sell my dolls on Etsy.   The first reader of this post to purchase an in-stock doll from my Etsy store will receive a 50% discount.  I also make dolls by request, but the sale to the first blog reader only extends to dolls already made and shown on Etsy.  I can be reached by email, through my blog, or on Facebook.  I take into account the wishes of my customers and I am always happy to customize dolls for them."

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  1. Thank so much for sharing the work of this talented dealmaker with us. I love how much attention she gave to the details and how she respects the artists who inspired her without being afraid to add a personal touch to the dolls she makes.
    I went to Etsy in order to look up her dolls. They really are beautiful. The little black girl is my favourite and I hope she will find a loving home since I can't purchase her myself.
    Have a lovely week!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read about Svetlana's dolls, Arlette and for your comment. The black doll featured in this post has been sold. I am sure the owner will be quite pleased.



  2. Thank you Debbie,for telling us about this talented dollmaker. I'm impressed that she takes the time and trouble to create them using older methods. So many craft techniques have been lost because no one thought to carry them forward in time the way Svetlana has. Of course, it's also especially pleasing that they're black dolls. I hope that now that a couple of her dolls are in a museum the prestige will translate into sales, that would be the just reward for her efforts and the beauty and quality of her dolls. :-)

    1. You're welcome, Maricha. I was happy to learn about Svetlana's doll art through her generous donation to the National Black Doll Museum and wanted to share this with others. It is my hope, too, that she receives the recognition she deserves. As a result of this blog post, her third black doll has sold!


  3. Debbie, thank you for finding the time to write about me and my dolls. My third doll sold very quickly thanks to this information. I read your blog with interest too! Your work is worthy of respect.

    1. You're welcome, Svetlana. Congratulations on selling the third Black doll (I assume that is what you meant -- because I know you have sold lots more than three dolls).

      I hope your others sell soon.

      Thank you for complimenting my writing.



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