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Posts Tagged ‘dolls’

dollhouseminis

I thought I’d make an announcement. I’m guest blogging at Dollhouse Minis. I was invited by Smehreen or Sumaiya Mehreen, a talented artist, to guest blog along with some of her friends like Linda Cummings. I claim no expertise on the subject other than having created one dollhouse, but Sumaiya assures me the blog is meant for dollhouse lovers…so I’ve started posting 🙂

Sumaiya lives in Texas US. I’ll let her website do the telling for me:

“Sumaiya Mehreen made her debut as an international artist at age eleven, when she represented Bangladesh at the Mitsubishi Impression-Gallery Festival of Asian Children’s Art. Sumaiya is mostly known for her mixed media illustrations. She is also a prominent artist of Henna: a form of traditional body art. The artist currently resides in USA, working on her Graduate Studies in Art & Technology at The University of Texas at Dallas. She teaches Exploration of the Arts at her university, and has conducted several workshops and art exhibitions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, USA. The art of Sumaiya Mehreen reflects the influence of her Asian heritage and the high spirits of her tropical homeland: Bangladesh.”

She draws illustrations, paintings, applies henna, traditional body-art and translates fairy tales; some of those can be viewed at sliced.

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To view more of her work, visit her flickr account

She started making dollhouses in 2006 and some of her earliest works can be viewed at smehreen-dollhouse.

She says, “I was on eBay looking for a dollhouse when I was blown away by the variety and intricacies of dollhouse miniatures. I couldn’t believe eBay had a section dedicated to dollhouse miniatures! The assembled dollhouses were too expensive for me, so I made my first dollhouse from a kit. I made my first doll in 2007 :)”

On her dolls, she says, “I actually started making dolls by following the patricia rose tutorials. I have been thinking of starting a blog about
my dolls for a while, but somehow I never got around to it. I use the same method as the tutorials: create wire armature, sculpt using
polymer clay, bake in the oven, paint faces, dress them and finally add the hair.”

She also has another blog, in which she tells us the nuts and bolts of building a Garfield dollhouse; more specifically her dollhouses with lots and lots of pictures to add to the fun. Do visit The Garfield blog.

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On her Mini Food blog, she showcases the works of other artists like Stephanie Kilgast and Donna.

Sumaiya can be contacted at Phone: (214) 597 – 1173 E-mail: smehreen@gmail.com

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Sumaiya makes wonderful dolls – that look so ethnic and chic!

Her doll Parvati was inspired by Aishwarya Rai’s potryal of Parvati in Devdas.

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I love reading the accounts of how she makes her dolls. Her chandra is also another beautiful doll inspired by Chandramuki in Devdas.

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Do visit Flickr to check out more of her dolls.

Her dollhouses are also marvellous! At smehreen-dollhouse, you can check out more such lovely dollhouses!

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And since we are talking so much about Sumaiya. I can’t resist posting this pictute of hers, in which she has tweaked it to look like as if she is standing inside her dollhouse 🙂

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(Pictures courtesy Patricia Rose)

For me dolls have always proved to be an irresistible fascination. In school, we were taught how to make dolls from those plastic coconut hair oil bottles. There used to be an arts & science class and home economics class for girls. The boys, however, were taught basic carpentry and basic home wiring. I somehow felt it was discriminatory, but I didn’t know the word sexism existed or I would been able to put across my point more clearly to my teachers.

Girls also had the option of a cooking class. When I asked my grandma about this, she told me I would be better off learning to embroider and stich, since anyway all women learnt cooking. So, true! Anyway I had fun in the arts & science classes – though I’m not sure what was the science involved in learning to thread, sew and knit.

fairy21In the 90s, we used to make dolls out of plastic wires in school, whether they liked it or not. You can go to any middle-class house and you will find such works of art of extreme ugliness. Either these works of art were bestowed by fond relatives, over-confident of their artistic abilities, or they are a testament to how their wards spent their most constructive hours in school.

A warning; please never ask any parent about anything vaguely resembling a hand-made item. You can be sure that a long speech will follow as to how talented their daughter is. If you are polite and agree with them that their daughter’s handwork is nice (while cursing in your mind its ugliness) they will show you more such articles, which in their opinion are worthy of high appreciation.

Dolls were also made, when cotton pillows burst their seams from over usage and no one had any other use for the stuffing. Such dolls were very comforting – you could talk to them, snuggle up with them and go to sleep or even play tug of war with the house dog. Its ugliness ensured that the child could get away with wrecking havoc on it when in a temper.

Handmade dolls for me were synonymous with comfort, softness and ugliness. So coming up upon Patricia Rose’s tutorials was a revelation of sorts. Her art gallery would leave you speechless! She has free online tutorials for those interested in learning how to make such beautiful dolls and an online shop for those wanting to buy such beeaaautiful dolls!!!!

(Picture courtesy smehreen-dollhouse)

anarkali

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My little friend has got me hooked on to barbies. My first barbie was a school girl barbie, which my mother got for me when I was in the fifth. By the time I was 16, I had to grow out of barbies, as it was considered uncool to be playing with dolls and because barbies were considered the epitome of sexism. I have always had a love and hate relationship with barbies; I don’t like what barbies have come to represent, but I love dolls, all dolls, teddy bears, doll houses, miniature play sets, etc.

I think it was around the time I was 14 that the song, “Barbie Girl” by aqua was released. The music album epitomized the concept of the barbie girl; it was considered derogatory to be clubbed with a barbie as a barbie was a beautiful, but a dumb and shallow girl.

Another major charge against barbie was that barbie’s body measurements were unrealistic. Many critics felt that barbie was promoting the concept of the busty women with the incredibly narrow waist (I think Gone with the Wind Scarlett has contributed more to the idea of the ideal 18-inch waist). The idea being girls might be tempted to go in for breast implants and starve themselves into anorexia to copy barbie. I doubt anyone would do that, but still Mattel was stuck in the controversy. The next line of barbies which came out had wider waists and more believable body measurements.

In line with India’s preoccupation with the brand Fair and Lovely (which I think should be banned), I have only seen fair barbies in India. When we first got the Internet, I was fascinated with the AKA barbie. That barbie had a nice brown complexion with a ultra sleek, chic green and pink evening gown. I could so, so identify with this barbie. But none of the dealers in Chennai, housed AKA barbie or any other dark-skinned barbie doll.

Even now when I occasionally browse through the aisles of Landmark, I can find lots of Indian barbies in different clothes and hairstyles, but not with different complexions. I can’t believe that even the Barbie guys have got clued into the fact that we are a nation, still imbued with the ‘colonial mentality of fairness.’

Even in America, there was some controversy following the launch of the Afro-American barbie dolls. All the Afro-American barbies though they sported a dark complexion, still had only Grecian features and fulfilled European standards of beauty. Afro-American barbies and even Hispanic barbies were launched but all of them were big-eyed, straight-nosed and button-lipped. So being crinkly-eyed, snub-nosed and large-lipped is not considered beautiful?

This brings to my mind, passages from Alex Haley’s Roots. The book’s main protagonist Kunta Kinte as an African kid is curious as to why his mother is blackening herself with the application of some forest herbs. His father says, “Black is beautiful. The blacker the woman is, the more beautiful she is.” Kunta is later captured by slave owners and transported to America. In America, he finds it sickening when fellow Africans, who are mulattoes, are proud of the fact that they are fairer than their black bretheren. He feels, he would be ashamed if white, slave-master, blood ran through his veins. He can’t believe it that his fellow Afro-Americans find pale, scraggly white women beautiful and not their own black womenfolk.

I digress. The point I was trying to make was that barbie dolls still embody the American concept of beauty even in their Indian avatar. Don’t you think it will be nicer if Indian barbies started looking like actress Nandita Das, instead of resembling Angelina Jolie in a saree?

Also, the Indian barbies all come out only in traditional dresses; their dresses would pass the scrutiny of the strictest grooms or grandmothers. Even the ones wearing chudidhar, wear something from the 1970s. No chic or trendy short kurta, tie and dye bandini stuff to be seen on any of the barbies.

Hmmm! So while I still can’t approve of what barbie has come to represent, I still found myself gifting a barbie to one tiny, enthusiastic little friend of mine.

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