July 27, 2008

Miniature of the Month: The Vet's Office

They may be porcelain, but the dolls created by South African doll artist Debbie Dixon-Paver are so realistic that sometimes you'd swear you saw them move.

Debbie, who's been creating miniature dolls for 14 years, does use commercial molds, (her favorites are from Stacy Hoffman, Doreen Sinnett and Parker-Levi), but it's the way she poses her dolls and the realism of her miniature scenes that makes her creations stand out.

Her enthusiasm for miniatures is especially interesting since the hobby is still not as well known in her small city of Port Elizabeth, also known as "The Friendly City" of South Africa. "There are two mini groups in our city but miniatures in general are not 'very big' here!" she says with a laugh.

Given Debbie's artistic background - she taught art in schools, and her father painted and drew as a hobby - it's not surprising that she is driven to create, despite the challenges.

"My biggest challenge is finding supplies; virtually everything I use has to be imported, so I end up paying probably twice what American doll makers might for porcelain, molds and fabrics as the postage and customs into South Africa are really high," she explains. "Our recent power cuts have been a real pain and caused me to lose considerable doll making time.

A New Job

Retired now after 20 years of teaching, Debbie is happy to have traded her schoolbooks in to work on her dolls full-time. Her daughter, whose birth originally inspired Debbie to try her hand at miniature dolls, is now a young lady who enjoys seeing what her mother has made and gives "very helpful critiques," Debbie says.

It all began with Debbie hoping to build a dollhouse for her daughter to enjoy when she got older. And of course, it had to have dolls.

"I ordered some dolls through a mail order catalogue and was SO disappointed with the quality of them when they arrived that I vowed that I was going to make better ones," she says.

She switched from making larger dolls and has never regretted it, falling in love with the doll making process all over again. "The mini dolls are so much easier and quicker to complete than the big ones and they take up less room," she says.

Inspirations and Fantasies

Debbie has since created a variety of dolls, many fashioned with a certain theme in mind or inspired by history. The fun is seeing what she comes up with, from a series of dolls inspired by well known songs and a series of characters for a western town, to the incredible "People from the Past" series featuring Henry VIII and his wives - which includes the ladies as young girls to adults - and the series which fit Candid Canine best called "Waiting for the Vet!"

As with her other series, "Waiting for the Vet!" tells a story without words. It is a busy afternoon at the local veterinarian's office. All the seats are filled with people concerned about their pets, or who've come in for routine shots and a check-up.

With such a backlog of appointments, the office has little room for people to be fussy about where they sit.The little girl doesn't seem to be too concerned, though, even if her kittens are between two dogs.

The Corgi, however, seems to have something else within his view.

And that other naughty dog? That lady is going to have quite the surprise when she wakes up!

On the other bench, nothing seems to disturb the lady with the Poodle, although the woman with the Yorkie seems a little concerned, doesn't she?

Noah's Ark in Miniature

In this Noah's ark of a vet's office, there are other animals, as well, and they all appear to get along. (The exception is that frisky little Jack Russell Terrier. See the group photo.) I'd imagine the retired sailor (see group photo) has other things on his mind, or maybe the parrot is squawking in his ear again? (Debbie made her Macaw from an amazing miniature parrot tutorial by IGMA Fellow Kerri Pajutee.)

Of all the characters, the little boy appears to be the most anxious about his favorite pet rat (is it named Ben?), doesn't he?

The scene is so full of life, it makes you want to make one of your own, doesn't it?

You can see more of Debbie's work for sale at her CDHM website.

As always, I'd love to hear your comments. Have you done any scenes with dogs and other pets? Feel free to post a comment and email me about posting the photos.


  1. Not only the dolls, but the clothes you've chosen are wonderful. Hand made I assume?

    Camille/Margaret Grace


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