August 04, 2009

Art Come to Life 2: American Gothic and The Little Chocolatier

Across "the pond," British doll maker Claire Smith Campbell also enjoys making a variety of miniature dolls and making art come to life.

Amusingly enough, her latest pair of dolls replicated a classic American painting - "American Gothic" by Grant Wood.

(Pictured below: American Gothic by Claire Smith-Campbell)

(Great likeness huh? Though no one can exactly match that woman's scowl!)

Claire, who's been making dolls for 20 years, used Janna Joseph molds to make the "American Gothic" couple. "I didn't have to alter much, it was just a matter of copying the portrait and finding the right sort of hand and feet molds," she says.

"I had to guess what they would look like full length, but took in the time period when they were painted. I had fun trying to find the correct hay fork (pitchfork), but the good people on The Camp miniatures group helped me find one!"

Sweet Inspiration

Another of Claire's charming recreations was of the painting, "The Little Chocolatier. (The Chocolate Girl)"

The painting is by Swiss miniaturist artist, Jean-Etiene Liotard, 1702-1789

Claire first began making full-size dolls, but says she had to give it up "when the molds became too heavy (she has MS) and the market was flooded with cheap dolls. I gave up totally for about a year, but was as miserable as sin."

When a friend brought back a collection of fairy molds and said, 'these are impossible, you can have them,' Claire was more than thrilled: "Whoopee, that got me going again."

She found other suppliers and molds, converted a bedroom into a workroom, and then moved into a larger workspace. She's since come back to making dolls after taking a break following her husband's death.

"Nearly two years ago, my husband had a beautiful cabin built for me at the bottom of the garden, complete with double glazing, two rooms and a deck," she says. "Sadly, he died just after last Christmas and I have only just come out of a parallel universe and started making dolls again."

Claire mostly made dolls for her own pleasure, but she is thinking of trying to sell some of her original dolls on eBay under the name Sugar Plum Dolls.

"I can`t do 'production line' dolls," she says. "I take a long time making them, and as such I think they deserve the best armatures and wadding, etc. At the moment, I'm quite happy making them and the ideas are beginning to come back."

So, what's next?

"I rather fancy Manet`s "Bar at the Folies Bergere," she admits. "She`s just sitting in my mind right now."

We can't wait to see her!


  1. What a fun thing to make and dress dolls to match famous paintings! I'd love to have every one of them, but then I'd have to get rid of some of my other collectibles.
    marlis day

  2. Grant Wood lived about twenty miles from here in Stone City. Mom lived a few houses away from him before he was famous and moved there.

  3. Claire is one of the most talented doll makers, her attention to detail is amazing and the quality of her work is incredible. Claire's creations are just that, creations that will be handed down from generation to generation and loved by many.


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