Donna Moore is a very talented sculptor who works primarily in clay but has dabbled in gourds as well. This is not Donna’s first ADAA! She has attended the previous retreats as a student, but this will be her first stint teaching at the retreat. Donna is teaching a fantastic 2-day class: Basic Santos Cage Dolls. I’m super excited to have Donna teaching this class at ADAA this year.
Donna has been a doll maker for the past 18 years. She started by taking classes to learn to make porcelain dolls which she also collected. That pursuit led her to Marilynn Huston, who was exhibiting her Native American and Old World Santas at a doll show in Austin.
Donna says of that first experience with Marilynn’s dolls:
“I was so intrigued by what she was doing with polymer clay that I signed up to take one of her classes. She was so inspirational and from that point forward, I fell in love with the one of a kind art doll in polymer clay.“
There were several “followers” of Marilynn Huston that shared a common interest in sculpting dolls in polymer clay. They formed the Central Texas Art Doll Sculptors (CTADS) in 1998, where Donna has been a member and doll maker ever since. Donna has exhibit her dolls in galleries in Austin, Georgetown and Salado, Texas as well as exhibits at the Kansas City Doll Expo and at All Dolls Are Art! Her work has been published in Dolls Magazine and Contemporary Doll Collector.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Hi Donna, please share with ADAA readers what kind of dolls you create. What draws you to this type of sculpture?
Donna: I have sculpted dolls primarily from polymer clay. I began with Super Sculpey and went on to find that I liked working with ProSculpt. I liked the way it appeared after it was baked. Recently I have started using paper clay and have really enjoyed working with it. The Santos Dolls I have been doing are in paper clay. My sculpting has included caricatures, realistic as well as fantasy characters. When I first started I did a lot of fairies and went on to make and sell numerous Old World Santas. Our doll club has a doll-in-a-year challenge annually. We come up with a theme, which gives us the opportunity to do different things and work outside of our comfort zone. I have enjoyed doing all types of dolls and learning new techniques. I have not done anything miniature and do not know if that is something I would enjoy, but I guess it could be worth a try. Recently I have been adding elements of mixed media and found objects into my work. I would love to try a piece made entirely of stuff I find in a junk store or antique mall.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: When did you start your artistic journey? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Donna: I have always had art in my life. I was lucky to have grown up with artistic family members and friends. I remember taking art beginning in elementary and junior high school, expanded my endeavors in high school and college. My first head sculpt was done with a wax and sawdust mixture poured into a milk carton. It was strictly carving the wax, but was the most fun I had in that high school class. I took sculpting with clay in college, but mostly constructed bowls, cups, plates and vases. I enjoyed the class, but remember the bulk of the clay, the wetness, the mess and the equipment that could only use while in the class. I have always had exposure to art of some form in my life. Art is just something automatic, like reading, eating or breathing.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Are you a full time artist or do you have a day job other than your art?
Donna: Up until two years ago I did work in the business world outside of the art world. I was an employee benefits specialist for 25 years. It was a very stressful job as I worked in public education where we had a huge employee turnover yearly. Some days were extremely draining and stressful, but I found if I could always be working on something artistic, that it helped to relieve some of the stress. I would find myself working on my doll sculpting way into the wee hours of the morning, which made life difficult at work the following day. Luckily, I was fortunate to be able to retire two years ago and can basically create all day long. I enrolled in oil painting classes and have been able to attend several workshops in the area (Art-Xscape and Living Felt) where I did some mixed media and needle felting work. I love to decorate my home, work in the yard, keep my studio somewhat clean, cook and play with my dog. My husband and I also enjoy going out for dinner and seeing movies as well as travel in our RV. I find when we do travel, there is always something interesting to see and I find my mind opening up to lots of ideas. Funny what sitting alone in a chair next to a creek or stream can do to open your mind.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: I can totally relate to art saving your sanity from the stressful day job! Where do you find artistic inspiration? Do you keep an idea book or journal?
Donna: Artistic inspiration can be found anywhere. I get inspired when I travel and look at new things, places and people; I get inspiration from reading books and magazines, visiting museums, shops, looking at fabrics and trims, even visiting junk/antique stores. I spend way too much time on Pinterest, looking at EVERYTHING and wanting to take each tutorial out there. I am inspired by the other members of our art doll club. We have very talented members who I admire and enjoy learning from.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Describe your process for starting a new piece. Do you know exactly how your pieces will turn out before you start sculpting/painting or do you allow your creation to develop as you work?
Donna: I never know when an idea may hit me. When it does, I do try to jot the idea down as I do tend to forget sometimes. Generally I don’t sketch anything out ahead of time. I like to lay out all of my fabric and trim, find the right items for the doll I am doing. That gets me in the mood for that project. I then decide the size of the doll I will do and the way the doll will be positioned. I work on the wire armature first, then I begin the sculpting of the head, arms, legs, hands and feet. Sometimes the doll just creates itself. As I go, I may take the piece in an entirely different direction than how I initially envisioned it. That is the MAGIC part! That is the part that I love. I do create somewhat of a mess in this process, but it seems to work for me. I enjoy and need the freedom to be able to just go with it. I saw a tee shirt the other day that kind of sums it up with the saying, “I am an Artist. That means that I live in a crazy fantasy world with unrealistic expectations. Thank you for understanding.”
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: I saw that tee-shirt too! Do you believe you have a muse? If so, how does your muse express his/herself? What happens when you attempt to ignore your muse?
Donna: I don’t know if I have a muse, but I get inspiration from all things around me and the people who keep me challenged to do better.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Describe a day in your studio, when you have no other obligations.
Donna: A day in my studio is a perfect day! I turn on my favorite music, gather my supplies around me. My buddy Oscar is at my feet under my work table. I do try to get things in order in my home and love to throw something great in the crock pot so I can be free to work and don’t have to stop when I am on a roll. I do try to get up and move every thirty minutes or so to stretch my legs. Sitting at a desk job for so long did a number on me. I do have a tendency to get so mesmerized that the day goes by before I know it and I lose track of time.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Describe an idea that you have that is yet to be born. What is keeping you from starting?
Donna: I want to do a doll that is entirely needle-felted. I am still watching tutorials and have an idea in mind, just have not taken the leap.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Do you participate in a regular art gathering, crit group, or other face to face meeting for the purpose of discussing your sculpture or creating it?
Donna: I have been a member of a Central Texas Art Doll Sculptors since 1998. We meet on a monthly basis where we demonstrate techniques, share ideas, encourage one another and have fun. If there is not a club in your area, just start by finding others who are also interested, regardless of their skill level, share ideas and work together when you can. Set up a table or booth at a doll show or local craft show to pass out information on your group. Word gets around.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: What is your favorite part of teaching?
Donna: I’ve only taught one other workshop and it was our club’s annual weekend retreat. I enjoyed the experience and those in attendance expressed their enjoyment as well. I enjoy the pre-work and putting all the supply kits together. It is so much fun to have everyone start out with the same basic supplies, but all come up with their own unique and individual creations. We all work to help each other, critique each other and it is amazing that someone always has in their stash something that absolutely makes someone else’s doll. We are a very sharing group of ladies. I love seeing everyone’s ideas come to life and how happy they are with what they have created.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Thanks so much Donna!
If you would like to investigate Donna’s class, please visit her page in the Workshops section. She is teaching the 2-day Basic Santos Cage Doll class.