Alice C. W. Dennis – doll artist interview – part two

Q.  What’s your greatest influence today?  Do you get your ideas from other dolls, other art, or something else altogether?

I read Soft Dolls & Animals, Art Doll Quarterly, and I belong to several internet doll lists. I love all of these, but things and people influence me the most.

Things?  Well, here’s an example:  Once while shopping, I went down the cleaning aisle. I stopped at the Chore-Girl display and picked up one and stood there studying the copper fibered scouring pad. I envisioned the pad unraveled and as hair on a cleaning woman wreath. She was hilarious and got plenty of laughs.

People? I am a people watcher. I love studying faces and expressions. Expressions say more than words ever can.

Q. When you make dolls, do you tend to include consistent elements such as striped legs, glittered hair, wings, etc?  Has this changed?

I think it is the expressions of my creations. That is where I got the name for my business–“What an Expression!”

When searching for a business name I asked my husband for advice. He said, “Why don’t you call it what everyone says when they come into your booth–“What an Expression!”

Needle sculpture was my only media but I have begun working with clay and papier mache’ as well. (I entered my first all-polymer clay doll in an internet challenge and won beginner level–since it was my first in clay–plus best of theme and people’s choice.)

Q. Tell me about your design process:  When you design your dolls, does the idea pop into your mind fully formed, or do you sketch it out, or what?

Oh, wow…hmmm…  Usually, I have an idea. It stays in my head until I can envision it completely. I may spend hours, days, even months, thinking about it, and getting to know it, until it becomes “real.” Then, I make it. I don’t sit down and sketch it first because I can’t sketch. Well, sometimes I have drawn a stick figure, but my mind can see it better on its own.

It is funny because it may only take a day or so to “make,” but that is not counting months of thinking.

Q. If you were in the cast of “Survivor” and could take just a few dollmaking supplies with you to a deserted island, what would they be?

Just My Size nylons, poly-fill, upholstery thread, needle-sculpture needles, scissors.

Q. What do you like best–and least–about dollmaking?

Best:  I like making faces. I love to sit and make faces all day. LOL

Least:  Making the rest of the doll. That is why I like making the wreaths.

Q. Do you collect dolls by others?

I have dolls that I have received in swaps and one from a round robin.  They mean a lot to me.

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