Monday, June 27, 2016

Dolls Tell Their Own Stories


I am unsure what fascinates me so about Gloria Rone's (Massa's Servants Collectibles) dolls, but some of them, many of them actually, speak to my heart. I am mesmerized by their hand sculpted, one-of-a-kind faces, which are so expressive. The faces are the first hook that draws me in.  Some usually come with a story the artist has written about them, while others do not. I enjoy reading their stories and knowing what might have possibly inspired their creation.  I suppose I am just impressed by Gloria's God-given talent to take a piece of clay or cloth, in some cases, and mold and/or paint intriguing ancestral-looking faces.

Last week Gloria offered two dolls on Facebook and I could not resist bringing them "home" to join the several other dolls made by her gifted hands.


Stella Mae and her dollie by Gloria Rone of Massa's Servants Collectibles (photograph courtesy of Gloria Rone)

When I saw the above photographs of Stella Mae and her dollie, I initially thought Gloria had created twins. After reading the doll's brief description with instructions to PM her if interested, I realized I was viewing two photos of the same doll and that the angle of Stella Mae's face in the second photo gave her a slightly different look.  I immediately noticed she had a doll, and I love dolls with dolls!

I hurriedly sent Gloria a personal message to ask about size and price.  With that information, the purchase was finalized.  I was a happy camper because another beautiful doll and her doll by Gloria would soon join the doll family.  During our messaging, I asked Gloria if Stella Mae had a background story. Initially, she answered, "No" and invited me to write one and share it with her.  I could do that, I thought, but I needed to know what inspired Gloria to create Stella Mae and why she chose the brown plaid fabric for her dress.  I also wanted to know what came first, the face or the fabric.  Gloria replied:

yes the face came first....and then I wanted to put her in a more warm looking fabric....not too bright....She reminded me of when I was little....staying with my grandmother on her farm....I had a Lil doll I used to play with while watching her make biscuits. ...wow Debbie there was a story after all. All my dolls are made related to my grandmother's farm....and growing up there.
I can imagine Gloria as a young child playing with her doll as her grandmother cooked delectable meals.  The smell of the food probably wafted through the air as Gloria busied herself with doll play, eagerly awaiting the delight she would experience eating food prepared with love.


Stella Mae is 12 inches tall with hand sculpted head, hands, lower legs, and feet of polymer clay. Her deep-set eyes and pouty mouth are hand painted.  Cloth was used to create the body, upper arms, and upper legs. Socks and shoes are painted.  Synthetic black hair is styled in two side braids with another side braid at her forehead.  (Stella Mae might have braided her bangs.)  Her hair is accented by a lacy off-white headband.  "Massa's" is incised underneath the right shoe.  "GYR-16" is incised underneath the left shoe.


Stella Mae's doll is 3-1/2 inches with painted cloth face, cloth body, upper arms, and upper legs. Dollie's hands, lower legs, and feet are polymer clay.  Like Stella Mae, Dollie has hand-applied black synthetic hair.  Dollie's two braids are held together with white thread.  Dollie is unmarked.

During the beginning of each elementary and middle school year, I recall wearing dark cotton plaid dresses in fall colors of navy blue and red, green and yellow, or perhaps a plaid fabric similar to Stella Mae and her dollie's.  While summer was ending and fall just around the corner, the weather was always much too warm, I thought, to be dressed in such dark colored clothing.

This smiling character doll is Ruth, by Gloria Rone of Massa's Servant's Collectibles, photo courtesy of Gloria Rone.

A couple of days after Stella Mae and Dollie's purchase, Gloria posted the above picture of Ruth, indicating she, too, needed a home.   With another expressive face desiring adoption coupled with the fact she shared the name of a dear friend who passed away in 2012, I mulled over the possibility of adding Ruth to the doll family.  The decision to adopt her was finalized after Gloria re-shared Ruth's photo along with the following story (written in the voice of the doll):

Hello.....My name is Ruth.....I'm just a doll...I was shown in an art group today....and was ridiculed. ...called names....simply picked on....now thank God....my mommy....proudly made me.....from just a simple ball of clay.....she always takes time to put that special. ....time and luv....into each and every one of us.....Thank God my mommy.....luvs us unconditionally. ....and excepts us for who she has created us to be.....She taught us that....U may not like sum one. ....but U must respect them......My name is Ruth.....and I'm just a doll....
Oh my goodness, I thought.  How-could-people-be-so-callous, I wondered.  I PM'd Gloria and asked if this story was true.  Unfortunately, she said, it was.  I offered words of encouragement and told her not to allow those who criticized her work to dampen her spirit.  She said she wouldn't.  I asked about adoption fees, yada yada yada, and purchased, Ruth.  Gloria shared her relief that Ruth would be in a home (like mine) where she would be appreciated.

At 9 inches tall, Ruth is a little shorter than Stella Mae.  Her other features are the same:  head, lower arms, hands, lower legs, and feet of polymer clay; body, upper arms, and upper legs of cloth.  Facial features, including her wide grin with individually sculpted teeth, are hand painted.  Ruth has black hair styled in two side puffs and short bangs.  (At age 8, while riding my bicycle on the sidewalk in front of our apartment with my hair pulled back into a ponytail, a neighborhood girl of about the same age, whom I had never seen before, said to me with disgust, "Oooh, your forehead sure is big!"  Hurt, I removed myself from my bike, went into the house and created bangs similar to Ruth's.  I wore bangs for practically half my life from that point on or at least styled the front of my hair to conceal my forehead.  I still do the latter, but I am not as self-conscious about it as the 8-year-old me was.  Had that silly girl not said that to me, I would have remained oblivious to the shape of my forehead.  After that incident, my mother asked me why I created bangs.  I told her what the girl had said.  Mama's attempt to console me helped.  Unfortunately, the damage was done.  I could not unhear that mean-spirited statement.)  Ruth's right foot is marked, Massa's.  Her left is marked, 2016.

I am happy Ruth was able to travel with Stella Mae and her dollie.  They arrived in a decorative storage box, the photo of which is the first image of this post.  The box top reads:

Family
~*~
We live, we laugh,
we play, we love.
  
The dolls were neatly packaged in clear plastic bags, placed on top of a bed of purple confetti inside the decorative storage box used for shipping.  The above photo is the first one they took after arrival.

The girls, who are inseparable, posed for this out-of-box photo...
...using a different background, this photo was taken next.


I took the girls outside to take the following additional photos:
Seated on weathered wooden steps, the girls took in the rays of the sun and the 90-something degrees temperature.  They were happy to return inside to an air conditioned climate as was I.

Since Stella Mae and Dollie had taken a close-up photo, Ruth wanted one as well.

After one final group photo, the photo session ended.
Dolls tell their own stories and sometimes they tell yours.

A previous post about Gloria and her dolls can be read here.

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20 comments:

  1. Hello Debbie! I am so happy you purchased this two dolls. They are adorable. They look so happy together. Ruth's smile is contagious.
    By the way, the people who made fun of Ruth may think they are clever and have got good taste, however they aren't and they don't.
    Keep having fun!
    Arlette

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    1. Hi Arlette,

      Thanks for taking the time to read this post and for your comment.

      I am happy they joined the doll family too. (Who knew they would prompt me to reflect on things in my past.)

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  2. I had hoped that the story told by Gloria about Ruth was fiction and it saddened me to find out that it was not. I think that these little girls are adorable and you can see their history in their little faces. Since my eldest daughter is an artist, I get how some people just don't seem to get art. That is their loss! I am so glad they found a home with you, Debbie! Thank you for letting them tell their story!

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    1. Thank you, Phyllis! I'm glad they found their way here, too.

      The sad part about this is that the people who made the insensitive comments are so-called artists, too. I just don't understand some people.

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  3. In a FB message, I shared the link to this post with the artist of these dolls, Gloria Rone. She wanted to post the following comment here (instead of in a reply to me on FB). At her request, I have copied her comment below:


    I am sitting here in tears reading this....I am so appreciative of what Debbie has done. ...I knew that these dolls would fit right into her home....and that they would be appreciated. ...Debbie has purchased many of my dolls over the years....in fact She has many of my forgotten early dolls......Debbie is very particular in her choosing. ...whether it reminds her of a person... or memory of sumthing...that about her....I luv... but when she makes up her mind about one of them....She has to have it....I am so grateful that she do things like this....She is a wonderful person and I am so thankful to have met her.....She has always helped me when I was unsure of sumthings....very informative and knowledgeable in the doll world...very special....Debbie is beautiful inside and out....As far as the cruel things that people say about one another. ...I have learned that it's usually not the person they are picking on with the problem. ...it's the reflection of one's self....image....In my case concerning my doll making....It motivates me to create even more....again thank U Debbie...for displaying my work...my dolls in this way...My morning is beautiful. ..thanks to U...

    Debbie....so sorry to flood ur messages....But I meant to post this on ur blog.....I guess I should have clicked it first huh....smile.....but u are appreciated! !!!...thank u

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    1. Keep using your gift, Gloria. There are many other collectors who appreciate your work and more to come. Remain blessed.

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  4. They're such beautifully distinct and artistic looking dolls - I'm glad you were able to bring them home and share them with us!

    And I love that you were able to hear the story behind the fabric choices - that's such a fabulous story-building detail. And while it's sad to hear about the mockery towards Ruth, it almost gives her a certain inspirational quality now, doesn't it?

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    1. Thank you, jSarie!

      I agree with your perception regarding Ruth's inspirational quality. Mocked but desired in spite of it.

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  5. Hola, qué lindas muñecas, sus vestidos son tan lindos, me recordaron los que usaba en mi infancia.
    Saludos desde México.

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    1. Thank you, Lindaivette! The dolls are nice, as you said, and the clothing is as equally nice and very well sewn which is also an important feature.

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  6. Beautiful work of art!!! This is such a blessing to own them. As I read what was written in Ruth's voice, I could imagine her saying just that. :-) She has such an innocent face. I am very happy that you decided to adopt them. Your home is the best place for them. Congratulations on getting them!

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    1. Thank you GG. I love art dolls because they are hand sculpted individual works of art. Manufactured and otherwise mass-produced dolls have their place, but there is nothing better than owning a doll that no one else in the whole wide world will have. This also makes Gloria's dolls extra special.

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  7. Gloria Rone is such a talented artist! These dolls are beautiful!

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  8. Your new dolls are so pretty. Gloria is an excellent sculptor, most people steer clear of making a smiling face because they're so hard to get right. I also love their clothes and the little doll.Thanks for showing us your new treasures.

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    1. I would imagine that a perfect smile is difficult to sculpt and adding individually sculpted teeth even harder. Love is written all over these dolls, which is one reason I needed them.

      I love the dark plaid colors selected for their clothing, too.

      Thanks for taking the time to read their stories and for commenting, Maricha!

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  9. Ms. Rone's Dolls are beautiful. My mother made me and my sister dolls when we were little and we still have them to this day. I swear you have the best dolls.

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    1. What a blessing that you still have dolls your mother made for you as a child. I am sure they are priceless treasures.

      Thank you for the "best dolls" compliment.

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  10. The dolls are beautiful. The 12 in doll takes me back to family photos my mom showed me of her and her siblings when they were younger. People have proven time and time again that they can be cruel. As artists we have to develop thick skins because not everyone will like our work. I'm so happy they found the perfect home to just be themselves and be loved.

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    1. People are really good at proving how cruel they can be in all aspects of life. Just look at what Gabrielle Douglas has gone through recently. People are just mean spirited and it often escalates when they can sit behind a computer or a hand-held device and make hateful/hurtful comments that serve no other purpose except to hurt and illustrate their own ignorance.

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Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!