Monday, September 14, 2015

Profile of an Artist Gloria Rone

Originally published in
The Black Doll-E-Zine Group – December 2006
By Debbie Garrett

I had the pleasure of "meeting" Gloria Young via the Internet in August 2006 after she expressed an interest in being profiled in a future issue of The Black Doll-E-Zine.    That future issue has presented itself in the form of our new e-mail group at Yahoo, and I am pleased to share the doll art of Gloria Young with The BDE Group readers and what inspired her to begin creating it.  Because of our new format, Gloria's profile appears in three parts.  To ensure that the images can be viewed by all readers, they are included in the profile and are also stored under the Photos link in the Artist's Profile album at The BDE Group website

Q.  When and what inspired you to begin making dolls and how long have you been making them?
In April of 2000, my father, Edward Young, was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. While visiting him one day at the hospital, he was upset and in a sad mood.  Usually he was the [happy-go]-lucky dad no matter what. I did not realize how much pain he was really in.  I wanted to make him something to cheer him up and put a smile back on his face.  I went home thinking to myself, "Daddy loves looking at my art work. Knowing he loved cowboys and Indians, I decided to make him an Indian doll.  Even though I was an artist all my life, I had no real clue or desire to make dolls.  My dad was an artist, too.  He enjoyed sculpting and making airplanes and canes out of wood that he found during his daily walks.  I went to the local craft store and bought a plastic face mold, beads, feathers, and a piece of leather.  I found a toilet paper roll and used that for the body.  I sat down, plugged in the hot glue gun, and began gluing parts together.  After a few frustrating hours, I had what I called a doll.  I took this doll and gave it to my dad. He laughed and said, "Kid that's cool.  I don't know where I got you from."  Just seeing the smile on my dad's face was enough for me to continue making dolls, and that is what I did.  After he passed away, the nurses told me that my dad carried that doll with him through five back operations.  They said he would say, "Don't forget my dolls."  Dolls have become a big part of my life.  I love this so much.  I have self-taught myself through many trials and tribulations of making dolls and many mistakes.  I have come a long way and still have much to learn.  I have two collections of dolls that I make.  I especially make slavery-style dolls, mammies, cotton pickers, elderly people and children.

Bedtime Doll
Q.   What is your preferred medium and why was that medium chosen?
I really enjoy using the polymer clay because the end results are so lifelike.  I also work in cloth and wood.

Q.  Do you focus on one type of doll or do you create a variety of genders or age groups?
I like creating a variety of dolls, young and elderly, mostly female.
Deb's doll, Lou-Ellen made of stained cloth
Q.  Elaborate on your first doll.  Do you still have it?  What was its name?  Were you pleased with its outcome?  If you sold it, for how much did it sell, and to whom did you sell it?
My first doll was an Indian doll made for my father.  I am not sure what to think of that doll… it was okay.  It needed some help, but my dad loved it.  I still have it.  I plan to pass it down to my girls.

Q.  Describe your latest doll creation and the inspiration for creating it?
My latest dolls are slavery type.  I always loved Black history and all the stories of Harriet Tubman.

Q.  Before you begin making a doll, do you have an idea what the doll will look like or do your dolls create themselves?
I start with an idea and then the dolls tell the stories.  I must do the listening and let them play the stories out.

Q.  Have you ever created a portrait doll?  If so, are your dolls made to look like people you know? 
Yes, I made a portrait doll of my father.  It looks just like him.

Portrait doll of Gloria's father
Q.  Does each doll have its own personality?
Every doll I create has its own personality.
Q.  How do you decide on the clothing and accessories for your dolls and do you make these?
 I began making the dolls, and then the dolls tell me what they should wear.   I do make the clothing.

Q.  Do you have your own personal style or trademark? If so, please elaborate.
 Yes, I do on some of my dolls.  I carve my wood dolls' heads in a square-like position.  Most have an almost flat face.

Q.  How do you decide what to name your dolls and do their names have meanings?
I think about my childhood memories, about things that are important to me, and sometimes things that are happening currently.

Q.  Do your dolls tell a story?  If so, would you share a brief one?
Yes, all my dolls tell a story.  I had one doll called "Mama's Biscuits."  The little girl was remembering cooking with her mama.  She had a basket of biscuits in her hands and was dressed in a little dress with an apron.

Mama's homemade biscuits
Q.  Do you want collectors to gain a sense of realism through looking at your dolls or are your dolls caricatures?  What else do you desire for collectors to gain by owning your dolls?
I want the collectors to smile and enjoy the stories the dolls are telling them.  I want them to understand the artist and get a feel for the artist's personality.  I want them to enjoy a nice piece of art.

Q.  Approximately how much time is required to make one of your dolls from start to finish?
It all depends.  If I start a doll, sometimes I put it down and walk away until the story comes to me. Sometimes it might take me a week or two and sometimes it might be a couple of days if I continue to work on it all day.

Q.  In a years' time, approximately how many dolls do you create?
I think I make about 25-30 dolls in a year's time.

Servant dolls
Q. What is the average cost of one of your dolls today?
The average price is about $150.00
Doll from Nana's Birthday series

Q.  How do you present your dolls to the doll community -- through doll shows, the Internet, auctions, etc.?
I have been having home shows and I sell via the Internet.

Q.  If you have done doll shows, have you done any recently?  Do you have any planned for the future.  If so, when and where?
Yes, I plan to do a show at the Philadelphia Black Doll Show in May of 2007.

Q.     Do you teach doll art?
Yes, I have taught children at the Boys and Girls Club where I am the art director.

Q.  Do you have any tips for aspiring doll artists?
Yes, keep your head up; follow your dreams; and never stop trying.

Cotton Picker

Q.  What's next for you? Do you see yourself creating dolls long into the future?
I want to get some articles out to the public and let them know about my dolls.  I would love to have my dolls displayed in some of the finest museums.

Q.  How can collectors contact you?
You may contact me at

I want to thank 
The Black Doll-E-Zine for sharing my profile with its readers.

Shelley and Rabbit series
Thank you, Gloria, for allowing The BDE to profile you (and I still need one of your polymer clay dolls).

Gloria's Current contact information:


Due to image space limitations, the following photos, submitted with the ones above in 2006, were not published with Gloria's profile.  They are additional fine examples of Gloria's doll art.  

I Miss Daddy

Easter Blessings

Shelley and Rabbit

Nana's Birthday

Nana's Birthday series

The Old Rugged Cross




  1. Interesting to see doll artists' dolls and to read their unique stories. Thanks for sharing Gloria Rone's work.

    BTW, I've tagged you for the Liebster Blog Award. I look forward to reading your answers, should you get a chance ;-)

    1. Thanks, D7ana for the tag. I will visit your site and follow through ASAP.


    2. My pleasure, DBG! I look forward to seeing your answers ;-)

  2. Hi Debbie! Thanks for sharing this interview with us. It was read to get to know more about Gloria. I have to say I have a soft spot for the bedtime doll and for the portrait doll of Gloria's father.
    Take care!

    1. Her dolls are all so expressive. It is hard for me to choose a favorite, but if I must from the ones shown, I'd have to choose my doll, Lou-Ellen. :-) A mother has to pick her own child, you know. There is one in her Etsy shop now that I love, but I have to be good and not make any additional purchases right now. African girl and doll. (


  3. Thanks for sharing this interview. It's always fascinating to have a peek into the creativity behind a doll-makers work.

    1. You are welcome jSarie! Thank you for taking the time to read it.


  4. Great interview. Nice to see more of Gloria's work. I love the Nana's birthday series dolls. I was also drawn to the I Miss Daddy doll.

    1. Yes, the 911 one is touching. I don't know why I didn't include that photo with the original profile.



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