Monday, January 22, 2018

A Dark Beauty From Russia With Love

18-inch papier mâché doll made with love by Svetlana Lukina

Before going on a self-imposed 30-day doll-buying fast, the opportunity to own a one-of-a-kind Izannah Walker/Martha Chase-inspired doll presented itself on January 2, 2018.  Made by skillful doll artist, Svetlana Lukina, my first doll purchase of 2018 arrived from Russia on January 16, 2018.

One corner of the doll's shipping box was covered with Russian postage stamps

As always, I waited for the perfect box opening moment so my new-doll bonding and photographing time would not be interrupted by anything or anyone.  Because of the Russian postage stamps, which my husband was fascinated by, I photographed the box prior to opening and cut away the stamps, still attached to the cardboard box, and gave that part of the box to my husband.  He wanted one stamp of the three different monetary values, but was only able to remove one.

Close-up of her beautiful face

I removed the bubble wrap that had been carefully wrapped around the 18-inch doll, gazed upon her delightful face, and thought, "She is more beautiful than I had imagined."  With painted brown eyes, full nose and lips, brown hair made from sheepskin with texture that mimics that of natural Africanoid hair, papier mâché head, arms, legs; and firmly-stuffed cloth body, she is perfect from head to toe.  The main color of her exquisitely sewn dress is peach, which is also my favorite color.  There is a matching head wrap, shown below. The overskirt of the dress is multicolored.  She wears an off-white undergarment.  Accessories of beaded earrings and beaded anklet complete her costume.

She can stand with the assistance of a doll stand or sit as shown in the first and final photos of this post.

Her dress buttons in the back and has a brocade ribbon waistband.

Off-white undergarment is lace trimmed.  A portion of her beaded anklet is visible in this photo.
Fingers and...

... toes are separately stitched.  A better view of her anklet is shown here.
The back of her breastplate bears the artist's name.
Her beautifully designed hang tag provides the artist's contact information.
The soft hair has a nice curl pattern.
Sculpted ears are adorned with earrings.
Fabric used to create head wrap was neatly folded inside the shipping box.

Original turbin fashioned by Svetlana
I could not recreate the turban Svetlana created, so I opted for the more modern head wrap illustrated here and in the following photos.

The head wrap almost completes her look.

Before introducing her to a few new vintage-to-modern doll friends, I added a multicolored beaded necklace that picks up the colors in her dress.  This necklace is only temporary until one that better matches her earrings and anklet is found.
As illustrated in this final photograph, she has settled in nicely with friends who have welcomed her warmly.

Unnamed by the artist, I have chosen the Egyptian/Arabic name Layla, which means dark beauty.


I "met" Svetlana Lukina online in 2017 after learning of her generous two-doll donation to the National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture in Mansfield, Massachusetts.  We communicated about the dolls on Facebook and I offered to share her artist profile with the readers of Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.  That profile can be read here.

Svetlana maintains a blog about her doll art and beautiful doll photography.  Her blog is written in Russian but can be translated into different languages.

She sells her one-of-a-kind Izannah Walker-style dolls on Etsy.

Who Was Izannah Walker?
Charming example of a late 1800s Black Izannah Walker doll
Lovely circa 1890s Black Martha Chase doll

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  1. What a beautiful and utterly charming doll !!!

  2. Thank you, April! Layla is even more gorgeous in person. My pictures do not capture the full extent of her beauty.


  3. Nice..Cute. And the group photo so nice as well.

  4. She's beautiful! I never would have guessed she was papier mâché from the front view. She's a real work of art.

  5. Thank you ! The head is made of papiere-mache and covered with silk knitting.

  6. Wow!, she is a pretty doll. It's her sweet expression that catches your eye.

    1. Thanks, Bring! Yes, her face and expression are captivating.


  7. Gorgeous doll. The work is beautiful and I love the fingers and toes...I also really like the necklace. You know if you’re going to go on doll hiatus this is the one to bring home just prior. ;)

    1. I agree, Julius... she is one that can keep my "need another doll" craving at bay for quite some time.



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