Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Instant Heirloom: Rose Lullaby Dolls

Today's Instant Heirloom is absolutely fascinating to me and my lack of puppet and doll making knowledge. The doll above is so charismatic and full of positive energy (hmmm, I wonder how much that has to do with the fact that her hair looks like mine!) that I'm sure you'll love hearing more from Robyn, the woman behind the creations.

Name: Robyn Wilson-Owen
Find me: robynlouisewilson.blogspot.com, www.roselullabydolls.etsy.com, facebook.com/roselullabydolls, twitter.com/roselullabydoll
Location: North London, England

Tell me a little bit about what you make.
I make paper sculpted dolls and rod puppets from twigs, masking tape, string and tissue paper. I then give them hair made from string or wool and clothes made from my wardrobe full of fabric.

How and when did you learn to make dolls and puppets?
I use a lot of different skills to make them, which I've learn through a lifetime of making. I learnt the technique of sculpting with masking tape at Norwich Puppet Theatre, learning that technique was a real 'light bulb' moment. I also use my dressmaking skills which I learnt when training as a Costume Designer. Each puppet and doll is made slightly differently and I use a lot of the skills I learnt through a childhood making things with my very artistic mother.

Would you call your process traditional or are you doing something innovative in terms of process?
Puppets and dolls are amongst the oldest forms of art and craft, there are pieces in the Egyptian section of the British Museum which have informed my work. The way I use masking tape and tissue paper is rather unusual however.

Where do you do your work?
Everywhere! I always have a few twigs and a roll of masking tape with me and sit making puppets and dolls on the tube, in the park, anywhere I get a spare few minutes. I have a desk in our spare bedroom at home where I do the finishing work, unless there's something good on tv - then I'm downstairs!

Have you had any mentors along the way?
The puppet makers of Norwich Puppet Theatre are truly awesome, as are those at Little Angel Puppet Theatre.

How long does a typical project make or what's a range of time that some of the things currently in your shop take you to make?
I can make a puppet or doll in a day, with plenty of tea.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere, it's 50% from faces I see around London, people watching on the tube, and 50% from the materials I find or have around me - 'Lee' who is currently in my etsy shop has a chin which was dictated by the shape of the twig he's made from. I like to work with what I have, I rarely buy things specifically for a piece, I buy bits and pieces and they eventually find their place.

What are some of your current favorite products that you're selling?
I really love Lee, I'm really pleased with the shape of his head and his skin tones. (That's Lee, shown above.)

Are you working on something right now that has you particularly excited?
I'm planning on developing a line of really tiny dolls, and I have recently been given some opportunities to sell my work locally which are really exciting

What's the best part of your day?
Making a puppet while my 2 year old daughter wraps tape round her own twig to make a 'little man' as she calls them.

Is this your fulltime work?
My fulltime work is being a Set Costume and Puppet Designer and Maker for Theatre, so this is an extension of that, this is where I get to make the characters that I don't get the chance to for theatre.


  1. um...WOW! This makes me just want to run out and make little people! or...y'know...just buy hers!

  2. I just love your Heirloom Rose Lullaby Dolls a keep sake thats foe sure