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~Annabella’s Journey~

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Annabella will be the latest doll release from KazeKidz. The dolls are designed by Australian artist Kaye Wiggs..

1annabellaprotoype250For a long time, KazeKidz Annabella was just a lump of sculpy gathering dust in a cupboard.  Doll artist Kaye WIggs originally created her in the spring of 2008 in response to a sculpting challenge on Den of Angels. The theme was ‘anime style’ and the challenge was to sculpt a head in just one day.  Afterward, Kaye stuck the head on a shelf. ” She sat in my cupboard for a long time because I didn’t think anyone would like her.” Kaye tended to make many heads and not all of her sculpts have been turned into dolls. This head was also smaller than Kaye’s usual heads. Still, it had an unmistakable charm. According to Kaye ” An online friend had seen her sculpt and she kept bugging me (or encouraging as she called it) to do something with her because she loved her.”

In the spring of 2009, KazeKidz released the Pip doll head. Soon after, Kaye decided to launch a Yahoo Group for her KazeKidz dolls. She was also trying to decide whether to cast the  odd-sized ‘anime head’. “After more coaxing from my friend, I decided I would finish the sculpt and make a mold, and maybe do a small edition of 3 or so. When I made her, I showed her in my Yahoo group and made a poll so members could vote on if they liked her or not. I was surprised that lot’s of members loved her!”  Kaye eventually created two versions of the head; one with human ears and one with elf ears. Kaye held a drawing for the doll’s name in the Yahoo group. Members sent in up to 3 name suggestions, and Kaye’s daughter pulled the winning name. As a result, the head became ‘Annabella’. The initial plan was to release the resin head for sale in several resin colors in late summer.

1annabellaelfearsAs the summer progressed, Kaye began to experience health problems. It became increasingly likely that she couldn’t produce the dolls completely by herself as she had in the past. As a result, she began to look for  a company that could cast her heads. Kaye’s search for a company in Australia led to a small business which was willing to do the work. Encouraged, Kaye planned to have the company first create a human Annabella head in a resin matching DollsTown paleskin. When the sample was sent, however, the head was completely unusable. The resin had specks and bits of debris in it. The caster had never made items that were not designed to be painted, and it soon became obvious that he couldn’t cast the heads to Kaye’s standards.

Not willing to let anyone down, Kaye attempted to make a small number of heads for some group members who were on a waiting list.”I then decided I would just cast heads and paint them as I was able, and sell the heads as they were finished, which is what I was doing until I became ill.  I discovered I have a heart problem as well as back problems which has affected the nerves to my arms and hands, and I have lost some feeling in my lower arms and hands. “Trying to fill the orders made her so sick that Kaye finally  realized that she was incapable of finishing the work. She was forced to announce to her group that the head would have to be cancelled.  She contemplated retiring from doll-making.

1annabellabodyprotoGrace, the owner of Jpop dolls, is one of Kaye’s biggest fans. She fell in love with Kaye’s dolls when they were made in porcelain, and when KazeKidz BJDs were released, Grace collected every single doll. When Grace heard that Kaye was unable to continue with her project ” I just could not let Annabella be lost to all of Kaye’s many fans.”  Grace began a search for a way for the dolls to be produced. She finally found a company that would make small runs of dolls, and contacted Kaye with a proposition. On October 29, Kaye announced through her Yahoo group that she and Grace were working together to finally fully release a series of Annabella dolls.

Annabella is now about to be cast in two limited editions, one human and one elf-eared, of 50 dolls each. All the dolls will be cast in a normal skin resin. The doll, which was originally planned as a head-only release, will have a new body sculpt specially designed for the project.  The body for the doll was created by Kaye, and the prototype was shipped to the factory on November 13. All of the dolls sold will come with a face-up and a pair of glass eyes. Kaye will not be painting the heads for the series, but she will have full creative control. According to Grace, “The dolls are being made to Kaye’s exact specifications. Kaye will do final approval on all aspects of Annabella, including the face-ups. The dolls will have a factory face-up but to Kaye’s standards, so this really is a very special doll.”

Annabella is hopefully the first of many dolls that will be created by Kaye and distributed through Jpop dolls.  More heads that will fit the new Annabella body are likely, and there is a possibility of dolls in other sizes being produced. For Kaye, this is a wonderful development. ” I always enjoy sculpting and making the first doll and then I find it terribly stressful when I have to repeat the same doll many times. I think it is because I am a perfectionist and I worry that collectors will be disappointed in the doll I have created for them because I can not make any 2 dolls look exactly alike.When I am creating a new doll, I feel excited and exhilarated, and I can’t wait to see the end result. I can’t wait to get out of bed every day and continue with my creation. I get so involved with what I am doing I forget everything (I even forget to eat sometimes!). I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of creating the first doll, from sculpting, to dressmaking, to adding the finishing touches and photographing her. Then, when she is done, I am ready to move onto a new creation. This is bliss to me, and my recent ill health made me realize I would like to live like this the rest of my life.”

Photos above: original Annabella head made of sculpy, artist’s cast resin Annabella with elf ears, prototype body for Annabella.

Annabella (in Human and Elf form LE 50 each) is being sold by Jpopdolls.  Fashions will be available soon at the retailer’s website which will be designed by Cristy Stone, Marbled Halls and JpopDolls.

 

 

Annabella human head

Annabella human head

Annabella Elf head

Annabella Elf head

Annabella in Pawsee by Violet Fern

Annabella in Pawsee by Violet Fern

Annabella in Dress from Free Pattern on Jpop Dolls

Annabella in Dress from Free Pattern on Jpop Dolls

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