Above: Photo of Siamese Scratch, Squeaks white Rat, and Tabby Scratch created and customized by Sarah Seiter.
Doll artist Sarah Seiter of the Mushroom Peddler has been interested in making dolls for most of her life. She made her first attempt to create one of her own when she was seven years old, “with less than satisfying results.” Over the years, Sarah developed her skills in different media. She explains, “I have always loved art of many forms… so I resolved myself to focusing mainly on drawing and painting until around 2000 when I discovered the world of customizing fashion dolls on eBay. I liked what I saw and knew I could do it myself, so over the next several years I repainted and costumed many dolls for resale.”
Sarah discovered BJDs by chance while browsing on Google in 2004. ” They were Volks Super Dollfies. I was amazed by their beauty and ability to pose.” Her first doll was a Sharmin which she customized and later sold. Sarah also customized several Dolfie Dream dolls. At that time there was a very limited variety of dolls available for collectors, and even less anthro (animal/human cross) dolls.
Sarah created unique handmade doll wings which she custom designs to order for customers. “I came up with the wings while working on a customized angel doll. I searched all over and finally concluded that I would have to come up with my own wing design to get the look I was going for. They turned out so well that I decided to offer them for sale on their own without a doll, and they were even more popular than expected. During the first week I opened preorders, I received so much interest that I had to scramble to get them all done by the deadline. I have had a pretty steady stream of orders ever since. I can make them in just about any size and color, so I have done all sorts of wings over the last several years.”
Eventually customization led Sarah to the desire to create an original doll. “Always an admirer of the unique and innovative, I set out to design a look of my own.” She decided to try her hand at animal dolls. “I have always loved animal type dolls such as The Sylvanian Family (now renamed Calico Critters) which I collected as a child and also stuffed animals with clothing. Because of this, and because I was not able to find a large selection of ball-jointed animals already available, I decided that I wanted to create my own menagerie of ball-jointed creatures. I drew some sketches and began to sculpt.” Sarah then needed to learn how to cast her dolls. “My father-in-law owned a dental lab and helped to provide me with the tools and skills to create molds and cast my dolls. Armed with these things I completed my first doll.” Sarah’s first doll was an ambitious project, a 1/3 size unicorn anthro doll. “I don’t recommend starting with a large doll… note from the voice of experience! I didn’t feel that it was ready for offering to others … though I had learned much from the creation process, there were many things I wanted to refine and improve. Over the next couple of years I found a large workshop of my own, started my own business, Mushroom Peddler Creations, and I did a lot of testing, sculpting, and casting and finally in 2010, “Shelly, the Turtle” was born.”
Shelly the Turtle was the first of what Sarah hopes will become a continuing series of dolls called The Wonderlings. “I opened orders for Shelly during August of 2010 and had good results with the limited advertising I was able to do online that month. “My plan is to have a doll for each month eventually (the Wonderling Monthly Series), and I will only offer each doll of that series during the month it represents each year. (The only exception to this rule will be occasional artist one-of-a-kind dressed dolls of random animals). Because of various things, September, October, and November were not released this year, however December was on time introducing “Scratch, the Cat” which has received a great amount of interest. The doll for January is Squeak,the Rat who will be available throughout the month.” With the new doll series, Sarah seems to have found her niche, “I love the size of the Wonderling dolls. Just right.”
Other doll series are planned for the future. “The next series outside of the monthly series will start next month. It will be a series of fantasy creatures. I originally planned to include the griffin and dragon I have worked on in the monthly dolls, but have since decided to pull them into their own special series.”
Photos by Sarah Seiter, except where specifically noted on the image. Additonal photos by Zagzagzael and riverkelpie. Above photo, blank Squeaks doll with Tabby Scratch.