~Martha Boers & Antique Lilac~


Martha Boers is an immensely talented seamstress and doll costume designer. She was originally born in the Netherlands but emigrated to Canada when she was a child. Creativity was always encouraged in her family. Martha experimented with many media but she discovered she was most interested in costuming. She studied theater costume design, but left school before graduating to marry and become a full-time mother. In her spare time, Martha made dolls from cloth which became very popular, but eventually switched to sculpting with polymer clay. In the mid 1990’s she teamed up with her sister Marianne who had completed her studies in graphics and illustration. Together they created highly detailed art dolls.

20From 1995 to 2005 the sisters made more than 250 historic and fantasy dolls. Marianne sculpted the dolls themselves, while Martha finished the figures; made their bodies, created their costumes and hairstyles, and made most of the props. Their OOAK creations soon developed a following, and they won many awards at doll shows and were featured in many doll publications. For a while the sisters worked on smaller dolls, but Marianne eventually lost interest in sculpting the figures, so in 2005 they decided to stop working together completely and develop their own separate projects.

Marianne returned to graphic design and Martha experimented for a time with natural materials. She toyed with some dolls on her own, but greatly preferred sewing to sculpting. Health issues with her parents overtook her, then personal health problems cropped up, and she was diagnosed with macular degeneration. At this point, Martha states that “it became clear to me that we are given just this one life – that it’s not a dress rehearsal for something “later” – that if there was something I always dreamed of doing, it was now or never.” At the time, Martha was working as editor of a doll costuming newsletter for her friend, doll artist Adele Sciortino. Through the newsletter she became reacquainted with fellow doll fashion artist Dale Zentner (Pink Grapefruit) who introduced her to Asian ball jointed dolls.

Martha was captivated by Dale’s lovely photos and beautiful doll models. Soon she was researching the dolls online, and at Dales’s suggestion joined Den of Angels and Zone of Zen. At that time, Martha said, “the costuming newsletter was in the middle of a Fairy Challenge based on the work of Linda Ravenscroft who had been our guest artist in the Spring 2010 issue. Linda had agreed to let us hold a challenge for readers to create a fairy doll inspired by her paintings. Reader’s were given half a year, and their submissions would be published in the Fall 2010 issue.” Not interested in sculpting a doll, Martha instead made a fairy costume for her Elfdoll Ryung. She enjoyed this so much that she created additional fairy garb for her doll. She then took her BJD along with her on a road trip, during which Martha states, “I had a wonderful time taking photos of Ryung in the different fairy costumes in our campsites, and was thrilled with the resulting

In the fall of 2010 Martha and her husband went on a four week road trip across Canada to the west coast. She took Ryung and two of her outfits along. “I photographed Ryung in the forests, on the beach, with waterfalls and lakes, and in the mountains. When we came back I downloaded all the photos from our trip, but it was the doll photos which excited me the most. I was determined that I needed a place to post them, and decided it was time to finally have a doll costuming website.”

1chickiesOriginally she wanted her son to create a website for her photos, but he instead steered Martha to an online web creation site. It took some time to master it, but eventually Martha succeeded in setting up her site and states, “Now I’m so glad I was forced to do it for myself. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of being able to change and update things whenever I want.” When it came to finally naming her site, Martha ” didn’t want my own name as my company name. I loved flowers so wrote down a list of exotic hibiscus and flower names, then one by one did a web search to see if they already existed. In the end there were three which weren’t already taken, and when I presented them to my son, he chose Antique Lilac.”

Whether collecting dolls for work or pleasure Martha comments, “My love is historical and fantasy costuming, so I’m drawn to the more realistically proportioned adult figures. Plus, there’s a certain aesthetic that seems to appeal to me. However, my Soom Cuprit was purchased purely as a “working girl” because I was getting so many requests for costumes that size. I’d like to do some fantastic historical and fantasy couples with my Iplehouse Tedros, and one of the two EID women who will be joining him this summer. My favourite periods are the Elizabethan, Marie Antoinette and Victorian, as well as “fantasy medieval”, and I’d like to recreate some of my favourite outfits from my One-of-a-kind doll days.” While her initial interest in purchasing dolls focussed more on finding models for costuming, the dolls of Kaye Wiggs touched a sentimental chord. “I had saved baby clothes from when my children were little, and even had some of my own baby dresses, but
none of them would ever be worn again, in fact they have all spent the last 25 years or more in boxes in the basement. When Kaye released Layla, I thought she would make the perfect little girl to remake all those saved baby dresses for – they’d come out of storage and be enjoyed again.”Before Layla even arrived, Martha fell in love with another KazeKidz doll, Miki, and they have become favorite models for Martha’s clothing and photos.

Currently Martha has been busy working on commissions from collectors, but for Martha the commission work “severely limit (s) the number of new things I can make. Many of the special things I’ve been wanting to make for some time keep being pushed back as a result, so I may have to stop doing commissions at some point, or at least not take any for awhile.” While Martha loves sewing, at this time she says “Photography is my passion. I consider the photos of my dolls in their costumes the final step in the creative process. I will often wait to offer an outfit up for sale until after I have some final photos I’m happy with.”

Photos Above: Rapunzel by Martha & Marianne (photo taken by Marianne Reitsma), KazeKidz Layla in  outfit “Heirloom Chickies’

Antique Lilac – Martha’s website

Antique Lilac posts Free Patterns & Tutorials. They can be found HERE

Martha & Marianne – Website about the two sister’s OOAK dolls



Ryung in ‘Versailles’


Soom Cuprit as ‘Brygid of the Wildwood’


Elfdoll Ryung ‘Arwen Celtic Maiden’


Clara from the Nutcracker with Narae


Ryung as ‘Arwyn’ in Jasper National Park


KazeKidz Layla in ‘Emmie’ and Miki in ‘Lucy’

20 comments… add one
  • Sol Cargnin May 6, 2013, 3:40 pm

    Hi Martha! Your work is amazing! Do you send to Brazil? And where do you get these dolls (without clothes)? Kind regards. Sol

    • Phyllis Seidl Jan 17, 2017, 1:47 am

      Hi Marsha,
      Love your work. from the very earliest pieces to your most recent work. Came to your site via Decafashion. Looked up your wig making tutorial. I’m a “transplanted” Canadian. I/we moved to CA, green cards in hand & stayed long enough to have our 4th child (9 year’s) and then for more than one reason left & moved to Australia. I too make my own original dolls. Haven’t had your, well deserved success but I get tremendous pleasure from my efforts.
      I’m self taught and I also was drawn to doll making because of a love of costume ! find our similarities , apart from being Canuck’s rather interesting. By the way, Kaye Wiggs is a friend and lives about 4 hours drive from me in OZ. I would love to hear from you via email. I will be honest, I would like to find out more about your costumes. I hope to hear from you. Thank you for the wig tutorial ! Phyl Seidl.

  • anna May 8, 2013, 2:57 am

    You are so fantastic..I am you fan…

  • Fabjolicoeur Aug 30, 2013, 10:55 am

    I find your beautiful creations, my god it’s beautiful. Thank you for these beautiful costumes, I become a little girl so much beauty.

  • Susana Sep 16, 2013, 3:11 am

    Verdaderamente bellezas

  • Jay Sep 18, 2013, 5:36 am

    I can’t believe it took me so long to find this article! Martha you are an artist extraordinaire! Truly blessed with wonderful talent and an impeccable eye. You’re so inspiring! I’m privileged to own a few of your amazing creations and they are treasures!

  • robin Nov 26, 2013, 9:51 pm

    can we buy the dolls already dressed like in thee photos. Love the work. i want to buy 5 of the dolls fully dressed. please let me know how i can get them

    • bjdcollectasy Nov 26, 2013, 9:54 pm

      The dolls are not for sale. They are part of Martha’s collection, and she uses them as models. She does take commissions for doll costumes and can make them in a variety of sizes. Perhaps you should contact her if you like her work.

  • Rima Feb 5, 2014, 9:41 am

    Hi, first, I would like to express my appreciation for your fine work.
    I’m wondering if you do any tutorial DVD’s for sculpting the dolls body from head – toe.
    Actullay, I do the same but in gumpaste (but off course not very fine details in face/hand) like yours.
    please advise.
    Thank you & best regards

  • Catherine Blint Mar 22, 2014, 7:34 pm

    Thank you so much for the enjoyable and inspiring dolls and costumes, you and your sister are so very talented, I just love to look at all your work, especially Nellie (Scottish Heritage Website) and your new version of The Queen of the night are my favourites. Keep giving this pleasure to people like me as it has lifted me today, while I await medical test to see if my Breast Cancer has spread and was feeling at a low ebb, thank you again. Love and best wishes for more beautiful dolls created by your wonderful hands and eyes. Catherine xxx

  • irene tracey Mar 25, 2014, 5:35 am

    your dolls are outstanding,i am particularly interested in your Celtic Maiden. my grand daughter Kieran looks like her with long red hair.do you have any for sale,i would love to purchase one like her.amazingly beautiful work.sincerely Irene Tracey

  • william budlong Apr 27, 2014, 6:56 pm

    how do I get a price list of these dolls . I buy a doll for my niece twice a year and these are some of the best that I’ve seen.

    • bjdcollectasy Apr 28, 2014, 12:36 am

      The dolls shown on Antique Lilac are not sold by her. They are dolls she has collected herself and used as models for doll clothing. Her dolls are from different companies, Elfdoll, Iplehouse and Kaye Wiggs dolls from Jopo Dolls.

  • Soleste May 24, 2014, 12:57 pm

    May I please order a bow, arrow & quiver set from you in a smaller scale than the one you made? It’s so beautiful!

    • bjdcollectasy May 24, 2014, 1:08 pm

      You would need to contact Martha directly to request it.

  • Jannine Jul 29, 2014, 11:56 pm

    Delightful !

  • gonzalez clotilde Sep 22, 2014, 1:51 pm

    bonjour, c’est merveilleux la grâce vous a été accordée, madame vous avez raison de dire que c’est maintenant qu’il faut agir et ne pas attendre car on ne nous donne qu’une vie , et le temps qui passe et perdu. Pour vous se serais étais
    dommage, car tout votre talent, votre imagination, et matière a réflexion.

    cordialement, Clotilde

  • azucena monarrez Jul 29, 2015, 4:36 am

    me gustaria comprar alguno de tus articulos

  • Sarah Michelle Milligan Sep 12, 2015, 3:55 pm

    Please send me info on these dolls and how one would go about purchasing one. My daughters just LOVE dolls and yours are some of the best I have seen! Thanks for your time and hope you are well! -Sarah m

  • florinette Apr 21, 2016, 1:13 am

    j’ adore ! c’est un univers de beauté et de perfection jamais égalés

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