Charlene creates lovely natural face-ups, costumes for many sizes and types of dolls and tibetan wool wigs. She has worked with several artists on their dolls, most recently Rose of bbflockling and Miroslava and Mjusi of MeadowDolls.
Q: I have seen your lovely work featured numerous times with various doll artists. Finally after Rose (bbflockling) released her new girl Jemima, I asked her how to contact you!
A: Thank you. I certainly keep busy and love to help artists. The doll world allows me to do so many things I enjoy.
Q: How did you become interested in BJDs? When did you first begin to sew for them?
A: I had been sewing for Himstedt dolls and selling on ebay and I kept receiving messages that I needed to be sewing for the BJDs. Although I would ask “What is a BJD?” I got no replies. They must have wondered why I was asking. Finally I asked a good customer if she knew what they were talking about. That evening she sent me a picture of 5 or 6 dolls and asked me to pick one. I did. The next week I received that doll and another with a note ~ “This is a BJD”, and added a little history about them. It was then I began to learn about them. It was seeing Annabella by Kaye Wiggs that got me hooked… working currently with MeadowDolls and Rose of bbflockling, both outstanding doll artists. I am so impressed with the their dolls’ workmanship.
Q: How long have you been working as a face-up artist?
A: I have been painting for a little over 3 years now. One of my costume customers encouraged me to paint. I said, “I can’t paint a wall, let alone a face.” Another customer sent me a head that she had gotten as an event special and didn’t want. It was not inspiring, but I worked on it several times with unsatisfactory results. One day while making wigs, I noticed that half of the doll’s face I was using as a model was disappearing. I asked the artist what was going on with it and she felt it had not been properly sealed at the factory and to get out my chalks… and so I did. Working on a doll I loved made all the difference in the world, and I soon had the confidence to do them for customers.
Q: Tell me about some of the artists you have worked with.
A: My working history has mostly been in retail marketing and sales. Sales is my core. I love to work with artists to add my style to their work. It is a pleasure to work with them and see them move forward in the dolly world. I have worked with Judy Porter, Beverly Stoehr, Bo Bergemann, and currently MeadowDolls, and Rose. I do a lot of painting, marketing, and transporting dolls for the artists to doll conventions.
Q: What sizes of BJDs do you generally make clothing for? What is your favorite size to work with?
A: I really like the tall MSD, but I work with all sizes. I have sewn and painted from 5 inches up to 36 inches. This is Winter by Rose bbflocking. I painted him and made his costume.
When I see something I like I just have to sew for it, like the “Cinderella” for Berdine Creedy and the “Nursery Alice” for Bo Bergemann.
Q: Do you paint face-ups for any size of doll?
A: I do paint all sizes of dolls, I like the challenges of different dolls.
Q: What are some of your most memorable projects?
A: Working on a head that had some paint chip off for my best friend. She had so always wanted that doll and was able to get it on the second-hand market and at a high price. She sent it to me with all confidence, and it took me nearly a year before I would paint it. You see I loved the doll! The Artist made only 10 of them. I wanted to please my friend and honor the artist by painting the head to my best ability. The painting won a Diamond award as well as People’s Choice award. Here is Nettle, sculpt by Kaye Wiggs. I made her costume as well.
Q: What BJDs do you collect?
A: I never thought myself a collector, I just had a lot of models. I have numerous Kaye Wiggs, Meadow, bbflockling, Berdine Creedy, Connie Lowe, Kim Lasher, Bo Bergemann, Nefer Kane, and more…
Q: Do you mostly take commissions for clothing? Do you regularly take face-up commissions?
A: As far as clothing goes, I usually have something I want to make and people see it and want it. I also get a lot of commissions. I have a list all the time of things I want to make. Sometimes it’s a theme, sometime just whatever I want to do. Face-ups are always coming in. Someone sees something I have done, and they contact me. I also get inquiries from my web site even though I don’t get the opportunity to work on it much.
Q: Do people find you mostly by word of mouth?
A: Word of mouth is huge with me. Lots of referrals. I am on Facebook, regularly on The Resin Cafe and I do some doll shows.
Q: Do you have anything else doll related that you still would like to try?
A: I don’t think so. I really never thought I would even paint, and now it’s what I spend most of my time doing. I have no desire to make my own dolls. It is not the medium I enjoy working in, but I certainly love to customize them!
Charlene Smith’s Gallery Album
Face-ups, clothing and some tibetan wigs by Charlene: