My publications

Article in Doll collector
Article in Doll Collector
Article about wigging your doll

Cover of Dutch dollmagazine,
Commission of catwalk dolls for a fashion designer
Winning the Dutch doll ring for the third time in Ahoy Rotterdam 

Dutch doll ring award sec

How we founded DABIDA........

Publication in newsletter CDAA

Amazing Fairy Doll Artist
Claudine Roelens 

One of Claudine's fairy dollsNote from editor: I've been in love with Claudine's work for several years, and when I pondered the theme, Claudine's amazing fairies came immediately to mind. She is as lovely a person as her dolls are beautiful. I was thrilled when she agreed to send her bio and pictures of her lovely fae characters.

I'm Claudine Roelens, married to Daniël for 26 years and I have two children Elien, 21 years old and Jonas 17 years old. I studied languages and mathematics . However that didn't give me the satisfaction I was looking for. So after that I choose something a bit more creative and I became a window dresser. Loved doing that, especially making special decorations. Those decorations could be small, big or really huge, it didn't matter as long as I could make them myself.

Claudine's Fairy CreationI live in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, a very small country in Europe. Since we are such a small country there are not that many doll makers around here. Although people are very creative over here, but more in other areas. Doll making still seems to be something rare. I always get the odd look when saying I'm a doll maker. I can see people think "she plays with dolls?".

Fairy in BlueI've been making dolls for about 17 years now. That started right after I had my son. He was ill quite a lot and I was looking for something to do at home. By accident I found the book by Ankie Daanen "making fantasy figures". It looked really interesting. But... She used Darwi clay and I didn't have such good experiences with that clay as a child. Never the less I ended up buying some clay and trying my hand at my first doll. My husband found it to be the most funny thing he had ever seen. The dolls head was drying on top of a cupboard. Imagine, a head in white clay, with huge ears, sticking out very much to the sides... To be honest, it was very funny !!! However, when the doll was finished, everyone seemed to like it. So much even so that someone asked me to make two of them for her daughters birthday. That resulted in making 15 dolls like that !

Fairy in PinkIt was really so nice to do. Picking up a package of clay and somehow being able to turn it into a face, hands, feet. After a while Ankies book was not enough. So I bought loads of different books. Getting to know a lot of other techniques to make dolls, getting to know other media for making dolls. The fun thing was and is, you can make so many different types of dolls, babies, children, adults. They can be dancers, fairies, really anything.... The sky is the limit. You just use your imagination and anything goes. Nothing is really strange in the doll world. I started out making really large dolls but they are getting smaller and smaller. Now they are mostly about 10 inches or smaller.

Fairy on a boxNowadays I no longer use darwi or air drying clay for that matter. I use polymer clay. Living doll is my preferred brand. It's widely available over here. The skin tone of the living doll light is really nice. You don't get any moonies and it's just great to work with. Also you can work much more detailed in polymer clay than you can in air drying clay. Especially if you are working on a smaller scale.

Fairy Mother and BabyI never went to any workshops to learn how to make dolls. My knowledge came from books, dvd's and browsing the internet. Because of that you tend to develop your own style a lot easier. I love making fine and graceful dolls. So mostly female dolls. I make the occasional male doll, but mostly as a partner to a lady doll like in a ballet pose and such. Everybody has his or her own way of sculpting it becomes a bit like a signature in the end. So much even that people can see at a glance who made the doll. What sets me apart in the doll world is probably the fact that I do make a whole range of different types of dolls. I make fairies, children and adults, even the occasional fairy godmother. But I also love make dancers, belly dancers and ballet dancers. I'm especially fascinated by ballet. Ballet dancers tend to look like ethereal fairies. I also like making historical dolls. I love researching the costumes, shopping all over the place to find the right fabrics and all the bits and bobs to make the jewelry. Then finishing off the doll like one of the old paintings or pictures.

Stretching fairyDoll making is so fantastic because there are so many things involved. You begin with an image in your head, a dream... Then you have to shape that dream somehow. So you begin with the right pose and a good armature. That must be sturdy and strong. So you need to know about soldering. Then comes another fun part the sculpting. Then there's painting, costuming, wigging etc... That's what makes doll making so interesting, so many different things to do. So many levels of creativity.

There are a lot of challenges to overcome to become a good doll maker. First of all your own family. You could be lucky enough to have family that loves what you are doing immediately. You may however have a family that thinks you are really out of your mind. I mean what adult in his right mind is making dolls? Another challenge is to keep on learning new techniques, new materials. You can't stay still at the same place. You have to move on forward. Dealing with critique and jealousy is another challenge. You can either let it get you down or you can grow by it.

Orange FairyThe sculptures you make can be a challenge by themselves. For myself I love a good challenge. That's one of the reasons I make such a wide range of sculptures. If they were no longer challenging I would get bored. That's just a part of who I am. My goal is just to get better and better at it and keep going forward. To keep finding new ways, new challenges.

On the international dolls how in Ahoy in the Netherlands I have won the doll ring award three times. This has given me international recognition. My dolls have been featured in magazines all over the world. I also write freelance for a Dutch doll magazine. Giving people all kinds of doll making tips from my own experience. Trying to reach out and help other this way. I have also written a book on doll making and published a dvd.

Three Fairy's Dancing in the GazeboMaking dolls has become a full time job now. It teach three workshops a week. I do an international workshop for a whole week once a year in my studio. I have a regular shop and a web shop where I sell all kinds of doll making material. So you could say that doll making has become my life in a sense. I attend doll shows in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. So it also takes me and my husband places. It has turned both our lives around. I have to say I'm lucky to have a husband who supports me in all of this. Without his support I would not have come so far as I have now. He built me my studio, my shop and gallery and drives me to all the doll shows I want to go.

As an artist all things can influence you. Sometimes it's a movie, a picture, a painting, nature... You are also influenced by other artists. Ankie Daanen is surely the person who influenced me most. If only because her book started me on this endeavor. Ballet performances have influenced me a lot too.

Youthful FairyIf reading all of this has given you the urge to start making your own dolls I would advise you to look around. Buy a good book or dvd and just start. Doesn't matter if that first doll looks horrible or makes everyone laugh like mine did. Just make sure you enjoy it, that's all that counts. If you enjoy doll making, it will show in your work. The best sculptures show the love of their maker.

Claudine Roelens


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