Tidings of Comfort & Joy - Ashton-Drake Holiday 2021

Little ones taking their first steps. Capturing precious expressions of children. Baby dolls that breathe, coo and have heartbeats. These are just a few features to be found in the amazing dolls designed by our very own Linda Murray! We recently sat down with Linda, our award-winning Master Doll Artist who has partnered with Ashton-Drake for more than 15 years. We asked her a few questions for which we and her fans would love to know answers, including how she got started with dolls, and the order of her typical creative process! If you’ve ever been curious (like we have) about how one gets started in the doll industry and what goes into this process, then you’ll love our Q&A with Linda Murray below. Read on!


Q: What is it about creating dolls that made it your passion for so many years?


A: Obsession! I have been obsessed with dolls for as long as I can remember. My wonderful Mum had no time for them though. My twin sister, Helen, and I so longed for our own baby doll, but the first doll we ever had was a Tressy with growing hair, not the cuddly baby doll we wanted! Once we had pulled the hair out completely (which didn’t take long), we lost interest. When we first went to school, there were two beautiful baby dolls to play with: one dressed in pink and the other in blue. Helen and I laid claim to these two dolls every day when we were there. We couldn’t believe it! A real cuddly, full-size baby doll! Oh how we yearned to take these beautiful dolls home, to keep them forever.


I truly believe that yearning turned into a full-time obsession which is still with us. My sister Helen (of Tinkerbell Nursery) is a world-class reborner. I was more fascinated in the form of the baby and started making basic dolls, in cloth, from a very early age. My Mum was a very creative lady and taught us how to sew, knit and crochet. We made many wardrobes full of clothes for the grown-up dolls that Mum favored. Those skills were invaluable to us both in our future careers. After making many cloth dolls, the need to sculpt a full-size baby became important to enable me to progress in my career as a doll artist. That obsession was mainly for full-size baby dolls, although in the earlier days, I did sculpt and produce teenage and lady dolls too.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from when you sculpted dolls for yourself?

A: Inspiration! Beautiful babies, Caucasian, African American, Asian—all children are beautiful. Expressive faces full of life and character. Babies have so many beautiful expressions, and so much cheekiness, laughter, wistfulness and love. That special look reserved only for a mother or father. The obsession to capture these special expressions has been the inspiration behind all of my work. I do not rest when sculpting until I have achieved the expression. It is not easy to give a cold lump of clay that movement, that life, that all babies have. To make a sculpt come alive through expression is essential. Many beautiful photos do help, but an expression is fleeting. Capturing that split second is so essential. It is so rewarding to achieve though and makes the many hours of creativity so worthwhile.


It is always a pleasure to talk with Linda Murray about dolls, and especially, baby dolls. We appreciate her sharing her insight, inspiration, and most of all, passion, for baby dolls. We hope that you learned something new from this conversation (we sure did). Linda Murray is truly a master at bringing baby expressions to life with her realistic sculpting of baby dolls. Some of Linda’s most recent creations are Hopped Into My Heart, Singing In the Rain, Jesus, Our Savior Baby Doll and Extreme Limited Edition: Charlotte. You can browse them in wonder and awe, along with 40+ of her creations, here.


Stay tuned for next week’s blog to read the rest of our Q&A session with Linda Murray! We’ll learn about her sculpting process, meet a few of her most popular dolls, and find out which one is your favorite on our Facebook page. See you next week!