One of the most exciting aspects about working at The Ashton-Drake Galleries is seeing how Master Doll Artists breathe life into our collectible dolls. We have partnered with award-winning doll artist Linda Murray for over a decade now, and she never ceases to amaze us with her ability to capture the sweetness and innocence of childhood in her sculpts. Some of her creations for Ashton-Drake Galleries include Olivia, Alicia and Sophia.

We recently got to chat with Ms. Murray about her work and inspirations.

Ashton-Drake: How did you get your start as a master doll artist?
Linda Murray: Sculpting dolls started off as a hobby, became a passion, and then a full-time career. I started sculpting in wet clay many, many years ago, to make molds for my pressed cloth dolls. These were my passion for many years until the doll world changed direction and the need to sculpt in polymer clay became obvious. My very first sculpt in polymer clay was of my twin sister as a little toddler, but sadly I had not mastered the baking and the head fell off in the middle of the night and rolled across the floor! I spent two solid years practicing sculpting in this very different medium and did not start selling until I felt I had achieved a realism I was satisfied with. I cannot imagine life without being able to create my babies.

AD: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Murray: In all of my sculpts, I try to re-create the special moments I have had with my own family, that certain look that portrays love, curiosity, happiness, wonderment. That certain expression that makes a doll human and lifelike. I do not proceed with a sculpt until I feel that certain something shine through. When I can look at the sculpt, and the face looks back with life behind the eyes and an expression that means something.

AD: What makes each of your creations special?
Murray: They have all been so beautiful to me, each and every one totally unique and their own person. I try to bring out the individual personalities in each and every one. I try to portray the mind behind the sculpted face through all the features. However, the eyes are by far the most important for expressing emotion. A doll has to have life behind the eyes. There has to be an intelligence shining through. That first searching look from all my children and grandchildren when they had just been born have all been uniquely different. My eldest daughter, Amy, had a serenity and peace about her, gentle and giving. My son, sleeping on his tummy, raised his head and managed to look around the room with wide open intelligent blue eyes, just minutes after being born, full of curiosity. My youngest daughter cuddled up, needing love and attention, happy to just nestle in my arms. Now I see the same in all my gorgeous grandchildren. All of them so different, so unique and just as precious. Being surrounded by them all is the greatest gift, and every moment with them is a memory in the making.

AD: Who is your favorite Ashton-Drake doll?
Murray: My favorite Ashton-Drake doll so far is Sophia, the sleeping baby. In the “flesh,” I really warmed to her. In the future, I would love the opportunity to do a very young baby like Sophia, not with any gizmos or gadgets, but just a beautiful, weighted, snuggly open eye newborn.