Tidings of Comfort & Joy - Ashton-Drake Holiday 2021

By Guest Blogger

And…we’re back! Thank you for joining us again for the continuation of our Q&A session with Linda Murray. For more than 14 years, Linda has amazed us with her award-winning doll creations and status in the doll industry as a Master Doll Artist. It has been our pleasure to partner with her for so long, and we thought it would be fun to have her share her story of how she got started and refined her skills over the years. Read on as we pick up where we left off in last week’s conversation. Enjoy Part 2!

Q: Where do you start when you begin sculpting a doll? What is your first step?

A: Where to start? This does depend on the individual really. I start by finding some wonderful reference photos that show the baby from all angles. I study these photos to try and understand what exactly forms the expression I am after. I then screw up a lump of aluminum foil and bind it with paper tape to form the skull. After that, layers of clay are built to start forming the flesh. I work on a jam jar filled with water for weight, using the top as a base for the neck. I can turn the jar and work from all angles and it is easy to pick up too, to hold in front of a mirror (absolutely essential to ensure features are in the correct place. A mirror will reveal any errors in feature placement or proportion). Once I have a fully formed head, the building of features begins, building the expression, bringing the face to life.   

Q: What are some of the most important features to capture in a face when sculpting dolls to capture their personality?

A: Features? All features matter, and all of them have to be correctly placed. All play an important part in creating expression. The eyes, though, are the mirror of the soul. When there is life behind the eyes, the face comes alive. Eyes in themselves do not change. Expression is formed around the eyes, wrinkles, creases and eyelids. For example, a lift of the cheeks will make the eyes smile, and a sideways glance will give a cheeky little look. The possibilities are endless. If the eyes work, the sculpt will come to life.


Q: What doll pose or expression is the most challenging to sculpt?

A: EYES!   

Positioning them correctly is essential. The position has to remain fixed even though the sculpting around them forms the expression. If they are not correctly aligned, all sorts of problems arise. Keeping them positioned while sculpting around them to form expression, I find extremely difficult, but this step is absolutely essential. Holding the head in front of a mirror will soon tell you if they are straight. Until the face is anatomically correct, the expression cannot be worked. No amount of working the clay will correct badly positioned eyes, and no sculpt will work if they are not truly straight. Positioning of all features is essential, and the proportions have to be correct. The younger the baby, the further down the head the eyes need to be; under the halfway line for a newborn. It is so easy to position the eyes above or on that halfway line, and then not be able to sculpt a young baby face. When sculpting, an anatomically correct armature is absolutely essential. It is worth spending time at that stage, as only then can a realistic head be produced.   

Linda Murray’s most popular dolls to date are Katie and Bella Rose. Both baby dolls breathe, coo and have heartbeats. Their weighted cloth bodies remind you of holding a real baby, and their RealTouch® skin feels as soft as a newborn’s! Katie is dressed in a precious pink ruffled floral sleeper decked with rosebud buttons, and a matching bow styles her hand-rooted hair. Bella Rose wears a rose-patterned sleeper and is sculpted with her eyes closed in sweet slumber. What is your favorite Linda Murray doll? Let us know on our Facebook page here!

P.S. In case you missed it, here is  Part 1l!