In 1864, a nine-year-old slave girl was punished for daydreaming. Distracted by rumors that her brother and father would be sold, she failed to remove worms from the tobacco leaves she was picking. The overseer didn’t whip her. Instead, he pried her mouth open, stuffed a worm inside, and forced her to eat it. This girl is not real.
The Edison Talking Doll is just what it sounds like: a doll, with a small phonograph in its body, mass-produced by Thomas Edison’s lab in the 1890s -- and it … shrieks. It’s like an unearthly Carol Kane screaming in a wind tunnel, trapped in the body of a lifeless totem. Listen at your own risk. Even more Edison Talking Doll recordings.
A Tasmanian artist is repainting, reclothing, and re-"homing" Bratz dolls. Underneath the heavy eye-makeup, high heels and porn-star pouts, the artist finds children. [more inside]
Destruction and sacredness of life are often reasons for conflicts in Western culture; on the contrary, ceremonies like hari kuyo can become, even for Westerners, precious opportunities for reflection. In our habit of first producing and then acquiring, often with craving, a great quantity of objects destined to be thrown away like useless, harmful, and cumbersome rubbish shortly after their acquisition, are hidden the germs of attachment and hate that, together with nescience (avidyā), form the sad trio of spiritual poisons. We generally believe we are good custodians of the environment when hurriedly, even with a bit of resentment, we throw in the rubbish bin all that has been discarded. In transforming "removal" into "restitution," the getting rid of useless objects can instead become a stimulus, and not a mere gesture of refusal, for considering our relationship with activities, objects, and the environment, by carrying out, through decorous and at times melancholic farewell ceremonies, daily exercises of kindness and giving.Farewell Ceremonies for Things, from Dharma World, providing context for a number of Japanese ceremonies, including Hari-Kuyo, the Festival of Broken Needles, Fude-Kuyo, a ceremony for brushes, Ningyo-Kuyo, "a doll funeral", and other ceremony for valued items, activities, and professions.
For centuries, artists have made statues and carvings of human figures for medical purposes, from the Chinese physician's dolls or medical dolls (Google news), used to help doctors work around taboos of giving physical exams to women, to the douningyo or meridian dolls (PDF), used to train people in the ways of acupuncture. But the carvings became quite intricate following De humani corporis fabrica (Wikipedia; translated and annotated online), resulting in miniature anatomical manikins, most often carved from ivory (source). [more inside]
Disney Junior's Doc McStuffins is an animated children's show about 6-year-old Dottie McStuffins, who wants to be a doctor like her mother, and pretends to be a doctor to her toys. Doc McStuffins has done well as a TV show, but it's as a doll that Doc's success has been stratospheric, with over $500 million in sales last year. “'When little white girls embrace Doc McStuffins, for them Doc McStuffins is a girl, and Doc McStuffins is powerful,' Dr. [Margaret Beale] Spencer said. 'For a little black girl, it may be all of those things, but also that she’s black.'”
Collectors Weekly, a resource for vintage and antique collectors, examines the gender politics of the Easy-Bake Oven, the toy industry’s gender divide, and why ordinary things go pink. (Don't miss the Dumbest Products Made 'For Her' slideshow at the bottom of the "pink" article.)
Valley of Dolls
Eleven years ago, Ayano Tsukimi returned to her home in Nagoro. Confronted with constant departures, she has populated the village with dolls, each representing a former villager. Around 350 of the giant dolls now reside in and around Nagoro, replacing those that died or abandoned the village years ago.
In a recent documentary titled The Valley Of Dolls, Fritz Schumann explores Tsukimi's world, highlighting the time and artistry that goes into making the figures, and explaining her motivations. In it we're shown around a local school, once filled with children and teachers, that now houses dozens of dolls, sitting statically, waiting for class to begin.
Every so often, ethnic dolls make the news, like this recent piece on Nigeria's Taofick Okoya who started his own line of Nigerian dolls after giving up his search in frustration. Okoya sells between 6,000 and 9,000 of his "Queens of Africa" and "Naija Princesses" a month, and reckons he has 10-15 percent of a small but fast-growing market. But the history of dolls outside of 'mainstream culture' exemplified by blonde blue eyed Barbie has been rife with prejudice and stereotypes. As the African middle classes emerge, is this an opportunity that gives rise to domestic toy industries?
Greer Lankton, darling of the 1980s East Village art scene, made glamorous and grotesque dolls that reflected her struggles with anorexia and drug addiction as well as her fascination with sexuality and gender in all their mutable permutations. She died of an overdose only a month after completing her final masterpiece, a recreation of her Chicago apartment inside Pittsburgh's Mattress Factory. [more inside]
Inside the Proportion>London factory in Walthamstow. - Not an invasion force, honest.
Paper Matrix is a blog that gives instructions for cool papercraft objects, "reinterpreting the Danish tradition of woven paper hearts and ornaments." Cut paper in the prescribed ways and weave it together carefully to make a mobile of colorful hot air balloons, gorgeous and complex boxes; simple but satisfying pennants and much more... including a full theater for performances by paper dolls.
Most Friday nights at 10 PM EST, the guitarist of the New York Dolls hosts a "Rampage of Songs" on the band's Facebook page [more inside]
The Atlantic reports on the 2008 removal/"archiving" of the original three American Girl dolls, dolls whose arrival on the market in 1986 represented a "sensibility about teaching girls to understand thorny historical controversies and build political consciousness." [more inside]
Black Is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter discusses the history and importance of black dolls. Resources referenced in the article include the Black Doll Collecting blog, The National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture, The Philadelphia Doll Museum, and the trailer for the documentary film "Why Do You Have Black Dolls?"
One of the more famous suppressed films of recent years is Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, an early work by writer/director Todd Haynes (Safe, Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven). Filmed in 1987, the short film -- which relates the rise and fall of Karen Carpenter with a cast of Barbie dolls -- barely got a year's worth of festival time in 1989 before the twin iron boots of A&M Records and Richard Carpenter came down on Haynes.
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Kokeshi Dolls originated in North-East Japan as wooden toys for children. They began being produced towards the end of the Edo period (1603~1868) by woodwork artisans, called Kiji-shi, who normally made bowls, trays and other tableware by using a lathe. They began to make small dolls in the winter to sell to visitors who came to bathe in the many hot springs near their villages, which was believed to be a cure for the demands of a strenuous agricultural lifestyle. [more inside]
Meet Bebe Gloton, the Breastfeeding Doll who's coming to America. The NY Times opines, Facebook users can't agree on whether it's good or bad, but what does God think?
Baby Voldemort toy is the most horrifying thing to come out of the Harry Potter world: Tracy Ann Lister creates realistic dolls of characters from Harry Potter as infants.
The Hairpin shows us how to how to make a doll into a wine glass in 23 quick steps.
And here is Ten Dreams, your Symbolist, Magical Realist, and Metarealist brain/eye candy art source, featuring, among scores of many other artists and subjects, Alma Tadema, Bouguereau, Ernst, Hundertwasser, Klimt, and Maxfield Parrish, too. And then there is the Ten Dreams of Ten Dreams, and not an exemplar known to me included. [more inside]
Karakuri ningyō (からくり人形?) are mechanized puppets or automata from Japan from the 17th century to 19th century. There are many beautiful examples: Arrow shooting, serving tea, the geisha, acrobatics, making magic. [more inside]
Look at This Little Thing! A tumblr collection of the perfectly tiny and miniature. [via mefi projects]
After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar, Mark Hogancamp built a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard. Mark populated the town he dubbed "Marwencol" with dolls representing his friends and family and created life-like photographs detailing the town's many relationships and dramas. Playing in the town and photographing the action helped Mark to recover his hand-eye coordination and deal with the psychic wounds from the attack. [more inside]
Doll Kind :: Dolls of the 20th Century - A Celebration in Pictures and Histories
Artist/Designer Ilisha Helfman makes clothes for her custom made paper dolls every week from the cover of the New York Times Magazine.
Stalin's Secret Weapon - a Russian hobbyist's terminator-esque diorama painstakingly constructed from military action figures. (Via buzz
Verminology is a specimen garden of monsters and beasts of the most pestiferous and meddlesome sort, drawn by fingertip on iPhone, using Brushes app. New additions daily. Also be sure to check out Toadbriar for dolls, paintings, sculpture, and Faerie fun! From MeFi's own Lou Stuells. [via mefi projects].
The Mattel toy company insists that their Little Mommy Cuddle 'n Coo dolls do not utter the phrase "Islam is the light." You be the judge.
Dafne and Ofelia - Dafne at the Prado, Dafne in Almeria, the pair outside. I believe their clothing to be largely handmade. The whole photostream is quite the labor of love.
Barbie vs Bratz: Mattel sues MGA, claiming the Bratz designs were created by a Mattel employee and smuggled to its rival.
What happens in the shadow, in the grey regions, also interests us – all that is elusive and fugitive, all that can be said in those beautiful half tones, or in whispers, in deep shade.Here are some short films by Stephen and Timothy, the Brothers Quay. [more inside]
"My Fake Baby" is a Channel 4 documentary exploring "the lives of women who spend hundreds of pounds on life-like baby dolls. Loved like real babies, they're taken for walks, cuddled and even have their nappies changed." Parts 2, 3, 4, 5.
Real Dolls and the men who love them - this 46 minute documentary explores the lives of four men and the relationships they have established with alternative partners in life. NSFW - doll nudity alert.
Sunday sillibiz: Snackimals, really fancy fashions for dogs, RubikCubism, hairstyle names from 1970s Ebony ad, burquas for men, fetish dollies [nsfw], Art Car Museum, the hideaway cosy, baby tiger cub sleeps and plays. [via]
Surreal Barbie and Ken jewelry art by Margaux Lange. Previously (but her work and site have evolved since then). While in China, voodoo dolls have been banned and immediately became a jewelry/accessory craze.
Gobler Toys: The Fun We Can't Remember. A fictional toy company with an online collection of toys, dolls and games that only exist in the inventors' imaginations. Don't miss the hilarious Star Wars Toys That Never Were. (flash animation)
An official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and 'this thing', which tells time"
The most dangerous toys of all time. Lawn darts? Check. Cabbage Patch Dolls that chewed off your fingers? Check. Working radioactive U-238 Atomic Energy Lab? Check. To spark more memories of holidays past, peruse the 10 weirdest toy ads of all time, and don't forget the Cheap Toy Roundup if you don't have enough cash. Or you could always get a Talking Jesus from Toys for Tots.
Amamanta Family Dolls offers you a variety of multicultural and educational doll sets that are anatomically correct.
Thomas Pynchon Paper Dolls Something light because, yes, it's the run-up to the November 21st release of Against the Day, the new 1000 page doorstop from Thomas Pynchon. The Modern Word is using the time to update their already vast Pynchon site. Good luck. (A whole lot of other paper dolls previously.)
The Uncanny Valley of the Portrait Dolls Wouldn't your daughter like a doll that looks just like her? Wouldn't your son love to pal around with his very own clone? You can get it done in paper, felt, cloth, plastic, bobblehead, porcelain or magnets! For schoolgirls, toddlers, babies (preemies too!) and even fetuses. Don't worry Mom and Dad, you can get them too!
The tradition of making Japanese dolls, called ningyo—meaning human figure—goes back as far as 10,000 years to clay figures made during the Jomon period. The more recent rise in popularity, though, is most often traced to Hina Matsuri--Girls' Day, or the Doll Festival, celebrated on March 3--originating during the Edo period. These antique ningyo are highly sought after by collectors, such as the American expert Alan Pate, who has written a number of articles on the subject. The modern Japanese doll culture, however, is anything but traditional. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the ningyo tradition was exported to make toys for the West (previously featured on MeFi), and has culminated in popular Barbie-type dolls such as Superdollfie and others. Contemporary artists have transformed the Japanese doll tradition into something else entirely: Simon Yotsuya, Ryo Yoshida, Koitsukihime, Yoko Ueno, Mario A., Etsuko Miura, and Kai Akemi. A number of these artists were featured in the Dolls of Innocence exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Of course, notable artists outside Japan have worked with dolls before, including Hans Bellmer, who inspired much of the artwork in Innocence, the follow-up to Ghost in the Shell. Explore more:     . [Several links are nsfw.]
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