I am unsure what fascinates me so about Gloria Rone's (Massa's Servants Collectibles) dolls, but some of them, many of them actually, speak to my heart. I am mesmerized by their hand sculpted, one-of-a-kind faces, which are so expressive. The faces are the first hook that draws me in. Some usually come with a story the artist has written about them, while others do not. I enjoy reading their stories and knowing what might have possibly inspired their creation. I suppose I am just impressed by Gloria's God-given talent to take a piece of clay or cloth, in some cases, and mold and/or paint intriguing ancestral-looking faces.
Last week Gloria offered two dolls on Facebook and I could not resist bringing them "home" to join the several other dolls made by her gifted hands.
|Stella Mae and her dollie by Gloria Rone of Massa's Servants Collectibles (photograph courtesy of Gloria Rone)|
When I saw the above photographs of Stella Mae and her dollie, I initially thought Gloria had created twins. After reading the doll's brief description with instructions to PM her if interested, I realized I was viewing two photos of the same doll and that the angle of Stella Mae's face in the second photo gave her a slightly different look. I immediately noticed she had a doll, and I love dolls with dolls!
I hurriedly sent Gloria a personal message to ask about size and price. With that information, the purchase was finalized. I was a happy camper because another beautiful doll and her doll by Gloria would soon join the doll family. During our messaging, I asked Gloria if Stella Mae had a background story. Initially, she answered, "No" and invited me to write one and share it with her. I could do that, I thought, but I needed to know what inspired Gloria to create Stella Mae and why she chose the brown plaid fabric for her dress. I also wanted to know what came first, the face or the fabric. Gloria replied:
yes the face came first....and then I wanted to put her in a more warm looking fabric....not too bright....She reminded me of when I was little....staying with my grandmother on her farm....I had a Lil doll I used to play with while watching her make biscuits. ...wow Debbie there was a story after all. All my dolls are made related to my grandmother's farm....and growing up there.I can imagine Gloria as a young child playing with her doll as her grandmother cooked delectable meals. The smell of the food probably wafted through the air as Gloria busied herself with doll play, eagerly awaiting the delight she would experience eating food prepared with love.
Stella Mae is 12 inches tall with hand sculpted head, hands, lower legs, and feet of polymer clay. Her deep-set eyes and pouty mouth are hand painted. Cloth was used to create the body, upper arms, and upper legs. Socks and shoes are painted. Synthetic black hair is styled in two side braids with another side braid at her forehead. (Stella Mae might have braided her bangs.) Her hair is accented by a lacy off-white headband. "Massa's" is incised underneath the right shoe. "GYR-16" is incised underneath the left shoe.
Stella Mae's doll is 3-1/2 inches with painted cloth face, cloth body, upper arms, and upper legs. Dollie's hands, lower legs, and feet are polymer clay. Like Stella Mae, Dollie has hand-applied black synthetic hair. Dollie's two braids are held together with white thread. Dollie is unmarked.
During the beginning of each elementary and middle school year, I recall wearing dark cotton plaid dresses in fall colors of navy blue and red, green and yellow, or perhaps a plaid fabric similar to Stella Mae and her dollie's. While summer was ending and fall just around the corner, the weather was always much too warm, I thought, to be dressed in such dark colored clothing.
|This smiling character doll is Ruth, by Gloria Rone of Massa's Servant's Collectibles, photo courtesy of Gloria Rone.|
A couple of days after Stella Mae and Dollie's purchase, Gloria posted the above picture of Ruth, indicating she, too, needed a home. With another expressive face desiring adoption coupled with the fact she shared the name of a dear friend who passed away in 2012, I mulled over the possibility of adding Ruth to the doll family. The decision to adopt her was finalized after Gloria re-shared Ruth's photo along with the following story (written in the voice of the doll):
Hello.....My name is Ruth.....I'm just a doll...I was shown in an art group today....and was ridiculed. ...called names....simply picked on....now thank God....my mommy....proudly made me.....from just a simple ball of clay.....she always takes time to put that special. ....time and luv....into each and every one of us.....Thank God my mommy.....luvs us unconditionally. ....and excepts us for who she has created us to be.....She taught us that....U may not like sum one. ....but U must respect them......My name is Ruth.....and I'm just a doll....Oh my goodness, I thought. How-could-people-be-so-callous, I wondered. I PM'd Gloria and asked if this story was true. Unfortunately, she said, it was. I offered words of encouragement and told her not to allow those who criticized her work to dampen her spirit. She said she wouldn't. I asked about adoption fees, yada yada yada, and purchased, Ruth. Gloria shared her relief that Ruth would be in a home (like mine) where she would be appreciated.
At 9 inches tall, Ruth is a little shorter than Stella Mae. Her other features are the same: head, lower arms, hands, lower legs, and feet of polymer clay; body, upper arms, and upper legs of cloth. Facial features, including her wide grin with individually sculpted teeth, are hand painted. Ruth has black hair styled in two side puffs and short bangs. (At age 8, while riding my bicycle on the sidewalk in front of our apartment with my hair pulled back into a ponytail, a neighborhood girl of about the same age, whom I had never seen before, said to me with disgust, "Oooh, your forehead sure is big!" Hurt, I removed myself from my bike, went into the house and created bangs similar to Ruth's. I wore bangs for practically half my life from that point on or at least styled the front of my hair to conceal my forehead. I still do the latter, but I am not as self-conscious about it as the 8-year-old me was. Had that silly girl not said that to me, I would have remained oblivious to the shape of my forehead. After that incident, my mother asked me why I created bangs. I told her what the girl had said. Mama's attempt to console me helped. Unfortunately, the damage was done. I could not unhear that mean-spirited statement.) Ruth's right foot is marked, Massa's. Her left is marked, 2016.
I am happy Ruth was able to travel with Stella Mae and her dollie. They arrived in a decorative storage box, the photo of which is the first image of this post. The box top reads:
|The dolls were neatly packaged in clear plastic bags, placed on top of a bed of purple confetti inside the decorative storage box used for shipping. The above photo is the first one they took after arrival.|
|The girls, who are inseparable, posed for this out-of-box photo...|
|...using a different background, this photo was taken next.|
I took the girls outside to take the following additional photos:
|Seated on weathered wooden steps, the girls took in the rays of the sun and the 90-something degrees temperature. They were happy to return inside to an air conditioned climate as was I.|
|Since Stella Mae and Dollie had taken a close-up photo, Ruth wanted one as well.|
|After one final group photo, the photo session ended.|
A previous post about Gloria and her dolls can be read here.
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