My name is Francine Jackson and I reside in the state of sunny Florida. I moved here about 4 years ago with my husband to de-stress. So far, the warm weather and sunshine have been a pleasure to be in. I create art dolls. These dolls are generally female of various ages and ethnicities. Sorority dolls are a specialty and I hope to be able to offer more of them as collector dolls. The dolls are made of various clays (polymer, cold porcelain) and cloth. The clothing is sewn in-house and the sculpted body parts are created without the use of molds. It seems easier to create unique expressions on the faces, when they are sculpted from scratch – without a manufactured mold.
I started making dolls as an outlet for the pressure I was feeling at a former job. A co-worker of mine noticed how stressed out I was and suggested I find a hobby. So, I did. Borders had an arts and crafts book section, so I browsed through there to see if there was something I could learn to make by hand. I have always been fascinated by a person’s facial expressions and how they translate their feelings without the use of words. I picked up a book by Maureen Carlson and thought her characters were so whimsical and fun, but above all very expressive. That was my first motivator.
I enjoy creating one-of-a-kind dolls because I never know exactly what they will look like when I start. Everyone is a bit of a surprise to me and I continue to create until the doll is finished. Most of all, I love to see the expressions of others faces when they see them. They always seem to see someone they know in the faces of these dolls. The biggest inspiration for me, in making these dolls, is the challenges I give myself. I am always tweaking and wanting to make them both realistic and fun at the same. The proportions may be a bit off in one part of the body, but I try to make up for that by giving them their own unique personalities.
The weirdest doll I have ever created would have to be my attempts at doing Goth like dolls. In my mind, they didn’t turn out so well, but maybe I put too big of a challenge on myself that time. They were kinda’ bizarre looking. Too cute for Goth, and too Goth for cute. As far as feedback that I have received from patrons and observers, they are focused on their uniqueness, the expressions and poses, some even give them voices to go along with what they feel they are thinking. Children are the funniest. They walk by them as if they are waiting for them to move or to say something. The comment is usually, “creepy”.
Anyone who is filling up their time with this type of art or craft should feel the love of doing this first. I am not trying to perfect this art to make a million – being able to pay the monthly bills is awesome. After you get past that, it’s fun and gravy! Everyone should have the opportunity to do what they love and hopefully make a living. A 55 to 60 hour a week job that you love, is not work for me, it’s awesome!
I have an eclectic type of style. I like to combine what I have learned about human form, anatomy and stretch it out a bit to make the dolls a type of “approachable” art or craft. They are not so fragile that you are afraid to pick them up and hold them, but they are hand crafted, so care should be taken. I always find it amazing that a little boy or girl with all their pent up energy will slow themselves down, come up to the table to ever so gently touch a doll with their little finger. They have the self control and respect of not wanting to break them, but they are so curious about them that they will twist and bend their little bodies to look at the detail of the faces, legs and clothes, but will not ever pick them up for fear of harming them.
I have been designing and crafting these little “people” for about 12 years. As a child, my dream was to go to the Philadelphia School of Art. Coming from a large family, my parents couldn’t afford to send me. I went on to the work force like everyone else, and the time came and I took this opportunity to at least attempt a piece of my dream. I am happy that I did and I am not ready to wake up yet!