Meet Lauren Vlcek! Lauren is a fiber and mixed media artist from Colorado. She is a co-author of “Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond” with Heather Thomas, Liz Kettle, and Ruth Chandler, published in 2009 by Landauer Corporation. Lauren is teaching a 3-day workshop for a cloth doll called “The Butterfly Fairy” at All Dolls Are Art in Austin, TX. For more information, please see the ADAA website at: www.alldollart.com.
AD: Hi Lauren! I’m thrilled to have you on the faculty for ADAA. How long have you been making dolls?
LV: I started making dolls nearly 20 years ago. It is something I enjoy doing with my mom. We started with muslin, country style dolls, but the 80’s called and wanted those back. Then came the porcelain era, and I traveled and taught technique classes for a porcelain company based in New York. I developed great technical skill with my sewing during this time, and I also mastered a super disciplined approach to face painting. The real excitement in doll making came for me about 10 years ago when I took my first cloth doll making class with a guest teacher at Leslie Molen’s Rootie Studio. When I left the class my head was pounding from all the ideas exploding inside. Cloth doll making offers amazing freedoms that I had never discovered by following commercial patterns and working in the porcelain industry.
AD: What other media do you work in?
LV: I truly love fabric best! I love to sew little art quilts, fabric journals, wall shrines, clothing, purses and even home goods. I do dabble in many other areas and the fact that my studio often looks like it has been shaken like a martini attests to that. I love to do mixed-media portraits with fabric, paper, acrylic oils and found objects. If you ask my family, they will tell you that I am obsessed with knitting and it might even be true. I also adore beadwork especially when it is to embellish something made of fabric.
AD: Where do you find your inspiration?
LV: As far as doll making is concerned, I think the most inspiring, wise, sage and fabulously fun person I have ever met is elinor peace bailey (see epb’s work here: Elinor Peace Bailey). And if you know her, you know what I am talking about!! I also find my inspiration in children’s literature, life’s challenges, my faith, and absolutely anything to do with fairies.
AD: Do your dolls talk to you?
LV: While I am in the process of making my dolls they absolutely speak to me. And, they are quite bossy. Once they are complete they become much quieter and chose to speak mostly through my students.
AD: Do you decide where to take each creation, or do they lead you?
LV: I had to stop and think about this question for a while! I’d like to say that I am in control of the entire design process, but the truth is; occasionally fresh ideas attack me when I am mid-stream and, sometimes, I end at a destination that I had never imagined at the beginning. It is a little horrifying to some doll makers, but I have been known to get a fresh idea about part of a doll that is already completed, and I will cut off the face or legs and use them to create an entirely new doll. My students often look through my waste basket for discarded body parts…who other than a doll maker can claim that?!
AD: Hah! So you too have a doll morgue! Do you have ideas for the dolls you want to make next?
LV: I have never been able to answer yes to this question. Ideas fall on me when they so choose. I have a small, indie, teaching studio in my home. And I am very fortunate to have a loyal band of students. They love to push me and often will beg me to do this or that in order to come up with something to teach them. It is a wonderful way to constantly be challenged by new things. Other than the whims of my students; the times when I most often get ideas for dolls (or any art project) are either right before I fall asleep at night, or just as I am waking, but before I get out of bed in the morning. Ideas just seem to slip into my spirit at those times like special little gifts.
AD: How many projects do you work on at once?
LV: One…LOL…I can’t even say that with a straight face. I have some ridiculous number of projects that I have started, many that will never be revisited again. But how many am I currently working on, hmm, I am going to guess in the ballpark of 5. One of my knitting friends says socks don’t count. I am not sure why not, but I will go with that. I like to have 2 knitting projects going at all times (not counting socks of course!) one for a challenge and one for “social knitting”. I like to have a beadwork or bead embroidery project ongoing, and I love to be sewing clothes or bags pretty much all the time. A doll project will swoop in on her own schedule, as I told you before they are bossy!! And I have been known to work on an ‘art journal exchange’ with other fiber art friends when I can wedge it in.
AD: You mentioned your in-home studio; what do you enjoy most about teaching?
LV: I have goals, objectives, personal philosophies, and all that kind of stuff that I set for myself when I teach. But, hands down, the simple answer to what I enjoy the most about teaching has got to be the women! We are a wacky, delightful, needy, funny, bitchy, chatty, loving, moody, creative, unique bunch, and I love it all.
AD: What advice would you give other doll makers/artists?
LV: I am not much of one for passing out advice; however, it is never a good idea to sniff your glue.
AD: LOL! I don’t know about that! Some of my best friends were known to accidentally sniff glue! Of course – they are book binders and are prone to covering their hands, faces, and upper extremities with glue when not paying enough attention to their binding! Thanks so much Lauren, and I look forward to meeting you in person!