Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cage Doll Challenge

 I knew very little about Santos Cage Dolls when my doll making group set us a challenge of creating our own interpretation of a cage doll. The image below which I found on Pinterest is a lovely illustration of these historical figures.  
Image : from the board, Santos Love 
 Here is more information from“The Santos dolls take their name from the Spanish word for Saint, and are also known as Santons (French) and Santibelli (Italian)…Originally, Santos were used as in- home altars especially in small villages which did not have a priest, as well as for when it was not possible to travel to church, such as during times of war.  Their development flourished in Europe in the 1700's and 1800's, primarily due to these wars. European Santos dolls were also brought to the Latin Americas during the Colonial age of Spain's settling of the New World.  The dolls were used to aid in the conversion of the Native Americans and Central American Indians to Catholicism. Many of these original dolls, along with the art that inspired them, were destroyed while trying to settle the West.  Therefore, antiques in good shape are rare and very expensive. It is not uncommon to see an antique Santos bring 4 and 5 digit figures.  In more recent years, fine and folk art has emerged to replace these dolls.  Santos dolls are designed and created by "Santeros" or "Santonniers" (loosely 'saint maker'). As the art form has progressed, the Santos has become recognized as a true artistic doll.  Some dolls are rustic carvings, while others have magnificent details. Santos, particularly the females, exhibit a most loving expression that is also complex and thoughtful. Their shape is often rustic in nature, yet with delicate details.  They are sometimes painted in rich colors with detailed eyes …Some dolls are basic and rustic, and others are refined and dainty.  Each doll shares the same beauty.”
 My doll is tiny (only 20cm /8 inches high) and was a great challenge for a number of reasons. I don’t usually make dolls in a rustic style, and I don’t usually work with wood. I also used for the first time, Apoxie Sculpt to try to create a more rustic, carved look to the head and body of the doll. Apoxie Sculpt is a two part compound which combines the sculpting qualities of clay and the self hardening quailty of epoxy - I think I will definitely use this product again. The main problem I had was with the wood...  I  experienced some trouble hand drilling the very small and thin pieces of wood , but in the end I was pleased with my efforts at trying something out of my comfort zone. A coat of  acrylic paint, a face and hair paint job, and a wash of brown antiquing gave me the look of  a relic I was aiming for.

Many of the Santos cage dolls wear crowns, so I devised a crown from a silver plated  ring blank, and a  bead cap which I opened out by snipping it and spreading it to cover the front of the ring. A little piece of tatting seemed to work well at the painted neckline and I made  a mini "PEACE" banner   from linen and lace   as the finishing touch to my Santos Cage Doll. She may be small and rough, but with an air of serenity, she gave me a lot of satisfaction in the creation. 

Update : Here is a link to photos of all the dolls in the Santos Cage Doll Challenge

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