Fibre artist Marta Smith’s eclectic dolls captivated me during the Prince Edward County Studio Tour. Her jam-packed studio is filled with exquisite fabric, found objects and accessories that make you want to pull out all the bins and explore every scrap. A former teacher, she was also trained in Fashion Arts at Ryerson University, an education in fashion, clothing construction and visual arts that provides the technical skill behind her creations.
Her Women’s Studies degree provides “some of the theory behind my ‘little women’ including a basic tenet of feminism, that of deconstruction and reconstruction of the female image. My dolls are images of female existence, real or imaginary, that hopefully contain a hint of self recognition for the viewer.”
Throughout a 27-year secondary school teaching career in clothing, art and Guidance, she maintained part-time businesses in clothing construction and costume jewelry design and creation. For dolls, she focuses on cloth, polymer and paper clay.
If you’re interested in this field, Smith’s list of workshops taken with some of North America’s top doll artists may be instructive. They include Patti Medaris Culea, Julie McCullough, Marcia Acker-Missal, Arley Berryhill, and Marianne Reitsma. Her time with two internationally renowned doll artists from the Netherlands – Ankie Daanen and Marlaine Verhelst – introduced her to sculpting techniques and elaborate costuming.
Smith is a member of the Canadian Doll Artists Association, All Dolled Up (an Ottawa doll makers’ club) and Quinte Fibre Artists. She also teaches fibre arts workshops and classes on doll making.
- All images courtesy of Marta Smith