In the first installment of our interview with Dorote Zaukaite, also known as Tireless Artist, Dorote introduces us to the world of her unique dolls, from BJDs to ribbon jointed dolls, and dazzles us with her incredible costumes and wigs.
BJDmagazine: Did you get training as an artist, or are you self-taught?
Dorote: Yes, I’ve got training. I studied in an art college. We had sculpting and painting and drawing and anatomy lessons. I must admit, sculpting and anatomy were my least favorite subjects… How could I know that one day they would become the most useful ones?
BJDmagazine: What are your inspirations for your dolls?
Dorote: I get inspired by lots and lots of things. It can be a beautiful misty morning, or some person, or phrase, or feeling or anything else. I love the Gothic and Baroque eras for their costumes; I love the Renaissance just because it was the renaissance. I am interested in history. Dolls are my way of communicating with the world. Sometimes I want to tell a fairy tale and I make some anthropomorphic creature, at other times I want to talk about the roots of humanity so I create an African doll. It is great when people look at my work and see what I am telling them, and it is also fine if they just see a beautiful doll. I am happy as long as my art brings positive emotions.
BJDmagazine: How has your work as a doll-maker evolved over time?
Dorote: My journey as a professional doll artist started when I saw a photo of an Asian BJD for the first time. I was amazed by the way the doll was posing, and by the sadness in her eyes. So I started “digging” for more information and I discovered the magic world of hand made dolls. I just fell in love with the idea of a doll as an art object.
So yes, my first doll was a BJD. However, my head was exploding with ideas and different characters and making BJDs was a really slow process, so I started trying other doll making techniques. This was the reason why many of my early dolls were static. I was experimenting with costuming and searching for my style. I was playing with human body proportions which brought me to that non human thin and tall shape which my dolls have now. Not so long ago, I got inspired by a primitive way of jointing dolls using string, and raised the technique to a new level by making Ribbon Jointed Dolls which do not look primitive at all. At this point, I already know what I want from the aesthetics of my dolls and I see clearly which direction they will evolve; and – most important – I am ready to come back to BJD making.
BJDmagazine: Tell us more about your BJD, Dirvolira. What is your inspiration for her?
Dorote: Dirvolira is an ancient Lithuanian goddness of fields and households. We have very little information about our ancient gods, as Christianity erased them from people’s memory. I wanted to bring her back to life – a fragile forgotten goddess from a deep past.
BJDmagazine: What made you chose this type of articulation. Why are her wrists not ball-jointed?
Dorote: As I’ve mentioned earlier – I felt that I am finally ready to come back to BJDs. This character just had to be BJD, as no other construction could have given her the flexibility I wanted. I just had this image in my mind of a tiny fragile creature rolled into a ball. About the wrists – it is a playful detail which makes her different from a traditional BJD. (I have to admit I love breaking traditions) The pictures do not show that, but when you handle her, her hands tremble. It is a result of their construction – and works perfectly with the image I wanted to create.
BJDmagazine: What material did you chose to create her with? Why? What role does texture play in Dirvolira’s character?
Dorote: I have sculpted Dirvolira from Plastiform. It is strong and perfect for a doll constructed that way.
I’ve preserved the beautiful texture of the modeling clay, and even have left some micro scratches on purpose to give her an antique look. I have also used pencil and pastels instead of acrylics or other paints just to give her that roughness which makes her unique.
I like antique things and I like natural materials – you can see that in my dolls as I always do my best to keep that spirit.
BJDmagazine: Dirvolira’s body is adorned with tattoos. Can you tell us more about the meaning of tattoos in your work?
Dorote: Dirvolira is a goddess of fields so I have used plant motifs as tattoos to emphasize her connection with nature.
I love when hand-made dolls are decorated with ornaments. That is what makes them special and unique. When I see a nude doll – it looks like a toy, but when I am looking at a doll that is decorated with drawings or paintings – I see a work of art.
BJDmagazine: How do you chose the materials for the costumes? Does each element have a symbolic value?
Dorote: I look at a doll as at a complete work of art. All her details must flow one into another. There must be harmony between the doll and her costume – colors, ornaments, texture – it is a whole. The color of Dirvolira’s hair echoes the pencil drawings on her body. Her natural silk skirt looks like a mist floating above the fields and her flax corset reminds us that flax was the main fiber used in clothing by ancient Lithuanians. So in the end the doll has something from fantasy and something from history.
BJDmagazine: Why do you chose to paint the eyes of your dolls, rather than use glass eyes?
Dorote: It is all about the style of doll I create. Sometimes I make glasslike eyes myself so they fit the character, at other times I paint them as that fits the style of a doll better. My latest dolls are more and more stylized and glass eyes would just look strange and unnatural.
BJDmagazine: Your costumes are incredibly detailed. What is their role in the creation of your characters? Can you elaborate?
Dorote: Yes. I pay a lot of attention to costuming. It is the costume that creates a character. There is so much room for imagination in costume creating. I always say that a doll without a costume is just a half piece (unless she is tattooed of course).
I like when the dolls are nice to touch and I am thinking of that while choosing fabrics. However, they are art pieces first of all, so they must be eye-catching. All the detail I add to their costumes makes them special. They attract your attention and you never get bored looking at them. I also believe, that while holding my doll in your hands you can feel the whole love and energy I have put into her.
Costuming my dolls takes as long or even longer than sculpting. High quality fabrics are sewn and embroidered by hand. I use lots of beads, which all are attached with thread. Sometimes I dye fabrics to get the exact color I need for the character. A real work of art must have lots of hand work and it must be resistant to aging as much as possible. That is why I choose sewing instead of using glue everywhere where it is possible even when it takes more time.
Join us Thursday, 9 a.m. (Boston time) for the second installment of this wonderful interview with Tireless Artist.
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