home from NIADA – Mrs. Fukuda and Robert McKinley

This was an amazing NIADA for me —- I was given a gift of so very much cool encouragement…. I never realize just how very much I crave positive strokes, but this trip really made it obvious to me.

Its so very good to be back home….. Las Vegas in July is just too hot for me! I walked out along the strip one afternoon and it really felt like i was being flash fryed…. it was only 109 degrees, but I found myself pausing in the doorways of the casinos, relaxing in the airconditioning…. Enjoyed the Chihuly flowers at the Bellagio, and saw the Beatles Cirque show at the Mirage….wanted to walk down to see the pyramid but chickened out. maybe next time.

I was given the most incredible kind gift of encouragement from Tomoko Fukuda, a wonderful Japanese Dollmaker, member of NIADA
Mrs. Fukuda's Persimmon child

who came over with her daughter to talk to me about Saranbileg. She said that she knows Mr. Yoshida (who wrote the wonderful book on making Ball jointed dolls – Yoshida Style) and his students who have become professional doll makers, and that she felt that Mr. Yoshida would approve of Saran…..

sometimes, when you are trying to make a doll based on a different culture, you worry that you might offend, or somehow miss the things that make the figure appropriate…. i hadn’t even realized how much I was worried about that until she so kindly spoke to me.

So Therese! we did good!!! and a number of people were wanting to know more about ball jointed dolls and how they could get a body and head like hers.

i’ve spent a lot of years sculpting what i wanted to sculpt, and as long as I was happy with the sculpt, it didn’t matter so much that other folk didn’t often understand the piece or like it. but i have to admit, it sure feels wonderful just once to have made a sculpt that many people like!

Mrs. Fukuda's dolls (with pics of her and her daughter too)

Mrs. Fukuda’s people are real – she had one piece there that caught me completely – an older woman sitting patiently waiting for her cat to wake up and play with her…


I’m going to wallow in the pleasure of having done something “right” for just a little while more, before i go back to my more normal outsider type stuff. funny how seductive a little acceptance is, isn’t it?

But I think that I really want to catch the emotions of a moment in time, like Mrs. Fukuda has done with the old lady and her cat…. maybe that is the lesson i will take away from this NIADA, Saran is beautiful and I love her….. but I really, really wish I had made a piece like the old woman. Ok, so maybe it will be an old lady sitting with her tattoos fading on her wrinkled skin, holding her elderly snake (how do you tell a snake is elderly?)… but I want to catch that sweetly sad emotion.

Mrs. Fukuda’s figures made me think of Robert McKinley’s work. Robert McKinley’s figures were why I wanted to join NIADA in the first place. I bought both of his dollmaking books and tried to follow his way of making figures, when I was first starting out. I’ve heard from a number of people who sent him letters with questions and received wonderful, encouraging replies from him. I never did contact him, being way too shy, but at this NIADA conference, Michael and Jan Langton put up as a helper gift for people to buy tickets for, a little sketch Robert McKinley had done…. and I won it!!!

It makes me smile so very much — thank you Michael and Jan, and thank you so very much Robert — still encouraging us, even now –

sketch by Robert McKinley

3 thoughts on “home from NIADA – Mrs. Fukuda and Robert McKinley

  1. Hi Pat, I know it’s been ages since you’ve heard from me, but I just wanted to let you know that I do drop in every now & then to see what you’re up to. Marvellous things, obviously! I’m so glad that you’re up there in the “big leagues” now! I’ve never known a doll artist before with so much creative talent and I’m not saying that just to flatter. I haven’t created a doll myself now for almost two years and I don’t really follow up on the doll sites anymore, but you are one of the very few whose work still gives me “the tingle”. I love the new directions you are taking and there’s nothing like being among like-minds to spur you on to further challenges. It looks like you found that at NAIDA. Congratulations on winning the McKinley sketch – what a treasure! Keep pushing the boundaries of your artform… I am here in the cheering section!

  2. Pat, “an elderly snake” thats great… I guess it would be limp and wrinkled too, esp with creases where it folds over…great idea!
    recently, I’ve started keeping an idea book (b/c I get way too many to remember) and i find that I re-inspire myself when I go through it. lol, in the end its all about inspiration isn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *