Featured Artisan
November 2009
CDHM artisan Sue Anne McConnell of ToodleSocks Dolls all hand sculpted artdolls

Poupées Art Délicat
Written By Alice Bell
Images by Sue Anne McConnell
October 10, 2009


CDHM artisan Sue Anne McConnell of Toodle Socks Art Dolls including teddy bears, fairies, fairy, baby, babies, and 1:12 scale dolls What gets miniature baby artist Sue Anne Bartocci McConnell out of bed in the mornings?


"It also keeps me up way too late at night!" she said with a guilty laugh.

Sometimes that late night experience can be counterproductive.

"I have a bad habit of making a second right hand for my dolls instead of a right and a left. And once I reached for what I thought was a spare bit of clay only to discover I'd squished an uncured mini baby!" she said ruefully.

She creates her miniature babies - fairies and toddlers - in sunny Anaheim, CA, but misses her former Ohio home, particularly during this time of year when the air develops that crisp fall tang and harvest festivals abound.

"Before moving to California, I had my own gift shop/studio in the historic and charming town of Tipp City, Ohio. After the move, I had to find another venue to sell my work. That is when I discovered Ebay and CDHM. I am proud to say that I have shipped my dolls all over the world," she gushed.CDHM artisan Sue Anne McConnell of Toodle Socks Art Dolls

Besides Ebay and CDHM Sue Anne has supplied gift stores with babies ranging between US$50-100.00 and is considering selling from her website as well during this year's holiday season.

The Christmas holiday is her favorite time of year, and appropriately enough, a Santa sculpt is how her mini sculpting career began.

"Christmas holds so many wonderful memories and I can still grasp a bit of the magic that I felt as a child. I had a Santa Claus magazine that had directions for sculpting a face and hands with paper clay. From there I bought a Maureen Carlson book and learned the basics of sculpting miniatures in polymer clay. Gradually, my work became more realistic and I found that the smaller I sculpted, the more I enjoyed the process.

CDHM artisan Sue Anne McConnell of Toodle Socks Art Dolls including OOAK hand sculpted teddy bears, polymer clay custom fairies, fairy, baby, babies, and 1:12 scale dolls "I really enjoy the challenge of sculpting tiny. I don't always use a scale, but I always try to pay close attention to proportions no matter what the size. I am currently learning how to sculpt adult dolls and studying artist's anatomy books to learn how to sculpt the muscles, tendons, and proportions," she said.

She is inspired by the artists Maureen Carlson and Katherine Dewey as well as the fairy art of Cicely Mary Barker and the baby photos of Anne Geddes. But there is another source of inspiration a bit closer to home.

"I find inspiration from babies and children I see. I often find myself looking at them closely to see just what it is that gives them that "baby" look. Now that I have a grandson, I have a personal little model for my work!"

CDHM artisan Sue Anne McConnell of Toodle Socks OOAK Artdolls including sculpted teddy bears, fairies, fairy, polymer clay baby, babies, and 1:12 scale artdolls In addition to CDHM, she is a member of Through The Looking Glass, The Fairy Society, Art Dolls Sculpting Group, Global Fantasy Dolls, and The World of Froud. She has also taught classes on baby sculpting but has no plans for more in the near future.

Instead, her future plans are centered more around giving her dolls more expression.

"I just want to keep getting better and I want to put more "life" into my dolls," she said.

One of those areas she wants to breathe more life into are fingers.

"Realistic fingers are the most difficult area for me because most of my pieces are so small. The warmth of my hands makes the clay soften too quickly to hold the form of a posed hand. CDHM artisan Sue Anne McConnell of Toodle Socks handsculpted 1:12 scale dolls including teddy bears, OOAK fairies, hand sculpted fairy, baby, babies, mermaids, and 1:12 scale dolls

"I have a wooden tool that I use constantly that came in a package with several other miniature sculpting tools that is the most helpful. I rarely touch the other ones! I also have an inexpensive plastic tool that I simply call "the yellow tool" that I use the pointed end to get into tight places on a sculpt - like fingers," she explained.

The kitchen is the heart of many a home and often the center of many a crafter's creativity. Since her move from Ohio to California, Sue Anne's kitchen table has served as her work area, housing the "yellow tool" and many others as well as sculpts in various stages of completion.

Even though the table is covered with all these supplies and works in progress, she makes certain to reorganize it every night so she wakes to a fresh and orderly work environment the next morning. So hopefully no more uncured sculpts will get squashed accidentally. Who knows when that next sculpt might be the most lifelike ever?

"I will always strive for more perfection, although no artist ever really achieves that. And it would certainly be fun if a doll company wanted to reproduce one of my dolls!"

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