Haunting. Exquisite. Delicate. Melancholy. These words are often over used, but they accurately describe the meticulously crafted work of ball-jointed doll artist Marmite Sue. Her porcelain Angel Egg dolls range from the more traditional articulated form to unique and somewhat eccentric figures with lace detailing, butterfly wings, high-heeled feet, jewel-inlaid porcelain, and ribbon corsets built directly into the doll’s torso. The intricacy and originality of such details take the ball-jointed doll to a level of artistry and craftsmanship I’ve never seen before in the medium.
Lenore by Marmite Sue (36cm, porcelain)
Marmite’s Sue’s customizable dolls measure 14.2” and are constructed with high-quality materials; you have the option of human or high-grade synthetic hair, and either silicone, porcelain or glass eyes, all of which come in both natural and surreal colours. Another remarkable detail is the possibility of changing the doll’s head, thereby allowing for multiple character options on a single body (the animation potential for this can be seen in Teaspoon, the video below by Marmite Sue.)
The faces themselves are my favourite element of these dolls. There are three options (Willa, Luna and Noi) and each is at once sweet and dark, ethereal and arresting. Reminiscent of one of my favourite artists, Ryo Yoshida, Marmite Sue dolls are wide-eyed without being overly child-like. But in fascinating contrast to the beauty of the dolls’ faces, there is something unsettling in their aesthetic. By carving into their ‘skin’ and sculpting their feet as stiletto heels, Marmite Sue evokes a subtle, exquisite kind of pain, thus drawing the viewer’s attention to the nexus of beauty and discomfort.
Dentelle in Pink by Marmite Sue (36cm, porcelain with human hair)
Clearly, these are art objects, not mere playthings. But play is not a bad thing! The bodies are highly articulated, with two joints in the torso for a greater degree of poseability. There is also the option of ordering either a permanent face-up (ie. the dolls' ‘make-up’ has been applied with high-fired china paint which cannot be removed) or a removable face-up (ie. the face has some permanent shading, but you can apply removable make-up with watercolour pencils and nail polish). Like the option of changing faces, this allows you to create many different characters for your doll. There are also several different skin shades, from palest ‘Pearl’ to a rich ‘Cocoa’.
To browse through Marmite Sue’s doll galleries, visit her blog, and you can also email her at email@example.com to request a catalogue. (Her porcelain orders are filling up quickly, but she has mentioned the possibility of a resin line becoming available soon on her blog.) You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Happy dolling!
Little Lace by Marmite Sue (36cm, porcelain with human hair)