|Karen Kline with her fashion dolls 2010|
Karen writes the blog Kaerie Fairie where she presents her dolls to the world before putting them for sale in her Etsy shop. Having previously created a line of fairy dolls, she recently was inspired by my blog post about the Coco Chanel dolls to begin a new line of fashion dolls. It was her gift of a doll that inspired me to learn more about this talented doll artist.
Ingrid: To begin with, what shall I call you? Karen, Karey, or Kaerie Faerie?
Karen: I answer to all of them. When I was a teenager, I was called Twigs, because I was so painfully thin. Later when I started modeling, I got the nickname Karey. And several years ago, a good friend started calling me Kaerie Faerie in her e-mails. I loved all my nick-names so I used them all when I started my shop and blog.
Ingrid: Why are you drawn to fairies?
Karen: My love of faeries began when I was a child. My Mother, who had once been a ballerina, told stories of faeries dancing in the garden and hiding in my bedroom. I started taking ballet at the age of four, and ballet and faeries became my whole world. As a little girl, I was mesmerized by the graceful ballerinas and imagined they had wings.
Ingrid: What is your earliest memory involving dolls?Karen: My Mother and Grandmother made dolls. Mother made a collection of Alice in Wonderland dolls, and pocket dolls that fit in my jumper pockets, all the dolls were made from fabric, with hand sewn faces.
Ingrid: When did you begin making dolls?
Karen: As a very young child, my Mother and I would make dolls together, creating dolls and sewing little doll outfits, which gave me all the basics of sewing.
Ingrid: What do you enjoy about the process of doll making?
Karen: I love what I call the treasure hunt, choosing fabrics or dying or painting my own for designing the clothing and all the creative embellishments.
Ingrid: Describe the process of making a doll from conception to completion.
Karen: Making a doll starts with a idea, usually something I see. I get ideas from everything. Sometimes I draw a cartoon of what I want to create other times I just draw a pattern of a doll. The clothing concept starts after the doll is made and ready to be dressed, many times the cartoon I've drawn and the doll don't look anything alike. I free-form design on a body and all my patterns for clothing are cut around the dolls body. Just like my Couture Dressmaking skills are all cut on a dress-form.
Ingrid: What is the biggest challenge or obstacle that you encounter in making a doll?
Karen: It is difficult to get the perfect body shape because I try to make a shapely female body without a lot of seams.
Ingrid: What inspired you to make the Chanel inspired doll?
Karen: It was your blog, and the department store window picture. When I was in my twenties, I worked as a window dresser for Marshall Fields in Chicago. Dolls like those are window props and you would probably never be able to get one. I enjoy copying fashion I see, it is a challenge and these dolls were fun to make and easy. And I thought it would be sweet to share a doll with you, since you wrote that adorable blog post.
Ingrid: Can you describe a memorable incident or person that you met during your career as a model?
Karen: I modeled in the late 60's and 1970's I worked lots of trade shows and catalog, but many young designers started in the warehouses in Chicago. I worked as a fitting model, in show-rooms, salons, private shows and ladies luncheons. I met Halston, and several others that went on to become enormous fashion icons. Walking in something new and creative was always so exciting!
Ingrid: What is the most memorable dress/outfit you ever wore as a model?
Karen: It was a peach colored silk chiffon crystal studded gown, designed by Zaharoff. It floated like a fairy dress, it was very naked, I wore it on the beach for a shoot.
Ingrid: Who are your favourite fashion designers?
Karen: Of the French designers Chanel, YSL, and Dior are my favorite. Of the US designers, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors offer beautifully made clothing.
Ingrid: I know that you sometimes make clothes for your dolls from your own wardrobe discards. Do you ever cringe when cutting up an old favourite?
Karen: No, because I'm giving it new life, and I only cut up what I can't wear anymore.
Ingrid: What is your favourite doll that you have made? Or is the last doll you made, always your favourite?
Karen: I have two soft faeries I made years ago that I never put them away. They live where I can see them and they are called secrets because they sit whispering to each other.
Ingrid: Are you ever sad to box up a favourite doll for a new owner?
Karen: No, I love to share. I always say goodbye have a safe trip.
Ingrid: What is the last book you read?
Karen: I read a lot of vintage fashion books, I just finished Patou, Meredith Etherington-Smith. I'm crazy for the French fashion of 1920's.
Ingrid: How do you define success?
Karen: It is about the art work. I have not been bored from making dolls. I feel like I have finally found my artistic niche and selling is just the icing on the cake.
To see more of Karen's dolls, visit her blog Kaerie Faerie or her Etsy shop.