I saw these amazing dolls on a stall at Witchfest this autumn and was captivated by them. Their creator, Melanie Ashton, crafts each one by hand - you can see her making one in the photo at the bottom. They are called Anthropomorphica Dolls, and they all have names and wonderful stories to go with them, which you can read on her website.
I was so taken with the dolls that I asked Melanie to send me some photos and details to post on A Bad Witch's Blog. I was sort of expecting just a few words about where you could buy them, but instead Melanie wrote something much more beautiful. Here it is:
"Born of the rain and the cold damp earth of Northern England, I am a self-taught doll maker and author, a wanderling, dreamer, a collector of bones, a lover of dusty sequins and a delighter in twisted humour and unfortunate tales. When I'm not in my studio you can usually find me scouring the hedgerows and forest floor for treasures of snail shells, iridescent moth's wings and feathers.The dolls remind me a bit of Tim Burton's creations in A Nightmare Before Christmas or The Corpse Bride, or perhaps something from Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, but they are not copies of either of those people's work.
"My path has been a varied one and its twists and turns have carried me through field and city and from country to country, each experience has left an impression upon my work. I have dallied a while with painting, stitching, fashion styling, and felt making, but finally in doll making I am able to weave all of these tangled threads together.
"My dolls are inspired by worlds glimpsed but rarely 'seen', by the wild woods and the lonely moors, sorcery and myth. They mourn the forgetting of the wild within and the ever decreasing wilds of nature but yet maintain a delicate feral quality with which they hold an optimism for wild's return. To be able to connect to another through my work is a profound joy for me, to know that something I have given my heart and soul to resonates with someone I have never met, is both a beautiful and humbling experience.
"I hope that perhaps, they will bid you follow them to the dark, quiet places beyond the twilight, where the moon is a pale sliver and to it the wind whispers its tales."
There's certainly something rather faery-like about the dolls, but they are not Victorian fantasy creatures with wings flitting about on a summer's day - these would seem more at home in winter woods and dark nights. Some of them seem so lost and lonely that you just want to pick them up, take them home and love them.
I have to say that if I was to find an Anthropomorphica Doll sitting under my tree for at Yule, I would be delighted.
If you want to find out more, or to buy one for someone special. Here are the links to follow:
Previous related posts
What Dwells Within - Haunted Dolls
Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle