Feb 24, 2012

Do you make custom dolls or art?

I don't, for the same reason a lot of artists don't...but found myself compromising this time.  The request was more for a type of doll, instead of "Make a doll of my granddaughter" or something...and since it was a type of doll I'd never tried to make, I was curious enough to give it a shot.

Hitty dolls are cute--everybody has a favorite and this is not mine, but she's cute and I wanted to try one this small.  She's 6.5" tall, and the request was to make this one resemble Hitty AND a prior doll I'd made and sold through my shop.  Not sure if I managed to do so, but she's finished and I'll list her today.

My husband just finished a custom order for a purse, which is the only kind of work he likes...he says if he's going to put in the man hours (human hours?) and expense to make a leather item, he likes to know it's for somebody who wants it rather than making stock he can only hope to sell.  Of course, he has to work this in around a day job, so I can see his point.  The purse was not only custom in its Hummingbird design but in the dimensions, so he had to create a brand new pattern to cut the leather out.  We like collaborating on projects like this...I draw up the design and he does all the rest.  :~)  I think it turned out pretty well...

When Juliet sold after six months or so of being listed on Etsy, all of a sudden I had three more people saying "Hey--I wanted this doll!  If the (layaway) sale falls through, let me know!"  Okay...cool.

So I promised to get back to them after the recent doll show, and let them know when I make any more Queen Anne-ish type dolls like her.  I like that idea, of making more of a certain type of doll because of requests, but I don't think I'll do any more specific custom requests.

So: Do you make custom dolls?  
If so, why?  
If not, why not?  
How about a requested type of doll 
rather than a specific customization?  


  1. Jan - that's how I approach it. I make things along the lines of requests but don't usually promise a particular doll to a particular person.

    Very occasionally I end up doing something that feels like a commission, and then I say "Never again!" again. ;-)

  2. Someone asked me about custom work the other day. While I do like making things to suit specific people (ie swaps/gifts) I'm really not into custom orders. I suppose it feels too much like my design job. People say "I want this" and even if you don't like it, you do it because that's what the client wants. Custom items don't seem to have the same soul as items made from a spark of inspiration. (That said, that purse is gorgeous!)

    I get the same response after something sells sometimes. An item could be listed for ages and when it sells three people will say "Will you make another just like it?" As though it's coveted now because someone else owns it. It's very strange.

  3. Since I only make dolls for the pleasure of creating, the question of making custom dolls has never come up. The job of pleasing myself is big enough; don't want the added burden of trying too please someone else.

    Your little Hitty is darling, and the purse is gorgeous...love the hummingbird design!

  4. Jan, I never use to make special order dolls because it seeme like it interefered with my creative flow, trying to live up to someone else's expectations was not my cup of tea. Recently I have told my requesters that I will make a one of a kind doll in the likeness that they are wanting with the idea that I will list it for sale if they don't happen to like it when it has been finished. So far all the special requests have sold so it seems to be working for both the customer and me. I love your little hitty doll and your husband is very talented with leather! :)

  5. I used to do custom work (soft toys not dolls) years ago but I stopped. Simply because your client envisions one thing and it's very difficult to meet their expectations. Plus I found it too stressful...LOL.

    Your dolls are wonderful...I really love the Queen Anne....and your husband is so talented with leather...the bag is beautiful:)

  6. If someone asks for something I've already made with just a color variation or something simple like that I will usually do it, but custom work totally stresses me out. It completely turns the creative switch to off in my head.

    You guys are both so talented. The dolls are both charming, I especially love the Queen Anne one and the purse is fab!

  7. You both do such wonderful work. The craftsmanship is so perfect.
    Thank you for sharing your art work and your lives.
    I don't make dolls.
    I would rather look at yours.

  8. Your Hitty is way cute and very Hitty-like!
    I've done many dolls in the past as custom orders - I mean it would be in the hundreds. I've also done portrait dolls, which is a bit stressful when you are trying to achieve a passing resemblance to a real person - usually working from photographs, so you are translating 2-D into 3-D - not always easy. Like Sidereal Day, I'm happy to re-create a "similar" to something I've previously made - they are never exactly the same (What would be the point of that?)
    I prefer to work on what I feel like doing, but unfortunately, the harsh reality of having to make a living from it often (but not always) precludes that!

  9. I don't do custom requests (well, very rarely). For some reason, I find it stressful, and my new goal is to carve away stress where I can. I try and let people know when I am making another Frida doll (she seems to be the one I get asked about), but honestly, sometimes I plain old forget to do it! LOL! Love your new doll (I have no idea what a Hitty doll is, I'll have to google it), and I love the one everyone was clamoring for, too. Phil's leather work is amazing. What a team you are! Happy weekend! xox

  10. I get asked to do custom dolls all the time, and I rarely ever do it. I've found that often, the requests become too numerable, the customer changes her mind so much it becomes maddening, then suddenly, they expect you 'as a favor, because they're giving you more business' to practically give it to them for free. I hate saying 'no' to people, but I find I have to now. I'd rather make what I want and see if anyone else loves it enough to give it a home.


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