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CLOTH CLOTH DOLLS DOLLS Antonine

Row 1: Group shot Anatomy doll Worm in the belly Voodoo lily doll Guillotina and her heads Marchesa Luisa Casati Row 2: Knifed Life Death Lilies Below: Mini poison wormwood

Kerry Kate shows

The BEAUTIFUL side of DEATH

J

ust out of college, having desk where I research my projects,” studied painting on she says. “My sewing area is in my canvas for many years, living room and my dining table Kerry Kate Patterson doubles as a shipping area!’” grew tired of flat, Being creative as a child, Kate square paintings and yearned had made a couple of rag dolls and Sara Maddocks for a different medium on which whilst she has always liked dolls, she could express herself. Studying she could never find ones that truly art for five years had given her a broad reflected her needs. This she believes background in painting and art history, also influenced her to make her own: “I ceramics, photography, video production, work from my own patterns and designs graphics, and web and theatre design. using high quality oils, and muslin and It was during a 3D design class that tiny brushes, which I go through like she also learned to make marionettes. mad. I believe the key to a clean and tight The idea to use cloth dolls as her canvas piece of art is fresh brushes. I consider began to develop and with it much my work more as fine art than craft.” research into the subject. “It kind of came All the dolls she sells via her website together like nothing else ever had. It’s and commissions come complete with a like I have been preparing to make them beautifully designed tag. She describes without even knowing it,” she explains. her characters as “unconventional, A life-long San Franciscan, Kate moved unique and a bit macabre” and they to Los Angeles and turned a room of certainly have an atmosphere of the late her home into a new art studio that has 18th-early 19th century medicine and the since expanded to the rest of the house. Sherlock Holmes era about them. “I have two work tables and a computer Her inspiration comes from things 50 DOLL

that intrigued her growing up, such as Halloween, the paranormal, strange curiosities, ghost stories, horror movies, superstition, attic findings, biology, animals, abnormalities, unusual botany and folklore. Some openly attack her work as being sick and freakish, but Kate has met many wonderful, talented and extremely supportive people in the short time she has been creating this style of figure. To these friends she expresses warmth and gratitude. There is no denying that her artwork is exquisite and an underlying humour can be seen through the characters portrayed, such as “Guillotina and her heads,” that cannot fail to raise a smile. Indeed, one wonders whether her worst critics are as intolerant of crime and horror fiction. After all, Kate’s oil painted characters are simply a different medium for the same self-expression. Although she doesn’t teach classes or travel to competitions, Kate shows her fine art figures in galleries and group

shows, with more coming up. She was involved once in a doll show, which she recalls as a rare treat. Usually her work is shown with paintings and other 3D artwork. “Preparation is not that difficult, as art dolls are for display only and sit nicely on a shelf or hang on a wall,” she says. Kate tends to start her day a bit later than most people, she says, since she goes to bed quite late at night. She especially likes painting in the middle of the night, her Boston Terrier, Wednesday, and cats, Oona and Spider, nearby. “I like

to split the day between painting, website updating, making graphics and research for new dolls; then there’s marketing and advertising,” she says. Kate finds great inspiration from influences such as the artist Scott Radke, whose originality she greatly admires. She feels fiercely protective of her designs and styles. Since her work is unique, she would like to keep it that way. “Serious money can only be earned by those artists who make a big name for themselves and get into the mainstream market, so it is very hard when you see your designs plagiarised and sold on eBay,” she explains. It takes three to four hours to make her patch style dolls (wormwood and poisons). The other larger, more detailed styles take longer. The bodies are stained and machine stitched, whilst the limbs and patches are hand sewn. Each face is hand-painted using layers of oil and take several days to complete due to the lengthy drying periods.

“Although I pencil in the feature placement, the faces tend to evolve by themselves as I work. They will have their own way!” she says and laughs. Working at home, she says can be hard, too, “because I feel that I should always be spending my time on my art and I am inclined to want to be doing something work-wise, anyway. I’m happiest when I’m working on my projects. I even get to go out sometimes.” Ultimately, Kate’s greatest satisfaction comes from customers expressing their appreciation of her work in letters and emails. It is those persons who seem to “get” what her work says: “I feel they are stuffed canvases with a spirit within them that often have a lamentable story of their own to tell.” END

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