Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Whimsical Dolls of Nancye Williams

The Artful Elite is pleased to bring you the art of Nancye Williams. Click any of the photos to be directed back to their original content.

I have always been an artist. I am an artist because I do not have a choice in the matter. It is as though art chose me as opposed to the opposite. Many times during my evolution I have thrown away all my art supplies only to get employment in the business of art.

I love this statement Nancye and thank you for joining me here on The Artful Paper Doll. Our passions define us and no matter how much we might deny them, they are with us always. I think it is interesting that you were able to part with your supplies. I think I have supplies dating back to the dawn of man due to my packrat nature. Why would you get rid of your supplies and what do you think drove you to try to stifle your art? What kept you coming back?
I am a pack rat as well. But I did throw out my stuff probably due to lack of confidence and just plain giving up. The Universe is tricky sometimes. Just when you think you can’t do a thing anymore and give up there it is right in your face again. I guess that’s why I kept coming back to art. It is what I was suppose to be doing. It really found me and not the opposite. My husband says “We will each do what it is we are supposed to do. It is a certainty.” There is to need to worry, we’ll do just exactly what we came here to do.”

When did you first realize you wanted to create? Your artist statement on your blog, Nancye's Art and Beautiful Junk mentions that you never had any formal training yet you have been blessed with employment in the arts at various times in your life. What made this possible and would you describe some of the jobs you have held?
There was a drive in me since forever but I never thought I could do it. It drove me crazy sometimes. I wanted to create and when you think about it we are always creating. Whether it be a job, relationship, family, home, even cooking a meal or picking out clothes, it’s creating. I often did not know I was creating. I had a hard time focusing because I was a single mom and bread winner for so many years. When my time was more my own I was able to look closely at my life and choose what I wanted rather than choose what was the highest good for all concerned.

I create constantly. It’s almost a curse. I used to have so many ideas that I would become immobile. I couldn’t do a thing because I was obsessed. I would stay awake late into the night but now that I’m older it is much easier. I actually get tired.

My next question may have an obvious answer but as someone who has never worked in the field for which I was trained, I have to wonder how those who have no formal training but love art end up leaving artistic careers?
My art jobs just came to me. I let the Universe lead. I have some very interesting stories that probably no one would believe. I have worked in the graphics field, printing companies. I was an art director and that was when I just really did not like the stress so I began to visualize. I stayed in the graphics field for 20 years. Ugh! I did not know what I wanted at that point. I did know what I did not want.

I designed a line of handmade jewelry and that is when I met my now husband. We both worked part time for the same company. His profession was a jewelry rep. Need I say more? That is how it works. So I made jewelry, he sold it. Then I designed a line of handmade cards and a woman from New York who owned a handmade card company found one of my cards at my friends store and called me to sign a contract with her. I then designed a line of gifts and asked my husband to show them at a gift market he was attending. At 11:00 am the first day, he called me and said if it weren’t for my line, there would have been no business at all. They were in line ordering. That may seem like a good thing but bear in mind that I had to make all these things that he was taking orders for. I did it though. Then I was asked to do some higher end boutiques over Xmas. I was so tired from producing that I almost did not do one. They called and begged so I did a few things for them. An art director for a gift company saw my things and bought every single piece there. Then he called me and asked to meet with me to discuss a contract. Well, as it is in life, nothing is easy. At that point, two other companies came calling as well. After many weeks of nerve racking waiting. I signed a 3 year contract to design lines to be produced in China. In other words, I only made one piece of each instead of every piece that sold. I worked for them for over ten years until the world started changing.

I’m a free spirit and training really never interested me. I love to learn but testing makes me freeze. I am better behind the scenes.

I noticed from your blog that you are doing some mixed media art as well. Did the mixed media come before the dolls or vice versa? How has your art evolved over the years? What medium did you first work with and what lead you to try others?
I have always done some kind of art. I do everything. As far as what came first...I don’t know. I love texture, mismatched things, color and feeling. I intuit what I do and as long as I’m working with my hands I’ll be fine. I don’t know what medium I started working in...probably paper and clothes. I’ve always loved paper, making it, layering it and just having it. I used to design my own clothes. I drove my mother crazy. She was always laughing at what I wore. What lead me to other mediums is just that I get bored and don’t focus well.

Tell us about some of your favorite mediums and why you like them?
I like what ever I’m attracted to at the moment. I do so much and as for evolving that’s what we are suppose to do. I just can’t get stuck and I want to know and do it all.

I am constantly amazed and dazzled by artists who can sculpt the human form. You are now creating some beautifully whimsical dolls like the one pictured here and even winning awards. How fantastic and I wish you sincere congratulations. What was the spark that lead you to begin sculpting dolls?
I began sculpting dolls just because I wanted something to do. I took one class in polymer clay and that is all she wrote. From then on it’s been dolls, dolls, dolls. All kinds and all mediums.

I know some sculptors recommend a basic knowledge of anatomy before trying to sculpt. Did you ever pour over anatomy books to get proportions right or was there something else that you found more useful?
I do not use any anatomy books because I think my dolls are rather whimsical. I don’t want them to look real. Even though I’m getting really attracted to the realistic look. Who knows?

What kind of clay do you use most often and why? Have you tried others that you no longer use? What made you stop using them?
I use polymer clay because I’m familiar with and it comes easy for me. I do work in low fire, air dry and paper clay. I also use paper mache and fabric. As I said before, I go back and forth depending on my feelings a the time.

Do you sew your own costumes for your dolls or do you glue them on the doll?
I sew and glue the costumes on my dolls.

What do you currently use as hair on your dolls? If it is mohair how did you learn how to use it and did you find it difficult to use at first? What do you like most about using it? Do you teach methods for using it in your tutorials?
I do use hair on my dolls, but all of them. It, once again, depends on my mood and the doll. I use all kinds of hair. I use real hair, from the kids, I use wool, mohair, and various other things that look like hair. I took a class on making a baby fairy a few years ago and she told us how to apply the mohair to the baby, so I just did it in a bigger vein. There are plenty of tutorials on the web on hair. All you have to do is look.

I sometimes find that no matter what my original plan is for a piece of art, sometimes the art takes on a life of its own and decides to become something different from what I had in mind. Do you also find this to be true when you create your dolls? Barring the interjection of her own will and personal style, how long does it normally take you to complete a doll? What inspires you to begin creating a particular doll?
What inspires me to create a particular doll? I usually start with something totally different in mind and then the doll takes over. I’m just the hands of the organization. It takes as long as it takes. Simple dolls take about a day and then if I have something pressing on my mind the project could take forever.

Do you do commission work? How might one go about commissioning you to do a piece?
I was just asked yesterday to do a commission piece. I really don’t like to do them because in the past, I have had people decide that they do not want it after many hours of work. But in this case I’ll give it a try because it is an Angel and I already feel it.

Did you take classes from others to help you develop your personal style? Is there a single artist who continues to inspire you? Would you talk a little bit about how you came to find them and what inspired you about their work?
I have taken classes from others earlier. I did take the Suzi Blu Les Petite Doll drawing class. I have signed up for other Ning networks but like most in this economy I can only do so many classes. I create art for a living so you know how that goes...feast or famine.

The internet and video has opened up enormous possibility for the crafter today which has allowed us to begin sharing the knowledge of our art and personal style through online venues such as Ning which is how I came to find you on Nancye's Art Dolls. How do you like being the administrator of one of these marvelous networks? Is it anything like what you imagined it would be?
The Ning thing is a lot of work. I love it though. I have no help with any of it. I design the class, write the lessons, record the class and download and upload the lessons. I take care of the network, the members and pay pal. I would do so much more if I was single without children. I raise grandchildren you know. Up until recently I have had five of them here. It takes a lot to have such a big family, time, energy and money.

Do you have any classes you are planning that have not appeared on your network yet? Could you give us a sneak peek hint at what we might expect in the future?
I do want to do some more classes but I know people get busy in the summer time so I will lay low for the summer. We do have a Virtual Dolls on the Move group going on right now but it is closed as of the 1st of June. It should be fun. Go to the blog and watch us go. Virtual Dolls on the Move

I have a lot of classes that I’m getting ready for. For instance there is the Unique Box Doll class, The Little Vintage Dollie Class, father Christmas, an armature class, and using heat set paints class. These are just a few. I am working on some paper mache ornaments to do a class around as well closer to fall. I’d like to bring other aspects of my art life but I don’t want to step on other artists toes so I’ll just stick to dolls.

I started another Ning network that is a “paid for” network. It is just getting up and running. Creating Vintage Looking Dolls which can be found at Creating Vintage Dolls.

I am also teaching my Frida Doll class on “That Creative Place” and “Deb Company and Artist Workshops”

If we want to purchase your work, what venues are you currently using to sell your finished pieces? Is your Ning network the only place you currently offer tutorials or do you teach locally as well? If so, where might someone in your area find you teaching?
I do sell on Ebay as artandbeautifuljunk and Etsy as dollsbynancye. I am working on another venue that allows students to visit my in home studio and take art doll classes. I also do three or four Gallery Shows here where I live. I am thinking about joining the board.

Nancye, I want to thank you for your time and for being part of the magic that is The Artful Elite. I wish you best of luck with your artistic ventures and most of all, I wish you success in making your dreams reality. This has been a pleasure.
Thank you so much for asking me to be the feature for June. I appreciate you interest. nancye

Disclaimer: All images posted in association with this post remain the sole property of Nancye Williams. Any reproduction or distribution either wholly or in part without her express written consent constitutes copyright infringement. Please respect her art!


Such a Wondrous Place this Faery Space said...

Thanks for introducing us to an amazing woman and artist! You are a blessing Kellie!

Ineke van den Akker said...

Wow. I really love this! It's beautiful!
with love from Holland,

slommler said...

Great interview Kellie!! What an amazing artist and I love her work. Such a refreshing personality. Thank you for sharing this

Paper Cat Designs said...

Thank you so much for all of the lovely comments. Nancye is a talented artist.

Cheers! =D

Beverly said...

Oh my, what unbelievable talent. This work is absolutely incredible.

Thank you for sharing with us. And, thank you for visiting my blog and Pink Saturday.

Please e-mail me if you are interested in participating, and I will send you some information.

Paper Cat Designs said...

Thank you Beverly. I appreciate the visit and I know Nancye does too. I will e-mail you about Pink Saturday.

Cheers! =D
~Kitty Kellie

Anonymous said...

Would someone tell me if this Nancye Williams is the same artist that makes the "Oh, You Beautiful Dolls?"
I love them all!!

Marilyn, Rhode Island

The Artful Paper Doll said...

Hi Marilyn,

I'm sorry, I have no idea if this Nancye is the same one you are speaking of. You can visit her blog and ask her. She can be found at

Hope this helps and best of luck.

Cheers! =D