Amy van Boxel
Amy van Boxel designs her “children of the world” since 1996
Since 1986 her parents, Bets and Jos van Boxel started Poppenstee after making dolls as a hobby by Bets. They rebuilt a former “Langstraat” farmhouse into a gallery and studio. The name “stee” refers to the type of farmhouse in this part of the Netherlands. Amy worked as an Industrial designer for several years after completing her education at the design academy. When her parents asked her to participate in the family company, she did not have to think it over. They worked together for almost 20 years on a daily basis to make their porcelain children and did all other daily activities.
Nowadays Bets and Jos retired from their work but they are always available for necessary help or advice
Amy van Boxel finds her inspiration in traveling abroad together with her husband and children. She makes photographs of the beautiful children she meets and tries to gather as much as possible useful original fabrics and accessories. Sometimes the idea of a new doll starts with an intricate pieces of fabric, a photograph of a beautiful face or only a nice posture. Amy searches her collection to make the idea come alive. She sculpts the head, arms, legs and body according to the photograph she has out of Plastilin, a soft sculpting material. It is important that the scale and proportions are correct, taking notice that the porcelain shrinks ± 20%. The Plastilin sculpted parts will be used to make the plaster moulds. After removing the Plastilin parts and long term drying the plaster the porcelain is poured into the mould. Inside the mould forms a thin layer of porcelain. The liquid porcelain is poured out that leaves a hollow green ware form. After drying, the parts are cleaned and sanded. Eyes and nostrils will be cut, the skin will be smoothened and the features refined. The porcelain parts will be fired in a special kiln at a temperature of 1180 °C. A day and a night later the porcelain has its final sternness, has shrunk and became a light skin color. Depending on the desired skin color, the porcelain will be painted in different layers of porcelain paint. Each layer fires at 780 °C. Eyebrows, lower lashes, lips and blush will also be painted and fired. Finally the nails and “dirt” is painted on. All parts will be assembled. The porcelain parts are connected together or by fabric parts. The fabric body will be stuffed including a wire frame, making it possible to pose the body correctly. Most of the children are dressed completely or partly in traditional clothing. The dolls clothing is, as much as possible, made out of original worn fabric. After studying the pattern and used colors, the clothing is made in the correct scale. The crystal eyes are inserted in the head and fixed with some plaster in the right position. Real human hair or Mohair as a wig or direct glued on the head makes the hair. Finally the upper lashes are glued on and final details are made. Little accessories like toys, plates or cups are added and clothing and shoes are altered to look worn. Every doll has its own doll stand. A doll is finished when it tells the viewer a story. That facial expression, posture and clothing are correct and make the “child” life-like. Amy prefers to search for the beauty within a person. You can see the love that has been put in every creation. The biggest compliment exists from the collector who appreciates a piece of art and wants to give it a nice spot in his home.
All dolls are made in a limited edition of 5. They are exhibited and sold to collectors all over the world.
The dolls that Amy makes are primarily made in a scale 1:2. The height is depending on the age of a child 40 to 90 cm. Some dolls she makes scale 1:4 what makes these dolls 20 to 45 cm.