Lee's Menagerie
Melding Science & Magic

F.A.Q.

A compilation of some of the most common questions I get asked online and in person.

F.A.Q.

"FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS"

 

A compilation of some of the most common questions I get asked online and in person. I try to respond to all messages, but sometimes they fall through the cracks or I just don’t have enough time to address every question. I really appreciate everyone who takes an interest in my art, and hope that this list will be informative!

 

I found your work online and I just love it! I’m not sure what to call it though. I’ve seen you use the words Artdoll and Designer Toy when talking about your creatures. What do those words mean?

First off, I’m so glad you like my work! Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me. It means a lot =)

Secondly, welcome to the weird world of art-toys made for adult collectors! I use a few different terms to describe my work: creatures, dolls, artdolls, designer toys, and art toys, just to name a few. What I really make are individual pieces of artwork. They look a little like toys you might find mass-produced in toy stores, but there are major differences. Each doll or sculpture I sell is a handmade original. Even the ones that are made from the same mold will have small, unique differences making them one of a kind. I personally make each doll with my own two hands, and a lot of work goes into the process. Another important aspect of an Artdoll is that it is intended for adult collectors. I’m sure there are plenty of responsible children out there who know how to care for collectibles and artwork, but I never recommended my dolls be given to a child. They aren’t designed to be played with roughly, and they have components in them, like resin and wire, which could come undone with rough handling. It’s important to view the dolls like a work of fine art you can also interact with instead of a stuffed animal or child’s toy. They just aren’t appropriate for most children, and I would never want anyone to get hurt or have their doll break.

They sure cost a lot more than a stuffed animal from the toy store! How much work do you put into each one?

Haha, yeeaaahhh. I love collecting artdolls from other artists but it sure is an expensive hobby! Out of all the questions I get asked, this one is by far the most common. It also is the hardest to answer. You see, each doll goes through a design process, and then a production process. Creating a brand new creature from start to finish goes a little something like this:

DESIGN PROCESS

  • First, I block out the entire life-size creature in clay. From this rough sculpt I make the pattern for the sewn body and refine the details on the parts of the doll that will be cast in resin.
  • After weeks, or sometimes months of sculpting and refining the body parts and face, I make a mold of the parts in silicone. The mold needs to set, then be cleaned.
  • A test cast is poured into the mold using urethane resin. This cast is used to check the mold and make the master sculpts.
  • The master sculpts are cleaned up and refined and another mold is made. This will be the production mold that all the dolls I sell will be cast from.
  • I always use my test cast parts to assemble a first version of the doll, including the sewn body, fur, paint, ect. This doll is my prototype and I usually end up keeping my prototypes as they have minor defects and issues. I have to make a prototype doll to ensure the production dolls I put up for purchase are the best quality possible. Sometimes the prototype doesn’t work, and I have to go back and revisit the whole design process!

ON TO PRODUCTION!

Once I have a working prototype, the production process begins. It’s a bit simpler:

  1. I cast all parts of the doll in urethane resin.
  2. After the casts come out of the mold, they need to be cleaned up and prepped for painting.
  3. Painting happens over the course of 3 days, with the paint being added in layers and sealed in between. We don’t want any paint rubbing off of the doll, so using sealer helps make sure that doesn’t happen.
  4. After everything is painted and sealed, I add gloss. Gloss takes another 24-48 hours to fully cure, so I don’t touch the parts until they are fully dry.
  5. While the gloss is drying, I use my fabric pattern to cut and hand-sew the dolls body out of faux fur fabric.
  6. If I’m making a furry creature, I need to add the fur to the hands and feet before the doll is assembled. This takes the longest and is the most labor-intensive part of the process.
  7. When the feet have fur, the whole doll is assembled, all body parts attached to the dolls skeleton (called an armature).
  8. The body is stuffed and the fabric body is secured to the resin body parts.
  9. The last thing I do is add fur to the face. I do this last because I prefer a seamless transition of fur from the soft body to the resin faceplate. Another day or to is needed for everything to dry and the doll is finally finished!

Holy cow, that’s a lot of work! What materials do you use for it?

I use a wide variety of materials depending on the doll, but in general, I prefer synthetic fur fabric, urethane resin, platinum silicone, plastic cup and socket armature, apoxie sculpt, and monsterclay. I like to share process pictures on my instagram which often show the materials I’m working with. 

My instagram handle is @leesmenagerie

So I was thinking. I really love unicorns. And I really love your work. Would you make me a custom unicorn doll?

I love unicorns too! Unfortunately, I don’t take commissions for new creatures. Because of how involved the process is to make a new doll design, I’m just not comfortable taking commissioned work. I do offer Custom Orders though, if you happen to like a doll design I already make, but would just like a small change made to it (maybe a custom color or you want your jackalope to have fangs, haha). If you are interested in a Custom Order, you can send me a message HERE.

That makes sense. It must be a lot of work for one person to hand-make so many dolls. What I really want is just to buy one of your baby jackalopes. They are all sold out though. How do I go about purchasing one?

Great Question! Although I sometimes have in-stock dolls for sale, most likely you’re going to need to grab a pre-order slot in order to get a doll.

HERE’S HOW PRE-ORDERS WORK:

  • Pre-ordering a doll means you are purchasing a doll that is not yet made. My pre-order dolls take 4-6 weeks to be made and shipped and need to be paid in full before I can start working on them. The benefit of pre-orders means you can choose what color creature you want at the time of purchase. If you have a question about a custom color that isn’t listed, please feel free to send me a message HERE.
  • I release a limited number of pre-orders every few months. Usually there are only 5-10 pre-order slots available for each style of doll (I need to only release as many slots a I feel I can comfortably make in 4-6 weeks!). The pre-orders are first-come, first-serve. Sometimes they sell out very quickly.
  • I will announce the exact time and date of a pre-order release multiple times before the slots go up for purchase. If you follow me on social media, there will be several announcements of the date and time and what creatures will be available for purchase before pre-order open. You can also find the date and time of the next pre-order release on the SHOP PAGE.
  • I’m so sorry but I do not take reservations for pre-order slots. 

Gotcha. You know, I really want to see your dolls in person. Is there a place I can go to shop your dolls in the real world?

Of course! I like to see items in person before I purchase them too. We do 2-4 conventions and shows per year where we sell dolls. You can also find some of my work in gallery shows. A list of events we will be selling at and galleries my work is appearing in can be found on our EVENTS page.

Excellent! I just noticed most of the conventions you do are on the West Coast of the United States. That must be because you live in California. I live in Europe. Can I still buy your dolls? Do you ship internationally?

I do ship internationally! If the United States Postal Service ships to your country, I can ship a doll to you.

That’s great news, I can’t wait to get my baby jackalope a friend! I know you keep mentioning social media, where can I follow you to get those updates you were talking about?

You can follow us on Instagram, FacebookTumblr, Twitter. Personally I recommend Instagram because that is where I am most active!

Oh, by the way, I am just learning how to make artdolls myself, will you tell me how to do it?

That’s great! The world needs more artists and you’re at the beginning of such an exciting journey. That being said…I just ate crackers and peanutbutter for dinner. At 3am. For the third night in a row. Because I was up all night making dolls! I would love to give advice to everyone who asks me for it but I simply don’t have time. The best I can do is suggest some keywords to try searching that will help you find the information you are looking for. That’s how I started learning how to do this! Try searching for: artdoll making, designer toy process, how to make poseable dolls, resin casting, mold making, and soft sculpture. There are some lovely tutorials out there for beginners!

I hope this list of questions was helpful, and if you have a question you don’t see on the list, feel free to CONTACT me.  I will do my best to respond to messages with questions that aren’t addressed here!

Thank you again for your interest in my work.

-Stefani