She's a real doll

Sparkling glass eyes, flawless complexions and darling outfits make up the treasures at various stages of completion in Judith Holmberg's collection.

The passionate artist didn't ever expect to find herself emerged in the world of porcelain dolls, but has spent years creating masterpieces.

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She was an entertainer in New South Wales earning dance awards, training debutantes and producing the concerts at her school at a very early age, had her own dance studio as a youth and had always been artistic but just over 20 years ago found a new passion.

She saw a doll display at a large trade show and one particular doll caught her fancy. She looked closely and decided to try her hand at making one. She took classes, found she enjoyed the art form and soon was working as an expert in the field.

Over the years she has contributed to the doll-making process at every stage and has made around 1000 dolls. Her dolls have found their way around the globe and her attention to the tiny details has made her a master.

She has carefully created tiny teeth, perfect fingernails and even taste buds on the tongue making the dolls unique works of art.

She keeps records of every doll she has ever made designing her own as well as working with top doll artists. Her dolls are every age, colour and size representing the world cultures in their hand-made costumes. Holmberg has many sets of arms and heads, stacks of fabric and racks of ribbon to keep her busy, but is disappointed her kiln was destroyed in a move.

The complicated process of doll-making includes using molds with liquid clay paying attention to humidity, temperature and timing, rotating the molds, removing the doll, cleaning and detailing the surface, painting, firing and more.

Her work has included reproduction dolls with their tiny hands and carefully counted eyelashes designed to match the styles of old. She uses materials from around the world for stuffing and hair and gains inspiration from magazines and pictures to make the dolls as lifelike as possible.

In creating a Marie Antoinette doll she researched the clothing of the time period in order to design a proper dress and undergarment.

She has file cabinets full of patterns, photographs, sketches and ideas to continue to work on new dolls.

Homberg enjoys the challenge of creating the one-of-a-kind pieces and has several dolls that started out being formed in the same mold but are completely unique due to colour use, hair, clothing and posture.

The artist says she doesn't have a favourite doll but loves them all. She likes the hands and teeth, the tiny details and revels in the fun she had creating each doll.

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