|Lulie and Edie|
I'm guessing that a few years after Shelley's dolls were on the market, one of them, Lulie, with her short blonde hair, showed up on the secondary market, and I fell in love. I bought her. I'd never been into art dolls before, but there was something so dreamlike about Lulie, that I couldn't resist. Shelley designed the Cloudland Play Dolls from 2001-2005 and seven dolls were produced.
|Genevieve, Lulie and Nora|
I did collect the clothing sets, mint, on the second hand market, and my very favorite was called "I Can Fly". Advertised, it showed Lulie in a cloud printed blouse with bloomers in a sky view, cityscape print giving one the impression you were in the clouds looking down on a verdant township. The costume set also provided you with a fabulous bluebird cape complete with a tail, and lovely golden felt slippers. To me, these dolls were like surreal children come to life. I could not get over how happy they made me feel.
Lulie sat on a rocking chair in my studio for many years, and Cloudland Play Dolls all but disappeared from the mind of collectors. Today they are so rare to come by that collecting them seems like an elusive treasure hunt. Perhaps those who have one, or are lucky enough to have a few, simply cannot part with them. And, that is the way Shelley would have wanted it. I met her once at my first UFDC doll convention. She had an entire room showcasing her work, and not one Cloudland Play Doll was among the art dolls she showed. A little disappointed, I went up to her and introduced myself as a big fan of her dolls telling her I had Lulie and loved her. I asked her if she had plans to make more, but the joint venture had been over for sometime. She was showcasing some very unusual dolls and none of them could be played with. This was actually my introduction to art dolls. I do believe that Shelley Thornton was a pioneer in the sculpted surreal look of the art dolls you see today.
|Edie as the souvenir doll.|
I was corresponding with the seller who told me patterns were available for little Edie on the NIADA website, so I went to have a look. Sure enough Shelley had provided us with a pattern for a dress, and one for a pair of overalls and a blouse. I printed them out. And, there they sat for awhile as I gave it all some thought. I don't like using other people's patterns, but I really wanted to sew something for Edie.
|Beautiful body sculpts.|
|Edie in Desert Skies|
|Crescent moons and Forever Skies|
|The light version, no collar.|
|Vintage Toy Smock and Bow|
|Careful placement puts a monkey on her shoulders.|
|Lulie and Her Edie|
|An Autumn Duo|
|Reversible Smock and Pants for Edie|
As I was taking these photos, dressing and undressing both dolls, It came to me that Lulie had not flown in awhile. So I dressed her in I Can Fly, and did a mix and match with Edie's new outfits. Now they can both play among the summer clouds and gaze with wonder at the tiny houses, animals and streets below.
In the catalog Tonner Doll Company produced that introduced Cloudland Play Dolls, there was a lovely quote from Shelley Thornton. She wrote, "My intention is to give children the spirit-enhancing experience of owning and treasuring objects with captivating aesthetic value. I know from my own childhood how much a doll can inspire love and imaginative play, and have psychological content. I hope my dolls will be worthy of love." They are Shelley.
If you'd like to see some amazing art dolls by Shelley Thornton, just click on this link: http://forus.com/dollmaker/ Its her website.
Miss E. Mouse
|Shelley's Bluebird Cape|
|So Happy Together|
|One of Shelley's Art Dolls|
|The Night Sky Set With Purple Buttons|
|We Can Fly!|