Kim Arnold’s dolls are like snowflakes — no two are ever the same.
“They each have their own individual personalities,” said the Corunna woman, scanning the collection of large BJDs (ball jointed dolls) that decorate her home.
The avid collector-turned doll maker has earned an impressive reputation since she began hand-sculpting her own characters just a few years ago.
“I’ve just always loved dolls — I played with Barbies forever when I was younger,” said the 56-year-old. “I’ve taken different paths throughout my life, but I always seem to come back to them.”
Arnold began experimenting with clay sculpting back in 2010. Today, her dolls are so popular she ships her prototypes to China where they’re made of resin, then returned to Arnold for finishing.
“I take the heads off, wash them, spray seal them, paint, glue on eye lashes, dress them, pack and ship them,” said Arnold, who recently wrapped up a five-doll order for a customer in Colorado, which took her about a month to complete.
“I’m the receiver, the artist, the shipper and the accountant.”
The wide-eyed dolls, known as Trinket Box Kids, are 19 inches tall and can move at the knee and elbow joints.
A basic Trinket Box doll starts at $530 U.S., plus shipping,
A special line of ‘Misfit’ dolls has grown surprisingly popular, Arnold said, noting their eclectic, raggedy look.
“I did them because, we’re not all perfect in life,” said Arnold. “They’re just totally different, and everybody loves them.”
The dolls are shipped worldwide — Israel, Russia, Spain, Germany, Australia, and most frequently, to the U.S.
She only has two or three Canadian customers.
“I wish doll collecting was more popular here; people don’t know what they’re missing,” said Arnold, who has won awards for Outstanding Artistry from both the International Doll Show — where she’ll return in June to show off her creations in Asheville, North Carolina — and Dolls Magazine, which featured her work on the cover of the March issue.
“I haven’t been doing it that long, so to get awards and a magazine cover — it’s a very special privilege,” said Arnold, who lives with husband Ron and four English Setter rescue dogs.
Next month, they’ll be on hand at the London Doll & Teddy Bear Show, at the London Ukrainian Centre on April 3.
“To me, it’s not work — well, it’s work, but it’s comfortable work. It’s a process, but an enjoyable process,” Arnold said. “I think it’s important to always stay different, especially in your art.”