Stephanie Blythe writes, “One of the advantages of having a European father was that at a very early age I had my senses awakened to the sounds of other languages, the aromas and tastes of exotic cuisines and most delightful of all, the aesthetics of German toymakers and children’s book illustrators. Having studied art in college, specifically textile design I have always been attracted to collecting antique textiles. Making dolls has been a way to to use my love of fantasy and the human form. I am usually inspired by a painting (as in my Kiss Series inspired by Gustav Klimt) or a book illustration. I collect antique childrens books. Inspiration sometimes comes from a vessel (teacup) or base(crystals) but often times it can be an antique piece of lace or millinery flower. Each costume emerges (often intuitively) from a a variety of textures and patterns of decorative elements collected from every place and every decade in the last one hundred years: silks, velvets, laces, crystals, metallic threads, butterfly wings, miniature seashells. Often these elements are changed by cutting, dyeing, painting, folding…whatever works. My dolls are usually an evolution.
Although born in Berkeley, California I left there when I was two and have only moved back to the bay area (San Anselmo, California) in the past fifteen years having married Dean Walters, an antique dealer who specializes in antique corkscrews and wine antiques. I was raised on the east coast in rural Maryland and then Princeton, New Jersey. From 1963-64 I lived in Jerusalem, Israel and Paris, France where my father was a visiting professor. I attended the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem and then graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts). I spent a year in New York city designing for Vera scarves and sheets and then married, had two children and spent the next 25 years living up and down the east coast; Philadelphia, Harford County, Maryland, Bethesda, Maryland and Wilmington, Delaware. My two children are now grown up and I have two grandchildren. Two years ago we remodeled our house and I now have my “dream studio”. I have two different spaces; one for sculpting, mold making and porcelain work. The other is my clean room where I have my collections of antique textiles and antique children’s books as well as my computer.
From 1979 through 1996 I collaborated with Susan Snodgrass creating miniature dolls 1/12 scale dolls for people who had historic doll houses. We soon found that these people were, with good reason, very particular about the authenticity of the costumes of the dolls they would put in their house. We found ourselves creatively restricted. That’s when we decided to try something where we had no “rules”.
Creating straight from our imaginations, we began making tiny fairies that were so delicate that they often curled up inside of antique tea cups or champagne glasses, and were adorned with real butterfly wings. We specialized in making “teacup fairies” which are now widely imitated by doll makers around the globe. I have always been drawn to small things. I think because I was always the smallest one in my class. As a child I would spend hours in the woods playing with fairies and fashioning little plates and cups from tiny acorns. I like making things in miniature because it draws you into my world and can be intimate and mesmerizing. I enjoy including intricate detail so that living with my work is contemplative and a constant discovery. The diminutive size also enables the viewer the opportunity to hold some of them in the palm of their hand for a closer, more intimate look.”