Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Meet the Fantastical LaTeefah, Doll Maker Extraordinaire

I love to give kudos to artisans that I am in awe of. LaTeefah is one of them. There is such great vintage style to her mysterious creations that they find their way both in your sub-conscious and the forefront of your thoughts, in wanton desire of owning them all. I first discovered her dolls in a gallery down in New Orleans post Catrina. While I wanted desperately to buy 2 of her dolls, the gallery owner refused to sell them to me (don't have a clue why) leaving me in search for the doll maker all on my own. Much to my elation, I found her on Etsy a few years later.  Can you hear me squealing with joy!? teehee

Here she is, Ms. LaTeefa herself :)

I’m a huge fan of your work (as you know). What made you decide to start creating with ceramics?

LW: Thank you for your support, Monica. i sculpt whilst smelling like the most wonderful carnival FreakShow, thanks to your yummy enchanticals…my hands would crack and fall off without your beautiful butter!

siGh…i have always loved earthen clay…but, after university, and having run for the hills, so to speak, i was of course in need of employment to better afford the stay. I stumbled upon the Colorado gem of Van Briggle Art Pottery. www.vanbriggle.com/history.html
adoring all things old century, i applied and took every job as a lesson…cleaning the seams and signing wet clay pieces, running the steam powered tile- press, pugging clay cogs, hand crafting large batches of clay and glaze, firing kilns, casting, and eventually becoming their Master Glazer. It was an honor at best to be within the walls of such an antiquated American treasure. Art Nouveau has always been one of my motivators, and Artus & Anna Van Briggle were indeed some of the finest clay artists in the medium. 

When creating a specific doll, how do you come up the names for them? Do they speak to you after they are made or have you already come up with a name for them before they go into the kiln?

LW: By far, one of the best bits is naming dolls and pieces. at all times, i've a clay-smudged pocket mole-skin on hand, and dolly inspiration comes on far too often to ever run out of handles and names. i am truly most fond of medical dictionaries and semiotics manuals…but often times, clients own surnames and stories arouse a true title. other times, the little doLL ladies will just tell me their name, and i haven't a choice in the matter.

Do you work with other mediums?

LW: i miss welding…very much. the fire is hotter, closer and brighter than with pottery. but in time…wheneVer i can, I paint. Gouache, oil, encaustic, watercolor; but as of now, merely for family and friends. The dolls alone, afford me a large realm of mediums with components of sculpting, crocheting, dyeing, sewing and original recorded song and sounds. i am currently trying my hand at making doll eyes using glaze and glass in the test kiln. i would love to have more control over their variety of shapes.

Your work is so hauntingly enchanting and so original. What inspires you to create you sculptures and dolls?
LW: Historical heroins and insomnia. i devour historical non-fiction, always preferring the trials and tribulations of the dames of the past. Nothing against the lads…i read that as well, yet my ignition is best lit fantasizing myself into an 1890s situation of stress, whilst laced into stays, or better still, remembering what i did to burn the plantation to the ground, whilst sparing my kittens and kin. 

I love the fact that you are so fearless in some of your adult rated works (which I own a few of) Were you ever in fear that the public would not be so accepting of some them?

LW:You own two of my most cherished…I never gave a thought about the reception, as i view them as the perfect delivery for my 'perverted puppet'. Most fear of sexuality stems from a misconception that it is none but deviant..which is such a shame! Consenting adults have every right to play, and most of us adore toys and dolls and thwart repression. Raised strictly, and Catholic, i found outlets for my virginal existence in bawdy altar egos and Aubrey Beardsley type drollery…Herman Makkink's butt-dick, rocking machine came to mind before anything else. that is why they sit cradled on their haunch. I adore my collectors so! An eclectic New Orleans couple gave them the use as custom wedding cake toppers, (stabbed right into the cake), before the big night, and it has caught on rather well!

What have you not yet created that you have plans for in the future?

There are half a dozen or so life-size statues of saints and maidens that i sculpted too large to fit in any of my kilns…i got carried away with their forms and they will delicately need to be relocated to fire, or i must buy a larger kiln, studio, land…etc. as well, i would like to incorporate welding into my forms. Interactive automatons are high on my list of future fumblings. 
My girl-pressed tile production, "lateefahTile1898" is in the making with my goal toward enough inventory of hand pressed tiles to be available before the end of summer. 

I discovered your work when I was visiting New Orleans, and it fit right in. Is that where you were raised?

LW: I was actually born in Canada & did not officially live in the US until i was 16. My parents both have family ties to New Orleans. For most of my childhood, my maternal Grandmother and Uncle resided in the French Quarter. Summer visits would find me boiling in the beauty of New Orleans before returning to The Middle East, Scandinavia or the UK, where i was raised. My imagination is definitely modeled most, by my many travels, and New Orleans enchants me very, very dearly.

Is this your primary work?

LW: Yes. Commissions are my bread and wine! Large pieces that are available from my website and Etsy, are generally three dimensional sketches for commission work. The custom orders fund my play, materials and equipment repairs. People are getting more and more adventurous, and it NEVER gets tiresome. I have met some of the best art lovers in the world since i created Kil Studios in 1999.

Where can we find your work?

LW: for archives, inquiries and such:
to purchase ready to ship, please visit:
Dolls and sculpture are on permanent private display in The Crescent City, and currently, a future gallery opportunity in New Orleans is brewing: www.facebook.com/pages/La-Madama-Bazarre/535624213149286?ref=stream
Please feel free to email request and such, personally to:

Do you have any social media for your fans to follow?

LW: i am rather shy...but:

Is there anything that you would like to share with us that I have not covered?

LW: Tarantellas, Sergei Prokofiev and Jelly Roll Morton each cause me to smile, and when played all at once, cause me to sew much faster than the average gal…i long for a cat that does not feast on bunny angora, so that she can frequent the studio…oh…and please be patient with me as i ease into this centuries' persistent pull toward social media. i am coming round, and may even tweet or twitter some day real soon…
thank you so much Monica!

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