Not your typical Barbie

Artist Beth Robinson, once a painter, traded in paintbrushes for human hair and antique fabrics, and started making what she calls “strange dolls.”Inspired by Japanese “ball-joint dolls” and put in surreal scenarios Robinson left behind portraiture to, as she says, “take the characters off the canvas.””I’d never seen the doll treated as an art form like that before,” Robinson said. “I literally went to Borders and got a book on dollmaking.”From there, Robinson created an international name for herself, making dolls out of Polymer clay and a variety of other objects for people all over the world, from both custom requests and her own ideas.However, the most peculiar and exciting request to date was, a woman in Philadelphia, requesting that Robinson make her a doll using her dog’s teeth, her own hair and her kidney stone, having Robinson create a sort of voodoo doll for her, which the woman then did her own embroidery on.While none of the dolls Robinson has made have been as distinct as that one, she often uses real hair — from animals, herself, her friends or maybe a customer — in her dolls.Despite the unconventional materials in the dolls, the dolls themselves are what especially seem to invoke a certain response, Robinson said.”There’s always a built-in reaction from people,” Robinson said. Yet, her inspiration to craft the dolls is not simply to shock people.”I’m not necessarily looking for a negative reaction,” Robinson said. “Almost everyone has something to say about them. It’s always very personal it seems. “”That’s the part that I sort of anticipate,” Robinson said. “That’s what I look forward to — hearing people’s stories and what they associate with the doll.” For more on the work of Beth robinson visit: