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The Doll Magic

Some people say that adult girls do not play dolls. But if you really want it, you can make a game your profession. Today Svetlana Pchelnikova is one of the most popular Russian artists designing dolls. She says, her mother cultivated this crazy love for dolls in her. Svetlana drew the sketch of her very first doll when she was a child. When she was sixteen, she began to work, then began to combine work with study. Economic Cybernetics in Plekhanov Russian University of Economics is no fun and games! After that, there were the Russian Stock Exchange and the second university degree… All in all, Svetlana had no time for dolls. She returned to her childhood hobby only 30 years later.

Svetlana Pchelnikova, artist, doll designer:

"I began to make dolls more than 15 years ago, and first, I made them just to escape: after car accident, the doctors’ verdict gave me no hope, they said that I would be wheelchair-bound, and mom brought me some clay, paints, plasticine, and said, come on, everyone needs to exercise their fine motor skills! I was surrounded by millions of examples of people who got inspired and began to change their own lives, left banks, some big corporations, and first undertook art therapy just to cure their psychological or physical problems, and then developed this hobby into big business. Actually, that’s what happened to me."

Today, every Svetlana’s morning begins with sketches. She draws new dolls constantly: both at home, and on the road. She immersed herself into creative work, but the business past has its effect on her life. Svetlana has not only built doll business, but also became one of the first Russian popularizers of this art. According to her, at the beginning of the 21st century, there was no concept of a "designer doll". Of course, handmade toys were highly valued. But no one called this skill an “art”. But nowadays, hundreds of artists from across the country gather at the exhibitions of designer dolls. The dolls are made of porcelain, fabric, plastic, and silk.

Svetlana Pchelnikova, artist, doll designer:

"The doll makes orders, dictates and says, "I do not want a blue dress, I do not want these brown eyes, I want red curls, I want something absolutely different – freckles…" So it goes! All of them are made of the same material! But then you come to an exhibition of 500 artists, and it seems like you have known everyone for many-many years, and nothing can be really new. But every time you feel new emotions. These are the kindest and most emotional exhibitions because you feel like you get back to the childhood".

Svetlana makes different dolls, big and small. Instead of porcelain, her toys are made of sturdy, unbreakable material, so that children can play with them freely. And recently, the designer has changed from static dolls to more difficult ones, with hinges. Such dolls became fashionable about five years ago.

Svetlana Pchelnikova, artist, doll designer:

"Collectors like these ones, because they have a lot of static dolls, stiffened figures at their places, but these are warm, you can interact with them".

Many people ask: why pay for expensive designer dolls when you can find thousands of ballerinas, princesses and fairies in shops? Svetlana answers this question simply: you cannot buy the energy transferred by the artist's hands in a supermarket. As a rule, collector’s dolls cost 50 thousand rubles and more. But Svetlana sells her works twice cheaper. She says, these rather inexpensive analogs are being bought from her by hundreds! And Svetlana donates a considerable part of her profit: she cooperates with several funds and helps to pay for children’s surgery.

We tighten the last little screws, and the basis of a doll is ready to the most creative part of the process: artists call it "the revival". You should invent the image and the story for each toy.

Svetlana Pchelnikova, artist, doll designer:

"Now the true magic begins: you should paint it, dress it up, invent hairstyle and not forget about accessories, in order to get the total look. And I am going to show it to you."

Our doll belongs to the butterfly collection. This is one of Svetlana’s most popular collections. Almost everything here is real: underwear, stockings, tights – summer and winter ones. The artist sews all details of doll clothes by herself. Svetlana admits: at first, it took her several evenings to sew straight doll stockings. Now she copes with tiny nylon garments effortlessly.

The only thing we need is to put on a wig. By the way, doll hair is usually made of goat fur or wool. We add the main accessory – and the "butterfly" is ready!

But not only Russians love dolls so much. For the people of India, a toy is a live tradition, a certain bond with their heritage. Puppet theater is one of the most ancient entertainments in the territory of India. Puppeteers have been telling ancient legends or acting real life scenes for hundreds of years. By the way, Indians even dress up modern dolls in national costumes. For example, there is a traditional bridal outfit.

The Chinese also have been playing dolls for more than one millennium. Emperors of Celestial Empire enjoyed doll shows in the second century B.C. The "troupe" of Chinese theaters included marionettes, glove dolls and even life-size puppets. Some of them depicted fictional characters, others – real historic figures. The shadow shows are also very popular in China. This is a type of doll show which appeared in Celestial Empire in the reign of Tang dynasty, approximately in the 8th century.

But miracles happen not only in doll shows. They take place also in lives of those who understand doll magic. As Svetlana Pchelnikova says, her life story justifies it.

Svetlana Pchelnikova, artist, doll designer:

"The miracle happened in my life when I returned to active life after accident and even gave birth to the third daughter. Miracles happen in my life all the time. The main thing is not to be close-minded, to trust in them, to make dolls, to talk to dolls, to play dolls being a grown-up lady. And this is a miracle in itself!"

Olga Bubnova, Anton Kosolapov. "BRICS TV".