Gum Leaf Dolls and the Tree Change Zeitgeist

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Say ‘hi’ to my Gum Leaf Dolls – the obsession which has kept me busy into the wee small hours since losing my day job a few weeks ago.

For anyone who hasn’t heard (and I believe there may still be a few out there) a new phenomenon hit the airwaves earlier this year … Tree Change Dolls by Sonia Singh an artist and mother of little girls living in Tasmania. She started removing the face paint from discarded Bratz dolls – a bit like this one:
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As well as removing the face paint, she would also work on restoring and untangling the hair (which believe me is no mean feat, it takes me over an hour usually to get all the knots and tangles out).

This is how they look at this stage:

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Now it’s a blank canvas and for me the fun part of painting on new features and seeing a new personality emerge. I like seeing the transformation into a more natural child-like look of dolls who enjoy playing in the outside world, climbing trees and camping.  A world that seems to becoming less and less accessible to children today and like Sonia I feel it is about creating the kind of doll I would have loved playing with myself as a child.

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This is the ‘after’ photo of the Bratz doll above

Sonia has been generous with her knowledge and has a number of Youtube videos that help others do what she does and a quick look on Etsy will show how many are having a go themselves. I think as so many are wanting Sonia’s dolls and they sell out within seconds, there is no problem in others jumping on the proverbial band-wagon as each artist has their own unique style.

So far, so good but what a shock I got when I started reading some of the reactions on Tumblr as well as other internet haunts to the Tree Change explosion. It never occurred to me that some could get so incensed and inflamed about, what to me, was a fairly innocent and harmless hobby. There are those however, who are vehemently opposed and see them as an abomination and the ruining of a perfectly good doll.  Not only that but they seem to see it as some kind of political statement.  I can only say that from my own point of view, it is not about making a political point but just taking a toy that has been discarded, cleaning it up and giving it a new look and a new lease of life.  If you like your Bratz dolls to look as they did when they left the factory, absolutely fine – keep them that way.  If you prefer the Tree Change look, surely that’s fine too – each to their own, live and let live etc. etc. and really I think there are far more pressing issues in the world to get worked up about. Let me know where you stand on the issue and in the meantime here are a few more before and after pics.

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13 responses »

  1. WOW what an Awesome Craftsmanship! Continue to share your Blessings Sonia because you are Blessed. I wouldn’t mind having one of those lovely dolls. Blessings Always, Mtetar

  2. This is all new news to me. I didn’t like the Brats dolls when my great-niece asked for them a couple of years ago. I don’t care for Barbie either. Big breasted dolls seem a bit odd for children. There are people in the world that would get upset if you used a toothpick wrong. It’s their problem to deal with. I like what you have done with them. It’s an art form. Enjoy it. If they can’t say something nice, they should stay away and be silent. Sorry to hear you lost your job. Hope that remedies soon.

  3. Pingback: Some boho chic for my Gum Leaf Girls | The Crafty Pioneer

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