One day I received an email from someone telling me that I should check out an OOAK artist named “Ayal” who does not only repaint dolls but also making elegant outfits for 16” girls. She said Ayal is an interesting and talented person that she highly recommended me to interview with.
So I followed the information provided and checked out his website! It is easy to recognize Ayal’s work once your have seen it! I am not a fan of Gene, but I found some of Ayal’s Gene repaints could present even more elegant and dreamy looks of the 50s like those I saw from Hollywood movies than the factory ones. Ayal may not be as well known as other OOAK artists but I think his persistence on his creation worth some attention. Below is my interview with this Israel born American OOAK artist!
Please tell us some background about yourself.
My full name is Ayal Armon, and this is the name I use for my work. On Prego i Use Ayaloo as my name, which is a nick name a good friend of mine is calling me.
I was born and raised in Israel, and came to the United States 30 years ago. I studied fashion design in Israel and when I graduated I came to the US. I lived in Los Angeles, where i had my fashion business, than move to Florida, where I taught fashion design and illustration.
I moved to New York in 1989 to get my graduate work in fine art at Pratt Institute. I have been painting professionally since, and make my living as an artist.
How did your fashion doll collection start?
Once i was in Florida, i went with a friend to a toy store, and saw an Elle doll. I liked the doll and bought her. it was the first doll that i saw that had a fashion proportion. i had plans on making outfits for her. But she set on a shelf for two or three years, and than i wanted another one, so i started looking for them and could only find them on ebay. So i bought few and stumbled on Tyler doll. Once I got my first Tyler, my love affair with the Elle dolls was over, and i got hooked on Tonner. The repaints came later and started with Gene. I got one to see how she looks in person, was not crazy about her. I love and always admired Mel Odom's work, but gene face was not as great as i thought. So she too stood on a shelf, until I decided to repaint her.
I noticed that your doll style is kind of different from the main stream, can you please tell us more about it?
I like to create a period look to my dolls. For some reason i am drawn to the 50's look and that period fashion. I love the fashion that you see in movies of Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn, the fashion in that period is flattering to the woman's body and looks great. My repaints reflects that quality.
Please tell us something about how you work on your dolls.
Every doll is different, and i follow the dolls 'character' as it unfolds while I repaint her. Sometimes I get a look on the doll that I don't like, or she gets an expression that is not to my likings, which means erasing the face and redo, until it looks right. There are dolls that have been repainted 4 or 5 times before they look right to me.
Which dolls are your muses?
When Tonner came out with the American Models, I was in heaven. My new favorite doll is the Antoinette. I love her body. If Tonner will come with the Antoinette body for the American Model, it will be just heaven. Making clothes for them is great. They are big enough to sew for and there is more room to work.
Can you please tell us your OOAK secret?
In my professional life i worked as a fashion designer and illustrator, and I use these skills in my dolls fashion and repaints. I apply the dolls makeup as you would a fashion model, enhancing the face and the facial features, and creating a look and atmosphere. I also am a painter and paint peoples portraits, so i use my skills to give the dolls eyes life.
Do you prefer rooted doll to wigged ones?
Yes, I prefer the rooted hair on a doll, it allows me to play with the hair and redo the hair style based on the outfits they are wearing. I never had a doll with a wig, so at this point I am sticking with the rooted hair. Needless to say that I have learned a lot since I started. I have perfected the hair curling methods that I use, plus came up with some tricks and techniques that help me get the look that I want from the doll.
Do you re-sculpt dolls to achieve what you wanted?
I usually do not re-sculpt the faces, to be honest I was kind of scared to cut the face too much or ruin it. But with some of Tonner dolls, such as Eva and Antoinette, the eyes were too small to accommodate eyelashes, so i took a chance and re sculpt the eyes, and it worked out perfectly. So now all my Antoinette get a little 'surgery' or an eye job, before i repaint them. As for other facial reconstructions, so far i have not ventured into that.
Beside your favor to the glamorous look of the 50s, how would you describe the signature of your OOAKs?
I use liquid acrylics for the facial repaints, and some real make up as well. All my dolls have forward glancing eyes, i like them looking at me. I started applying eyelashes as a personal preference, and it got into my trade mark. They all get eyelashes, the male dolls as well.
I just got some Deanna as well and working on some new patterns for her. It takes me couple of days and few types of muslin, to perfect a pattern. I am a stickler for fitting, so the dress or whatever i sew for the doll, has to fit nicely. No sort of or kind of fitting will work. Fit is very important to me that the fabric hangs right, the garment is beautifully finished, and the fit is sleek. The finish of the garment is very important to me. Most outfits are lined, all seams are finished and no hanging threads. I do tailoring.
I work by myself, but lately i started looking for an apprentice, to help me with the sewing. I designed a new line of evening wear for the 16" dolls and I just do not have enough time to do it all. I also am working on a new series of paintings, so with taking care of my dogs, which go to work with me, the painting, the fashion, i get overwhelmed at times, so i decided to look for help.
Now what for the future, it will be nice to work on a project with a doll manufacturer, and design a clothing line for a doll.
Ayal could be contacted at:
Picture Credit: All by Ayal
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