"Family" is a collection of three dolls that have been repainted and restyled to represent the three stages in the life of the beautiful women of the Himba people of Namibia. Archival materials were used for the repaints which were based on photos of actual Himba girls and women. Their outfits were created in the style characteristic of the Himba women using the softest natural tanned sheep hides typically used for linings of high quality leather goods. I have worked from photos of Himba people for accuracy, although the lacing up the back was added to make them removeable from the dolls while in keeping with materials accessible to the Himbas. The dolls have been body blushed to look natural when displayed without the bra tops that were included for modesty. The bead work was done using high quality Czech and Japanese glass beads. The wire mounted pieces are interchangeable among the characters in the series. The shaped center pieces are significant as representation of their ages. The large glass bead of the centerpiece for the Himba married woman would have been a sea shell highly valued by the family and handed down for generations. The Himba peoples' territory is now hundreds of kilometers from the ocean where these shells originated. The Himba women are known for their sense of style and the red-ochre and fat make-up that they wear over their entire bodies, even their hair. I have not incorporated this make-up into the designs of these dolls for practical considerations but have chosen the skin tones of the dolls as the best representation without all-over body painting the dolls.

The young adolescent girl began as Wilde Imagination Lizette. The Himba girl model I chose for her repaint had the most beautiful toothy smile and I captured that with her repaint. Her hair was styled with all-over braids consistent with a young woman of her age. The braids are worn covering their faces in a flirty shyness but when they perform their courtship dances they fly about in unbridled joy. I have tried to capture that movement in the way her hair is styled, and with the wonderful poseability of the Wilde dolls, it is easy to make her dance! Her jewelry and outfit reflects her age.

The married woman/ Matriarch began as “Angelique” by Wilde Imagination. When I first saw the Angelique sculpt she reminded me of the beautiful Himba women. She wears a crown made of hide that signifies her marital status (it is attached to a doll size hair pin and is removeable) and her family shell necklace. Her beaded jewelry reflects her status in the matriarchal community. Her ruffled high-low hem skirt-loin cloth was modeled after the gorgeous styles worn by the Himba. Her original hair style (“Queen of the Woodlands” Angelique) was similar to that worn by the Himba and was only slightly modified. An interesting fact: the Himba women sleep with their necks resting on wooden blocks to protect their gorgeous hairstyles!

The toddler girl began as Tonner “Trixie” from the Effanbee Patsy line. Her eyes have been reset and she has been repainted based on a Himba toddler photo. Her textured wig has been restyled with two French braids beginning at the nape of her neck up over her scalp to the front of her head in the style characteristic of toddler Himba girls. Her doll would have been made by one of her older sisters.