Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Doll Artist will be Missed

Yesterday I received notice that a doll maker extraordinaire had passed way too early in her life.  Because of her works of art she was a visionary, a rebel, and in demand as an artist and teacher.  Her given name was Betty Blount but with her creative works she changed it to Akira Blount.  She was only 67 years young and her artistic visionary talent will be a loss.  This is the unfortunate e-mail received yesterday on that wonderful talented woman:

We are sad to report the death of a wonderful doll artist, Akira Blount, age 67. She lost her battle with cancer and passed away peacefully in her home Saturday, August 3, 2013. She started making dolls from cotton stockings in 1970 and soon developed a style of her own as she mastered needle sculpting. She was the president of NIADA (National Institute of American Doll Artists) and juried and wrote the introduction to "500 Handmade Dolls." She loved nature and wrote: "The energy and beauty of nature has always sustained me. Woodlands, in particular, I find compelling. My love of natural materials has led me to explore how I might personify the spirit of nature in images of the playful, creative forces in nature. Each piece is a combination of cloth, handmade paper, natural materials and found objects, most of which are collected personally from my farm and gardens." Her art work is included in Permanent Collections around the world including Paris France, the CLINTON LIBRARY, Little Rock, AR, SEKIGUCHI DOLL GARDEN, Shizuoka Japan, the TENNESSEE STATE MUSEUM, Nashville, Tennessee. Exhibitions include National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC, American Folk Art Museum, NYC, NY, Mint Museum of Fine Art, Charlotte, NC, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA, Tampa Museum of Fine Art, Tampa, FL. The White House Collection of American Craft, a collection of over 70 pieces of contemporary crafts of which Akira is the only doll artist, has traveled to museums all over the USA since 1994 and is now on permanent display at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. She will be sorely missed.
I was extremely fortunate to take a class with Akira when I lived in the DC/MD area.  Like hooking camps you choose your fabrics and there is a GENERAL pattern or templates to go from.  Unlike rug hooking camps the teacher does not color plan or choose fabric to create your doll.  And the sewing, stuffing and hand stitching is up to you. 
While my heart is with antiques and primitive dolls there was this wonderful talent known as Akira that I just had to tap into.  This is the face of the doll I made from her class.  The nose, mouth and eyes were needle sculpted.  The eyes are painted with acrylics and silly me decided to glue lashes to the doll.
Here is her full body;  she looks like she is day dreaming and I didn't position her well for the photo.  She is sitting on a chipped white antique dresser and behind her are antique baby clothes which I have hanging on my wall in the doll making studio.  That would be the studio which isn't used much any more since my love of rug hooking has emerged.
A technique Akira taught us was the jointed knees.  Hey, these weren't just any movable knees or arms but something special which required a little extra work.  Notice the buttons on each side of the knee?  Also notice the construction of the knee joint.  And those buttons on each side of each leg is covered with the same fabric.....Magnificent concept and wonder why I didn't think about that!
The shoes were hand made and had fabric covered soles.  They were hand stitched individually and then stitched and trimmed to not be removed from the doll.
Experience the world of a great doll artist known as AKIRA  on this link:
Sorry if I'm boring you rug hooker fans, but doll making has been a part of my life too and felt this woman needed to be remembered. 
Have a great evening and congratulations to you Cyndi, the wool is on it's way!!!


  1. How very interesting. So sad to see this woman pass away. I am glad you had the opportunity to learn from her. Saundra, your doll is outstanding !! I am so impressed by the workmanship and her clothing is divine. Just beautiful.

  2. Not boring at all I love your doll she is beautiful!

  3. What a nice remembrance to a very talented lady and true artist. Your doll is just wonderful Saundra and how awesome you were able to take one of her classes. May her soul rest in peace and her spirit live on through those she taught and inspired.
    Cathy G

  4. It is a lovely tribute. Your doll is wonderful. How lucky you were able to learn from this artist.

  5. You, of all people, could never bore us!!!! Art is art. Most of us, appreciate all art forms. I am a little girl, at heart, and I still love dolls.

  6. Oh, not the least bit boring, Saundra! What a blessing you actually got to meet her aand see her dolls up close! And to study with her too! Yes she was quite original and will be sorely missed. Thanks for the post on your expirience with her!


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