Wendy Frank Dolls From the Land Down Under
Written by Debbie Garrett   

A recent discussion about a particular Aboriginal doll made in the 1970s led to an eBay search for other Aboriginal or Native Australian dolls for comparison.  On eBay is where I found beautiful handcrafted dolls by the talented award-winning, Australian artist, Wendy Frank.

One particular Frank doll captured my heart such that I had to have her.  Before placing the beginning bid, I wrote the artist to inquire about US shipping.  Her prompt reply was followed by a series of questions from me about her captivating dolls.  Wendy forwarded several additional photos of other dolls to me and shared her technique (which is similar to the masters, Lenci, Wellings and Kruse) and her inspiration for making them.

Wendy Frank dolls begin with the mold of the face, which is a cast with a composition of paper-mâché and casting plaster.  This takes many hours to dry to form a very hard mask.  Fabric is then stretched over the mask and glued on to form the facial features.  After drying, the material is stitched up and stuffed to form the head.  The face is then painted with many coats of acrylic paint, after which, all facial features are painted to capture the true beauty of the Native Australian child.  A body of cotton with movable limbs is then sewn from the artist's own patterns.  It is then stuffed.  The fingers and toes, elbows and knees are also hand sewn.  Shoes and extras are added as well as Aboriginal art painted or embroidered to embellish the vibrant clothing.  Each doll is different, hand painted, hand sewn, and designed to create a one-of-a-kind heirloom.  They are tagged, dated, and hand signed by the gifted artist for authenticity.

Wendy Frank Dolls

A variety of Wendy Frank dolls

Wendy indicated she began making the dolls for the same reason that black dolls were made in the US.  "There just are no Aboriginal dolls for the Aboriginal kids here to feel pride and associate to, all bar white dolls painted or coloured black, or for that matter, very poor excuses for Australian Aboriginals...  Aboriginal kids are some of the most gorgeous faces on this planet, in my opinion.  It makes sense to make dolls that look like them.  They deserve their own dolls as do all ethnicities."

Faith and Miracle

Before winning my two, 17-in/45-cm dolls, they had been listed and won by another eBay bidder who failed to follow through with payment.  Fate would have it that I discussed Aboriginal dolls when I did with a fellow doll enthusiast, which led me to eBay, where I found Faith (the doll in blue) and Miracle, the doll in handmade Ugh boots and faux fur hoodie.  The two were destined to travel from the land down under to join me and the other dolls in my collection in the US.

Faith is believing that miracles do happen.

For additional information about Wendy Frank dolls, contact the artist at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Comments (5)

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Hi I have just received my Wendy Frank Aboriginal doll from Ebay and I also just had to have her as son as I saw her, her name is Kiah and she is just stunning, I look forward to adding more Wendy Frank creations to my new collection. Anyone who loves dolls bears or toys must have one of these dolls smilies/cheesy.gif
Sambo , August 21, 2012
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Wendy, you are more than welcome. I am certain that everyone who has acquired one of your lovely works of doll art are as pleased as I am with my girls. I am looking forward to receiving my third Wendy Frank original.

Cheers!

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Debbie , October 20, 2009 | url
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Thank you Debbie for your blog on me and my dolls. You always write so well and are highly regarded in the doll world that your countryfolk are already buying my dolls, (4 in the last month) and I'm very grateful for that.
I just wanted to let you and everyone know that I've just set up my new web site....www.wendyfrankdolls.com so I look forward to hearing from anyone who'd like to chat or just have a look at my Gallery....so far I have 30 pictures of dolls on it!

Cheers Wendy Frank
Wendy Frank , September 29, 2009 | url
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I really like these dolls!!
Renee , September 24, 2009
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Hi all,
I own a gorgeous Doll (kimberley)from the very talented, and kind hearted creator of the dolls
"Wendy Frank". If you are a doll collector, you MUST
Get yourself a Wendy frank doll, her dolls are unique
and becoming more famous worldwide as we speak..!!
Regards J.
J. Norman , September 15, 2009

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