Danica (2022) is a special, large, partial silicone edition. She is a pouty portrait sculpt of Dawn Donofrio’s daughter, Danica. She is available blank or finished. Photo by Dawn Donofrio

Life situations have maneuvered Dawn Donofrio of DD Artdolls down unexpected paths over the years. This pas­sionate artist has worked as a newspaper designer, car salesperson, and banker, but she always ends up back in the ca­reer she loves most — doll sculpting.

Donofrio began her dollmaking journey close to 20 years ago, with a little nudge from her longtime friend Laura Tuzio-Ross. Tuzio-Ross showed up at her house one day with a bar of ProSculpt, a few tools, and a lot of encouragement. That was the start of the fun.

The pair shared their finished sculpts on DollFan (an online forum). “I was inspired by the works of others and eager to con­nect with other artists and people who like to collect the type of art I was learning to create,” Donofrio said.

Evie is a sold-out silicone edition of just six. This edition was first made in 2018 and was only available as a finished doll. She has a jointed head and is a portrait sculpt of Genevieve, the daughter of Dawn Donofrio’s friend Polly Wall. Evie is pictured here in an AA skin tone. Photo by Polly Wall

This desire to connect with people who loved what she was making led her to sculpt and sell life-size, one-of-a-kind (OOAK) babies. Over time, she began producing her own vinyl kits and dab­bling in the creation of partial silicone and resin babies.

As it so often does, life threw Donofrio a few curveballs, peri­odically pulling her back into the mainstream workforce and away from her career in dollmaking. When she had the opportunity in 2017 to make dolls again after six years, she took it by creating Evie — her first limited-edition, full-body silicone doll. This doll was inspired by her friend Polly Wall’s daughter, Genevieve.

It wasn’t until 2020 that Donofrio decided to resume her doll career full time. “I’m happy to re­acquaint myself with my longtime friends in the doll community and meet new people,” she said.

Dollmaker Dawn Donofrio.
Clover in silicone is still a work in progress. The snuggly bunny is around 15″ long, including ears. Clover has a ball-jointed head and legs. Photo by Maria Grover
This prototype of Human Elowyn is by Maria Grover of Maria Lynn Dolls.
Photo by Maria Grover

Always an Artist

Donofrio describes herself as a life-long artist — always cre­ating, drawing, painting, crafting, and taking pictures.

“I love seeing a cute, new face emerge from the clay, and I love finishing a new project,” she said. “I am a self-taught artist, who had some dollmaking guidance from Laura in the beginning. I also love to learn new things from other artists I meet and on YouTube.”

Her inspiration comes from a variety of places: photos of cute babies, the works of others, and visiting fun places. Expe­riencing new things and watching tutorials on different types of art provide fresh ideas as well. “I like to challenge myself to try something a little different each time I create,” Donofrio said.

Being in the mood to create makes all the difference for her. She said, “I don’t really have a set process, as much as I put on some music and see what happens.”

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