Watch the video created by DOLLS magazine to honor Pat Moulton above. Read our article below.
By Stephanie Finnegan
Pat Moulton has been making dolls for 40 years. But over the decades, Moulton has not only dreamed up beautiful babies, delightful BJDs, adorable toddlers, and fashionable teens, she has also influenced the way other artists create. The woman is an inventor, an innovator, a teacher, and a mentor. She has earned a living as a doll artist and encouraged others to develop their talents. All this and more has led to Pat Moulton being selected as the 2020 recipient of DOLLS magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Each and every day, she proves that a life spent pursuing one’s passion is a life well-spent.
Today, Pat and her husband, Garel, are a two-pronged force to be reckoned with. Pat designs new dolls and sequesters herself in her Nevada home studio to pursue her visions. She is never afraid to follow a new path or attempt a different way of doing things. This became clear in the early days of the reborn doll movement, when Moulton offered an alternative to buying a finished baby doll and stripping the paint.
“I am the artist that invented the kits for reborn artists. It was 2004, and I never knew that I was creating a whole new industry,” she said. “When I did this, no one was behind me in this idea of kits. Now all the artists have followed in my footsteps. It is so rewarding to be the first.”
Indeed, Moulton’s foray into this burgeoning niche began with a doll kit called Pork Chop. “I gave her this name because I knew others would give her a new name, and she’d be remembered by everyone as Pork Chop, a Pat Moulton Kit. I brought her to market in 2005. Before this, a reborn artist would have to buy a doll from a company. They’d have to take it apart, removing the paint and wigs, and then making them look like real babies. I took this to a new level and made sculpts just for them.”
Albie Wentzel is one of the beneficiaries of Moulton’s foresight. The South African reborn artist, who works under the name Angel Babies, credits Moulton with being the pioneer who reshaped this art form. “I am forever grateful that she took the brave step in sculpting a doll that was made into the first reborn kit. I can without a doubt state that if it was not for her, reborn kits would never have been. Her being the inventor of the kits opened doors for the reborn world that branched out in several directions, encouraging higher and higher standards.
“Our lives, hobbies, and for some reborners, their only income, were enriched by this woman’s creativity, and her need to help and simplify reborning for her fellow artists,” Wentzel said. “Pat made a DVD about sculpting, helping and guiding new sculptors. She even invented sculpting tools for making eyes for sleeping babies to simplify the process of sculpting. All I can say is that she is a true visionary. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than Pat.”
For Moulton, ideas are part of her DNA. She turns to Garel, explains her plans, discusses what a tool’s mission will be, and the implement takes on a life of its own: “Whatever I invent, Garel is there to make what I come up with. My first invention was the Perfect Eye Tools made in resin. These tools make eyes that can be in the sculpt when sculpting or which can be painted. I also invented skull armatures for an artist to sculpt on, so that the head is the correct shape and they don’t have to make their own using foil. It saves time and they are correct.”
“I met Pat Moulton many years ago, when we showed together at an event in Florida,” said fellow Lifetime Achievement Award winner Helen Kish. “But I was aware of her much earlier because of her inventive devices to help artists set eyes into their sculptures. And that, to me, has always defined Pat — an artist and inventor, who was so gracious to share her inventions with other artists. And then there are Moulton babies! What can you say about them but adorable? Pat has mastered the gesture (so crucial) and the softness of the infant in a most endearing way. Not so easy to do, my dears! So, congratulations to my friend Pat, for an award that is well deserved!”
Award-winning doll artist Judy Porter is another fan of Moulton’s foresight, kindness, and approachability. “She is a mentor and a dear friend,” Porter said. “When I asked several artists for help with my sculpting, Pat graciously took me under her wing. Let me tell you, she will tell you like it is. It was tough, but I appreciated it. Pat has won so many awards. I was just in awe of her, and I still am. Not only is her work perfection, she has created so many tools to help other artists. She has sculpted for every doll company, is truly a great teacher, and is a mentor and a friend.”
Netherlands doll artist Els Oostema has never met Moulton in person, but they clicked online. The two began their email correspondence in 2005. “For me, Pat is a progressive artist. She’s always trying new things and will share her expertise. She is so creative and handy in all kinds of work. Her dolls are unique because Pat is there, present, in her dolls. She has a great personality, has loyalty, and shares her knowledge with everyone,” Oostema said.
Moulton said she is humbled and touched by this honor. “I have always said, if I could help other sculptors with what I know, I would pass it along so that they could follow their dreams. I am so pleased to have done so much in my career — from working for some of the top companies, making an instructional DVD on how to sculpt, creating tools, and teaching classes on how to sculpt. I hope that I have given back to others in the art world as much as I have been given. The friendships I have made through the doll industry have been one of the best parts.”
Laura Tuzio-Ross of My World of Babies is another artist who has bonded with Moulton as both a colleague and a friend. Like many others, she found that Moulton’s work was a guiding force. “Her beautiful sculptures of lifelike baby dolls were a huge inspiration for me when I began sculpting dolls in 2004. Through the years, Pat has always been there to encourage me with whatever endeavor I want to explore, and she is willing to share her years of knowledge of her craft to help in any way possible.
“I’ve watched Pat evolve as an artist and sculptor as she advanced her dollmaking skills into new directions with the making of her amazing BJDs. We’ve shared our dollmaking passion as we attended dolls awards banquets together and celebrated as she won countless awards. I am honored to know Pat and I extremely excited to hear that she is receiving this well-deserved Award.”
Fittingly, the first award that Moulton received was in 1999, when she entered DOLLS magazine’s DOLLS Awards of Excellence competition. “At that time, we had to have our dolls in New York City at Toy Fair to enter. Here I was, at the age of 53, going to New York by myself for the first time in my life. My husband worked outside the home and could not go with me, but I was willing to go out of my comfort zone to realize my dream. I entered my doll Abby and was beyond thrilled that I won! I’ve never looked back.”
Learning that she was the 2020 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement honor, Moulton said, “To be honored by DOLLS magazine is so amazing. It’s like coming full circle from the first award I won. This award is recognition of all the hard work that began in my kitchen 40 years ago. Not even in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would still be making dolls and would be honored with this award. I am immensely grateful. It’s hard to put into words the joy I feel. This is proof that amazing things can happen.”
Fellow Lifetime Achievement Award winner Berdine Creedy knows how emotionally overwhelming and satisfying this recognition can be: “As an artist, you put 110% into your work to satisfy all collectors. To get this award is like winning the lottery in real life. This is the highest achievement you can get in the doll world. I was blessed to end my doll career with it. You feel so good that people — artists and collectors — appreciate your work.
“Pat is a cherished member of the doll world by her many fans and other doll artists. She is not just an artist but has become a friend to so many. With her husband by her side, they make a great team. She will take great pleasure in the recognition of her talent and achievements when she receives this award.”
Moulton herself is quick to credit her supportive and devoted family. “Garel is a huge and integral part of what I do. He helps me replicate my inventions, my eye tools, skull armatures, and ball-jointed tools. He’s always willing to make it happen for me. Without him, I couldn’t produce my dolls in resin. He is the driving force behind me being able to offer dolls beyond one-of-a-kinds. Also, my youngest daughter, Andrea, is now in the process of learning how to make molds and to cast in resin. She would like to carry on the family business.” With an eye toward the past and her mind directed toward the future, Pat Moulton continues to dream, design, and create. “At any given time, I might see something that might spark an idea to get me going. An idea pops into my head and I’m onto the next project. It is great to go from start to finish in our workrooms, here in the USA, and I hope I continue to do this for more years to come.”