I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb when I say doll collectors love it when an artist branches out into the fantasy realm. Heck, not just doll collectors—apparently, every female, ages 4 to 104, are hooked on the fantastic and the majestic. Check out the box-office receipts of this year’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” and you’ll correctly calculate that girls and women are still suckers for a good fairy tale (especially with a happy, uplifting ending).
Monica Reo, the artist behind Creations in Porcelain, is just like the rest of us; she adores a joyful, soulful story, especially when it involves an opportunity to dress up a heroine in scads of luxurious, resplendent fabric. I recently heard from Monica, who had been out of commission for a while due to a stint in the hospital. Now, she’s feeling much better and has found brand-new focus with her Fairy Tales and Fantasies line. Accurately named, and painstakingly coaxed to life, Monica’s newest debuts are elegant revelations.
Just as Belle, from “Beauty and the Beast,” is a head-turner—after all, she has the conceited, misguided Gaston panting after her—Monica’s version of Rapunzel has to be seen from both sides. Turn her head around and you see her tresses cascading, and then cascading even some more, down her back. This is a fairy-tale heroine who embodies otherworldliness from the part of her hair to the toe of her foot.
“I made a grown-up version of lovely Rapunzel,” Monica shared with me. “She wears a haunting expression of wistfulness and anticipation. It is as if she is truly daydreaming of the day she will be freed from her castle tower.”
Monica has named her porcelain one-of-a-kind Beautiful Dreamer, and the doll is indeed living up to her moniker. Monica chose a gentle, peaceful color scheme for her costume: “She is wearing an exclusive one-of-a-kind gown in shades of pale blue and gold silk. She wears dainty blue-and-gold leather mules. Her eyes are painted blue,” Monica explained.
Rapunzel’s stunning hairstyle is created from a handmade, hand-tied, honey-colored wig. She measures 32 inches tall, and a custom-tiled platform base completes her ensemble.
It makes perfect sense that Monica Reo would gravitate to the land of make-believe and pure imagination. Like a womanly Willy Wonka (Wilhelmina Wonkette?), she presides over a studio that runs on dreams, hopes, inspiration, and aspiration: “Little did I know that my personal journey down the ‘yellow brick road’ of doll making was to take many surprisingly, exciting and happy twists and turns. I am still on the journey, evolving and learning now more than ever. I love the challenges, even more so the anticipation of what will be the end result, the complete satisfaction of an accomplished image. My inspiration comes from plays, movies, fashion books, and even dreams. My father once told me, ‘If your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt it!'”
A character dwelling within Monica’s consciousness, which was clamoring to be heard and to be released, is Eden, the Mistress of Paradise. This original design personifies a regal and confident monarch. “To me, she is the mistress and the keeper of Paradise,” Monica observed. “She is magnificent and elegant, and Eden is a vision of ethereal beauty.”
The comely ruler stands 33 inches tall and has green painted eyes and wears a handmade human-hair pale-blond wig. Upon her head, she wears a crown of semiprecious tiny colored stones, and her feet rest inside gold-sequined mules. Monica is especially proud of Eden’s ensemble: “Her gown is an ‘out of the box,’ one-of-a-kind creation in two shades of gold-shot silk and silk organdy. The gown has an ornate silk print, embellished with gold sequin complementing the solid silk and organdy fabric.”
Everything about Eden is carefully considered by the artist. There’s not an inch of her creating that doesn’t send a message of a woman who is bound to preside over and control her world and its environs. Her ceramic fountain is a true work of art, and her custom faux-cobblestone pathway suggests a bygone time. This is a woman from a different dimension, a different realm of imagination. Monica specifically placed her next to a fountain: “This represents the waters of life, which she occasionally looks into.”
The fountain of water and Eden’s costume seamlessly blend into one another. It’s as if she has emerged from that aquatic source of life, and her mission has become to protect and serve the waters that birthed her. Whatever the reason behind her appearance and her posture, Monica Reo is in total control.
“Careful and concise planning goes into each doll for it to be completely color coordinated—from skin tone, eye color, hair color, fabrics, costume design, as well as any props,” she declares. “A great deal of time and research is spent in sketching the concept often jumping outside the box when visualizing the design. I do love the painting stage of the project. This is the foremost reason I only work in the porcelain medium. This medium can be labor intensive, tedious, and unforgiving in nature. However, in the end, it is totally rewarding!”