Over the years it was not uncommon for Jones to encounter doll collectors who on first glance thought the puppets were dolls. High financial offers were made for this one or that one and on hearing Jones’ response that they were not for sale an even higher price was announced. These were very serious knowledgeable collectors. One of a kind black dolls although not absent from the market neither are they plentiful. It took a collector seven years to convince Gary to create a few dolls.
The results bear his trademark of the beautiful geography of the black face.
The emphasis on the lips, the nose…..its all there. Black and nappy and drop dead gorgeous. For Jones it allows a sharper focus on blackness portrayed in another forum traditionally hostile to luxurious African beauty. Rarely does any doll publication feature a dark doll. Jones dolls are sculpted in clay and then follows the regular route of plaster casting into a hard rubber or resin. He produces two sizes: 32inches and 18 inches.
Like the puppets, they are one of a kind.
The 32" Dolls
Globally the concept of bigger is better has ruled for centuries. In the world of dolls, however, Barbie shattered that dogma. Personally since delving into doll art I have discovered an ambivalence based on my observation that size, in this realm, seems irrelevant. Well, almost. The excitement and challenge that I feel in positioning the glass eyes of a 32” doll dwarfs the tiny paint brush action used with someone half the height. A figure this tall often has the unexpected plus of luring the artist into the fantasy of working with a real child. Unlimited creativity is consequently unleashed and the creator is suddenly seduced into acts of play without subconscious thought of the marketability of the work in hand. This I love!
Heads, arms, hands, and legs: cast rubber. Bodies: tough upholstery filler in muslin.
Unless you are an eight-year-old child they are nearly impossible to destroy. Limbs have limited position ability.
The 18" Dolls
When things are very small one is encouraged to imagine the details that are unclear to one's eyes. This is a gift and even a crutch that tempts the artist. It's an escape hatch. One either looks too closely or not close enough.
What delicious freedom for the artist to honestly deceive the viewer! How sweet to deny one’s intention to insult or lavish praise.
Tiny touches that lurk and ambush are a deep well that must be dug if the work is to be of lasting value, fascination, and enjoyment. Mistakes transform into dark mysteries and meaning suddenly avalanches with a euphoria well worth the price. Oh this little object is much, much more than one suspected. With the passing years it increases its size and influence and presents little challenge when travel is required. We are reminded that indeed, less is more and are inspired to leave one suitcase behind. Heads, hands: clay. Arms: resin. Bodies, legs: upholstery filler in muslin. Limbs are repositionable.