Fantasy Doll Maker Debbie Martin to Discuss Her Art

The Visalia Art League’s Artist Lecture series continues on Saturday, February 8, with a 3pm presentation by doll maker Debbie Martin at Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia. The artist will review her personal inspirations, references and subject matter, and demonstrate doll-constructing techniques.

Martin’s website,, welcomes viewers to “Roo’s Fantasy Village,” a special place where little fantasy creations take on a whimsical personality of their very own. In her imaginative world, trolls, imps, elves, ogres and fairies live in a place only she could create.

“I just like the whimsy of it all,” she explained. “It takes me to another place mentally and emotionally. As my creatures start to evolve, the story begins and I enter a new and different world. I listen to my imagination and keep on creating. I escape into my own little place with my dolls.”

Martin enjoys drawing, painting and photography. She began constructing her first dolls in 2003, and this is where her imaginative journey began. Martin credits the famous Danish doll maker Thomas Dam, who created the original troll dolls in 1959, as a major influence on her own unique sculptures.

The Roo doll heads are sculpted in clay and gently fired. Once the heads are cured, details are added and painted to accentuate the features. The dolls are constructed with soft materials and custom clothing. Each doll lives in its own imaginative world, with a fantastic story to be told to the viewer.

Martin advises artists trying to exhibit and sell their work to never stop learning new things or producing artwork. She also encourages artists to exhibit anywhere and everywhere their work is accepted, to enjoy creating art and to keep moving beyond their comfort zone.

She said being accepted as an artist in the art community has been a challenge for her at times. Sometimes her unique dolls, which have been exhibited in galleries, are seen as crafts and not accepted as art. However, she continues to show her Roo dolls in consignment shops and participating in local art shows.

“I do sell my work, but what’s more important to me is when I see people look at a piece, smile, and really get it,” Martin said. “I sell my work so I can support my clay addiction.”

Martin will display several of her Roo dolls during the presentation for viewers to touch and hold. She will discuss and demonstrate her doll-sculpting techniques and costume-designing strategies, and share inspirational stories about her art.

Admission is free to Visalia Art League members and students, with a $5 suggested donation to others. For more information, call 739-0905.

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