Cernit Dolls by Sarah Niemela

Name: Dolls by Sarah Niemela (Aisha, a doll with a doll, and Tinashe*)

Made by and When: Sarah Niemela, 2001

Material: Cernit (a modeling clay)

Marks: Hand-signed by the artist with the year made on a signature strip attached to their waist in the back

Height: 8 inches (unjointed)

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: The artist used brown lamb’s wool that mimics the natural texture of African hair. Aisha’s hair is styled in two Afro puffs with tendrils of hair that frame the face and nape of the neck. A black and white cord headband is accented with two clay flower petals. A ribbon headband adorns Tinashe’s natural fleece hair that is worn loose. They both have light brown painted eyes and smiling mouths with four sculpted and painted upper teeth. Aisha’s doll has painted features with brown fibers used for her hair that is accented with several tiny iridescent beads.

Clothes: Aisha’s Afrocentric aqua dress is sculpted on as are her black flat shoes. Aisha’s doll’s red dress is also sculpted on. Tinashe’s dress has a sculpted bodice and a silk chiffon full-length aqua skirt. Her black flat shoes are also sculpted on.

Other: *The dolls were named by their owner. Aisha is free-standing. Tinashe is permanently attached to a clay base for added support.

Slideshow (Photographs are courtesy of the artist, Sarah Niemela. Use the right arrow to advance to the next image.)


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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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