Shepuppy: An Interview with Greta Wade-Jenereaux
FINDING BEAUTY IN THE FLAWED, TRAGIC,
ABANDONED, AND LOST
There is just something about blythe dolls that is so fascinating. They have the potential to simultaneously delight and terrify. Blythe dolls have that creepy horror-like quality about them which is hard to ignore. Greta Wade-Jenereaux of Shepuppy takes it a step further and actually customizes blythe dolls so that they take on macabre, gothic and dark themes. As cracked and flawed as Greta deliberately makes her dolls to be, however, one cannot deny that they are visually stimulating. Ultimately, Greta's dolls exhibit an unconventional beauty about them. Breaking the conventions of what defines beauty, Greta's dolls are powerfully subversive and meaningful.
It doesn't come as a surprise that Greta is a highly reflective individual who sees beauty beyond appearances. Like Greta, her dolls convey both vulnerability and strength. One cannot help but think that despite their sad lost eyes and their pain-filled faces, Greta's dolls command attention - you just cannot help but notice them. They are bold, they are powerful, and they are thought-provoking. Greta has a magnificent gift and I am thrilled that she has taken the opportunity to share more about herself and her craft.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by tragic beauty, famous muses from poems and short stories like Edgar Allan Poe or old paintings, anything typically revered for beauty or innocence that I can twist into something dark and flawed. I like horrific beauty like Zombie Pin-Up girls or sad melancholy girls, anti heroes, misunderstood villains just anything that makes you search beneath the surface.
I love the thought of a once-loved beautiful doll being left behind or abandoned somewhere, the signs of neglect and time reflected in her eyes and on her face, her once shiny hopeful face now broken with pain and sorrow. And somehow even through the decay and cracks there is still beauty in there if you're willing to look.
How and when did you first get started creating custom blythe dolls?
I think I started customizing in 2011. I had been obsessed with Blythe since 2004 when Hello Blythe! Book of Postcards by Gina Garan came out. I worked at a Bookstore at that time and snatched one up and just couldn't get over how cool this big-eyed doll was and everyone else thought she was super creepy. Then in about 2011 I saw the Littlest Pet Shop Blythes at the toy store and my obsession was rekindled. I bought one and went home that night to research how to get a hold of a full sized one and conned my mom into ordering me one for Christmas that year. At the same time I ordered one of those awful fake Basaaks so I could try customizing one before I worked on a real Blythe. Back then spending $100 on a doll seemed insane!
Why blythe dolls and what inspired you to take a dark/gothic theme?
I think I was attracted to Blythe dolls because of their disproportionately large heads and huge eyes that just made them seem lifelike, you could do so much with them and add so much character with 4 different sets of eyes, even the pull cords and eyelids could be customized to fit the doll's theme. I was super goth in middle school and have always had a flair for the macabre so giving my dolls a creepy, spooky goth/paranormal look just came naturally to me, plus there are a ton of customizers out there and I didn't want to try and do the same thing. I wanted to do something a little different and make my own niche. I like the idea of flawed beauty or tragic beauty so even if I do a "pretty girl" I always have to add some cracks or veins before I feel like I can be finished with her.
What is the hardest part about creating your artwork?
The hardest part about creating my work is finding time to do it. I have two young kids and three dogs so finding time for myself is difficult but so crucial for me.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I'm always working on several projects at a time I have a few new girls in the works: A girl based on The Bad Seed, a Creature from the Black Lagoon, a purple ghostie girl and a few others.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
People might be surprised to learn that I'm somewhat of a hermit, totally neurotic and self loathing and have major social anxiety.
Do you admire any artists?
I admire many artists both within the doll community and beyond. My favorite Blythe doll artist is Julien Martinez and I hope one day to own at least one of his amazing creations. And I think my favorite non-Doll artist is my 5 year old son Owen, he's so creative and constantly creates these fantastic works of art! I have his work hung all over the house and am planning to get some tattoos of his art as well.