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"Something out of Nothing"
Nancie Mann

as published in "Antiques and Collecting" magazine, April 1996

karowoman MassaiTribe  Hererowoman 

In a rapidly expanding segment of collectable art, two names stand out as leaders in the growing list of a new genre of artists who excel in the field: Jodi and Richard Creager.

JapanesePuppet JapanesePuppeteer

photoDressed sculptures, mixed media figurative sculpture, three dimensional art forms...putting a lable on their work would be difficult and is the current topic of discussion, even conflict, among the artists in the world of mixed media fine art dolls. When Richard was asked to define an art doll his response was: "What identifies a doll as a work of art is its ability to project a human emotion into the viewer. It is this ability that will transcend time and allow a person in some future generation to view the work and feel what the artist felt at the moment of creation. This separates the art doll from the classic concept of a doll as a collectable or simply a toy. Though it is impossible to establish a clear and distinctive division among art, toys and collectables,. a fair distinction would be that the artists personality creates the work with his or her own hands. The more manufacturing steps that separate the artist from the finished work, the more the work is just a


Jodi comments: "Dolls have always been collectable, from the Neolithic excavations in Europe and Asia to the more recent Brus and Jumeaus, a beloved and cherished companion of a child no matter what period of time. Art dolls are not created with playtime in mind. They represent a direction dolls are going: a sophisticated and ever-changing expression of the human form. The difference I see between collectable and art dolls is that art dolls are created with a singular expression with no two alike, much like VanGoghs, Rembrandts and Rodins: all collectible and priceless art. So too shall art dolls be in generations to come; and, to quote:

VanGogh on art, it is, " definition, something out of nothing.'"

The Creagers have collaborated in their home studios since 1977, surrounded by Americana, antiques and railroad memorabilia that in no doubt inspire much of their work. Their backgrounds, though diverse, are a perfect joining of the skills and talents necessary to produce their artwork.

Years of portrait painting and a study of facial as well as human anatomy form the basis of experienced that Jodi brings to the pieces, being responsible for the face and hands, eye painting, clothing and wigs. Richard's interest in machinery, a mechanical aptitude, plus artistic ability as a landscape and still life painter, and a college major in photography have him responsible for drafting patterns, building armatures, sculpting legs and feet and creating all of the accoutrements and accessories needed tor a piece, including background, and base (and then
photographing the final product).

"Jodi does her thing and I do mine but we always come up with the ideas together", states Richard. Every idea is discussed first. Then comes the preliminary sketches by Richard. Sometimes the idea starts from an object: a miniature antique rake in a shop in California started Richard sketching; and by the time the artists had reached the end of the block they had figured out what type of character to put it with (in this case it was entitled Sundown, of a black farmer leaning against his rake, admiring his day's accomplishments and mopping his brow, ready for the tasks of a new day.)


The Creagers produce an average of 20 to 25 pieces a year which range from $2,500 to $10,000, depending on how complicated the concept, how elaborate the setting and how many characters are represented. These characters may not have a voice, yet they eloquently speak to the heart on the endearing qualities of humanity: from an ancient Asian shopkeeper sweeping the cobblestones in front of his shop to the gentle-faced tomato grower selling her wares over her garden fence to neighbors and passers by.

The Creagers become emotionally involved with their characters as they develop and their warmth, humor and humanity live in every piece. Jodi and Richard have never made a doll whose personality they did not know from inside and out. Every character has a story, every life a meaning. Those who inspire the Creagers are people who have worked hard every day of their life and have earned every wrinkle and callus. This, too, is Jodi's reason for painting the eyes:"painted eyes can give greater involved expression and feeling," something that is not easily obtained with a manufactured glass eye.

Many collectors of antiques and fine artwork are now collecting works by Jodi and Richard. Such buyers are Mr. and Mrs. Duncan of San Jose, California who state that: "To us their dolls express both heritage and historical eras and combine so well with out antiques and collectibles. While visitors appreciate all our collections, the Creager collection gets a very large share of the attention. We strongly believe that the Creagers Original Dolls will be viewed as valued collectibles of the future, and to us that value is confirmed."

The ultimate honor and achievement is to be recognized by one's peers as leaders in excellence. In 1991 the creagers were invited to join the prestigious National Institute of American Doll Artists (N.I.A.D.A.). They also have been invited, on more than one occasion, to exhibit at Disney World in Orlando, as well as art galleries in the Soho District of New York, Canyon Road in Santa Fe and Boston's Newbury Street.


A true patron and supporter of the Creagers and the new art genre is Demi Moore, whose collection of works by Jodi and Richard is possibly the largest. In 1995 Demi Moore and her associate, Michael Hinkle, were both voted patron members of the N.I.A.D.A. by the organizations artist group for their outstanding efforts to promote

this art form.

The secondary market is usually the test of value and demand for a particular artist's work. However, at this time, no one who owns a Creager piece will offer it for sale and release it to the secondary market! There are waiting lists now for the Creager works and no possible way that the demand can be met, given the limited number of pieces they can produce in a year.

The Creagers are creating a new fine-art form, creating with passion and hunger, much like the impressionistic artists of he turn of the century. Gauguin said: "No one knows the joy when you create." To quote both the Creagers: "To be able to create a human form, an image, a personality; to be able to express what you have inside and put forth your mind's and your heart's vision and stir an emotion in someone - and all this from a lump of clay, wood, wire and cloth - is our true joy." There is a spirit, a soul, a creator to be found in every

Creager piece; and the Creagers are it!


Below are the descriptions and details, written by the Jodi and Richard about their works shown above:

The Portrait

A 1920's lady posing for her portrait in a photographer's studio.

Seated, she is approximately 13 inches high and sculpted in Super Sculpey.

Her clothing is hand-made from cotton and silks. The shoes are leather.

All the furniture is made and carved by Richard. He cut and polished an old perfume bottle to be used as a vase for the flowers that he sculpted.

Jodi painted the back drop for this scenario that was designed to replicate the old studio sets used in early studio photography, complete with mahogany floor, and brass and iron side holders which you cannot see in this photo.

Grandma Takes a Ride

Petrified grandma takes a fast ride down the sidewalk with her young grandson! He seems to be enjoying it more than she is.

The tricycle is hand fashioned from brass and painted by Richard.

Japanese Tea Gatherer

She is from the turn of the century and dressed in traditional clothing.

Her gathering basket and hat are hand woven by Richard.
Her sandels are made from wood and leather.

This lovely lady stands on a base that is made to represent a hilly Japanese countryside; the rocks and stones are handcrafted from plaster and hand painted; the grass is applied by hand.

Autumn Ambitions

Sculpted in Super Sculpey, this gentleman is relaxing in his lawn chair, dreaming warm Fall thoughts of a leaf-free yard!!

Richard made the chair and the rake of wood and metal. He hand sculpted the LL Bean type boots from Super Sculpey.

By the way, each leaf is hand colored..

Ben Electrified

Ben Franklin on a really bad day after one too many lightening experiments!

Ben's kite has been zapped, as well as the tail. There was such an energy surge that his eyeglasses are askew, and he sports a new hair-do.

All the accessories are hand-made.

Granny Thrasher

This doll, sculpted in 1992, represents the 'Free-Spirit' of the over 70's generation. Granny hops on her skateboard and rides with the best of them...

Her skateboard is hand made of laminated wood with working ball bearing wheels. The bottom is covered with radical stickers and cool stuff!

Garden Fresh

This very proud lady sells her lovely homegrown tomatoes on a peaceful country road.

All the accessories are hand made by us...including the miniature chicken wire that is actually hand braided.


This Santa piece was made for the 1992 Contemporary Doll Magazine centerfold Christmas Poster. It depicts Santa ice fishing, with one of his elves, in the Great North Pole region.

While Santa sits quietly and peacefully waiting for the next fish, the freezing elf patiently waits for him to be finished so they can return home for a cup of Ms. Santa's wonderful hot cocoa.

The figures are sculpted in SuperSculpey and painted. The clothing is cotton, velvet, and wool.

The wood dowel fishing pole was carved to look like bamboo. The brass lantern really lights. Richard sculpted the Sculpey fish and created the ice blocks and icycles from lucite. The ice on the pond is four sheets of thin plastic that he sand-blasted and scribed.


This piece was designed to look like a 1920's photographer's studio setting.

The young girl stands approximately 11 inches high, on a hand-made (by Richard) wooden staircase duplicated exactly from the ones used during this period for props in photographs. He even fashioned the filigree brass in the staircase.

Lydia wears her Sunday-best clothes, a 1920's cotton sailor-style dress with pleated skirt. Her scarf, and the bow in her hair, are silk, and her shoes are leather.

She's sculpted in Fimo and painted. Her hair is Lincoln natural color wool.

The flooring is oak, and the backdrop is hand painted.

The Creagers have also done LOTS of Santas and Elves in the past. Some of their best "images" can be seen (and purchased!) on greeting cards by the Colorado Card Company. Some fine examples for Christmas can be seen at this page

Also wonderful editions for Richard Simmons Collection of the Masters as seen here!

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All artwork displayed is copyright (1997,1998, 1999, 2000) Jodi and Richard Creager (all rights reserved)

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