My name is Donna Lee Klingman and I am the artist at the company
“Donna Lee Originals”
As a child and adult I have always loved and collected dolls. In 2002, I saw some dolls on EBay that looked like REAL babies. I was fascinated, and just had to have one for my own collection. Then after examining the doll in person, I thought to myself, “I bet I can do this!” And thus began my journey into the art of reborning dolls to make them appear more life-like! I practiced this art for a few years, until my desire for sculpting originals clay pieces took over.
I wanted to be able to freely create lifelike babies from my heart. So in January 2005, at the age of 33, with no formal (nor informal) background in Art, I began sculpting babies from a piece of clay, using no molds. I learned by searching the Internet for tutorials, asking questions, and spending many hours a day studying infant photographs. I even took an online sculpt-along.
I was surprised to find sculpting to be easy for me. It always seemed that my hands just knew what to do. I always start with a ball of aluminum foil. I then place the clay over the foil and form it into a newborn baby’s head. The only tool I use is a knitting needle. A lot of times while sculpting, I realize that my own eyes are closed; and I am just “feeling” the clay in my hands and imagining what I want it to become.
My very favorite part of sculpting is when I begin to see the resemblance of tiny little baby’s eyes peeking out at me begging me to make him come to life. I love that moment. A lot of my sculptures do resemble my own 4 children.
Many times, I will look at a finished head in my hands, and say to myself, “How in the world did I do this?” I am still amazed that I lived 33 years without knowing this was inside of me. I believe God has given me a gift that I finally opened. He guides my hands in making these babies!
Within one year after I began sculpting, I was picked up by two large doll companies. Soon afterwards, I began to focus on reproducing my own clay infant sculptures into Limited Editions of Solid Silicone, Resin, and Vinyl Kits. Currently, my dolls can be seen on films and television being used as silicone props in birthing scenes.
I set a high standard to make my dolls as life-like as possible; and my inspiration has always been from real babies in the world.
My greatest influence in this journey has been my dear husband whom I have been married to for 24 years. He has always been my biggest fan: standing beside me, encouraging me, and gently pressing me to go forward every step of the way. He also micro-roots all of my babies hair for me.
Through these infant sculptures, I want to encourage the mommy in all of us to flourish. A lot of people ask me why anyone would want to purchase a sculpture of their baby. I usually tell them is that a portrait sculpture doll is a kind of 3D infant photograph. It is a wonderful memory that women can hold in their arms forever.