by Maria Padilla-Morris
The spark to create figurines representing the Saudi Arabian culture was born out of frustration in not finding unique souvenirs of the Kingdom. My choices and baggage allowance were limited: Oil too greasy, sand too heavy, and gold too expensive. During a repat trip to the U.S, I discovered polymer clay and it became my passion. I worked at Aramco as a nursing supervisor/nurse educator but this clay ignited my hidden artist. These figurines soon sold at craft shows in the Eastern Province and were showcased at Desert Designs. I expanded my artwork to include larger pieces such as the 3 Wise Kings on camels and participated in the Dhahran Fine Art show for several years. Several customers who took the figurines to their home countries reported using them as a tool to teach others about the beauty and hospitality of Saudi Arabia.
The one-of-a-kind figurines are hand sculpted from polymer clay over a strong armature, including wired hands to hold objects. They are made to last for years if treated with care.
They average 8 to 10 inches tall. They have glass eyes They can also be created without facial features. Each face is crafted under magnification. Females have eye makeup and textured abaya edges. Henna designs decorate their hands. Handbags can be created to match their outfit. For males, the ghuttra is available in the red/white checkered pattern or white. The thobe can be any color.
I love creating custom made pieces for customers using objects collected in my travels. These include miniature coffee pots, miniature Turkish rugs, Bedouin beads, leather camels, and Indian silk fabrics.
Today I am proud to call myself an Aramco retiree and with each figurine I create, I relive the memories of my 25 years in the KSA and the wonderful people living there. Through my artwork, I want to also enrich yours.
Please contact me with a detailed request to [email protected]. I will do my best to create a unique figurine or large doll to add to your international treasures. Please view the gallery of available figurines on my website stores: https://amazon.com/shops/expattraveldolls/ and the larger dolls at http://etsy.com/expattraveldolls.