Porcelain artist displays creations at Spencer Doll and Toy Museum

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 15, 2013

Suzanne McBrayer, a Charlotte artist who creates unique porcelain dolls, will display her one–of–a-kind dolls at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum through mid November.
McBrayer is a native North Carolinian and has lived in Charlotte since she was 11 years old.
Although she has always loved dolls, she had other interests which impacted her earliest career choices.
While in college, she studied music and initially thought she would become an opera singer. Later she served in both corporate officer and controller positions in the business world, and she successfully completed the CPA exam.
Through it all, she maintained her love for dolls and a strong desire to create her own dolls.
As early as age 12 she discovered dolls depicting British royalty by international artist, Peggy Nesbit, and became fascinated by the history and costumes of the dolls.
Her library research led to a book by Edith Flack Ackley called “How to Make Dolls for Fun and Profit,” a book written for those who would like to make a business out of doll creation.
McBrayer studied and experimented with many types of doll making materials until she found bisque or porcelain doll making, as it is called today.
She took classes in porcelain doll making with several teachers, including Mary Metz, whose work has been displayed at the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum in the past.
With dedication, her work continually improved until she eventually won the prestigious “Millie” award for her porcelain creation of an antique doll.
Her dolls have been purchased by collectors and museums around the world.
McBrayer specializes in making accurate replicas of antique French bisque dolls.
The original antique dolls, made in the mid to late 1800s, have become increasingly popular with doll collectors over the last 50 years.
As their popularity has increased, so has their price.
Today it may be difficult for a collector to afford even one of these antique French dolls.
McBrayer offers her carefully crafted replicas to the collector who wants the look and beauty of an antique doll, without the price, or care and responsibility of the antique.
The replica heads are kiln-fired as many as ten times to achieve coloring similar to the antique dolls.
This time-consuming attention to detail is just one of the reasons, McBrayer limits her normal production of dolls to 150 annually.
And although doll head molds are available from many doll supply companies, Suzanne often uses molds that she personally has had made from an antique doll head, offering dolls that no other doll maker offers.
She sells her reproduction French and German porcelain dolls at doll shows and through her website bisquebeauties.com She is a member of the United Federation of Doll Clubs.
The Spencer Doll and Toy Museum is located at 108 Fourth St. in Spencer, directly across from the NC Transportation Museum. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
For more information, visit spencerdollandtoymuseum.com or call 704-762-9359.