Alice Mary Lynch on how she makes her enchanting dolls

From bunnies to princesses, Alice Mary Lynch creates enchanting, unique dolls from her Somerset studio

Doll maker Alice Mary Lynch in her Somerset studio

Alice Mary Lynch was born into a world of creativity. Having artist parents, making a living from the craft was always a tangible possibility. However, it wasn’t until her intended study of Latin was cancelled that she followed that path, choosing to study Fashion Design at Kingston University instead. Alice’s first job was as an intern at John Galliano in Paris. Now a world-renowned textile designer, Alice creates intricate dolls, exquisitely made from her vast array of materials. 

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A collection of Alice's handmade dolls
A collection of Alice’s handmade dolls

When did you first discover doll making?

During my university years, I liked making small creations in my spare time. I was asked by a jewellery designer to make some little mascots to go alongside his collection – I loved it and continued making them. After several years of designing for fashion brand Uniqlo in its Paris studio, and after having my first child, I decided that it was time to go freelance. It seemed only natural to focus on the small creations I had always been drawn towards. 

Alice sewing gold sequins onto one of her enchanting doll designs
Alice sewing gold sequins onto one of her enchanting doll designs

What inspires your designs?

I have always admired the costumes and theatrics of the circus, the dark magic of fairy tales, the costumes of the Ballets Russes… I enjoy the imaginative journeys of my mind – a full moon or a twilight sunset, a fox crossing my path, perhaps the start of a story, new adventures that my creatures can inhabit and dance in.

What is your making process?

I may have a dream or vision.  Sometimes I build moodboards, sketch out ideas, then I gather fabrics and textures that I’m drawn to. Sometimes a piece of vintage fabric might already suggest a character and then it evolves from there. Making is a very natural and instinctive process. Over the years, I have made patterns for different animals and I have quite a collection now, but I am always inventing new ones to add to my repertoire. As I am sewing, collaging fabrics from different eras, my pieces begin to take on a life of their own. 

A collection of Alice's delicate dolls sat in her Somerset-based studio
A collection of Alice’s delicate dolls sat in her Somerset-based studio

Tell us about your workshop

It’s in a room upstairs in my house. I love that I can sneak off there at any time. It’s my own space, a place where I can focus. There are shelves full of vintage kimonos from our trips to Japan, antique lace from French brocantes, jars of old chandelier pieces – anything that shines. In the afternoon, glittering treasures catch the light and produce a disco ball effect around the room – it’s my favourite hour of the day.

I am constantly collecting antique fabrics, trinkets and treasures. I love objects that already have a story to them – old books and toys that add a bit of magic to our everyday lives.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

I have had many proud moments: a highly successful exhibition at Anthropologie led to other exciting collaborations. Last year I made a debut collection for Harrods, which sold very well. I have created a new range for this year’s Harrods’ Christmas collection.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on bespoke commissions for a pair of cowboy horses, which will be travelling to Texas. Next is a bespoke wedding couple – a bear and fox – going to Ireland.

A collection of Alice Mary Lynch's dolls
A collection of Alice Mary Lynch’s dolls

Any exciting future plans?

I will keep on making – it’s my passion and my job, and I am very lucky that I am able to combine the two. I would also like to develop a print range, elaborate on the art side of things, or even delve back into fashion design – we’ll see. I have never made firm plans, always enjoying seeing where new paths will take me, not dictating my future, but letting instinct take me. A bit like my creations.

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Discover more about Alice’s magical world at alicemarylynch.com and Instagram @alicemarylynch