All dolled up


POSTED: Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Subzero temperatures and stormy skies would seem unlikely inspiration for a doll that depicts the new president of the United States in slippers and shorts.

But it was the weather that prompted Maine artist Shana Barry to create her “;President Obama Hawaii”; doll.

“;We're in the depth of winter here, and I decided to focus on a warmer place by sewing a new Obama doll,”; Barry said. “;With his ties to Hawaii, it just made sense to do this.”;

The Hawaii-themed doll is sixth in a series of 20-inch, one-of-a-kind Obama dolls. Barry admits her first doll was created by accident but was the motivation behind her collection.

“;I was putting the final touches on a doll, and it looked a lot like Obama,”; she said. “;It made sense — he had been on my mind a lot.”; The next day, she intentionally sewed an Obama doll, called “;Leader of the Free World,”; showing him in a black suit, red tie and leather oxford shoes.

When friends and family responded positively, Barry decided to expand the doll collection to include “;Obama, the Superhero”; in a Superman-type costume, with cape; the “;Team Captain,”; with Obama in a basketball uniform; a set with Obama and first lady Michelle dressed for the inaugural ball; and the Hawaii version clothed in an aloha shirt, slippers and lei.

She's making just one of each doll, aiming for a set of 20 (her next is President Obama, Eskimo). Each doll costs $250 through theshaggallery.com. “;It takes about a week to make one doll. I have lots of ideas for others.”;

But doll-making is just one of Barry's pursuits. She is also a singer, songwriter, musician, painter and sculptor.

Barry plans to continue to creating new Obama dolls through the end of May. During summer and fall, she will be on tour promoting her album of children's music, “;A Pink Whale and a Very Tall Tree,”; and said, “;I'll be on the road and won't have time to make dolls.”;

Upon returning from the tour, Barry hopes to focus on custom-made dolls. “;I'd like to make dolls (for people) of someone they know and admire.”; Once the Hawaii Obama doll sells, for example, she'd consider making another as a custom order, but it would be different, perhaps in a different outfit.

Barry recalls making her first doll at the age of 4. “;I remember sewing the doll and feeling a great sense of accomplishment,”; she said. “;I find real satisfaction in taking raw materials to make something.”; Although she didn't start making dolls again until she was in her 20s, she said that the early childhood experiences left her “;hooked on creating.”;