Actually, we designed two Pinocchios.
Hello & welcome, this is our very first Kickstarter project and we would like to thank you for stopping by to check it out.
Please help us to bring these mischievous characters from the much loved children's story to life from a block of wood. Carved to perfection by Geppetto ( or in this case the artists at Xenis ), with every detail carved and painted, bringing back a standard of craftsmanship that has not been seen in a very long time.
Much as the Blue Fairy breathed life into Pinocchio after he was carved by Geppetto, we are asking the Kickstarter community to help us breathe life into our dream of creating a broadly accessible 10 1/2 inch Pinocchio.
My name is Marlene Xenis and with the help of my daughters, Tania and Jesse we have been carving character figures out of maple and other hardwoods for 20 years. Watch the video below to get a quick sneak peek at what we are all about at XENIS.
Wood has become uncommon for dolls today—despite a rich history that reaches from early Egypt through the Renaissance to the early 20th century. Because the level of patience and woodworking expertise required to transform wood into a human form is extremely difficult and time consuming it is becoming a lost art. But we persisted, because wood is special. It’s alive. It has a history and remains unique, with its own subdued graining pattern that allows both carved and painted features to be clearly visible. Properly cured wood locks in a hundred years of life and growth, a memory of when the wood was a living tree, giving a glow of inner life to the characters.
Why do we need to be Kickstarted?
We are a small group of self-employed artists struggling to survive in a world geared to mass production. The doll market is a bit like the ocean with waves going up and down. My family and I have been riding the roller coaster for a long while now and up until this point we have been creating very limited editions—suited more for museums than wide distribution. It is our dream to create a new Pinocchio that is more affordable so that more people can share in the joy of owning a finely crafted wood doll.
Production of such a piece is expensive. In order to bring our price down while at the same time preserving the standards of excellence and craftsmanship for which we are known we are collaborating with a wonderful company in Italy. We chose them because their commitment to quality mirrors our own. They have the ability to provide us with specific body parts (ie: torso and limbs) in the quantities we require, in a timely manner. Once completed they are shipped back to us where we do all the detailing by hand. This includes the finishing sanding, polishing, painting, staining, assembly and the sewing of the outfits.
What are we offering?
Any number of wonderful things depending on the incentive you choose. If you are only interested in Pinocchio you can pledge to receive him, or you can scroll down farther and see what other wonders we have up our sleeves. Pinocchio plus...something awesome!
All our wood characters offered as rewards will have a special brand burnt into their backs with a circle "K" and the year. Each character will be numbered and signed and come with a Certificate of Authenticity created exclusively for this Kickstarter Project.
Close up of the Blue Fairy (full view above)
Where is all this money going?
Creating something from wood is a lot more intricate than creating something from resin, porcelain or plastic. We sculpt the individual body parts—head, torso, upper arms, lower arms, hands, upper legs, lower legs, feet (and let's keep in mind we have to do lefts and rights). The sculpted parts are then cast and readied for wood carving.
Each part is carved from wood and sanded to perfection. The wood parts are then varathaned to give a lovely satin look and feel. This also protects the wood. The faces and hair are then hand painted & the little Pinocchios are then assembled.Fabrics are purchased and the outfits sewn. Gift boxes produced & the literature printed (certificate of authenticity).
The little Pinocchios are now dressed and lovingly packaged, ready to go to their new homes.
We also have to produce the other rewards...the doll isn't the only thing we will have to make. We try to work exclusively with companies in North America with the exception of Italy. For example the apron is made by us, the tote bags and printed material are made in Vancouver B.C., the Puzzle is made by a company in California.
With your support we know that the hard work will be worth it in the end.
What about Stretch Goals?
Maybe. Perhaps. Step one first and then not even the sky is the limit.
Xenis dolls have won numerous awards not just in doll, toy and gift shows, but also from woodcarving societies, including the prestigious Richmond Carvers’ Society “Best of Division” and “1st Place” awards. Believe it or not, dolls have their own experts. Here’s what a few of them have said about Xenis Collection dolls:
“Xenis parallels Schoenhut today in creativity, imagination, and quality! I have two sisters who are doll collectors as am I, and we love Xenis dolls and admire the quality and beauty of Marlene's dolls. I personally own four of her dolls, as does one of my sisters. You really appreciate the beautiful creation sitting in your cabinet when you know what went into its creation. Marlene and her team truly put their heart and soul into their doll making.”
-- Jerrie Jorgensen of the United Federation of Doll Clubs, who has described Xenis as being the doll maker who inherited and continues the Schoenhut legacy.
“I find wood a warm medium and very personable. I think it allows an artist more artistic license. It picks up an individual character from the wood itself. The grains create a far different appearance, like lines on a woman's face. You can have the cool clear look of porcelain, which has an elegance to it. Or you can have the look that shows character, age and living. Wood is like life—it lends character, expression and depth to the creation—it can lift your spirits a little every day. Xenis understand the medium. They are able to create a depth in the faces and details with which many people working in wood do not bother because it takes too much time. Their attention to detail speaks to their level of attention and their love of the medium. Their work deserves to be in important collections.”
-- Ellen Sue Blakely, director of the Dancing Bear Folk Center Museum, which includes in its collection one of every doll Xenis has made.
“Wood is not a luxury. It’s a way of life, at least for Marlene Xenis and her artistic daughter Tania. Xenis continues and grows the tradition by hand-crafting each of their lovelies using only the finest Canadian maple.”
-- Barrie Shapiro, owner of The Toy Shoppe
“I am always surprised at the beauty and craftsmanship of each new Xenis doll. The quality is always perfection and each one is better than the last. They are true artists and I appreciate their talent and dedication. I come from an artistic family and appreciate good work and those who strive for perfection every time, as Xenis does.”
-- Dolores Hurtt, director of The Theresa Neaves Memorial Museum
"Yes Charlie arrived today and is unbelievable! What a joy to own. And speaking of JOYS, YES to Oliver as he is!!! I just love the little guy. I think he is a real winner. I can hardly wait to see what you come up with the new requests, they sound fabulous".
"I received the Santa and he is WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL!!! Thank you so much for making him for me, and for shipping him so quickly. I have told you many times, but there is NOTHING on the market that compares to your art works....Again thanks so much, I love the Santa..."
"I just wanted to let you know that I received my Sophie doll today and she is wonderful! So lovely, I can't wait to take her to my next doll club meeting and show her off!"
Risks and challenges
Risks and Challenges? Well, yes, as in life there always will be:
We realize there could be production challenges, like the time my daughter broke a finger on her right hand during our busiest time and with a cast on her hand still managed to pick up a brush and paint. Hopefully nothing like this will happen again....
We have been making wood dolls for several years and have a great team of artists dedicated to working long and hard to ensure we meet our deadlines. With Italy on board to back up our production of body parts we are in good hands.
We will keep in regular contact with everyone with updates on production.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)