Growing up in Zurich in the 1940s as the daughter of the painter and graphic artist Hans Tomamichel
, drawing and painting were part of my life, as well as sewing clothing for my dolls and making fabric collages. Materials for art were always available in our home. I designed paper dolls and used them to play theater. In my teen years, while learning in a professional dressmaking school (3 years), I also became interested in creating jewelry with enameling on copper and silver.
My family was German-speaking, and after school I attended classes in French and Italian, two of Switzerland's other official languages. My education also included study in England for the Cambridge Lower Certificate and then fashion design. I worked in that field until I married and my son was born in 1967.
In 1977 a magazine competition launched my dollmaking career. My entry was a slim BJD with 13 joints. This doll was one of the 500 chosen for an exhibition from the 2500 that had been submitted. This success encouraged me to continue, but I felt I needed more training in figurative sculpture and painting, so I returned to art school.
In 1983 an exhibition with porcelain dolls led me to take a workshop in making reproductions, where I mastered working with slip and ceramic painting. The next step was creating my original clowns, some with musical instruments and others wearing elaborate Rococo costumes. Their stuffed cloth bodies had wire armatures and were set in a pose. They were well received at various European doll shows and conventions.
I attended the NIADA
(National Institute of American Doll Artists, USA) conference in 1987 through invitation of Gail Enid Zimmer. Contact with the artists I met there was very inspiring. My newest efforts were small editions of porcelain babies and children.
Changing direction again, in 1991 I started making the monochromatic white figures with blue eyes that have become my trademark. Dolls with a theme and gnomes were a new fascination too. At that time I also invented stands that are unobtrusives.
In 1992 I was accepted as the fourth foreign member of NIADA
A series of people “waiting“ (starting 1996) became popular and was easily identified as my work.
My newest dolls are one-of-a-kind figures. When my husband Henry passed away I transferred my sculpting skill into producing an angel for his tomb, which was cast in bronze.
I have enjoyed experimenting with styles and a variety of mediums and now use Paperclay
® and Super Sculpey
®, sometimes in combination. My bodies are once again soft sculpted on a wire armature or fully modeled. I love the entire process of creating a doll, from sketching, collecting materials, creating the bodies, modeling, painting, costuming and fashioning their accessories.
Ideas come to me from many directions, and sometimes I am invited to give form to a particular theme. For example, for an exhibition in 2012 the museum in my father's village in Ticino in Switzerland (Walserhaus Bosco/Gurin
) asked me to make dolls representing local myths and legends from their oral traditions. I spent four years producing 20 dolls. For more information on this exhibition chose www.dieweltderweltu.ch