Local woman's handmade dolls become timeless pieces of art
BATON ROUGE- With her hand-crafted dolls all posed side by side, Barbara Franklin always has her art on display.
While living in New Orleans back in 1978, Franklin was inspired by cloth dolls she saw in a store window.
"I said I can make those," Franklin told WBRZ. "I decided immediately to go to the 10-cent store, the variety store, and purchase a pattern," she added.
In an effort to earn extra income to support her family, she started selling the dolls in the French Market, and she soon realized her folk cloth dolls were pieces of art.
Franklin says "folk cloth dolls are a representation of the folk."
Her dolls have always been representative of the people and communities. Originally stitching everything by hand, her dolls quickly took off in popularity, especially the ones made of black fabric.
"In the French Market in New Orleans, the black dolls were more sought after because a lot of people from their home cities and everything had access to white dolls," she said.
According to Franklin, art is for everyone, and her dolls illustrate her evolution as a folk artist.
"If you want to grow, you have to be able to grow with the times," said Franklin. "So my evolution now is from my black dolls that I have made to the brown dolls, the cafe au lait, the white dolls, and all of the various dolls," she continued.
After being inducted into the hall of master folk artists at Northwestern State University and countless other accolades, her collection is multicultural, and these dolls have traveled all over the country. Two of her dolls even made it to the White House as gifts for President Obama's two daughters.
"As an artist, you have to do your art," Franklin said. "Because when you're doing your art, you're not doing it for one person. You're doing your art for the world."