Monday, November 19, 2012 — With five children, including 10-year-old twin girls, Angela Moore certainly knows a thing or two about life’s creations.
Holding each of her newborn children in her hands has been a blessing she’d never want to turn away, though she says with a giggle “I think I’m finished making those babies.”
Nowadays, she’s creating life in a different way. She makes miniature clay babies that are a work of art with their attention to detail and life-like features. From the little fingers and toes right up to the button noses and wrinkled features, all of that comes from a 3.5- to 4-inch model she’s been making since she began her work, more out of curiosity, back in 2006, not long after she had her last child.
“I was looking on eBay one day for these old Cabbage Patch Kids dolls I used to have as a kid,” Moore said.
“… As I was looking, I saw this sculpture on there and I was like ‘Wow, that’s crazy looking.’
“I started reading and I found out it was hand sculptured, and I was like ‘I want to really try to do that.’ I did some research to see what materials and tools I would need, so I ordered all that.”
Moore has dabbled in the arts before. She says she’s sold paintings she’s done and even has a beautiful hand-painted ironing board she made that sits in her living room, a creation as much for its beauty as its uniqueness.
She had never tried making little bundles of joy out of clay, paint and lots of love and detail. But when she began working on her first doll, using her newborn son as a model, the inspiration and talent free-flowed from her fingertips onto the block of clay.
“He was still little, so I’d look at his little wrinkles,” Moore said of her youngest son.
“When I made my first one, when I look back at it, it was so horrible. It looked like E.T. It was hideous.
“But as I progressed, the better they got. Now, people are like looking back at this and comparing it to this, how life-like they are.”
Moore first did the dolls with the idea of selling them on eBay. Before long, she got enough interest that she decided to start her own website, newbornbliss.webs.com. She was also starting to get a lot of personal requests from people wanting a clay doll that resembled their own baby.
Moore asks people to send several photos of their new baby. She’ll get information on the child and find out how the people interested in purchasing the finished product want the baby posed, whether they are making a face and any other small details.
From there, she estimates it takes about six hours to make the head and face then the body. After contouring all the details, she’ll place the molded product into her home oven to bake it. After that, she applies special paint for the hair, eyes and skin color. Then that goes back into the oven to make the completed project.
She purchases her clay online and can typically get 5-6 small babies made out of a $20 block of clay. She’s shipped her finished product through donations from the people purchasing to places such as Japan, Ireland and Australia, in addition to the United States.
“When I first started, it was because I was interested in it … I can do this,” Moore said.
“When I say I can do something, I think I can do it and I usually do it.
“I feel I’ve come a long way. Some of the sculptures I’ve made I look at and don’t like and I’ll just squish them up and start over. But I enjoy knowing it touches other people when they receive it. That’s why I do it.”
She also holds a special place in her heart for people who want a miniature baby made after losing a child, usually during pregnancy or childbirth. If someone contacts her with that kind of request, she says she puts them in front of the line.
Getting requests like that used to really break her heart, but she says she’s gotten used to it, somewhat. Still, she places the goal of finishing that project high on her list to help those grieving.
“I’ve had a lot of people that have come to me that’s lost a child,” Moore said.
“Most of my work, maybe 75 percent of it, is memorial sculptures, which is from pictures of a child.
“Sometimes you don’t even have a picture … it’s a pregnancy they lost. So I’ll make a sculpture for them, a keepsake.
“I’ll always put the people first that’s lost a child. … When somebody’s lost a baby, that’s something I just go ahead and do. It’s not even about the donation, it’s about what it does for them.
"It’s something I can do that a lot of people can’t do that can help them. I’ve received letters, emails, thanking me. That’s why I keep doing it, because of how it touches them.”
But the work she does in making these precious little treasures doesn’t come easily. She has a full-time job and also has the ups-and-downs that come with raising a family, like homework, cooking and cleaning.
Moore said she has maybe 14-15 people currently on a waiting list and will try to be honest with people about her time constraints and how she may not be able to fill every order. But her work certainly doesn't go unnoticed to her family and the people who make the purchases. In fact, she says she’s even had several local businesses wanting to gauge her interest in selling the completed works in their store.
So, in more ways than one, a labor of love has developed from what started as a simple search on eBay.
“That little search on eBay and seeing that inspired me to … ‘Hey, I can do this.’ ”