Friday, December 3, 2010

An Interview with Maryann Roy of Welcome Home

Maryann Roy's winning entry of Mattel's Mad Men competition, "Flowers for Joan."
Used by permission. See more photos on her website.

We at the Fashion Doll Review were honored when Maryann Roy of Welcome Home agreed to do an interview. Interview by Shuga-Shug.

Maryann Roy has been in business since 1996, starting initially as a vintage doll restorer before moving into her own line. Welcome Home creates visually stunning diorama items and furniture, designed for the distinguishing doll collectors' palette. You can find Maryann's work in Fashion Doll Quarterly, and she has been featured in American Miniaturist, Dolls Magazine and Haute Doll. She also had the occasion to contribute to Integrity Toys for Poppy Parker, Fashion Royalty, NuFace and others.

Be sure to visit Welcome Home's website. The latest post features its very own jingle advertisement, written and designed by Maryann. You can now also follow her on Flickr, where she posts some of her items as well.

About Welcome Home Business

The feature in American Miniaturist was a high honor, as this magazine features 1:12 scale miniatures, and Maryann works in 1:6 scale. She was an exception.

Additionally, two of her special dioramas, "Down with Love" and "Bewitched" (from the TV Classics article) were sold to a Japanese collector, who has them on display in his doll museum.

Her work has also been displayed at her local library, which was one of her most exciting displays. The head librarian said they had never had so much positive feedback from any display before. Maryann was able to decorate two glass cabinets with furnishings. Friends and relatives also came to see it.

Most recently, Maryann Roy won first place in Mattel's Mad Men contest with her photographed entry. Congratulations!

Falling into creating props and furniture seemed to happen by serendipitous accident. She had already been contributing to Fashion Doll Quarterly, and wanted to add more depth to her photos with props:
To my surprise, I absolutely fell in love with designing and building furniture! It was like a new awakening! I discovered that I actually had a talent for design. All of a sudden I was envisioning a multitude of miniature settings and color schemes. I started reading and doing research. I found out that I had a love of architecture as well.
Thus, a new love, art form and business was born!

Welcome Home has been in business since 2007. Maryann has been asked on many occasions to design in human scale as well, for which, while flattering, she doesn't quite have the resources--yet. [How exciting! I'd be first in line!] Maryann shared a funny fabric story with Christina during the interview:

Funny story - I helped a woman out in a fabric store recently. She was having difficulty picking fabric for a shower curtain. I was just minding my own business, when she overheard me talking with my daughter about fabric. She said, "You sound like you sew [which I do not]. Would you mind if I asked your opinion?" 
She told me that she had a horrific looking bathroom from the 70s that she just couldn't stand looking at anymore. She and her husband had a tight budget, and if she had her way she'd be gutting the whole thing and starting from scratch. Since that was not an option (her husband had been laid off recently), she thought she would redecorate instead. Well, when she told me her bathroom was tan with peachy-pink (translation, "salmon") colored tiles, I immediately could envision some color combinations that would offset the dark and bring in the light. 
It took a little convincing, but I was able to help her find three different choices, all in the same color family. In case you are wondering, the color scheme was pale aqua and cream. My favorite of the three was a paisley print that combined aqua, cream and tan. I bet her that that's the one she'd like best. I also chose some more masculine striped fabric with that same color scheme, to give her husband a choice as well. She seemed delighted and left with my business card. By the time I got home, I already had an email from her thanking me for my help and that she indeed loved the paisely in her bathroom. I told her how she could further accessorise with these colors to tie the whole bathroom together.
Welcome Home is run from Maryann's family home. She has a small bedroom dedicated to the business, and it functions as photography space, painting space and building space. Plus, all computer work is done in this room. She also uses the basement, where all the power tools are. Recently, they have been adding on, however, so she will be able to move her workspace to a bigger area. Maryann requires a lot of natural light for her work, and the current room has two large windows which meet this need. Because the current space is small, she can't leave items assembled for very long, since she needs it for other projects. And, according to Maryann, "About the only time this area gets organized is when company is coming," with which I can personally identify!

For inspiration, Maryann has many sources. Often she has a vision for a project in her head first, but sometimes the materials inspire the vision first. And not just fabric--it might be beads, glass, plastic or metal!

Her supplies are found mostly online, as she and her family live out in the country. When she does travel to arts and crafts supply stores, she makes these trips all-day excursions.

Her favorite part of creating furniture is seeing the idea come to life in the process of creation. Blossoming from an idea, or a sketch, into a three dimension object--that's the satisfaction. The fact that others would like to own a piece of her work is pretty amazing--and humbling--too. And to see her pieces used in other collectors' photos makes her feel just a little giddy with joy.

Her least favorite part of the creation process is duplication. While she welcomes the work and business, she prefers designing over duplication. In fact, she has come to the point where she'd love to have "a little factory" for the building, so she could stick to designing.

Space is the limiting factor for Maryann keeping much of her own work. She has a few pieces that won't go anywhere, however. One of this is a blue and green brocade sofa and chair set, which appeared in the FDQ "Color" issue, in which she worked with the color wheel to design rooms. This set is particularly special, because the fabric used is from a suit Maryann's grandmother made and wore to her son's wedding in 1965. She passed last year, and was very close to and loved by Maryann. Maryann discovered the suit last year, and since her grandmother was petite, and Maryann is quite tall, she wanted to use the fabric creatively. It became this set, and a 1960s era coat dress for her doll as well, courtesy of Hilda Westervelt.

Maryann has a few projects of which she is very proud. One was the William Haines collection which was featured in the "Fame" issue of Fashion Doll Quarterly. It was the first time she had created replicas of life-size furniture in miniature. People commented in the magazine that FDQ must have been shooting actual home interiors.

The second was the redecorating of the original 1965 Barbie Dream House. Wow--what a project! She was allowed to use any materials she liked; only her choices had to match the existing decorated walls, so her color combinations had to perfectly correspond to these.

About Maryann Roy's Collection

Maryann picked up her first doll as an adult in 1994, while pregnant with her daughter: a reproduction Swimsuit Barbie. At that point, she didn't know she was having a girl. Though Maryann was of the TNT era, she fell for this doll in a heartbeat, and had to have her.

Her current collection isn't themed, though she collects a variety of fashion dolls. She has 20" Dollikin dolls from the 1960s, vintage and mod Barbies, including dolls from her childhood, Ideals Mitzi as well as the Canadian version, and Tressy by American Character. For contemporary dolls, she owns Silkstones, Fashion Royalty, Gene (including a few minis), Persia and Monograms, her current favorite. She also loves her Silkstone Fashion Editor (she even has four of this doll!). [I love that girl, too!]

She's attracted to dolls first by their facial screening. "The overall coloring of a doll--skin tone, hair, make-up. All the colors need to work together," she says. She describes her style as "casual-elegance," like many of her furniture sets, I think. She prefers classic, tailored looks to ornate gowns.

For Maryann, creative blocks simply mean she needs some down time. That's when she needs some doll play--styling, redressing, etc. She even still takes on restoring to keep her skills fresh when the need arises.

Thanks so much, Maryann, for taking the time to do an interview with us. We are so honored!

All photos are property Maryann Roy at Welcome Home, and used with permission.


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  2. Love the interview Maryann. You have such a great talent for design and color and I am happy to say my dolls do live in Maryann's beautiful diorama's. They make me so HAPPY :-)

  3. Great article! Her work is inspiring and fascinating.

  4. Thanks! Maryann Roy really does amazing work. I just can't wait to see what she does next!


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