At first glance, the 1,145 three-inch handmade dolls on display at the Maraya Art Centre in Al Qasba on Sunday looked just like that, a display of dolls. But wait till you look closely at the intricate details of the dolls which are made entirely of rolled paper.
The army of three-dimensional dolls on display is the two-year project of Emirati artist Amnah Al Fard, who aims to set a Guinness World Record for the Largest Display of Quilled Dolls. If successful, this will be Umm Al Quwain’s first world record.
Quilling, otherwise known as paper-rolling or filigree, is an ancient art form that dates back to the 16th century when artists rolled pieces of thin paper on a feather, or quill.
For Amnah’s project, all the 1,145 dolls are uniquely designed to represent seven different nationalities. One doll approximately takes three hours to complete and one whole day to dry. One tiny flower, used as a decoration on the doll’s head, takes one hour to finish.
“When you’re making over 1,000 pieces, you have to make the same piece again and again, like the head, the body, the hand. So sometimes I’m creating the same pieces like hundreds of times,” Amnah told Gulf News.
Amnah, who previously won in several quilling competitions in the UK and in the US, said she spent 3,435 hours to make this project and used approximately 30,000 inches of paper and 4.5 kilograms of glue.
“The challenging part is when you’re trying to make them stand. Some have legs, some have very long dresses. The challenge there is the paper is very huge so it can break. Another thing is while you’re trying to shape it, the whole thing can fall off. So you have to be very careful,” Amnah said.
Despite being allergic to dust and fibre, Amnah continued working on her project, sometimes working for six to 12 hours a day. After finishing her 800th doll, Amnah fell extremely sick and was advised by her doctor to stop.
“She was very cranky. At one point she broke down. That’s when we had to limit her working hours on the dolls to three a day,” Jamal Al Hamumi, manager of Amnah’s project, told Gulf News.
To set the world record, Amnah needs to place all the dolls on a numbered cardboard and certified. All supporting documents will be sent to Guinness World Records for adjudication. Amnah said she expects the results next month.
By Janice Ponce de Leon