Bene Raia has been collecting and making dolls since about age 12 and was a member of a UFDC doll club in Massachusetts. Her first handmade dolls were a series of bottle dolls that she made for her little sister.
Bene is an auctioneer who liquidates estates. She buys entire doll collections and sells them at auction. Bene’s passion for dolls extends beyond buying and selling. Bene is a well-known folk art doll maker and has appeared in several doll magazines and juried art shows. She is currently working on her own line of ball jointed dolls. Bene says “Making these figures allows me to combine my passion for painting and sculpture. Some of my work like the ‘dancing red devil’ and ‘melon head girl who loves watermelon’ and other tongue-in-cheek figures have been called outsider folk art. I formulate stories about each figure to help me with painting their facial expressions and creating their costumes.”
My dolls are made primarily out of papier-mache and cloth. I use the vintage lace, trims and doll clothes that I have collected to create the dolls’ outfits. I buy Paper Mache by the bag. I like Celluclay by Activa. It’s very easy to mix and you get surprising good detail by adding more water to the clay. The drying time is long but I’m always working on more than one project at a time.