Tonight: Shaler artist's Kreepy Dolls find a home in Lawrenceville
Daniel Baxter, an artist from Shaler, has been making his Kreepy Dolls since 2006. They range in size from tiny to a life-sized -- one giant squid is currently on display in the window of Wildcard on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.
Daniel Baxter, creator of Kreepy Dolls, poses with his creations at the 2012Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Most of Daniel Baxter's Kreepy Dolls are products of his own imagination, though he does do "custom-made" figures.
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These dolls are creepy. You're going to love them.
That's the point of tonight's reception marking the opening of the Kreepy Doll Show at Wildcard on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.
Kreepy Dolls are the creations of Daniel Baxter, 32, a Shaler artist who has found a way to twist recyclable materials into lovable -- but twisted -- dolls.
They're not your normal figures.
"But they're colorful and fun and have little smiling faces," said Mr. Baxter, who will be displaying about 80 dolls at the shop.
Mr. Baxter has been making Kreepy Dolls since a chance encounter with a classmate while he was attending the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2006.
"It started totally randomly," he said. "I was walking down the street and my friend, who was across the street, yelled to me, 'Hey Danny, you want to make some Kreepy Dolls tonight?' We decided to make them and sell them at a street fair.
"It was fun as hell making them, and the next day people loved them, even though it looked like a child's attempt. I thought, 'Yeah, I could do this.'"
Old clothing accounts for about 90 percent of what goes into them.
"But I use anything. I tell people I can turn anything you got into a smile."
Mr. Baxter, who one summer was named a Duquesne Light emerging artist at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, said he makes an average of five Kreepy Dolls a day.
"I never make the same doll twice," he said. "Every doll is completely different. So they take different amounts of time to make."
They range in size from tiny -- small enough to be sold in craft vending machines -- to a life-sized giant squid currently on display in the window of Wildcard. Most of the dolls, however, are made to be hand-held and usually sell for $30.
"People always tell me that one of the dolls starts talking to them," Mr. Baxter said. "They sell themselves."
Well, that's not quite true. Mr. Baxter does the selling -- at arts festivals, boutiques, galleries and online.
For a while, he was selling them on the sidewalk along a New York City park, until a vigilant park ranger decided to enforce a law banning the sale of stuffed animals on the street.
But the experience didn't stifle him. In fact, Mr. Baxter latched onto a gig as art director and puppet master for "Food Party," a television show that aired from 2009 to 2011 on the Independent Food Channel.
Once the show ended, Mr. Baxter returned to Pittsburgh, where he opened his Kreepy Doll Factory.
Most of the dolls are products of his own imagination, though he does do "custom-made" figures. For one woman, he made Christmas dolls representing her children. This year, one of her daughters got married, so now Mr. Baxter is making a doll of the husband.
"I like the small aspect of my business," he said. "I'm a one-man factory, and I make enough money to support one man. That's why I keep doing what I'm doing.
"Everything in the world was made by somebody. And this is what I make. Most people tell me, 'They're actually cute, not creepy.' And I tell them, 'Yeah, but the Cute Doll Factory doesn't sound as cool.'"
Wildcard is located at 4209 Butler St. The free reception is from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be Kreepy Dolls and creative people, as well as drinks and snacks.
First Published December 6, 2012 3:37 pm