Nancy Malay started making soft-sculpture cloth dolls about 30 years ago. Her Father was a skilled cabinetmaker and her mother was a seamstress, who nurtured her love of sewing. Her business started with people bringing bring her their antique dolls to dress in period clothing. Malay would make the appropriate outfit from scratch—she never used patterns when dressing these dolls and enjoyed researching the history of doll making.
Malay launched her first website, The Christmas Lady, in 2003. Its success led to a second, The Cottontail Collection, which features her soft-sculpture rabbits and chicks, which she started the next year. Today, Malay has combined them into one, NancyMalay.com. All of Malay's sculpture is available to individual purchasers, shops, and galleries from all over the World.
Malay uses a variety of materials to make her creations including papier mache, paperclay, vintage batting, clay, and cloth. She loves little children dressed in bunny costumes, whimsy and the look of old tinsel. Vintage fabric and trims are her first choices, but they are sometimes hard to come by. She has a large collection of antique lace, silks and trims. Adding mica and German glass glitter really gives her pieces an old-fashioned look. Although she loves both the elaborate, Victorian look, and the whimsical style of Folk Art, one of her favorite styles is the simple, time-worn appearance of primitive. Nancy enjoys scouring antique shops, garage sales and flea markets to find fabric and treasures to use for her work.
Malay finds her inspiration in many places, including books and old postcard collection she inherited from her Grandmother. This collection is filled with wonderful old images, many with Easter and Christmas themes.
"Being a self-taught artist has its advantages," noted Malay, "because it helps you develop your own style, learning many things by trial-and-error." Malay has never had any formal art training, except for a few general art classes in College. She graduated with a double major in Public Relations and Marketing.
Malay lives in Faribault, Minnesota, with, Rick, her husband of almost thirty years. They have three grown sons, and a daughter-in-law. "What started out as a hobby many years ago has turned into a real labor of love," said Malay.
Artisans wishing to participate in the 2021 Directory of Traditional American Crafts™ may download applications by clicking here. Because of the uncertainty of mail delivery caused by the Pandemic, we have extended the deadline for entries. We will accept entries postmarked by February 15, 2021. Those selected will be notified after judging in April, 2021. The 2021 Directory of Traditional American Crafts™ will appear in the August 2021 issue of Early American Life.
1,991 days until America's Sestercentennial
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