By Linda White-Francis
Who says one can only do one project at a time? Well certainly not Linda Valentino-Michel! She’s been “multitasking” even before the word was coined.
Linda has been a resident of Hernando County for 20 years. When her husband Ed retired, the couple decided that the Weeki Wachee/ Brooksville area was just what they had been searching for. Mainly a slower pace of life, an affordable home, and the satisfaction of the lush rural scene; “Not to mention the beach, palm trees, and the wonderful warm weather all year long,” Linda said.
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Linda has lived in many locales throughout the United States; including North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and Tarpon Springs, Florida for 12 years, where she began building her career as a doll sculptor. Most recently, before their move to Hernando, they called Connecticut home where husband Ed commuted to New York City for his job in the contemporary doll publishing arena. “We are very happy here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” Linda confirmed. The ambitious lady has been ensconced in the contemporary doll world since the 1980s, right after the birth of her fifth child. Linda began as a soft sculptor (cloth dolls), graduated to porcelain doll reproductions, and transitioned to her very own original porcelain doll sculpts known as Linn Dolls Unique. Linda did it all, from the molds, the firing, to face and body painting, styling mohair/human- hair wigs, and carefully INSERT IGNOREing the precious glass blown eyes. When the doll was completed, she would design and sew the adorable vintage costuming and fabulous jewelry accoutrements. No wonder her work was so in demand. Her many write-ups in the once thriving doll magazine publishing world could paper her bedroom i.e. Dolls, Contemporary Doll Collector, and Doll Castle News to name a few. Additionally, Linda appeared regularly, as a guest, on the Home Shopping Network hosted by doll aficionado Tina Berry, who sold her original mold production dolls by the ton.
Today, Linda no longer sculpts porcelain dolls. Once again, transitioning in 2013 to lifelike vinyl dolls, talented Linda took on the new challenge like the pro she is and continued her beautiful work-only in a much less fragile substance. One thing that didn’t change with this transition was her spectacular jewelry, made at one time especially for her darling dolls, and her own pleasure.
Linda notes, as far as the whole package presentation, it has changed very little: the doll and jewelry clientele each receive a one-of-a-kind antique styled creation and oftentimes the jewelry resembles what adorns the dolls, albeit more elaborately constructed in size and formality. “I wire wrap them onto antique rosaries, my favorites being mother of pearl from Paris Saint Ouen Flea Market, giving old prayers, new life and vintage repurposing a breath of fresh air. Her followers are people who like something extremely beautiful and yet a little different from the usual. “I have always loved jewelry, I love wearing it! I have always tweaked the jewelry I’ve bought. Anything I put on the dolls is an original idea or repurposed project of mine, and maybe something one wouldn’t necessarily use for a necklace, bracelet or earrings. Same with the jewelry I sell to my clients,” Linda explained. She believes repurposing a lovely old object is about giving these treasures new life, a new purpose. “I am surprised at the number of women who love to wear them.” When she and her husband retired they travelled to France and Italy nearly every year. They would rent a flat for 2-3 week periods in both spring and fall. “In Europe there are wonderful flea markets. I would find outstanding pieces such as 1900s sterling silver match safes/vestas, baby rattles, and religious relics that are too lovely to be put away in a box somewhere.”
Denice Marie, a Tampa resident, discovered Linda’s amazing rosary jewelry about a decade ago. “I was writing a book and wanted some tangible symbol of divine reinforcement, thinking something created with religious medals and the like would work magic. Being a huge Francophile who travels back and forth to Paris often (except now….grrrr), I was delighted to see that Linda’s bits and pieces were found during her travels to Europe and included lots of Eiffel Towers and other charms of Paris along with vintage rosary beads and medals.” Denice marveled, eagerly adding more to her glowing testimonial. “Each piece is truly magical and obviously created with love. Even the way Linda lists her offerings is special…aligning lyrics to songs that the piece resonates with. I ended up treating myself to something Angels9 (Linda’s online Etsy shop) after completing every chapter, and even though the chapter was closed on this particular project long ago, I never stopped popping over to Etsy for a fix, usually tying in an addition to my now extensive collection to something I’m working on or going through.”
“On top of Linda’s creative genius, she’s a remarkable human being. Thoughtful, caring, witty, she is simply amazing. The quality and good vibes in what she creates is an extension of her essence,” Denice concluded.
Importantly, Linda wants everyone to know, “Though I find and use so many Catholic treasures, because that’s what I find most in these Catholic countries, I add coexist symbols, paying homage to all religions and spiritual beliefs.” Linda has found in the last ten years there’s been a real spiritual Renaissance going on and is showing up in jewelry requests. “In my opinion there is something bigger than all of us out there that transcends all religions and beliefs.”
“To think I started making jewelry for my dolls, but it has evolved into a separate business of jewelry making after discovering that people appreciate these lovely artifacts as much as I do.”
Linda Valentino Michel’s website is https://www.etsy.com/shop/angels9?ref=nla_listing_details and she can also be found on Facebook.
She accepts emails, texts or phone calls from interested customers.
Email: [email protected]