February 2009

Sandra Blake

Doll Maker

Sandra M. Blake has been designing all things “dollightful” since winning the Blue Ribbon for handmade doll clothing at the age of twelve. She has gone on to design fashion and works of art that can be found in discerning collections around the country.

Sandra, born in Columbia, SC in 1947 to Vivian and James L. Miller, Jr., developed a talent and love of needle art at her mother’s knee. Her love of design led her to attend Howard University in Washington, DC, where she earned a B.S. in Clothing and Textiles. Sandra became immersed in the unfettered expressions of African and African American culture, history, beauty and art. It was a defining moment in her artistic development.

As a new mother, Sandra found few acceptable dolls or toys to serve as positive depictions of the Black child. In 1978, she began Sanjean Originals™ to showcase her originally designed cloth dolls, “The Dollightful Family.”™ Her work now includes meticulously sculptured porcelain works and portrait dolls.

Sandra’s dolls can be found in the personal collections of such notables as Roberta Flack and Oprah Winfrey, and is in the permanent collection of the SC State Museum. In 1994, she was selected to create the Commemorative Doll for the National Black Arts Festival titled “Ascension.” Sandra was commissioned to design and create a doll incorporating a patented device by Dr. Smith-Whitley of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia used to teach patients about Sickle Cell Anemia. A featured artist in the book Black Dolls: Proud, Bold, and Beautiful published by Reverie, 2004, Sandra’s work has been exhibited at The American Jazz Museum and the African American Museum of Philadelphia.

Sandra continues to create masterful works of art in her studio in Blythewood, SC. She and her husband James V. Blake, Jr., have two children and seven grandchildren.