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Toying with danger.

Byline: JILL TUNSTALL

JUDY Dwyer is a toy maker. But don't expect her creations to carry the safety kite mark or look anything like those ghastly Bratz or Cabbage Patch dolls that are this Christmas's must-haves.

No, her toys are unashamedly dangerous. There are bits of wire poking out of their soft limbs and jagged metal ears, sharp jewellery and buttons fit to take a toddler's eye out. And all deliberately.

You won't see them in Hamleys Toy Shop and that's the way Judy likes it. In fact the artist had to leave Toys R Us while shopping for a nephew's Christmas present this week in a cold sweat.

Meanwhile her show Dangerous Dolls at Ruthin Craft Centre is the perfect antidote to Christmas shopping for stressed parents and the child-free alike.

It's a collection of toys that look a little like the creations of the ghastly child in Toy Story whose Frankenstein creations turned out as strangely poignant mutations, but are more charming.

Half doll, half animal they are created using recycled metals, tin cans and bits and bobs such as electrical connectors and wire around luxurious, stitched fabrics such as velvet and silk. With blankly innocent faces they may seem cuddly at first glance but their sharp claws and protective chain mail vests set them apart from the overpriced cuddlies on Christmas lists everywhere.

Just as their title and identity are a contradiction so then is the very stuff they are made of.

``The first one I made was for my god daughter, '' explains Judy. ``It was a fairy with no neck, an odd shaped body and made of silk with metal wings. It was very unchild friendly - not for her to play with - and somebody said she was a dangerous doll, so that's where the name came from. People like the ambiguity, although not children, which is perhaps a good thing.

``I used to make stuffed animals as a child: I definitely wasn't a Barbie girl. I didn't take toys apart like the Toy Story child, nothing as macabre as that, but I was anxious not to make dolly like creatures. ''

She gets sentimentally attached to her creations, despite their potentially dangerous nature: ``When I pack them up I sometimes feel quite sad they are going, and I do keep a few, mainly for the component parts. No two are the same.

Exhibited and for sale at Ruthin Craft Centre daily until January 1.

CAPTION(S):

Despite the blank innocence of their faces, Judy Dwyer's Dangerous Dolls are for those who have left the safety-first days of the nursery far behind
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2004
Words:434
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