Colorblind artisan creates miniature doll pouches

When Doan resumed his hobby of making accessories for the dolls he collected, he unexpectedly bagged a new career – making miniature bags.

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When Doan resumed his hobby of making accessories for the dolls he collected, he unexpectedly bagged a new career – making miniature bags.

Nguyen Le Lam Doan, 32, has nursed a love for dolls since he was a child. When he was in primary school, Doan used to collect rags to made clothes for dolls.  Even though dolls are normally for girls, but my family supported me because they saw my creativity, said Doan, from southern Vung Tau -Ba Ria Province.  In 2014, when working as a local youth union officer, he started returning to his childhood hobby to repose from his daily grind. Initially, the man only bought dolls and made a collection.  After his working hours, he learned how to make clothes and bags for his little friends and shared their photos on his Facebook page.Later, a foreign friend asked him to make 30 doll bags.  Since then, Doan has become a bag maker for tiny friends.

Nguyen Le Lam Doan, 32, has nursed a love for dolls since he was a child. When he was in primary school, Doan used to collect rags to make clothes for the dolls.
“Even though dolls are normally for girls, my family supported me because they saw my creativity,” says Doan, from the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, neighboring Saigon.
In 2014, while working as a local youth union officer, he picked up his childhood hobby again as a means of relaxing after the daily grind. Initially, he just bought dolls and made a collection. Later, he began spending his after work hours making clothes and bags for his “little friends.” Then, he shared pictures of his creations on his Facebook page.
A friend who saw this asked him once to make 30 doll bags. There was no looking back after that. Doan turned a bag maker for dolls, full time.

His bags are mostly made of faux leather.  Many people think that it is more difficult to make these tiny bags than bigger ones, but it is not true. Small bags allow me to eliminate their details, while big bags must have more details and decoration, which is time-consuming, Doan said.

His bags are mostly made of faux leather.
While his creations do have intricate details, Doan dispels some popular notions. “Many people think that it is more difficult to make these tiny bags than bigger ones, but that’s not true. Small bags allow me to eliminate several details that I cannot avoid for the bigger versions, making them (the normal bags) a much more time consuming process.”

Hand-making all of his tiny bags, Doan is confident with his little aesthetic sense.  The only challenge is that he is color blind. I cannot differentiate red and blue. So when buying materials in these colors, I must ask sellers carefully and the names of the colors carefully, he said.

Doan is confident of his “little aesthetic sense” as he makes everything by hand. The only challenge is that he is color blind.
“I cannot differentiate between red and blue. So when buying materials in these colors, I am careful about having the sellers identify them.”

Three years ago, a foreign friend made an order but did not believe that all of the products were hand made. Doan must record a video of himself making the tiny bags to prove it.

Three years ago, a foreigner friend placed an order, but did not believe that all the products were handmade. Doan had to record a video of him making them as proof.

All of his tools, including scissors, brush, screwdrivers, needle, punching pliers, and costing around VND300,000, were bought at the Dai Quang Minh garment market in Saigon’s District 5.

All of Doan’s tools, including scissors, brush, screwdrivers, needles and punching pliers, costing around VND300,000 ($12.95), are bought at the Dai Quang Minh garment market in Saigon’s District 5.

A 2-centimeter long collar-inspired bag. The special thing about Doan’s bags is that all of them can be opened like real bags. It always takes him a lot of patience and meticulousness to finish these tiny products.  The first one took him more than 12 hours to finish, Doan recalled.

A collar inspired bag. A special feature of Doan’s tiny creations is that all of them can be opened and closed like real bags.
It takes a lot of patience and meticulousness to make the miniature bags. The first one took him more than 12 hours to finish, Doan recalls.

The bags’ sizes, from 2.5 - 10 centimeters, are based on the sizes of the dolls, and they are often sold at VND250,000 - 500,000.  Every day, Doan can make six bags with simple style and from prepared materials. But making complex ones is always more time-consuming, which is also a challenge that Doan enjoys, he said.

The bags’ sizes, 2.5 – 10 cm long, depend on the sizes of the dolls, and sell typically for VND250,000 – 500,000. Doan can make six simply styled bags with prepared materials a day. While making more complex ones takes more time, it is a challenge that Doan enjoys.

After five years, his customers are not only dolls. Sometimes, he also receives orders to make bags for white-collar women, students and children.

Five years into his “new” vocation, his creations have started getting him orders for much bigger versions from white-collar women, students and children.

Finding suitable materials is not always simple. The man must resort to imported materials for complicated bags, which can take him months to wait.

Finding suitable materials is not always simple, Doan says. Sometimes, it takes months for him to get imported materials for particular designs, like the one seen in this picture, which has a faux reptile skin fabric.

I am lucky because I have a passion to pursue and I can make money from it. I am satisfied with my life, even I have to stay and work at home, Doan said with a big smile while holding his tiny products.

His bag making ties him to his house the whole day, but Doan does not mind. He considers himself “lucky because I have a passion to pursue and I can make money from it.”
To prove it, he flashes a genuinely big smile for a picture with several of his tiny creations, saying: “I am satisfied with my life.”

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