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Artist Dolls

The artist doll movement can be traced back to the mid-twentieth century. Men and women were creating dolls to express an artistic point of view, as well as to make a living. There were no dollmaking classes for them to take, no books on the subject. Early doll artists like Martha Thompson, Lewis Sorenson and Bernard Ravca had to figure it all out from scratch. In the early sixties, a group of these artists came together and formed NIADA, the National Institute of American Doll Artists. They worked together with UFDC (the United Federation of Doll Clubs) to promote their work. The early doll collectors were very enthusiastic patrons, and the movement grew. Today, in addition to NIADA, there is ODACA, the Original Doll Artist Council of America, as well as numerous smaller dollmaking groups, classes and books on the subject.

I had a hard time deciding whether to include artist dolls in this website. What exactly is an artist doll? After all, every doll is designed by someone. And if they are not meant to be played with, but just looked at and admired, are they really dolls at all? I will leave that second question to the philosophers among you, but I will answer the first one by saying that, for the purposes of this website, an artist doll is one that is made by the designer, or whose production is personally supervised by the designer. Eventually this page will spin off into a website of its own, but for now, you can enjoy a few of my photos. Click on a photo to see a larger version.

_knick1 (4K)Father Knickerbocker by Pennsylvania artist Xanthos Kontis was an early UFDC souvenir.
_violin (4K)Cloth doll by NIADA artist Norma Mellen
_boywcap (2K)This jaunty young lad is by Dianne Dengle.
_beth (3K)Beth from Little Women by Lita Wilson
_beatrix1 (2K)A portrait of author Beatrix Potter by Ann Parker

Copyright 2006-2010 by Zendelle Bouchard.

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