Wednesday, April 27, 2011

American-Made Dolls

D O L L S

Dolls made by independent American doll artists who create one-of-a-kind or limited edition dolls are usually completely crafted in America.  However, I challenged myself to think of American companies who mass produce dolls that are completely manufactured in America.  Sadly, I could not think of one. 

Most American products, including the dolls we collect and buy for our children are usually manufactured offshore, outsourced to places like China in an effort to decrease the cost of manufacture and possibly, but not always, reduce the price we pay.  I'm all for lowered prices but not at the expense of eliminating American jobs.  Outsourcing reduces American jobs whether the outsourced product is food we eat or dolls we collect.   In addition to job elimination, the outsourced products are often inferior compared to American made products.

I recall when My Twinn dolls were manufactured in the US and the superior quality of the original American- made dolls compared to the now China-made dolls.  The exampled My Twinn, American-made dolls' vinyl is heavier, and the hair quality is more superior than the China-made dolls.  There is also a noticeable difference in the former American-made Lee Middleton dolls compared to those made in China. 

Recently, I heard a news story about US airlines outsourcing airplane repairs!  Where will it end or will it ever end?  Americans need jobs and need to be compensated for performing them based on their skills and job performance.  We, Americans, need to support businesses and doll artists who produce American-made dolls and products. 

Will I discontinue buying dolls that are not completely American made?  How can I, if I continue to collect?  But to counter the problem, I have and will continue to make a concerted effort to support doll artists whose dolls are completely made in America.

Can you think of doll artists and doll companies who make dolls solely in America ?  Will you support them?

dbg

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11 comments:

  1. I do agree! I am thinking that Floyd Bell, Kor January, Sharon Tucker, Lorna Paris and a few others (Me too) that make our own OOAK dolls here in USA. Janice

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  2. No, I can't think of a modern American fashion doll completely produced here in the U.S.A. My understanding is that the production costs would be too high because American workers require too high a salary and too many benefits. Something to that effect. Note: I am not stating that categorically - I cannot site where I read/heard that, but that thinking or something similar seems to be trotted out whenever American-made products are discussed.

    Interesting post. Thanks for asking.

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  3. Thanks, Janice. I still enjoy the doll pins I purchased from you (Raggedy Ann and Andy and the I Love Dolls pin). I own dolls by Floyd Bell, Lorna Paris (of course!), and would love to own a Kor January and something by Sharon Tucker.

    D7ana -- understood, but I think Americans are willing to pay more for quality. Is it really so cost-prohibitive to make products here? The problem arises when corporate heads desire to line their pockets instead of sharing the wealth from profits by remunerating American workers sufficiently. American's demand fair wages based on work performed and the cost of living here.

    dbg

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  4. I totally agree with you Debbie and Dana!Americans I believe would sacrifice cost for better quality. After all you do get what you pay for.
    We Americans can only blame ourselves. We sucked up these cheaper made in China(MIC) goods.And I'm guilty of this too! But now I try not to.
    I have even seen MIC decorative items that are supposed to be Arican in nature at Marshalls.So I carefully read the label to make sure tht the item is from Ghana,Kenya or some African country.
    Outsourced airline repairs??!! Boy that's scary!!
    Bonnie

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  5. Thanks for your comment, Bonnie. I make a conscious effort to read labels of products I purchase now, too. Recently, while shopping in an African merchant's store for a caftan, I noticed that many were made in Indonesia, Pakistan and other non-African locations. I wanted one made from authentic African fabric in Africa. Many were printed patterns. When I questioned the shop owner, she said the Pakistan and Indonesian companies that made the caftans were African owned. (?)

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  6. African owned?!! Yeah right!!!:>)!
    Bonnie

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  7. This is another very complex topic, because it so deeply rooted in politics. There is a PBS documentary that discusses the financial relationship of US to China. Very scary! We owe China soooo much money. Part of the deal includes them providing us products. If China "called in our loan", the entire US financial system would crash immediately. We would no longer be the "Super power", we think we are today. I am trying to find the name of the documentary on my Netflicks. I will give the name, once I do.

    I do wish there were more American made companies. I think if people had good jobs, they wouldn't mind spending a little more money to get quality products.

    This is also directly tied into having a capitalist society. I am not saying that this is bad or good. It just is. And since I don't talk politics, I will leave it at that.

    After seeing the documentary and realizing how critical China is to the success of the US continuing as a Democratic society, I no longer have a problem buying products from China. I do think changes need to be made, but if everyone stopped buying imports, it would probably produce the opposite effect of what we want.

    I do hope that the quality of all products improve, because lately my electrical products have been failing long before they are supposed to!

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  8. Please do share the name of the documentary, Vanessa and thanks for your input.

    I am sure that the MIC dilemma that we are facing is politically rooted. It's very sad that America has positioned itself between a rock and a hard place where citizens are forced to suffer loss of jobs or a more dreadful alternative. Sad, sad, sad.

    dbg

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  9. Dear Debbie,

    Thanks so much for opening this topic and sorry I got into the discussion late. I learned to sew by making doll clothes. Knowing what a well-constructed garment looked like gave me a taste for clothes that I could only afford by making them myself. So throughout my twenties and thirties, most of what I wore I made myself. My clothes fit better, expressed my personal style better, and I had the satisfaction of knowing that I was not wearing the product of sweatshop labor. During this period I bought dolls but I never bought doll clothes because I could tell from the poor quality of most of them that they were made by low-skilled workers overseas -- probably in sweatshop conditions.

    Since 2005 my employment situation has been unstable and the jobs that I have found demand more hours than before so I have not had the opportunity to sew for myself. I look closely at the seams when I buy clothes off the rack because I figure that it is difficult to force people to do quality work under sweatshop conditions. I find that the best-made clothes come from Vietnam. Perhaps this is a legacy of the French colonial influence there or maybe there was always a strong tailoring tradition there. I avoid anything made in Pakistan.

    As far as China goes, besides the loss of jobs for American workers, the huge trade imbalance, and the fact that many products made in China are produced under sweatshop conditions, I am also concerned about the environmental impact of producing "plastic princesses" in China. The processes for creating and molding these polymers have a high carbon footprint and they also create large quantities of air and water pollution. I would like to see Mattel and other toy manufacturers develop some "green" dolls made from renewable resources. For example there are now plastics made from plants although as with corn ethanol added to gasoline, devoting crop land to grow these bio-materials tends to drive up the price of food for people in developing countries.

    While I would like to see American workers receive their due, I also believe that social businesses such as women's artisan collectives producing craft dolls could be an important strategy for economic development in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa where there are large populations of people of African descent living in poverty. I believe buying black dolls from such groups could be mutually beneficial.

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  10. Limbe Dolls I share your vision for the manufacture of green dolls and empowering women dollmakers in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. We know there is a market for dolls, specifically black dolls. Teaching women or utilizing the skills they already possess to fill this demand is an excellent point. Thanks for sharing!

    dbg

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  11. Hi there! My mother has collected Black dolls for years. She is now in a nursing home and I am liquidating her collection. Along with many of the vintage dolls, she has several cloth folk-dolls, likely one-of-a-kind. Several dolls are featured in Myla Perkins' book, Black Dolls An Identification and Value Guide, such as the Frogleg cloth doll on page 52, the native man, woman, and baby from Denmark (page 157) and Ugly but Snugley (page 399). If you are interested in a list of her dolls, please email me at ntngale62@yahoo.com. Thanks.

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Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!