I am a little late in answering Ms. Leo's Mass Blogger Interview questions due to circumstances beyond my control that have been consuming much of my free time. These circumstances are still ongoing, but I wanted to take the time to participate in this interview. Ms. Leo's great questions and my answers regarding my doll-collecting enthusiasm are as follows:
When did you start collecting dolls? I began collecting dolls for myself in 1991. Subconsciously, I began collecting black dolls through those purchased for my daughter during the late 1970s into the 1980s.
|I ordered this "cookie cutter" porcelain doll by Princess House, which was supposed to be a gift for my daughter's upcoming 13th birthday and kept the doll for myself after it arrived. Jessica is my first doll purchase as a collector.|
What was your first purchase as a collector? My first doll purchase was a mass-produced porcelain doll by Princess House named Jessica.
|Me, circa 1997 (after collecting only six years, I had already amassed an enormous amount of dolls).|
How many dolls do you own? I refrain from disclosing the exact number of dolls I own because honestly, if my life depended on it, I could not answer this question with accuracy. I do know that the number is in the four digits.
|Portrait dolls of my grandsons at their ages 7 and 2-1/2 by Ping Lau, photograph courtesy of the artist. I have since added socks and shoes to the dolls' bare feet.|
What is your favorite doll and why? I have two favorite dolls because they are portrait dolls of my grandsons that capture their appearance at ages 2 and 11, respectively.
What doll or dolls are not your favorites and why? I do not like porcelain dolls because they are breakable.
What is the biggest challenge about collecting dolls? I only collect black dolls that adequately portray dark skinned people. This is often challenging when new doll lines exclude dolls of color and when the dark skinned doll is just a darkened version of the white counterpart. An adequately represented dark skinned doll should include full facial features and authentically textured hair.
How do you display or store your dolls? I have one room that is devoted to my dolls. The dolls are displayed on built-in shelves, free-standing shelves, and other furnishings. A few of my dolls are displayed in another room (or two), but the majority of my collection is confined to the doll room. The majority of my dolls are freely displayed (outside their original boxes or shippers). Some vintage era dolls remain in their boxes as I find the boxes are part of the doll's historical significance. The only dolls that are stored are those that I plan to sell. These are stored in an open rubber bin inside a closet. (Click here for a slideshow of my doll room as it was in 2003.)
Have you ever been to a doll show? I have attended several doll shows as a patron and exhibitor. As a patron, I have found that few shows in my area include the types of dolls I collect. I have traveled to other states to doll shows, such as Pennsylvania to attend the annual Memorial Day weekend Philadelphia Black Doll Show, but traveling to doll shows is no longer part of my agenda. (Click here to view a slideshow of past doll shows and exhibits as an attendee and exhibitor.)
When you travel, do you look for dolls? Yes. When I travel or whenever I am out and about, I constantly look for the types of dolls I collect.
What is your latest purchase? The Only Hearts Club Big Sister-Li’l Sister Kayla Rae and Sydney doll set, found deeply discounted at Marshalls, is my latest doll purchase.
What doll is on your wish list now? An authentic doll by Leo Moss remains at the top of my wish list.
What do you wish you didn’t purchase? I wish I had never purchased any porcelain dolls. However, if this were true, I would not be a doll collector.
What is your favorite doll related item? My favorite doll-related item is doll clothing. As a routine, I do not create dioramas, vignettes, or videos with my dolls. I am an “old school” collector who enjoys dolls and documenting their existence. An occasional redress suffices to fulfill my “doll play” desires.
How often do you [photograph] your dolls and what doll is the most photographed and/or photogenic? Currently, I photograph my dolls at least three times weekly. My doll picture taking is usually associated with my current blog posts. In addition, I always photograph new dolls for my personal documentation. During the time I was writing my three doll books, my dolls were photographed as often as daily. None of my dolls are photographed more than others and none have been established as the most photogenic.
Do you talk to other collectors in person or just on the web? Usually I network with other collectors on the Internet as I am not affiliated with any local doll clubs or organizations and have not met anyone locally who shares my passion for black dolls.
If you had the chance to speak to Mattel or other toy makers, what
would you say?
To doll makers in general, I would say:
A. Beauty, people, and doll lovers are not confined to one ethnic group. Because of this and because dolls are three-dimensional, inanimate representations of people, I would urge doll makers to create inclusive doll lines that adequately portray people of all ethnicities. Children and adults of African, Asian, biracial, and Hispanic descent desire dolls that reflect their image. Many collectors also enjoy creating diverse collections that represent society as a whole. When doll lines are limited to only one or two ethnic groups, the doll community is underserved, specifically people of color.
B. I would suggest routine development of doll focus groups comprised of culturally diverse doll consumers to aid in creating marketable dolls and associated products.
C. Utilize a diversified group of doll artists to sculpt dolls representative of the artists' respective ethnicities.
D. I would like to see manufactured a multi-articulated dark skinned doll that includes interchangeable head sculpts and wigs.
To Mattel, specifically regarding Barbie and her family of dolls, I would say, please either add more than one head sculpt for the dark skinned, play line friend of Barbie or change the friend’s head sculpt annually. Even though these dolls are designed for little girls who may or may not notice your overuse of the same head sculpt, this practice has become quite redundant for adult collectors who incorporate play line dolls into their doll families. In addition to new head sculpts, more articulated dolls with less anorexic-looking physiques would also be appreciated. I worry about impressionable little girls who may perceive the super thin, Fashionista body style as realistic, when it is not. A dark skinned Fashionista male is also needed. In the area of clothing and accessories, I would like to see more classic and casual, Fashion Avenue-style outfits and accessories and less shorter-than short, trendy style clothing.
To Spin-Master, the manufacturers of LIV dolls, I would say:I am sorry you have chosen to discontinue the LIV dolls. Their combined articulation and pose-ability was a great concept. Perhaps you should rethink this decision and consider revising the line with heads that are proportionately sized for the body, add realistically sculpted hands, correctly inset eyes to improved the dolls’ aesthetic appeal, and then return them to market.
What doll do you wish would be reissued? Mattel has reissued Black Francie once; a second reissue with an articulated body would be nice. I would also love to see the return of PopLife Christie or a similar “mod” era doll.
What two dolls would you combine and how would you want them
combined? (Muff style question) I would combine the So In Style body(habitus/shape/physique) with the pivotal movement and articulation of PopLifeChristie to create a fuller figured fashion doll with increased pose-ability.
Additional information about my black-doll enthusiasm can be read here.
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