From Childhood To Sasha Profile Number 3 (Final Part)

Hi Everyone here is the final part of Anne Votaws profile.

After the initial UFDC exhibit, versions of the Sasha for All Seasons exhibit were repeated at least four times in different venues. Eight months later three of us set up the display in the Toy and Miniature Museum.

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(Above Because the owner of Hallmark Cards and her friend delighted in our Sasha exhibit at the 1989 UFDC convention, they invited us to set up the exhibit in their Toy and Miniature Museum, Kansas City, for a three-month run.)


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(Above A local member of the national VFW liked the exhibit so well, he asked if the above doll could be used for the cover of the organization’s June magazine. A nice article about the exhibit was included.)


Because the space given for the set up continued to expand, finally including a few connected rooms and halls, many extra displays had to be planned at nearly the last moment, making execution of the display frustrating and spontaneous and very interesting. How we managed it with relative tranquillity I’ll never know. I’m sure the museum owners who were with us most of the time wondered if there would be an exhibit when the museum opened Monday morning, but it was beautiful and everyone was very pleased with the end result.

In 1999 my friend and fellow collector Kay Cassedy and I set up a loose version of the UFDC special exhibit as a Sasha doll house Christmas scene, which was part of a much larger Christmas doll display, including from antique to modern. For it, we pooled our two collections and borrowed a few more from our doll club members. The Floyd County Museum in Indiana gave us the lobby and two adjoining, large rooms. We took apart my Sasha doll house, which is modular, and gathered together all of my Christmas accessories,
furniture, Sasha dolls, and outfits. Kay’s teenage daughter Helen was turned loose to set up and decorate the house. Kay and I stipulated only that the kitchen be for Hanukah, the living room for Christmas preparations, and the bedroom for early Christmas morning. We also wanted the doll house to reflect the three prevalent ethnic groups — White, Black, and Jewish — represented by the local population. In the lobby, a giant Christmas tree reached from the floor of the lobby to the mezzanine ceiling, and from its boughs we hung baby Sasha angels with attached golden wings and dressed in white robes.

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(Above My modular Sasha doll house Christmas display was part of a larger 1999 holiday doll exhibit in Indiana.)


Although I was involved until around 2011 with putting up, helping to set up, or designing a number of Sasha exhibits in museums, at events, and for Sasha Festivals, at least, three stand out as special. In 1994, three of us Sasha collecting friends set up a massive Sasha retrospective at the “First Annual Doll and Teddy Bear Expo, in Arlington, Virginia.

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(AboveA Sasha Retrospective entitled, Sasha Doll: The Jewel of Twentieth-Century Dollmaking, was designed by me, with terrific assistance from Ann L. Chandler and Kay Cassedy in 1994.)


42. Anne, Kay, Ann



(Above Left to right: Anne Votaw, Kay Cassedy, Ann L. Chandler)


Kay Cassedy and I flew from Cincinnati two days following the U.S. wedding reception for my daughter Ellen and her husband Toshiya Motohashi. They had married in Tokyo four months earlier in a Shinto ceremony.

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(Above My daughter was a Shinto bride, dressed in the traditional ceremonial attire. Her betrothal to Toshi was the first unarranged marriage in the Motohashi family.)


In 2001 when the Sasha Festival was held in Seattle, Ann, Susanna, and I invited festival attendees who owned one or more Studio Sasha’s to bring them for a weekend Sasha display, held at the Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art in Bellevue, Washington. The exhibit area was a tiny room with a large platform and a protective plate glass window, facing the lobby. It was the perfect place to stage an exhibit, albeit quite crowded and hot for us who were positioning the dolls on the shelf

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(Above Left to right: Ann L. Chandler, Susanna E. Lewis, Anne Votaw are preparing Studio Sasha dolls for display in the Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art lobby in conjunction with the 2001 Sasha Festival, held in Seattle.)


*(Note to Sasha collectors who attended the 2001 Sasha Festival: I have no acceptable pictures of this exhibit and would love to have high resolution or real clear jpeg copies of any you might have in your files. If you would like to share with me, please send to . Thanks, Anne)

My third favourite exhibit was the 2011 Sasha Festival display for the début of the first book, Sasha Dolls: The History, in a three-volume set, was one of best exhibits from my perspective, if for no other reason than it marked a milestone. For twenty-four years, publication of a comprehensive Sasha book had often seemed a pipe dream to Ann Chandler and me, so what the exhibit may have lacked in pizzazz, it gained in celebration. The goal of the exhibit design was to show how Sasha Morgenthaler’s concepts, as demonstrated by the Studio dolls, unified the many variations of Sasha dolls by imbuing each figure with the classic Sasha look, gained through repetition. Because the classic Studio clothing styles inform all generations of Sasha dolls, I pinned my collection of Studio outfits, which includes earlier to later outfits, onto a foam core board backing. The chronology of the outfits also provided a tangible view of the artist’s development from employment of more diverse patterns, which were embellished by greater handwork, to the more streamlined appearance of Sasha Morgenthaler’s later minimalist style. The exhibit was richer because a number of dedicated Sasha collectors contributed their precious Studio dolls to the display. Ann and Susanna, as well as Cassie Guy and a few others, actively took part in setting up the exhibit. Without the participation by so many, the exhibit would not have had the same impact.

44. SF 2011 Debut bk exh


(Above Sasha Festival 2011 in Sasha Exhibit accompanied the debut of volume one, Sasha Dolls: The History by Anne Votaw. Photo courtesy of Francine Briggs, altered in PhotoShop by Anne.)


45. AV signing book plate at 2011 SF


(Above Here I am writing a personal message on Francine Briggs’ book plate, while she took this photograph. Courtesy Francine Briggs.)


In addition to designing and setting up exhibits, I was active in the Sasha community in many other ways. Not only did I help with a number of Sasha Festival, but Kay Cassedy and I also hosted one in Cincinnati, entitled “Riverboat Days,” during the summer of 1998. The heyday for the steam boat, also called a paddle wheel, was just prior to the Civil War, from about 1845 to 1860. For our souvenir journal and festival information ads, we outfitted Sasha and Gregor to represent Mark Twain’s Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer. It was great fun posing them on Cincinnati’s river front for photos.

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(Above This picture of Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer is from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River with the Cincinnati skyline in the background. We staged it using a poster.)




(Above Becky and Tom watch as the Belle of Louisville glides up to the dock. During the festival, we had Saturday luncheon on board a floating restaurant, which travelled about 6 miles up the Ohio and back, in keeping with our theme and title of Riverboat Days.)


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(Above Here, Tom Sawyer is down on the wharf, waiting to load a barge with cargo, going to St. Louis.)


For the 2001 Sasha Festival in Iowa, I put on ….”drum roll, please” the one and only Sasha Ballet. See these tykes dance as never before.

Having spoken of my undying love of ballet, it’s small wonder that I wanted to choreograph a ballet presentation for my Sasha dolls to perform, and the kids themselves seemed eager. They danced three different pieces — Invitation to the Dance, Cinderella, and a Chopin Waltz—and just as in a live ballet, some in the audience dressed up, programs were passed out, some children and attendees brought their own Sasha ballerinas, lights dimmed, and the music began. Backstage, the dancers were just finishing their warm ups and stretches. Then a single ballerina in a fluffy white tutu slowly glided to center stage. The full program of dance lasted 20 minutes and was composed of approximately 300 or more slides. synchronized to the music. I copied the ballet to CDs which I sold to cover my expenses in putting the program together. Currently, only a few copies remain



(Above I loved putting together the Sasha Ballet and would very much enjoy producing another. However it took great stamina. For the photography I took multiple shots for each slide and often, one or more dolls would tumble before I gave them their required 5-minute break)


Intermittently, I have participated in Dress-A-Sasha (DAS) competitive exhibits, as well as donated my handmade outfits to the Children’s Fund Auction (CFA). I often am sewing or finishing up part of an outfit while in transit to the event. If I am challenged by a given DAS theme, can visualize a creative solution, and have time and the wherewithal to carry it out, I delight in the execution. Probably my pleasure derived from making Sasha scenes and costumes is an outgrowth of my theatrical experiences.

50. Final DAS Entries



(Above These are a few of my favourite Dress-A-Sasha entries: 1. For the 2001 festival in Seattle we were to do a grouping or scene related to the Ocean. I found my creative angle when in Japan for the birth of my youngest grandson, upon learning that Kobe was a sister city to Seattle. Each doll wears an outfit typical of her country, but the fabric is the same, and in essence they echo each other in their different ethnicities. 2. This redhead represents a girl from around 1814 who is singing The Star Spangled Banner. The DAS gave many options but each had to do with the Virginia colonies. 3. I used one room from my modular Sasha doll house for the 1993 festival DAS which celebrated Sasha Morgenthaler’s 100th birthday.)


51 - Copy


(Above Just think, here I am in Sasha Morgenthaler’s atelier, making a Course Doll, while sitting among her mannequins, small figurines, and materials. It feels as though she just stepped out of her workroom and will be back shortly.)


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(Above Six happy Americans hold a pair of Course Sasha dolls just finished under the instruction of Trudy Löffler. Left to right: Front row: Trudy Löffler and Sherry Foggan. Back row: Evalyn Stiles, Denise Ortakalas, Dorisanne Osborn, Anne Votaw, and Ann Chandler.)


Illustration 50 above shows my Sasha dolls at the 1993 Sasha Festival in New Jersey, honouring Sasha Morgenthaler’s 100th birthday with a cake and candles. Roughly four months later, fifteen of us from the United States flew to Switzerland in November to celebrate her birthday. Six of us took the Course Doll workshop with Trudy Löffler. We accomplished from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in four days, what most students took a month to do one afternoon per week. On the last day of class, each of us had finished two dolls. The next week we visited the Sasha Morgenthaler Puppenmuseum; travelled to Bern to visit the house where Sasha was born; spent the afternoon in a wonderful antique shop where the owner, who both collected and sold Sasha dolls, brought in some amazing ones for us to see; enjoyed an exhibit in Zürich of Sashas, which Laura Knüsli and Heddy Frick set up; went to gatherings at the homes of Sasha collectors; visited the Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate factory, and ate dinner with Niklaus Morgenthaler and his wife at the Vis-à-vis. We had an amazing and wonderful time.

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(Above For the 2006 festival in Phoenix, the theme dealt with our ancestors. Although mine were not Polish, I had lived there and loved the folk costumes. I dress this Lass from Cracow, Poland, in her wedding dress as a donation for the Children’s Fund Auction (CFA). Jean Jensen made her)


52. Daffy Crepe-4


(Above I’ve long been intrigued with the Dennison Crepe Paper era of the 1920s and 1930s, even going so far as to make crepe paper flower dresses for my Bleuette dolls. I also collect antique paper dolls and many of them from this era have crepe paper dresses. This past spring when we had a bumper crop of daffodils in our yard, I decided to create a CFA donation costume out of crepe paper for Sasha, although I thought the medium should be more durable. Therefore, I concocted a paper, muslin, crepe paper, glue material
for the body of my daffodil dress that I trimmed with tulle. I also made metal taps and fastened them to commercial shoes. Many little tap dancers of the Shirley Temple era wore crepe paper recital costumes.)


The 2006 festival in Phoenix marked the end of my participation in Sasha activities for some time because Ann Chandler, Susanna Lewis, and I had just signed our book contract with Reverie. I practically gave up all social interaction during the writing, mainly because there wasn’t time to participate much in other activities while writing a book. There is a reason why writers become hermits: They have to.

My goal in researching and writing Sasha Dolls: The History was to discover and preserve the Sasha Doll story for current and future Sasha collectors. Because many of the principle players, who had a personal acquaintance with Sasha Morgenthaler or had been involved in the Sasha productions and distributions, were elderly, their memories and knowledge needed to be captured while still retrievable. I felt that time was weighted against relevant discovery if the primary research were to be delayed much longer. Besides, from the days of my early childhood, I was a sleuth, an adventurer, and a detective at heart, so it stands to reason I was intrigued by the challenge of piecing together such an interesting puzzle about a doll that keenly attracted me. Sasha Morgenthaler’s myriad of artistic associations, as reflected by the Sasha doll itself, served to whet my curiosity even more.

Originally, the three books, eventuating from the authors’ partnership, were to have been one large comprehensive volume, which included the history, Sasha-inspired creativity, and serie identification… In April 2006 Ann Chandler and I travelled to New York where we linked up with Susanna Lewis for our interview with Reverie Publishing Company, and the three of us signed a contract in May 2006 to write one large book. In December 2009, Reverie reneged on its contract with Ann L. Chandler and Susanna E. Lewis, giving financial reasons for their decision to publish only the historical portion.

From then on, I worked exclusively with the editor on Sasha Dolls: The History. Both she and I were completely frank with each other, sometimes to the point of grumbling unhappiness. She questioned every detail, every nuance, every date, just as a good editor should, but it was nerve wracking, nonetheless. So many times I just wanted to quit, but somehow managed to keep going. Thank goodness for Brenda Walton in times like those. She stood by me when I was going into anaphylactic shock searching out answers to the editor’s questions, and assisted from 1987 clear through to the end in 2011, even peer-reviewing those chapters dealing with the Doggart production.

The editor’s mantra from 2006 to 2010 had been “cut, cut, cut.” Then one day, during our final tweaking and just before Reverie was to send the chapters to the printer in Hong Kong, the editor shot me an email, saying the book was too short by possibly as much as 35 pages. I felt as though I were dealing with Goldilocks, but bit my tongue. This is too long! No, this is too short! Maybe what follows will be just right. What followed was my hurried compilation of the Studio Identification, the last section in the book. I had privately collected information and notes toward this end for a long time, but to write perhaps the most difficult part of the book cogently and in the space of a month revved up my stress level almost to the breaking point. I had to shoot some new pictures, and optimize them in PhotoShop, write the captions in a consistent style, check facts and findings, and so forth. At this point, Susanna and Ann peer-reviewed the manuscript and gave suggestions, which at the very least boosted my sense of confidence.

I persuaded Reverie to include my partners’ names in the authorship for the first book because I felt so awful about their release from the contract. I also asked the publisher to supply the design elements, such as fonts and other publication elements, to Three Anns Publications, so that our subsequent books would appear to go together seamlessly. The three of us worked on writing, editing, and photography on the two books that followed: Sasha Dolls: Clothing and Patterns and Sasha Dolls: Serie Identification; In addition, Susanna did the layout and worked with the printer for the latter two volumes, which Reverie helped to market.

We are still hoping for completion of Ann Louise Chandler’s book on Sasha-inspired creativity, which will be in a different format.

Footnote: Thank you so much Anne for taking the time to create your wonderful profile, it has truly been a joy to read.
Anne has asked that none of the photos in this profile be copied, down loaded or pinned without her permission. Anne holds the copy write to all photos.

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