From Childhood To Sasha Profile Number 3 (part 2)

Hi Everyone i hope you are enjoying the Easter holidays. Here is the 2nd part of Anne Votaws profile and there is another part yet to come.

Over the next two years I bought many, many more Sasha dolls directly from the distributor’s Sasha manager, keeping many and selling the rest. Mother loaned me the money, which I paid back in due course. Thus, I acquired Princess Sasha, the Hiker, Sari, Wintersport, the previous five limited editions, plus a few of the standard boys, girls, and babies. I also sold an early French Fashion to acquire some of the earlier Frido and first production Götz Sashas.

Since most of my story concerning Sasha has been told in Sasha Dolls: The History (chapter 7) and in the Introduction to Sasha Dolls: Serie Identification, I’m not going to repeat what I’ve already written, but will relate some of the activities that went hand in hand with the first book’s publication.

However, I will put my earliest knowledge of the Sasha doll into perspective. In February 1986, not only had I any idea of the difference between a Götz and a Trendon Sasha, but also I had no idea two companies in two different countries had made Sashas. I also did not know about Studio Sashas, which in those days we referred to as originals. That name had the unfortunate consequence of causing people to call the Sasha serie dolls reproductions, a term that diminished their psychological value. After researching the distinctions made among other doll variations, I decided to refer to those made by Sasha Morgenthaler in her atelier as Studio Sashas, and the name has since entered Sasha terminology, just as has no-nose, fringe, no philtrum or NP, and so forth.

In 1987 a great many of us U.S. Sasha collectors were unaware that Götz and Frido had manufactured Sasha dolls concurrently, to say nothing of the fact that Frido and Trendon were the same company and under the same management. A personal tale demonstrates just how ignorant I was about Sasha initially. In a Swiss doll shop, Ann Chandler introduced me to a pug-nosed Sasha she called a No-Nose. For some reason I don’t remember, I thought the term was spelled No-Knows, until she corrected me. You Sasha collectors today are many light years ahead in your knowledge and identification of Sasha dolls from where I was in 1986 and 1987, and none of us would be nearly as knowledgeable without Brenda Walton’s meticulous notes she took during the Stockport production, or her willingness since to share.

As most Sashaphiles already know, Ann L. Chandler and I had never met in person when we took off on our research trip to England and Switzerland in March 1987. Ann knew so much more than I about Sasha identification and history, then, because she had not only sold Sasha dolls through Marcy Street Doll Company, which she and her cousin owned together, but also she founded the first Sasha newsletter and held the first Sasha Festival.

Before I left from Cincinnati for the flight to Boston, I telephoned Ann to ask, “How will I know you?” Ann replied, “In the same way Sara Doggart recognized arriving guests she hadn’t yet met. We’ll each carry a Sasha.” A few days later, I flew into Boston, from where I caught a shuttle to New Hampshire. Ann met me at the designated stop, flashing me a cheery greeting, and held up her Sasha, named Rachel. I waved back with mine named Ellen. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Almost complete strangers, we left together on an overseas adventure to find out as much as we could about Sasha Morgenthaler and her Sasha doll. Ellen and Rachel went along, of course. Our two Sasha kids were most awe struck by their ancestral trip to Zürich, as were their mothers.

 

22

 

(Above My photo for my second Sasha article, What Made Sasha a Difficult Doll to Produce, published in Doll Reader June/July 1988. In the magazine, the illustration is in black and white.)

 

23

 

(Above Ellen and Rachel spy a pretty restaurant in old Zürich, where they can go for lunch on a rainy day.)

 

24

 

(Above Oh, joy! The rain has stopped and the sun is out. The girls skip along to the museum. “Wait up,” yells Ellen. “Look at these glorious chocolates.” “Ah, a candy shop,” replies Rachel, “filled to the brim with sweet delights for Easter.”)

 

25

 

(Above A visit to the Sasha Morgenthaler Puppenmuseum astonishes Rachel who sees how much she looks like her ancestor.)

 

Shortly after my return from Europe, I wrote of my impressions on having visited the Sasha Morgenthaler Puppenmuseum:

“A visitor to the Sasha Exhibition in the Zürich Residential Museum very much feels the artist’s presence, very much feels the power of her vision, very much feels the living force of her creative energy. The observer is impressed by the existential nature of the artist’s work: Not that one, isolated doll gives this impression, but rather the effect builds as the visitor absorbs the exhibit in its entirety, and the force of the impact is powerful. Suddenly you understand what unifies these diverse children: The artist caught all of them in a moment of change, from their innocent acceptance of the fate decreed upon them by birth to the loss of innocence when they are about to begin creating who they will become.

The variety of the children presented, from the impoverished ragamuffin to the well-dressed child of means, from the dignified native to the streetwise Chicago black, from the robust farm child to the stylishly affected and frail mod swinger–all contribute to the powerful statement the exhibit makes. These are the children of the world, their forms and faces derived from a single gene pool–that of mankind. This unity, then, upon which the multi-faceted variations play, enhances Sasha Morgenthaler’s social statement.”

 

26

 

(Above The aura of the puppenmuseum not only leaves the Sasha girls speechless, but even more so, their mothers. Niklaus Morgenthaler based the display in the Zürich Residential Museum on a 1970 Parisian exhibition of his mother’s art that Sasha had designed for the Louvre. As visitors move from one display to the next in the museum, the realization that they are witnessing Sasha Morgenthaler’s living artistic genius at work, not only in her wonderful
dolls but also in the layout, the glass cases, the lighting angles, the textured white walls, and the niches where her legacy is displayed, strengthens and is almost reverential.)

 

27. Looking at Limmat River

 

(Above On the way back to the hotel, Rachel and Ellen lean over the Munster Bridge railing to look at their reflections in the Limmat River.)

 

28. Sasha's Atelier Courtyard

 

(Above The girls can hardly fall asleep that night because they will be visiting Sasha Morgenthaler’s atelier in Höngg tomorrow. The next afternoon, they arrive at the house the Morgenthalers built in 1932, and enter the courtyard. Since no one seems to be around, except for a striped gray cat, the girls squeal with delight before climbing a tree for a peek through the window.)

 

29. Trudi Loffler in SM Atelier

 

(Above An outside stairway leads down the hill to the breezeway. The Sasha girls enter, admire the child-size mannequins, and step through the doorway into the workshop. Inside, Rachel and Ellen meet Laura Knüsli and the Course Doll instructor Frau Löffler. Left to right: Ann L. Chandler, Laura Knüsli, and Trudi Löffler.)

 

30. R. & E. Course Dolls

 

(Above The girls are most interested to meet three Course Dolls sitting on a table. The Course Dolls seem happy to meet the two Serie Sashas and tell Rachel and Ellen they themselves are samples and help when Frau Löffler is teaching.)

 

31. Looking out Hotel Window-6

 

(Above Sadly, this is the girls’ last night in Switzerland before heading home. Rachel and Ellen look out their hotel window and tell Zurich goodbye. It’s been a wonderful trip.)

 

Several of us who were privy to a letter and pictures Laura Knüsli sent to Ann Chandler, which she shared with a few of us at the 1987 Sasha Festival, were still so excited by the contents even months later that we could hardly think of anything else. Laura said a Swiss collector was weeding out her collection of Studio Sasha dolls and had asked her to offer them for sale through Ann. I remember three or four of us sitting around Ann’s kitchen table brainstorming how to make enough money to buy one or more. I believe my dear mother loaned me the needed amount for my first Studio Sasha, which at the time I thought could very well be my last. When she arrived in the mail, I gave her my mother’s nickname Binny and not long afterwards drove the hundred miles to my hometown of New Albany where I showed my new B-II and a little Götz waif off to Mom and a couple of her friends.

31._Anne_w_Binny_&_Gotz_waif-2 (1)

 

(Above Anne Votaw poses with her first Studio Sasha, a B-II, and a little Götz waif, ca. 1987 or 1988.)

 

Binny has by now become quite famous, appearing in a couple of my articles, my book Sasha Dolls: The History published by Reverie, and one book by Three Anns Publications, plus numerous exhibits.

Following the European research trip, Ann and I attended Sasha Festivals, United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) annual conventions, and later Doll Collectors of America (DCA) annual meetings. Attending the 1988 UFDC convention in Anaheim, California, we studied the special exhibits and decided we could put on one that beat any seen there. Asking the president of the organization for the go-ahead, we immediately started planning. Of course, the idea for the special Sasha exhibit quickly got out of hand, requiring us to pull in other Sasha friends to help out. We picked 1915 as our date for the detailed seasonal scenes, lining three long walls of the exhibit room with the panoramas, entitling the special exhibit, Sasha for All Seasons. Since period clothing was necessary for each of the dolls to act their parts in the scenes, Ann nominated herself to sew all. It was a huge undertaking for her, compounded by the need for a hundred souvenir outfits for the companion Sasha luncheon we hosted. Ann made all of those, too, plaid shirts and denim dungarees.

The first season featured a springtime picnic on a lake where Gregor caught a fish; next, Sasha kids paraded in a summer fourth of July celebration; it was followed by an autumn school room and playground; and finally in the winter scene, Sasha children ice skated on a pond, while nearby two houses represented Hanukah rituals and Christmas preparations. Ann and I did the winter scene; Dorisanne Osborn, the autumn vignette; Cecile St. Gelais, the summer scene; and Joanne Schafer the spring setting. Above the seasonal settings, shelving held a chronological line-up of 1970s Götz Sashas, Frido Sashas, and Trendon Sashas. In the centre of the room, three vitrines held thirteen Studio Sasha dolls, several that the Morgenthaler family loaned, and others owned by four of us five setting up the exhibit, plus a few more from Stephen Miller, who aspired to manufacture the North American Sasha doll.

32._Spring-Final-jpg (1)

 

(Above Spring Time: by Joanne Schafer, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 United Federation of Doll Collectors (UFDC) Special Exhibit, St. Louis, Missouri: Directed by Ann L. Chandler & Anne Votaw, with Cecile St. Gelais, Dorisanne Osborn, Joanne Schafer, & Stephen Miller (dec.)

 

33,_Summer.jpg (1)

 

(Above Summer Time: by Cecile St. Gelais part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

 

34. Autumn Special Exh-final-jpg

 

(Autumn: by Dorisanne Osborn, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

 

35. Christmas Kitchen-Final jpg

 

(Above Christmas Kitchen: by Ann Chandler & me, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit. The little blonde girl is looking out the window and waving to her best friend in the Hanukah house who is doing the same.)

 

36. Hanakah House Final-jpg

 

(Above Hanukah Celebration: by Ann Chandler & me, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

 

37. The center vitrines-jpg

 

(Above Exhibit of Studio Sasha Dolls: by Stephen Mille, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

 

More to come in the final part…………………..

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