Hello Everyone I would like share with you the next profile in the From Childhood To Sasha series featuring the lovely Cassandra

me

 

(Above a photo of Cassandra)

 

My full name is Cassandra Tasmin Cooper, or at least it was for the first 20 years – then I became Rogers and later Keefer…..but we’ll get to that!

My Paternal grandparents met and lived in London although they arrived there from very different backgrounds. My Grandfather had moved to London from the States to finish his medical degree having started it at John’s Hopkins, quite an achievement for the youngest in a large family of immigrants. His parents had moved to New Jersey from the Ukraine and started a ship salvage business where all 5 of their sons worked when they weren’t collecting clams to sell along the Jersey Shore. I only recently discovered that he was born with the last name Levine but when he moved to England he changed it legally to Cooper.

 

In contrast my Grandmother’s family were Norfolk farmers, related to a character known as the ‘Norfolk Giant’ who was a staggering 7 feet 8 inches tall and by all accounts a very unpleasant man. Prior to meeting my Grandfather she worked for a publishing house in London where her job was to interpret the handwritten and often rather illegible manuscripts that came in and type them out. When she and my grandfather, now Dr. Cooper, married they lived in Highgate Village and had 3 children, my Father Glenn being the middle child. My Granny Clare was an amazing seamstress and could sit down with a yard or so of fabric and get up a couple of hours later with a perfectly tailored button-down shirt without ever using a pattern, she also made my Aunt many dolls clothes – a tradition that my Father continued, sending them home to his little sister from boarding school, luckily he was also captain of the boxing club so no-one dared comment!!

paternal grandparents

(Above, my father’s parents with me on Hampstead Heath)

My Mother’s family were Swiss and Ukrainian on her Father’s side – His mother Matushka was of very aristocratic descent and met his Swiss Father while she was visiting Paris with her governess to purchase her trousseau to marry a Russian Prince. She was also related to Leo Tolstoy and would spend summers with cousin Leo when she was a child. Things went south when she eloped and married Maurice, leaving her prince high and dry, she was subsequently given the family’s silver samovar as a wedding present and then promptly disowned and cut off from her inheritance.

 

My Maternal Grandmother was born and grew up in Shanghai where her father Sir Herbert Phillips was the last British Consul General. As a result many of our family heirlooms are Chinese, including some incredible ceramics gifted to my great grandfather by the last emperor of China. My Grandmother moved back to England as a young woman and met and married my Grandpa Peter Bezencenet (try saying that 3 times fast) who was a dashing squadron leader, flying spitfires and hurricanes. After the war they moved to Buckinghamshire, my Grandpa then working as an editor and director at Pinewood Studios, and raised 4 children – my mother Karen being the oldest.

maternal grandparents

(Above,  my mother’s parents on their wedding day)

By happy coincidence my parents’ families both took a holiday in Spain one summer, staying in the same guest house at the same time. The two of them met, only 16 and 18 respectively, and the rest is history – they stayed together until the end of my Mum’s life 15 years ago and my Dad has never found anyone to replace her. They were married in the Chelsea registry office and then moved into a small flat in West London after which my brother and I soon put in an appearance, Oliver in 1973 and me 15 months later in 74.

my mum and dad(Above,  my parents)

 

baby me

(Above, me as a baby)

 

Four years later my parents sank every penny they had into a Victorian house in Notting Hill, there was no roof, no electricity and a completely insane and usually drunk “sitting tenant” in the basement – he came with the house and stayed for almost a decade. It took my parents almost 15 years to finish renovating the house and there were many years of “camping” on various floors of the house while other areas were under repair, but what I remember most of those years is our house always being full of family and music. My brother and I had so much freedom – running wild in the communal garden which was basically a park completely enclosed by houses on all 4 sides. We would be gone for hours only turning up at home when hunger or exhaustion got the better of us. In those days we would walk to and from school, half an hour or more in central London at maybe 8 years old – we were deliciously autonomous from a very young age.

 

our house

(Above, my family in front of our crumbling house in 1978)

 

Although I was usually too busy playing outside and we were mostly too broke for toys I can remember having one particular kewpie doll, I don’t remember where it came from but it was always naked and I would stuff it up my jumper or pyjama top and pretend I was pregnant! I was also fascinated by her starfish hands and in the above photo you can just see me clutching the kewpie while at the same time mimicking her hands at my brother, who is quite typically ignoring me!

 

I didn’t see a Sasha doll until I was 8 years old and my Mum had taken me to Tridias, a local toyshop, where she would let me loose a few weeks before my birthday so she could get ideas for my present. I had worked this out but then and knew to “oooo” and “aaaah” at whichever toy I liked best, but in this case I can remember standing completely silently and just staring at the Sasha dolls until my Mum led me away by the hand and categorically told me they were too expensive! A few weeks later on my 9th birthday while we were visiting my Grandparents in Whales I was given a single gift, it was the size a shape of a Sasha box but I was so afraid that it wasn’t what I was hoping for that I sat with the unwrapped present and refused to open it. After a LOT of reassurance I finally tore off the paper and found a brunette Sasha in a blue dress with tights and ballet shoes and never looked back!

simple sasha

 

(Above,not my childhood Sasha but a perfect illustration of the sculptural beauty of our dolls and why I love them)

 

My Granny Clare taught me to sew for my doll on an old hand trundle Singer, I still have the very first dress I made for that first Sasha. My Granny was also the reason behind a rather unfortunate haircut that Sasha received on the day I got her……..not fond of little girls having hair in their faces she had been brushing my doll’s fringe back so she could see her face better, and wanting to make her happy I asked my Mum to cut her fringe, the results were far from perfect but at the time I was very pleased with it.

 

The next year a blonde schoolboy joined Sasha and then the following year baby ginger, I became more proficient at sewing and I would spend hours at the kitchen table re-cycling my Dad’s shirts into doll dresses. My Dad was in corporate finance and flamboyant shirts were not considered appropriate so most of these dresses were plain blue or white with the occasional stripe thrown in for good measure. It was around this time that I found out that the factory in Stockport had closed down, I had phoned the number on the back of the catalogue to see if I could send my girl back to have her fringe re-rooted (by this point I had realized it was much too short) and was told by a security guard who happened to hear the phone ringing that they were no longer making the dolls.

 

In a panic I phoned Tridias, only to be told that they had put all the Sasha dolls and clothes on sale and they were already sold out, I phoned Hamleys and was told the same – finally Harrods toy department confirmed they still had some stock. I begged and pleaded with my parents to be allowed to use the small amount of money my Grandpa had left me the year before to go and buy some of the remaining dolls and clothes before they were gone for good. I can so clearly remember returning home with those two magnificent Harrods handle bags, containing a redheaded girl, a baby Rosie and 3 new outfits, I also remember my Mum whisking them out of my hands and telling me I couldn’t open them until I had tidied my bedroom. Turns out that she was right and opening those new dolls in my freshly cleaned room was infinitely more pleasing than doing so in the normal chaos I created.

 

So, that was it, or so I thought! I had my family of 5 dolls – one of each hair colour and I was content to sew for them, dress them and then hide them under my bed when friends came over. I was by this time 13 and at secondary school – as with most things my parents sacrificed a lot to send my brother and I to private school where without question I received an amazing education while at the same time learning there is nothing as cruel as over-privileged teenage girls!!

my school

(Above, my school. I spent 7 years here, mostly wishing I was somewhere else but I adored my art and English teachers.)

 

Sasha dolls became my secret hobby and while my parents were tolerant of my interest they never really understood my fixation. My Mum told me stories of tying her dolls to trees and shooting at them with her bow and arrows but would sweetly try to feign interest as I talked about the minute details of eye painting, hair rooting and outfit variations. It always surprised me that considering her Swiss heritage and her art school and sculpting background that she didn’t see the appeal of the elegant simplicity of Sasha dolls. Although once in a while she’d surprise me with something perfect like a package of woven labels with ‘Sasha’ on them in my Christmas stocking, I still have some left and sew them into my dolls clothes to this day.

 

labels

(Above, the labels from my Christmas stocking when I was 14 and a Sashapotamus coat with one of them sewn in.)

 

At 15 I met my first Sasha collector, Maddie at a doll show, she lived in Stockport – the same town as the Sasha factory and was the first adult I had ever met that still had dolls and was completely unapologetic about it to boot. This was the true beginning of collecting for me and when she introduced me to Julian a couple of months later I finally had people to share my interest with who felt the same way rather than just tolerating my obsession. We had such fun, and I still have the notebooks with all the lists of dolls we had, dolls we wanted and dolls we’d never even seen an example of. With no internet we were limited to meeting other collectors at doll shows which only happened once or twice a year and scouring magazines for information or for sale ads.

 

Then I went off to university, leaving my dolls behind and there was a bit of a break in my collecting! I was side-tracked by my degree in child psychology and even more so by Benji Rogers the long haired, goatee wearing musician that I met during my first year who I flew to meet on tour in San Francisco during my second year and eloped to Reno and married on a whim! I don’t know who was more surprised, me or my friends and family…..my parents recovered their initial shock admirably and threw us a wedding party. I was 20 years old, and in lots of ways still a little girl playing dress-up in my Grandmother’s amazing Chinese silk brocade gown brought back from her society days in Shanghai.

 

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(Above , taken at my first wedding party, me wearing my grandmother’s dress)

 

We moved into a flat in Clapham, very close to Julian’s flat which was great and for the first time since I was 12 my Sasha dolls were proudly displayed on shelves. It was to this flat that Susanna Lewis came with Julian when she was visiting him. In those days I only had a handful of “interesting” Sasha dolls……My first NPs, Lolita my blonde girl purchased from a doll show before I even knew what an NP was, and then my 2 NP boys, a brunette first and then a redhead. These were both from Michael O’Brien who told me they would be “important” dolls to have and thankfully I listened, spending every penny I had from babysitting and saved allowance to add them to my small collection. They are still with me and have been joined by 3 more, it took me 25 years to complete the set!!

 

My NPs

(Above, my magic 6 – it was the blond boy that took me to longest to find)

 

Then my new young husband dropped the bombshell, he wanted to move to Los Angeles to pursue his music career and so the flat was packed up and rented out, the dolls went back to my parents house now in the countryside near when my Mum grew up. Without any real comprehension that I would never come back to live in England again, we set off on our adventure and for a while Sasha dolls and sewing were replaced with watching other girls scream at my husband on stage at the Viper Room, The Whiskey A Go Go and the Roxy.

 

These were quite lonely years for me, I was often by myself and we had no money – the only furniture in our apartment was an old ironing board propped on 2 boxes for a table and a mattress on the floor. Benji would sleep all day and I would buy one coffee and sit for hours in coffee shops sculpting tiny characters out of polymer clay, I would try to make 4 out of each tiny package to save money and would carry the finished ones with me in a little cloth bag. One thing I learnt fast is that people are NOT shy in LA and they would come and talk to me while I sculpted, play with the bag of little heads and I was even interviewed for a small newspaper.

littleheads

(Above, little heads, my coffee shop creations)

 

I had hoped to try and break into special effects sculpting and sent photos of some of my more fantastical pieces to the Jim Henson creature shop where I was granted an interview and put on the books as a freelance sculptor, but work wasn’t very forthcoming and I had to get resourceful to make ends meet. I made molds of my character series, cast them in resin and sold them in high end gift shops, and then when I realized that the silicon I was using to make my molds was food safe, I experimented with chocolate and even soap. These goodies were added to my offerings in local shops and caused quite a stir, I was contacted by the LA times and they ran an article on my chocolates. Life got interesting……I made chocolates for movie premiers, Whoopi Goldberg and Steven Spielberg among others and was invited on talk shows and even asked to be featured in my own episode on the food network (I declined that one, I hate being on camera!!)

 

creatures

(Above, some examples of my creatures)

 

 

chocolate stuff

 

(Above,  some examples of chocolates and soap)

 

 

Somewhere during that time Benji and I had amicably parted ways and I met John Keefer – He, as some of you know, has been a great supporter of my by then re-discovered passion for doll collecting and some of you will recall the NP wrapped in foil he gave me at a restaurant for our 10th anniversary. I also entirely have him to thank for my 2 studio doll purchases around that time, without his support and encouragement I would never have taken the plunge.

 

 

John and I

(Above, john and I)

 

 

NP in foil

(Above, NP in foil)

 

 

 

studio girls

(Above, studio girls,  Amelie bought from a Swiss auction on the left and Molly, an early ebay purchase on the right)

 

 

We were married in England, on Valentines day with our friends and family this time, and within just over a month our first baby Jack was on the way but sadly six weeks into the pregnancy my Mum passed away and for the first time in my life I experienced true loss. Thankfully the impending arrival of our baby gave me something positive to focus on and I returned to LA to begin nesting in earnest.

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(Above, Every time I left England to go back to LA my Mum and I took photo-booth pictures at the airport, this is my favourite.)

 
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(Above, Jack on the left and Sam on the right – they are older now but I love this photo.)

 

After Jack was born I began making clothes for him and soon a new career path evolved and Jackapotamus, my line of organic hand printed baby clothes came into being. I very much learnt the apparel business on the fly but people seemed to like what I was doing and a few years later while 7 months pregnant with Sam I opened my store on Main St. Santa Monica. I managed to persuade my sewing contractor to make American Girl sized tee shirts for me and would print them to match the kids versions and sold matching sets. I would also throw doll parties in my store where kids could bring their dolls to dress up and have photos taken on the red carpet and visit the hair salon, even get temporary tattoos!

my store

(Above, a photo of the inside and outside of my shop)

 

dollevent
(Above,  Flyer for one of my American girl events and the doll sized red carpet!)

 

Around this time I discovered our Sasha Morgenthaler Facebook Group and shortly after, while looking at the incredible clothing being made by some of the members I had an “ah-ha!!” moment and so with the next round of American doll shirts some smaller ones were made along with some tiny onesies. After initially struggling with the printing on such tiny garments I took a photo of a few, listed some in my new Sashapotamus shop on Etsy and posted a link on the Facebook page. I had no idea if other collectors would be interested in such contemporary offerings and was pleasantly surprised when the orders started to come in. Using my experience with children’s clothing production I soon added jeans, coats, shoes and other accessories into the mix and have settled into the pleasant notion of life coming full circle.

original sashapotamus post

(Above,  sashapotamus , this was the photo that I put on the FB page that started it all.)

 

Theresa asked which doll I would add to my collection if I could choose any doll, but honestly I feel very satisfied with the dolls I have already. My collecting has slowed to perhaps one doll every 2 or 3 years and while I expect I will add a few more early English dolls before I stop I don’t imagine I will ever buy another studio doll. While I appreciate them as the works of art they truly are their weight, size and value makes them a little intimidating. I agree with Julian in that these days I take more pleasure in rescuing waifs and giving them new life and I had a lot of fun sculpting new legs to make a couple of custom black toddlers and I definitely have a lot more fun with my dolls now that they’re out from under the bed and I have other people to share them with!

customdolls

(Above,  a few of my customized dolls…..lots of unfinished projects are still waiting for my attention.)

 

 

 

custom toddlers
(Above, custom toddler, my two black ‘toddlers’ I sculpted their legs using polymer clay over wood.)

Last year with the help and support of Anne Votaw I approached the Morgenthaler Family in the hopes that they might grant me license to put Sasha back into production. I had hoped that my Swiss blood, sculpting and manufacture experience combined with a desire to honor the original intentions of Sasha Morgenthaler would make me a good candidate. Unfortunately they were initially more fixated on the fact that I had used the Sasha logo as the ‘O’ in Sashapotamus on my Etsy page. Thankfully after I removed it and explained it was done as a respectful nod to the doll’s creator rather than as any claim to the dolls on my part they seemed satisfied. However they ultimately explained that they felt Sasha was a special doll created by a special artist for a time that is now past. They will not license the dolls again. I was disappointed but I eventually plan to sculpt a doll of my own design and produce those instead, I can’t hope to make anything as timeless and enigmatic as Sasha but I look forward to having the time to see what I can come up with. For now most of my time is taken up with my amazing boys who adore each other, making Halloween costumes, school projects, kittens and work – I feel incredibly lucky that my work is doing something I love and that once in while I still have time to play with my dolls!

costumes

(Above,  I have a deal with my boys that I will make them whatever they want to be for Halloween no matter what…..)

 

kittens
(Above, the latest additions to our family…….

 

Footnote: I would like to say a big Thank you to Cassandra for taking part In, the From Childhood to Sasha Series. Please do not copy or download any of Cassandra’s photos without her permission first.

Cassandra has a fabulous shop on Etsy here is the link if you would like to see more of her wonderful creations. https://www.etsy.com/shop/Sashapotamus

Thanks for looking ……………..

 

 

Hi Everyone please let me introduce to you the wonder that is  Julian …..

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My name is Julian Stanislaw Richard Kalinowski and I have been involved with Sasha dolls since 1989, 28 years to be precise.

My parents are Polish
My father’s side of the family were shop keepers. My father had been a chauffer to a rich woman in Warsaw and during the 2nd World war my father became a soldier.

(Below a photo of Julian’s, father in his uniform)

 

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Julian’s , Maternal side of the family had been Farmer’s and were permitted to grow poppies by the Government for medicinal purposes, his Great Grandfather was a Baron.
During the 2nd world war at the tender age of 15 years old, Julian’s mother was put in a truck and taken away by Nazis. She was put to work in a German slave camp, where she was kept until liberation
Upon release from the camp Julian’s mother left the camp in rags, only to be picked up by a handsome soldier and given a dress to wear.
Julian’s mother would often tell him this story exclaiming that, “ it was the best dress I ever had, that dress your father gave me…. It only had one sleeve, but it was still the best dress!”

(Below is a photo of Julian’s mother not long after her release from the camp.)

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Another memory that Julian has of those terrible war years, was told to him by his Aunt Olga, when she had to defend her brother from a marauding German soldier.

My favourite Auntie , Ola , my fathers sister,
( who in later life had a huge peroxide blonde bee hive hairdo ) was chopping vegetables in the kitchen in Warsaw during the uprising . Her other brother, Stephan (my fathers name was Stanislaw ) , ran into the kitchen , chased by a German soldier . Ola said ‘quick , hide in the cupboard !’
So Stephan hid and the soldier ran in , gun in hand.
‘Where is he !?’ The soldier demanded .
Over there said Ola , and as he looked away she ran at him and stabbed him to death .
That night she and Stephan threw him in the river .

My family were not made of spit and tissue .

 

After the war Julian’s parent moved to England.

Julian grew up in a small country town in Hertfordshire called Baldock.
My parents were poor and we lived in a council house.
My mother worked as a cleaning lady and in a factory at night making nylons.

image2 (1) jullians parents

(Above a photo of Julian’s parents in the 60’s)

Around the little estate our house was on were idyllic fields and a great big wood called the ‘Western hills ‘. I had a bicycle and I spent every moment I wasn’t at school in the fields or climbing trees. Making camps . I knew every inch of that countryside. Your eyesight is amazing as a child. I remember I caught lizards. I would fish in the pond in an adjoining village. I had a tree house in the garden.
I admired my father’s old guns. We are now in the 1960’s and my sisters are much older than I.

 

image1 (1) julian as a child

(Above a photo of Julian as a child)

In the 1960’s I’m aware of undercurrents of change in society.
My sisters were sophisticated. They had jobs. They had been to university. They had their hair cut at Vidal Sassoon and wore clothes by Biba.
My sisters they went to see Underground films and read OZ magazine.

They noticed I was different, I’d always want to wear pearls, I was sent home from school for wearing them. My sisters would say to my mum and dad ‘he’s one of the children of the new age’. I always walked with my head held high.

My dad worked for British rail and my parents gave up on disciplining me at a very early age . I was very wilful.
The best part of my Dad working for BR was that the whole family got free train travel. I had my own train pass. So from the age of about 10 I was hopping on the train to Kings X from Baldock , alone ! Not a penny in my pocket and just, walking the streets.

Now as I’m writing this I’m aware that it sounds rather alarming. But nothing ever happened to me. I just absorbed the wonderment of the city and watched the people. The respectable ones as they hurried to and from work commuting and the outsider people , as I came to see them, the street people and the prostitutes , who always fascinated me with their unusual fashion looks and worldly ways , kind words and warm but sad eyes.
I’ve always liked warm people who have lived hard.

As a child I had my ‘boyish’ side, attending a catholic boy’s school. But I felt genderless. My convent school was beautiful, with hidden gardens, statutes of the saints and a waterfall. I was taught by nuns; some kind, some strange.

I always loved dolls. All toys. Robots, action men.
But my parents were very poor, those 60’s toys were expensive and there was stigma attached to boys playing with ‘feminine ‘ toys. Gender roles were rigid.
I always thought that was silly , but you’ve no autonomy as a child because you don’t earn your own money , so you’ve not got much choice really but to go along with things.

I had a lovely Barbie and some hand me down ones from the next door neighbour. I always wanted to know how they worked, so I’d pull the skin off the bend leg dolls to expose the mechanism. Or pull them apart to see how they were put together. You know good toys really are rather wasted on children!

image2 (2) julian with his barbie collection

(Above a photo of an older Julian with his Barbie collection)

 

In the late 60’s my older sister Basia took me down Carnaby St .There was a shop there, it may have been The Design Centre. Maybe it was Tridias?
(Below a photo of a shop front in the 1960’s

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(Below fashion from the 1960’s)

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I remember the big Design Centre in the Strand. That was full of Sasha dolls. Standing amongst the Eames furniture.
So I knew they were really good things.
Anyway, Basia was buying things for her first flat, she’s about 15 years older than me.
That’s where I saw the Sasha dolls. But I also seem to remember the TV show ‘Tomorrows World ‘ ( that was a famous BBC show,) on every Thursday, that informed us about all things modern and new . Anyway, I knew that these dolls were part of ‘the sexual revolution ‘, they were dolls for girls AND boys, they were doing away with all those awful limitations.
I could have a boy doll that didn’t carry a gun. Remember this is the 60’s and even children knew about Vietnam. Well, I did.
Some of the dolls were ‘unisex ‘, they could swap gender. And their clothes were unisex. This was all wonderfully liberating and modern and what I wanted to be about.
I remember going into this shop on Carnaby St and seeing those wonderful tubes, the crayon tubes. Even the packaging looked futuristic. Something from a Sci fi film. But those dolls were expensive and Basia wouldn’t buy me one. And no way was my mum going to because she struggled to feed us.

I also remember visiting a friend of my sister Ursula and she had a Sasha. I loved visiting because while they gabbled on about student rights and women’s rights and stuff I could quietly sit and hold this beautiful, heavy doll.

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(Above a Sasha Studio doll, Julian says, She was mainly done in pencil on translucent resin.
I bought her about 15 years ago at Christies in South Kensington.
When I saw her I couldn’t believe how lovely she was. She had one of those wigs, the colour of which is almost lavender. I got caught up in the bidding and won her.
A mate I was with told me that I turned green with nausea when I comprehended what I was going to spend after I’d paid all the auction fees . She was expensive. I’m glad I owned her, But to be honest I find the scale of the Studio dolls overwhelming and would rather have a good factory doll.)

 

Well then , when I hit early teens I was full of confusion. I read a lot. I almost lived in the library. Adult books that I didn’t understand but that I gravitated towards. Books by Jean Genet and William Burroughs . Picture books on Andy Warhol. David Bowie was very important, references too many things that were important came up in his lyrics.
I’d bought a Bowie record with my pocket money. I liked the record cover, no other real reason. It was synchronicity really.

So I’m 13 and what was I? I didn’t fit in with anything. I didn’t want to be a boy or a girl or heaven forbid, a ‘grown up ‘. That sounded like something redundant.

Luckily something called ‘PUNK ‘ happened and that was a safe umbrella. It didn’t matter what you were, male, female, in between, gay, straight, black or white.

All that mattered was that you listened to very loud , exciting music with lyrics that said something about your life , the consumer society , the politics of boredom , not ‘love ‘ or any of that rubbish and expressed yourself through dressing up (which teenagers of my generation loved , you’re inarticulate at that age , your only real way of communicating your difference is visual , and also because you could go to a jumble sale and , literally , buy a whole bag of amazing 1920’s clothes for 5p !) . Anyway, I was safe amongst the punks. I was only a little androgynous thing but they made me feel safe and accepted.

image1 (2) julian as a punk_LI

(Photos’ of Julian in his punk day)

image1 (7) julian as a punk 2

I had a best mate called Jean, mad Jean from Welwyn garden, she wore 1920’s flapper dresses and had a giant bee hive hairdo and wore two pairs of false eyelashes, and she and I had a super 8 camera. We pooled our pocket money for it.
My early teens were spent making films (many of them with our old toys and dolls as actors), going to punk gigs, and not a care in the world beyond our hair, makeup and what outfits we were going to wear.
I was expelled from school and sent to a college to do my exams. What a relief!

I loved the freedom. Then I did ‘Art History ‘ as a degree. But I dropped out because I’d found out that there was a wonderful night club scene happening in London. I was at university in Leicester by this point. I weighed things up; and I thought ‘I can return to education at any time, but I’m only young once and I’m going to damn well enjoy my youth ‘. So I moved to London and went out every night for years. I supported myself with market research jobs. I also became a fashion designer after taking a pattern cutting course at the London College of fashion. I took my stuff in a bag to a shop on Sth Moulton Street off New Bond St. I had all the arrogance of youth and this shop called Bazaar took the stuff and for a while that’s what I was; ‘ a fashion designer ‘.
Then a stylist for fashion mags. I supplemented my income by selling second hand clothes on Camden market

 

image2 (3) julian modeeling ahis jacket for face mag

 

(Above Julian modelling his own jacket for ‘The Face ‘ magazine , 1985

 

 

image1 (3) styling work for id mag 1989

 

(Above art work Julian produced for a magazine in 1989)

 

Below a brunette red dress and a brunette Gregor similar to the first one Julian owned)

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While I was snaffling about in charity shops and jumble sales I started finding 60’s Barbie’s and was amazed at the quality of their clothes. I started collecting them.
By the late 80’s Christies auction house started selling ‘lots’ of 60’s Barbie’s. The stuff became valuable and I started dealing in it. I had a stall at Alfie’s antique market off the Edgware rd. then. I’d bought two Sasha dolls.
A brunette girl in a red dress and a brunette boy. They didn’t have the ‘oomph’ appeal that I’d remembered them having as a kid. I couldn’t date them. I was ignorant then. It was about 1989. So I was at one of these Christies auctions…
I Remember, I was quite young. Most of the characters then at these auctions were old fuddy duddies . If you saw a young face, well you gravitated towards them.
I saw a pleasant young girl and I introduced myself. She was interested in the Barbie’s too. Her name was Maddy .

 

 

(Below a photo of Julian’s friend Maddy)

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So we were having a good old chat and I asked her what she was into (doll wise). Sasha, she said. She said she was from the north, that the town where the Sasha factory was, was near where she’d grown up and she’d had these dolls all her life. I invited her over to mine for a dolly evening. She was a student then, Art History, I think. Anyway, she came over a while later with about three dolls. She identified my dolls as mid 70’s. We ate pizza, drank Diet Coke. Listened to old punk music, had a laugh. Those dolls she bought. One was a late 60’s one, one a 70’s one. Neither of those was very interesting (to me) .And the ones I’d bought (they were about £50 each I remember, Angel market is where I bought themfrom) those were really boring . She said ‘oh you’ll only get about £70 each for those you know, mid 70’s, nothing special. ‘But look at this doll I got for £50 ‘ she said. Now this doll.. it had some cut hair , was generally a bit filthy , but it was just …gorgeous . But Maddy and I didn’t get it yet.
We became good friends. She was just down the rd in Tooting I think. I was in Clapham. Whenever she visited she bought this doll .Eventually we noticed things, the thick hair, the centre part . The upper lip like a tortoise (as we saw it). The hand painted eyes with no pixilation from printing like the other dolls. These thick, arched eyebrows that were really weird and reminded me of the eyebrows on the first, hand painted Barbie’s. Quite an ‘adult face ‘ really. And very impressionistic, in painting style, graphic, sophisticated.

 

Maddy introduced me to a girl called Cassandra Cooper. Cassie lived in Notting Hill and she and I hit it off straight off , despite her being 15 with hair down to her bum and being everyone’s idea of a ‘good girl ‘ and me , at that point , looking like Kurt Cobain in need of a bath . Cassie had quite a lot of dolls but not one like Maddys special one. She said she’d seen one at Kensington doll show though and she wished she’d bought it. We thought maybe the smooth upper lip was play wear. Finally it dawned on us that it was a different mould. By that time we were aware of an American Sasha collector newsletter. I wrote to the lady who published it. I wrote my observations. We were looking for ‘spider numbers ‘ on heads and things like that at that point. Very intrigued we were.

 

(Below a photo of Julian’s friend Cassandra)

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I don’t know if the information that Maddy, Cassie and I proffered had any credence? Maybe they already knew all about the NP’s? It’s a long time ago and who gives a monkeys uncle? One of us had found out about the Graphis mag feature by then and that really did it for me; these are proper, serious design, I realised. So, me Maddy and Cassie, we had our little ‘Sasha coven’. This is about 92 or something. The three witches obsessing over these dolls that we knew nothing much about. One night Maddy came round and said she’d visited a lady that had a Sasha that had markings on its head and back and crudely painted eyelashes and that it was called a Gotz . Cassie and I sat in wonderment. It was like we’d discovered that you could make a fire by rubbing two sticks together.

There was a newspaper then, ‘Collectors United ‘ and I think it was through that I saw an ad from a Swiss lady called Mrs Cuc.
I sent her £850 and bought what turned out to be a No nose blonde boy. Bloody hell, it was an ugly thing, but I couldn’t believe I owned it. Lot of money too!

(Below a no nose similar to the Julian brought)

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Below a photo of Julian and Michael O’Brien)

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One day a funny little chap rolled up wearing thick national health glasses held together with a sticking plaster. He had a Bristol accent. I had a Sasha knocking about on my stall. ‘My mum collects those ‘ he said poking at it. We chatted a bit, he was nice. He liked punk rock, interesting clothes and Roxy Music.
His name was Michael O Brien. A little while later I and Cassie Cooper were doing a stall at Kensington doll show .Maybe it was 1992/3. Michael rolled in with a baby pram. It was his daughter in it. ‘I’m looking for Sasha dolls for me mum ‘ he said .Cassie gave me a sideways look and whispered ‘rubbish, he’s buying them for himself ‘.Anyway, me and Michael got matey and he was very ‘train spotter’ , which I liked.
He was half Swiss so he knew about the Gotz dolls.

All this time we are all hunting for NPs. Found one at Notting Hill market for £50.Another at Ardingly antique market for about the same. A lady I became very good friends with gave me my first one in 1991. Jackie Plumb. She’s passed away now. At shows they were about £300 but they were usually in the boot of some dealer’s car and they started making ‘bidding wars ‘ between us. Suddenly interest became very intense and the scene became competitive. That wasn’t a very nice period really.

A lady called Susanna visited from NY. She was doing ‘very serious research.’
It all started being about elastic; two black lines in the ‘S ‘ and a purple in the ‘Z’, or something.  Susanna Lewis was an interesting and intelligent lady. I have fond memories of her. Many afternoons with her in my London flat and me visiting her in New York at her amazing Brownstone house ( she and her husband had amazing taste )
Susanna was absolutely key in what happened later. The pioneer in real research.
I drifted out of it then. I still love Sasha dolls but now I like buying cheap waifs and repainting them.
In my 40’s I became involved in doll manufacturing myself. So I suppose dolls were always my vocation and remain so. .But with me it’s the people, the camaraderie, the social aspect .
I’ve owned ‘high end ‘ ‘important ‘ studio dolls, had lots of rare Gotz , rare NPs.
But now a waif for £100 that I can repaint and spend a pleasant evening making a dress for.
That’s much nicer.

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(Above and below, Julian with the beginning of his Sasha collection)

 

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(Below a photo of a wonderful Japanese cloth bodied studio doll once owned by Julian) studio doll once owned by Julian.)

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I would like to say a big thank you to Julian for taking part in this series. once again I would ask that you do not copy or download any of these photos without Julian’s permission.

 

Thanks for Looking……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now without further ado here is the next profile  and it comes from the lovely Cathy Himmel, enjoy!

 

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Hello. I am Cathy Himmel.
My family history has 2 stories which includes the well-established land-owners who have been here before there was a United States of America, and the story of relatively more recent arrivals, hoping to, and eventually attaining the “American Dream.”
My mother’s side is primarily German Anabaptists who were being persecuted in Germany and Switzerland, who saw the promise of religious freedom through William Penn’s agents in Europe trying to populate Pennsylvania.  Arriving in as early as 1683, they were patriots who’ve fought along side George Washington in the Battle of Brooklyn, and who joined and fought in the Pennsylvania militia for American independence.  My ancestors are among the original 6 families who established farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, as land-owners are well documented throughout history.  One ancestor, who volunteered for the union army immediately upon Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers, actually had an audience with Lincoln and Secretary of War Seward upon arriving in Washington DC to protect the city from the south’s rebels.  Most notably, on my mother’s side, former president Dwight D. Eisenhower is my 4th cousin, 3 times removed.
My father’s side are eastern European immigrants from the 1890’s and early 1900’s.  One side is a family of ethnic Croats living in Serbia, who immigrated to Baltimore just months after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.  My great-grandfather Sandor Lukenich evenutally sent for his wife, daughter, in-laws, brothers and their families.  He probably couldn’t have come to the USA at a better time, not only was his home in Serbia mere miles away from the first shots of WWI less than a decade out, but also Baltimore was in a gargantuan re-building era and he was able to rebuild a life along with it and within 40 years not only had his own successful, thriving business. He also owned a summer home on the Chesapeake Bay.  An extended family estimated today to be well over 250 people owe their lives in the U.S. to my great-grandfather Sandor Lukenich, who struck out on his own, leaving behind everyone in Serbia for a better life in America.
Fast forward to the year 1953 when my parents Ken and Fay were married.  My mom was a home maker. My Dad worked for the B&O Railroad handling waybills and data processing, this was his launch into computers and systems design. It was also during 1953 when my Dad was drafted into the U.S. Army and served a couple years. I was born in 1954 at the Ft. Meade Army Hospital, the eldest of three.  My Dad moved on to working in computer programing as Systems Design Engineer with Olin Chemicals, the Department of the Navy as well as Social Security where he retired, however continued to work as an independent contractor until 1995.
Cathy with parents 2.5 years old
(Above Early photo of me when I was two and a half with my mom and dad at the Shore on the Chesapeake Bay.)
I had a happy childhood and can reference my parents similar to the television characters Ward and June Cleaver. Now, it may not have been that way all the time. But I was a mere child and not mindful of adult difficulties. My fondest memories were of our summers at the shore on the Chesapeake Bay which my great grandfather Lukenich owned. Spending the summers with several cousins, swimming, catching the Maryland blue crabs, walking to the well known beach club called Kurtz’s where I would play the nickel slot machines, at an age younger than 10 and buy candy with my winnings.
family christmas gathereing
(Above An early photo of my family around Christmas. I am sitting on my uncle’s lap holding a Barbie Doll.)
Dolls have always been a part of my life. I remember having all those popular dolls, Patty Play Pal, Chatty Cathy, Thumbelina and of course Barbie. Our house was small and I had to share my bedroom with my sister Carol, who was 5 years younger than me. We fought like cats and dogs all the time. Carol would always get into my dolls which would cause a world war.  My sister and I had a very strained relationship growing up, but is not the case now that we are much older. Funny how life changes things. My brother Kenny, the middle child got along with everyone, he was always so laid back, still to this day. He is the one who has been actively researching our ancestry coming up with so much history using ancestry.com.  Anyway, although I loved my dolls, I was not one to sit and play with them very long as I was a bit rambunctious, I loved to play outdoors and climbing trees. I also was not one to sit and study. I hated school and just wanted to play. We lived in 5 different homes by the time I graduated from high school.
After high school, I chose not to continue my education and got a job working with the State of Maryland in the claims department of an auto insurance company.
My husband and I met in the summer of 1977 at a boat party of a friend where there were lots of Maryland Blue Crabs and beer to be had. My husband and I were married in 1979 in a very small country church with only a small gathering of family and friends.  My husband Leo is a Systems Engineer for the Rail Industry. However, he started his career at the very bottom, digging ditches on the railroad in Washington DC when he was 23 years old. He has gone very far in his career and is highly acclaimed in the rail industry. He has been involved in 13 rail jobs nation wide.  We lived in Maryland and had purchased our second house which had enough room for a growing family.
It was shortly after this time, in 1981 after 28 years of marriage, my parents ended their relationship and divorced. I dearly love both my parents, they gave me so much, and instilled the values I hold today which my husband and I passed onto our children.  It was at this point where my mom, with only an 8th grade education was thrust out into the world and forced to search employment. So with her shoulders back and her chin up, she faced her fears and found that employment. She worked at Maryland Cup then Maryland National Bank until she proceeded to obtain her GED, then worked and retired from the University of Maryland. My mom did all that on her own. I am very proud of her, she is my mentor.
cathy and her mum
 (Above My mentor. My mom loves Sasha too!)
It was the year 1982 when my first child was born, a son we named Charles. Then three years later a second child another son, Matthew. It was in 1986 our daughter graced us with her presence, Beth was born. In five years time it was quite the whirlwind  taking care of three young children.
Kathys daughter Beth
(Above A photo of my daughter Beth surrounded by my collection way back.)
In 1987 my husband took a job in the Boston area, we packed up our three very young children and relocated to Massachusetts. Although I have done my fair share of moving from one place to another as a child, being the adult and a mom, relocating was quite the adventure.
It was during my time in Massachusetts where I found Sasha. And of course as you are all well aware, it never stops at just one. My first Sasha dolls were the Trentons, and it seemed I just couldn’t get enough of them. I wasn’t happy with just having a Sasha doll or two or three. I had to learn about them as well. So I purchased the 3 sets of Sasha Charts (my Sasha Bible) from Susanna so that I could learn all about the Sasha dolls. As time went on, I would  admire them, and play with them. But caring for three young children while my husband did extensive traveling nationwide was exhausting, so my Sasha dolls didn’t get the attention back then which they get now.
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 (Above My early Cora who I have named Truffles and her horse Coffee)
After 17 years passed living in Massachusetts, and after the kids had grown into well respected adults, my husband took a job in Dallas Texas. So Leo and I packed only what we can carry in the “wagon” leaving everything and everybody behind, and moved to Texas. It was this time when my Sasha collection took off. And my desire to reach out to like minded Sasha people took hold. I went on line and found the Yahoo group The Sasha Mart. Most of my Sasha friends know me from the Mart as Cathy in Texas. I was very excited to find so many wonderful Sashaphiles from so many interesting places around the globe. And it holds true even today, these same dear Sasha friends from so many years back are still considered my Sasha friends even though I’m not active at the Mart, I am so happy that we touch base on the FB groups. Over time I purchased Dorisanne’s book Sasha Dolls Through the Years, then Susanna’s book with the two Ann’s, Sasha Dolls Serie Identification. Anne Votaw’s Sasha Dolls the History, and Sasha-Puppen by Benteli Verlag Bern. It was also this time where I realized that I loved photographing my dolls especially the Sasha dolls. I find them so endearing and photogenic.
Piper Autumn.jpg
(Above  Piper Autumn was an inspiration for the 2014 Sasha Festival held in Phoenix )
After five short years in Texas, my husband accepted a job in the Washington DC area. Almost a full circle from where we began way back in 1977. We then picked up and moved back to Maryland. However we only stayed in Maryland for three years before  my husband learned that his office was moving further away, not by much but it was already taking him hours to drive to and from work, so we picked up yet again and moved to Virginia.  A lot of moving in such a short time, I know.
And still my love of the Sasha dolls increases. I have learned quite a lot in over the 20 years of collecting Sasha and still am learning about them. I find it so fascinating that the Sasha dolls are simply not “black and white”. There are so many variations of the Sasha dolls that one will be learning for many years as I have, still seeing and finding the unusual, the unique.
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 (Above Robin enjoys the autumn weather. Robin is a rare saucer eyed no-navel)
For me, a doll collection doesn’t stop at purchasing a doll and displaying it. I love to create a character, or a mood, photograph, create stories. Play with my photographs to create a different effect.  I also learned that in order to get what I needed out of a photograph I needed to upgrade my camera, I just couldn’t settle and had to have more from my photos.  The more advanced the camera, the less difficult it was for me to attain what I needed to achieve in a photograph. Still, I was not satisfied until just recently when my wonderful husband gave me a very special Nikon which I love and use almost every single day, and I am still learning how to get THAT particular photo I strive for.
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 (Above Fall day play with Frankie)
I am honored to have been approached with requests for my photos to be a part of the past Sasha Festivals, thereby being auctioned off, proceeds going to charity.
festival collage
 (Above A collage of the projects I completed for the 2014-15 Sasha festival)
It is such an honor and a great accomplishment for my photos to be considered as art.
Tatum and Tobin course dolls
(Above I have recently acquired a collection of the Course. I love these very unique dolls! A whole new dimension of collection the Sasha Doll. Course Tobin and Tatum  )
Carmen waits
(Above Photo of Sasha called, Waiting.)
course doll
(Above Tobin and his bear day dream, wishing for better weather. )
Tobin cousre doll
(Above This is a very recent photo of my Course Tobin. I just had to include it. Tobin wears a fair Tibetan wig, the breezy this day played on his hair a bit.  With a little bit of imagination, you  can see from his expression that the wind is blowing in his face.)
Alma
(Above Black and white of my Studio Hybrid Annika)
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(Above Black and White of my Course Alma)
pascal
(Above My OOAK Pierrot by Artist Janet Myhill Dabbs.  My Pierrot is lovingly created, Janet’s rendition of the beloved  Pierrot  once owned by Sasha Morgenthaler herself. My pierrot’s name is Pascal)
wampanoag
(Above My Wampanoag.  He is part of a set. I get them out every year during our Thanksgiving. His ensemble was created by Artist Mary Madeco-Smith)
magill
(Above Magill a no navel)
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(Above Charlie climbs a tree)
Charlie xmzs card
(Above Holiday Charlie)
Lissanne snow day
(Above Snow day with LissAnne)
charlie snow angel
(Above one of my personal favourites of Cathy’s photos Charlie the Christmas Angel)
studio project
(Above
OOAK Lydia by Artist Janet Myhill Dabbs. Farm Girl Lydia was part of Janet’s series her rendition of the Sasha Studio)
Toshi
(Above My Asian couple Toshi by Janet MyHill Dabbs. And Kayna by Kelly Wenarski)
Piper and Cathy
(Above Piper and Me.  Piper is one of my first Gotz slate eyed girl.)
Annika
(Above Annika’s profile photo)
Shelly studio doll and cathy
 (Above Shelly and me. Shelly is Studio IV. I love this mold as she appears to have that “Mona Lisa” smile.)
I have many special people to thank for this particular journey of mine from my mom, husband, and daughter, who have given me support which enabled me to achieve a higher expectation. Also to so many wonderful Sasha people who have given me insight as well as helped me to achieve my goals.
shelly studio doll
(Above  Shelly B&W all original. )
Annika studio hybrid
(Above
Annika and me. Annika is my Studio hybrid. )

I also feel honored to be a part of Theresa’s “From Childhood to Sasha” profile with so many well established Sashaphiles. Thank you.

 

Foot Note:

Cathy thank you so much for sharing you story with us. I love your photos and look forward to seeing many more.

Please do not copy or download any of Cathy’s photos without her permission.

Hi Everyone its time for the next instalment in the From Childhood to Sasha profiles.
Please give a warm welcome to the wonderful Susanna Lewis.

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Susanna and granddaughter Anya, at Sasha Festival 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

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 Dear fellow Sashaphiles,

My name is Susanna Lewis, I am working up to four-score years, and I am thoroughly an American. Most of my ancestors arrived here in the 1600s and 1700s from England and Scotland, seeking religious freedom, economic opportunity, and adventure. They settled in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and gradually moved westward with every generation as America expanded. During the 18th and 19th centuries, every war fought in the American north and midwest included at least one of my English or Scottish ancestors in battle.

Then there was my Danish great-grandfather. In the early 1860s in Copenhagen he lost his wife and three children to a plague. Shortly thereafter he converted to Mormonism and came to America, trekking across the prairies and through the mountains to Salt Lake City with other Mormon pioneers. Eventually he settled in southern Idaho, became a successful farmer, and married three times, plural marriages. He built a cabin for each wife and they lived side by side, rearing seven children to adulthood among them. My grandfather’s mother was his last wife. He eventually spent time in jail for his polygamist practices, but he was a devout Mormon and locally well known for his lengthy sermons delivered in a loud voice. He was also a firm believer in the value of education, and insisted that all his sons go to school and pass their examinations, then earn  the neccessary money to go on to university. He wanted them to become pioneers in whatever field of endeavour they chose to enter. I am telling you about him because this pioneering attitude has persisted in subsequent generationsof my family, mostly in the teaching profession, although adherence to Mormonism has long since faded. It has colored my life, and is a family tradition with daunting responsibilities.

My growing-up years were spent bouncing around from one place to another, I went to eight schools in twelve years. My father, a university professor in the field of experimental psychology, did research work for the military in addition to his university work, necessitating frequent moves all over the country. Changing schools so often was difficult of course, both for me and my three younger brothers, but my family was adventurous and embraced every chance to explore a new area of our country with camping trips and visits to our many far-flung relatives. It was fun and stimulating, and I remember it with great fondness. When I went to university I was determined to carry on with my family’s tradition and become a teacher. I majored in both biology and art, with a minor in music. After I graduated from university I taught art in a junior high school, then married Tim Lewis, my college sweetheart. We lived in Okinawa at first, while he did his Army service. I was teaching biology in the dependent high school, and we both fell in love with Asian cultures. We travelled around Asia as much as we could while we had the chance. Back in America with Army service finished, we loaded our few belongings and Tim’s portfolio (he was a budding artist-illustrator) onto a Greyhound bus and went to New York City to seek our fortunes.

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I was a little girl who loved teddies, dolls, and kitties, right from the start. A great many of my childhood photos picture me with one of the three. In the left photo I am age twenty months, in Fayetteville Arkansas, holding my very worn constant companion. In the right photo I am age four in Kirkwood Missouri, with my first brother and a newer teddy constant companion.

 

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In these two photos I am age six, at the left in the early summer sun of San Antonio Texas, holding our neighbor’s cat, Boots. On the right it is Christmas in Kalamazoo Michigan, and I was given my mother’s childhood baby doll, a Bye-Lo baby with a wardrobe made by my grandmother and great-grandmother. I still have the doll and clothes, and I treasure them.

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Two years later we are now in Nashville Tennessee, in the left photo at Christmas I was given a longed-for popular doll, Sparkle Plenty, from the comic strip Li’l Abner. My best friend also got one, and we were in doll-heaven together for months. The right photo, a year later, pictures two cloth dolls in Dutch costumes my father purchased from a Pennsylvania hospital for mentally ill patients. I still have these two dolls but don’t know much about them. They are a distinctive style, and beautifully sewn with a lot of details on both dolls and clothing.

 

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Now in New York City, Tim and I camped in a cheap hotel room, cooked our meals in an electric frying pan and kept our perishables in an ice bag in the bathtub. I found a job teaching in an elementary school on Long Island. Tim enrolled in the School of Visual Arts, where he met Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast as instructors, and soon they hired him to join their Push Pin Studios. His career launched, in the next few years Tim became a very successful illustrator. As soon as we had enough money we moved into a fourth floor walk-up over a bakery on West 72nd Street, two blocks from Central Park, and thankfully it had a tiny kitchen with refrigerator and stove. Life in the big city was full of discovery and adventure and we took advantage of every opportunity to sample anything that was free-of-charge – museums, concerts, street fairs, ethnic neighborhoods. We loved it, as did our new circle of artist friends. Because I grew up without a home town, New York City became my home town. I am from the Big Apple and lived there for forty years.

In the second year of our life in the city I became pregnant with our first daughter. I was very happy to become a mother, but also very happy to have time at home to pursue my own interests. The first thing I did was to enroll in the Master’s Degree program at Columbia University Teacher’s College, so I could become permanently certified for teaching in New York State. I also wanted to spend home time to perfect my sewing skills and explore other needlework techniques as techniques for art forms. I wanted to develop my own art work using needle work, not paint and paper like my husband. I was motivated by the work of many European artists using lacemaking, knitting, embroidery, fabric pleating, quilting, macramé, crochet, weaving and other well-known traditional needlework and fabric techniques, to produce museum-quality works of art. I needed home time to perfect my skills and techniques in order to express myself in any kind of museum-quality sort of way. It was during this time that I first saw the work of Sasha Morgenthaler, in an article in Graphis magazine from Switzerland. I am quite sure that it was the same article that John and Sara Doggart saw that inspired them to produce serie Sasha dolls. It was my first acquaintance with Sasha dolls and I remember being very favorably impressed. Here was a woman artist, using her talents to produce her art work in an unconventional medium, museum-quality dolls.

After our daughter was born I was very busy working on my degree, and enjoying my baby. An architect friend commissioned me to sew a wall hanging for a restaurant he was designing, and I was to design the hanging. It was fun, and I earned some money. One commission led to another, and soon I had an income designing and sewing wall hangings for businesses. But I was not satisfied, I wanted more than sewing on a machine. One day while walking down Fifth Avenue on my way to do some shopping at Macy’s, I passed by a sewing machine shop that had a curious machine in the window, it was a knitting machine. I had never before seen one. I went into the shop to inquire, and was given a demonstration. When I saw what it could do, my imagination exploded with design possibilities for my wall hangings. A week later I had put together enough cash to buy one, and then spent three frustrating months learning how to use it. Once I had enough technical skill I began using the knitting machine to make my wall hangings, very pleased that now I had a unique technique and tool to produce my artwork.

Our second daughter was on the way. We adopted an eight-month-old baby from South Korea, satisfying the strong desire to have Asia in our family ever since our days in Okinawa. While awaiting her arrival, we gave up our fourth floor walkup on West 72nd Street and made a down payment on a fixer-upper brownstone row house in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. At first, living conditions were not much better than our first months in the hotel room, but at least there was ample space for two little girls to run and grow, and studio space for both my husband and me. We lived in our wonderful brownstone for thirty-one years. It was early in this period that I made my second acquaintance with Sasha dolls. I saw the photos of Blonde Gingham and Gregor Denims in the Fall 1968 Creative Playthings catalog. I remembered the article in Graphis I had seen, and how impressed I was by Sasha Morgenthaler’s work. I wanted one of her dolls, and promptly ordered a gingham girl. I did not tell my husband what I had done, as we could not afford the $15.75 price tag for an expensive doll our girls were too young to play with. She stayed hidden in a closet, secretly looked at from time to time, until the girls were older and the doll came out to play. She is the doll pictured on the cover of our book, Sasha Dolls: Serie Identification.

My babysitters were college girls from nearby Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, studying in the Fine Arts program. There were several of them interchangeably, madly knitting or crocheting on something sculptural every time they came to care for my girls. Some of them were making their fiber sculptures into wearable garments – this time period was at the beginning of the Art-to-Wear movement. I was impressed by their use of traditional needlework techniques for creating fine art. They in turn, were impressed with the machine-knitted wall hangings I was making. At their urging, I put together a portfolio of my work and took it to Julie Schaffler Dale, who owned a high-end wearable art gallery on Madison Avenue, called Julie: Artisans’ Gallery. Some of my babysitters were showing and selling their work there, and after seeing my portfolio, Julie promised to show my work, too. I was elated, no more wall hangings for commercial spaces, now it would be wearable art, as soon as I could figure out how to make my wall hangings wearable!

 

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Three examples of my wearable art creations: Left, “Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder,” 1977, made to honor my father’s service in the Army Air Corps during WW-II. Center, “Shakespeare Dream Coat,” 1977, with a Shakespeare quote knitted into the interior of the coat. Right, “Oz Socks,” 1978, made for an invitational show at the American Crafts Museum in New York City, called The Great American Foot. I am pleased that all three are now in museum or private collections. Much of my art work, together with Julie’s other artists, was documented and published in Julie’s book, Art to Wear, Abbeville Press, 1986, ISBN 0-89659-664-8. The three photos above, are from Julie’s book.

 

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My love affair with wearable art continued to the end of the 1980s. Many of my pieces were sold to individuals in the public eye, and once in a while I would see one of my wearables on the back of a person in a television newscast, or in the case of Elton John, worn for a few numbers in one of his televised concerts. It was very gratifying to see others enjoying and displaying my work, and to know that I was able to contribute to an important period in the fine arts.

But the teacher, educator, researcher in me was also at work, restless for a change of pace from the constant output of imaginative combinations of images. By now my techniques on the knitting machine were well-honed, and I began teaching workshops, writing articles and designing garments for several knitting magazines in the UK and USA. I had also written two books, one on the technical aspects of producing patterned fabrics on the knitting machine, and a second one on the hand knitting of lace-patterned fabrics. The second book, Knitting Lace, was the result of my work for several years at The Brooklyn Museum of Arts, deciphering and documenting an antique knitted lace sampler in their collection. Ann Coleman, curator of the Costumes and Textiles department at the time, not only made the sampler available to me, but also taught me much of what I know about the conservation and restoration of textiles, and how to mount and document a major exhibition. If you the reader, are a doll collector, you might know about Elizabeth Ann Coleman in another way, the collaboration with her mother Dorothy and sister Jane, to produce the volumes called, The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls.

 

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My first two books. Left: first published in 1986 by Lark Books, it went through three publishers and at least five printings. I was the author, and my friend Julia was the editor; she taught me how to write a book. Right: first published in 1992 by Taunton Books, it had at least two printings. A few years ago it was republished by Schoolhouse Press and is currently in print, ISBN: 978-0-942018-31-8.

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When my girls’ interests eventually turned away from playing with dolls, our first Sasha became totally mine to play with, and I used her to model quarter-scale prototype garments that I was designing for knitting magazines. At left, Sasha and her sister Marina model hand and machine knit versions of a garment I was designing for a 1990s issue of Knitter’s magazine. The center photo is the adult-size finished garment as it appeared in the magazine. The right photo is another hand knit version I made for the Children’s Fund Auction at the 2015 Sasha Festival in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

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In 1993 I discovered that Sasha dolls had a collecting community, and I attended my first festival that year. It was hosted by Sherry Foggan in New Jersey, and the theme was Sasha Morgenthaler’s 100th birthday party. Prior to that festival, I had no idea that so many wonderful adults were as enthusiastic about Sasha dolls as I was, and were using the dolls in so many different ways. After the festival, I was on fire with Sasha dolls. The first thing I did was to purchase a few more dolls. Next, I began using them as teaching aids in my weekly machine knitting classes at Parsons School of Design in New York City, and three-day hands-on machine knitting workshops that I was teaching in the spring and fall each year across the USA and Canada, England, Scotland, and Australia. Two Sasha girls would travel with me to each workshop and model simple garments made from fabrics that were being taught in the workshops. The girls were very popular, they lightened the mood created by the intense course of study in the workshop, and acquainted my students with Sashas and their quarter-scale bodies. Some students had never before seen Sasha, while others either had one as a child, or had wished for one during childhood. Nearly everyone did not know that a Sasha collecting community existed, or that dolls could even be obtained. Of course, this was during the days when the internet was just getting started.

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A photo collage of my Sasha girls attending knitting machine workshops. The first photo shows a typical set-up for a workshop – a room big enough for up to twenty machines, plus people, computers and cones of yarn. Since the machines are electronic, most of the fabric design is done on a computer. After the machine is programmed and swatches are knitted, my girls help with critique, but mostly they want to play. Sometimes a doll visitor (belonging to one of the students) would generate a lot of curiosity with my Sashas. The final photo pictures them in their travel bag, tired and ready to go home for a few days before the next workshop.

 

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I was using Sashas in my own work, but as I became more acquainted with the two (at that time) productions, I also became intrigued with all the differences in the dolls. I carried on correspondence with Dorisanne Osborn, who was publishing Friends of Sasha at that time, and asked her a great many very detailed questions. Dorisanne was publishing everything she knew or could observe about the dolls, but finally, she wrote and said that in order to answer my many questions, I would have to help and do my own research. That was all I needed to give me the motivation to start a new research project, to document and date the progression of style changes in the dolls and clothing during the two productions. In order to do this I needed to examine and document a great many dolls. I contacted my collecting friends in the USA and England, and photographed and documented all the details about the dolls in their collections. I began a Sasha repair service, so that I could examine and document more and more dolls. I published my research in the Sasha Dolls Charts, updated every two or three years as I was able to draw more conclusions. I started a website, www.sashadoll.com, launched in January 1997, in order to have exhibits about the dolls, sell knitting patterns, the Charts, and a few dolls, so I could fund my research. Remember that there were no digital cameras at that time, and film and processing cost money!

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The New York City Toy Fair in February 1995, was especially exciting because of the launch of the new Götz Sasha dolls. Dorisanne Osborn, Yvonne French (owner of the New York City toy store dollsanddreams) and myself, met at the Götz toy fair showroom to see the display of Gregor, Angela and Maria, and the prototype for LE Marianne (she has warm brown eyes, not the turquoise of the final production doll). Later in the day, we three travelled by subway to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, to compare their very early Dungarees doll, donated by FAO Schwarz toy store, to our own examples of the same doll. L-R: Dorisanne holding her Dungarees, Susanna holding her Dungarees, and Yvonne holding the museum’s Dungarees. All three are 1967 with original clothing and no-philtrum heads.

 

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The tragic events to the World Trade Center on September 11 2001, which I witnessed from the windows of my brownstone studio, brought an abrupt end to my travelling and workshops for the fall season. Within a week, I decided to permanently retire and remove myself from the city. The brownstone was sold, and I moved to a quiet rural place in the Hudson Valley where I could be near our daughters and their families. Now, I could put the horrible tragedy and its aftermath behind me, focus fully on finishing my research of the serie Sasha dolls, and begin work on several other projects that were on my “bucket list.”

Fellow Sashaphiles Ann Chandler and Anne Votaw, and myself made the decision to work together to produce a book about Sasha dolls where we could combine our research on Sasha history, clothing, body and painting styles. We wanted to make a comprehensive volume covering everything we knew about Sasha dolls to date, knowing full well that more information would come to light in the future, especially detailed variations in the dolls. Both Ann and Anne have written to you in their profiles on this blog, about the trials we had getting the book put together, and the final decision to make three books instead of one. These three books are a very large accomplishment for all three of us, as they represent twenty-plus years of research and development for each of us, hard work, a large financial investment, and a dream come true. Many of you helped by contributing your dolls for research or photos, and many others have written to say how helpful the books are to you, and that you are enjoying them. We fully appreciate your contributions and kind words, they make the years of work and effort very worthwhile. Thank you, thank you!

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These are the three Sasha doll books, resulting from years and years of research and collecting, and a collaborative effort by Ann Chandler, Susanna Lewis, and Anne Votaw. If you want a copy, or to print out a copy of the errata, visit my website, www.sashadoll.com.

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Now that the books are finished I can really enjoy play time with my Sashas. One thing I love to do is design knitting patterns for Sasha. Being a teacher at heart, I can continue to teach knitting techniques through my patterns. They are available for sale on my website, www.sashadoll.com.

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Since I love knitting, most years I try to make an outfit for the Children’s Fund Auction at the annual festival. Here are a few examples.

 

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Now you are up-to-date with my story “From Childhood to Sasha.” My last paragraph is to tell you how much I appreciate the wonderful friendships and acquaintances I have made through the years with my fellow Sasha collectors. In common, we share Sasha Morgenthaler’s values and ideals that she presented through her dolls. May we continue our play, our coming together at festivals and local events, the Yahoo and Facebook groups, and persevere in our work toward a better world through Sasha dolls. A big thank you to Theresa O’Neill, for inviting me to share my story with all you fellow Sashaphiles on her blog!

All good wishes to you all, Susanna.

FootNote:

Thank you so much for taking part Susanna, your knitting skills are incredible. Once again everyone please do not copy or upload any of Susanna’s photos without her permission.

Hi Everyone
so sorry for keeping you waiting so long for this Profile,but i am sure that it will be worth the wait.
Profile number 8 comes from from a truly original man with a great big heart. I give you Steve Kingaby.

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My name is Steve and I was born at St Nicholas’s Hospital in Plumstead South
East London on the 14th of February 1959 ( two weeks early) according to my mum.
I weighed 6lb 1oz. I am the oldest of three children.
At the age of two and a half ( just after the birth of my brother) my parents
moved us from rented rooms and brought a three bedroomed house in welling, Kent.

Steves parents wedding

 

(Above Steves Mum and Dad on their wedding day April 1958)

My Dad was a policeman and worked shifts, so most of the parenting was done by
my Mum.
My Mum said I always had a teddy or soft toy tucked under my arm, unlike my
brother who preferred to play with his toy cars.
I remember having a Popeye doll, who had a soft body but vinyl arms and legs who
was my constant companion. Over the years I have spent many an hour looking on
eBay for one just like him.
For some reason most of the kids on our street were girls who loved playing mums
and dads, so us boys were always brought into play. I spent many a happy hour
walking up and down our road pushing the girls Silver cross dolls prams, playing
jacks, skipping and playing elastic’s.

popeye

 

(Above a Popeye doll similar to the one Steve owned)

 

Steve and his Mum younger

 

(Above a photo of young steve with his Mum.)

When I was about seven I remember staying the odd weekend with my Nanny Maud and
Granddad Bert ( my Dads parents). We used to take a bucket up to bed with us, as
their toilet was outside. It’s funny the things you remember.
My Nan was a knitter and sometimes she would get hold of old hard plastic
pedigree dolls and knit them clothes. I loved playing with the dolls and so my
Nan would give me the odd one to take home with me.
When we returned home my Dad would take the doll from me and put it straight in
the dustbin. So my Nan used to keep them at her house for me to play with along
with an old dolls pushchair so I could push them round her garden. My Dad wasn’t
at all happy with this and I can still hear him arguing with Nan and saying I
was not to play with the dolls or the pushchair when we stayed.
Of course once my dad had left us, my Nan would go and get the dolls and
pushchair for me to play with, she also taught me to sew and knit.

 

Steve and Nanny Maud

 

(Above a photo of Steve with his Nanny Maud)

When I was eight, my sister Lindsay was born and after her birth I don’t
remember staying at my Nan and Granddads anymore, although will still used to
visit. I am not sure what happened to my dolls or the pushchair, I think my Nan
must have given them away as I don’t remember ever playing with them again.
I was around nine or ten when I first saw my first Sasha doll. My brother Iain
and I were at our junior school summer fair and I can remember being mesmerised
by this redheaded doll that was a raffle prize. I had never seen anything like
her before. I asked the lady running the stall what kind of doll she was and she
told me she was a Sasha, I just couldn’t stop looking at her. I remember buying
raffle tickets but alas I never won her or saw another Sasha again during my
childhood.
It was around this time that my Dad decided that my brother and I should have a
clear out of our bedroom and get rid of some of our toys. All our bears, soft
toys and my much loved Popeye where were put into bags and thrown into the
dustbin. I can remember my parents arguing over this but as usual my Dad got his
way.

Steve and Mum aged 8

 

(Above My mum and I. I must have been around eight and if you look down my mum is
holding my doll.)

It was when I started secondary school I began to realise I was different to
most of the boys, I think I had always known but it was around this time it all
started to fall into place. I didn’t act on any of these feeling but suppressed
them and tried to get on with my life. I free wheeled through secondary school,
bunking off when ever I got the chance. I hated everything about school,
lessons, football, cricket or any kind of PE.

Steve school photo

 

(Above Steves school photo and he is in the second row, eighth along from the left.)

During my last year at secondary school, my parents were called in, as I had
been kicked out of some of my CSE options as I hadn’t done enough course work.
My Dad went mad, our relationship went from bad to worse.
It was suggested by the school domestic science teacher ( to my parents) that I
had a flair for cooking, so it was decided that I should go to catering college
to train as a chef.
I loved college and after a two year course I left with five city in guilds, an
RSH in hygiene and a college diploma.
I started working at the Bank of England as a chef two weeks after leaving
college. I hated it. We catered from anything from 1000 to 1200 people
everyday.

Bank of England

 

(Above a Photo of the Bank of England)

The good thing about having a job was you got paid at the end of the week.
Things at home were getting worse between my parents and I. During the later
teenage years my dad and I argued, he didn’t like my clothes, my hair my friends
and I am sure he sensed that I didn’t like him much either. The next few years
were hard, I finally plucked up the courage to tell my mum that I was gay when I
was nineteen and she was devastated. Our relationship has never been the same
again, she also made me swear not to tell my Dad as she knew I would be banished
from the family home. These were dark years, I slept on friends sofas and
partied hard, I only went home to change my cloths and to have a bath I barely
spoke to my parents. I went missing for days on end and thinking back now my
parents must have been worried sick.

Steve about 18

 

(Above a photo of Steve aged about 18 years old)
When I was around twenty three, I left catering at the Bank of England and home.
I got a job working in a day centre with adults with physical disabilities.
Three yeas later I moved job again, this time as a support officer working with
adults with learning disabilities.
I loved my job and I was the happiest I had been in years.
I met James my partner, two years later after he joined our staff team and a
year later he moved in with me and we became a couple.

Steve and James

 

(Above a photo of Steve and James)

My Dad died on October the 17th 1999 after undergoing a triple bypass at St
Thomas’s hospital, ( he had two heart attacks a year or so before his opp) he
never came round from the anaesthetic. He was 63. I do regret we never got a
chance to reconcile our differences. I would like to think he would now be proud
of me and my family.

Over the next twenty five years James and I battled with local authorities and
adoption agencies to become parents to our three very special children. We
adopted our eldest daughter at the high court in London at the end of June 1992
after she had lived with us for nearly three years. Everyone was expecting a
back lash from the press, as we were later told by our social worker that we
were the first openly gay male couple to get to court. I adopted Jenny in court
and a few weeks later, James went back to court to become her legal guardian.
This has happened with all three of our children.
Whilst the kids were at school I started looking for and collecting old teddy
bears and old blue and white China, I still do.
Then in 2001 James and I thought it might be a good idea to buy a computer to
help me with my searching. It was during one of these searches on line that I
remembered the Sasha doll I had seen as a child and decided to start looking for
her. At first I was disappointed as I had typed in Sacha doll and hardly
anything came up. So I decided to try again by changing my spelling of Sacha to
Sasha. Suddenly all these Sasha’s started to appear on my screen and I fell in
love with her all over again.
It became very addictive all this Sasha buying on line. I didn’t have a clue
what I was buying back then, but gradually I began to see subtle differences in
some of the dolls eye paint.
Whilst buying on eBay, I had started to make a few friends to. I came across
Brenda Walton selling original cloths, Shelly and Marie Morgan who were both
selling Sasha’s.

Brighton Belle

 

(Above some of Steve’s doll collection)

Fast forward to now, I count myself very lucky to have lots of great Sasha
friends who I chat and email with. I have also attended many gatherings and I am
now able to put faces to names.
My collection of Sasha’s have evolved over the years and I am pleased to say I
now think I have a nice collection. My other half James has been a real support
over the years, although he says he still can’t understand the differences in
the eye styles. He still thinks they look like the children from film, (the
village of the dammed.) I still love collecting and still get a buzz when a new
Sasha or Gregor comes to join my ever growing family.
I was never able to track down that Sasha I had seen in my childhood, but I am
pleased to say, I now own three just like her.

single fringe tiny eye

 

(Above a photo One of my favourite Sasha’s. Single fringe tiny eyed girl)

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2nps

( Above Another two favourites. Two NPs. The girl on the left, her eyes were painted by
Kristina ( the art student) and the girl on the right eyes Were painted by Sara
Doggart )

Thank you Steve for sharing your story with us.Once again please do not copy any of the photos on here without Steve’s permission.

Hi Everyone the next profile in the series from Childhood to Sasha, comes from Jackie Kraemer.So without further ado here is Jackies’ story.

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I was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 25, 1948. I had an older sister and brother, and then a younger brother and sister, so I am the middle child. I had a normal, happy childhood, living in the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio. I walked to school, the grocery store, church, and library and during the summer, spent most of my childhood roller skating, reading, and playing with my friends and my cousins. We loved playing with our dolls and dressing up. We had an old “Brownie” camera on a tripod, and one of us was the photographer and the all of us others were the models. We made a makeshift runway in the garage and dressed up in mom’s and my aunt’s hand me downs! The winter was long in Cleveland and most times, too cold to stay outside to play. We spent many of our playtime hours in the basement. My dad had turned one side of the basement into a recreation room, and it had a bar in the corner, some old couches, and lots of book cases. We had lots of old books, so playing library was a main attraction. Mom had an old, large gray baby buggy in the basement, and our dolls spent lots of time in that buggy going round and round that basement. I always had a doll to play with and loved playing dolls, mostly with my younger sister and my cousins. My older sister thought dolls were creepy and had nothing to do with them. We recently were going through old pictures with my mom, and almost every picture of me with my siblings, shows me holding a doll. Mostly baby dolls, I loved being the mommy! My paternal grandma also collected dolls! I remember going to her house as a child, and at the end of the hall was the “parlour”, and of the parlour was a small room that had my granny’s doll case, sewing machine, and stacks of old dolls, fabric, and knitting yarns. Grandma would scour the thrift stores for old dolls, mostly hard plastic from the 50’s, and fix them up and make them new clothes. She either sewed them wardrobes, or knitted or crocheted them something new. Often times, she would give them back to the charities at Christmas time so they could be given to children that didn’t get new toys for Christmas. I was allowed to play with most anything in that room, the only thing I was not to touch were her antique and special dolls that were in the curved glass doll cabinet. One time, Grandma dressed over 40 different dolls in costumes of different countries and these were displayed in the window of a Travel Agency in the neighborhood. Grandma did lots of research to make sure each doll was dressed in authentic clothing. My heritage is Slovenien and Croatian from Yugoslavia. Both sets of grandparents came over on boats to America in the early 1900’s, and went through Ellis Island. They were so happy to be Americans! Lots of my dolls came from my grandma as she knew that I loved dolls.

Jackie with brother and sister

 

( I am on the left, of course, holding my baby doll.)

I went to an all-girls Catholic high school during the 60’s and graduated in 1966. Our high school closed in our junior year but us seniors were allowed to stay and finish out our education as the last graduating class of St. Francis High School. We did not have to wear uniforms to school, but we did have to wear skirts or dresses. I remember wearing patterened stockings, most had a lacy design or polka dots and my friends and I would roll up our skirt bands to have mini skirts while walking to school. As soon as we would turn the corner and see the school, we would have to roll those waistbands down because mini skirts were not allowed by the nuns! My high school was mostly a business major and we learned typing and shorthand, and book keeping skills. I wanted a car and nice designer clothes, so I immediately found a job after high school to attain these things. My parents had enrolled me in an airline training school and I took the classes through the mail and when I was 18, went off to Kansas City, Missouri for 8 weeks to complete the course. I decided to become a reservation agent, since I was not coordinated enough to become a stewardess. We would have to practice carrying trays of drinks in a make shift airplane, and I was always spilling and came away with lots of bruises all over my arms and legs. I graduated from the school with honors, but alas, could not work for the airlines, as they had a strict policy of only hiring people over the age of 20. While in Kansas City I lived in a huge old mansion on the top floor with 12 other girls. We frequently snuck out of the house on the weekends and took a taxi to Kansas where you could go to clubs and drink as the legal limit was 18 in that state. I met another good friend from Chicago when going to this school, and after we both went home, we continued to stay in touch and I frequently would hop a flight to Chicago for the weekend, or she would come to Cleveland, and we would have a fun time, mostly dancing and going to the beaches off Lake Erie or Lake Michigan. I found a great job in downtown Cleveland in an office, and on lunch hours, would walk to Halle Brothers or Higbee’s department store, or one of the ladies boutiques, and find a new dress or outfit to wear on the weekends. I got my drivers’ license and with my dad’s help, bought my first car, a 69 Oldsmobile, F85! I called him Ollie, the Olds. Every weekend, my girlfriends and I would head out to the many dance clubs and follow our favorite band. We would dance until the clubs closed at 2, and then go downtown to one of the diners for coffee and then go to 5 a.m. mass at the cathedral downtown. Then we would go home and sleep all day on Sunday and get ready to do it all again the next weekend.

I met my husband in 1966 at my girlfriend’s wedding. Many of my girl friends graduated from high school and then immediately got married. Not me though, I wanted to party for awhile! We married in March of 1971. Later that year, my daughter Kim was born. In late 1973 I became pregnant with my son and after he was born, became a stay at home mom. My husband was working full time, and then going to school in the evenings, so I was home a lot with the kids by myself. I spent lots of times with my neighbors who were also in the same situation as I was. One of my neighbors had lots of dolls for her daughter’s. When Kim was still a baby, I wanted her to have dolls like I did when I was young, so my girlfriend Bernie opened my eyes to Madame Alexander dolls. We would frequently walk to the grocery store, and next door to that was a small doll hospital. Bernie would have an antique doll in layaway most every time, and we would stop in on the way home so she could make her payment, and I would love going in that shop, looking at all those dolls. We would frequently go to the Mall to May’s or Higbees, and go to the doll department and put our name on a list to be called when the new Madame Alexander dolls would come in. That Christmas, my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him that I wanted any one of those Madame Alexander baby dolls. So, not only did Kim get her first Madame Alexander doll, but I did too! I kept her in her box in my bedroom and most every day take her out to touch her. We were on a very limited budget during those years, and dolls were expensive to buy, so I would save up my Eagle green stamps and save money from the grocery budget and bought Kim a Madame Alexander doll every year for her birthday and Christmas. In 1977, we took a car trip and drove to Phoenix, AZ to check out the city. My son was diagnosed with severe asthma and we needed to find a warmer, dryer climate for him to live in to stay well. So, we moved to Phoenix in November of 1977 and bought a brand new house and moved into it in April of 1978. When Kim was about 7, she came to me and told me that she really didn’t like those dolls I was buying her, and she only liked Barbie! So, I told her well, guess what, Mommy really loves those dolls and she can have her Barbie’s and I would keep the Madame Alexanders. I had placed the kids in a Catholic grade school and one day, a flyer came home listing all the different activities you could join. And there was a doll club listed! So, I called the number and joined my first doll club. Through the doll club, I went to the doll shows that they had in Phoenix and met many wonderful women that loved dolls as much as I did.

I was introduced to Sasha dolls sometime in 1978 or 1979. I had seen them in the doll and toy shops and at the doll shows, although I had never touched one in person. I thought they were strange looking, as they had dark skin and wore standard clothing, nothing like my fancy little Madame Alexander dolls! One day, I went into my favorite toy and doll shop at the mall, and there were 3 Sasha dolls out of the case and on the doll counter. Gregor was standing on his head, and the other two were posed looking at him. They looked so much like real children! I finally was able to hold one in my hands, and was impressed by the weight of it, the quality and of course, the wonderful hair Sasha had. My daughter always had fine, fly away hair that would never grow long. She loved playing with Barbie because Barbie always had long hair, and she loved styling the hair on her. After holding that Sasha, I realized that this would make a wonderful doll for Kim as she had great hair! Money was very tight at that time, I was not working full time as my son was still getting sick, so buying a Sasha was not in my budget. That year my husband again asked what I wanted for my birthday, and I told him I wanted a Sasha doll. I wanted white dress red head Sasha! On my birthday, I found a present wrapped like a Sasha doll box and instead of getting my red head, he had gotten me Marina, a brunette. I was a little disappointed, but loved her just the same. I was fortunate enough that year to get money from my sisters and mom for my birthday and with that money, I went back to the toy store and bought my red head. I did try to give her to Kim to play with, but she just never bonded with any of my dolls and still, to this doll, cannot understand her mom’s passion for dolls. She is just not a doll person, nor is my son or unfortunately, anyone else in my family, grandkids included! I was also fortunate that most of these doll stores had layaway, so every couple of months, I would go into the store and buy a Sasha and put it on layaway!

In 1990, I went to my first Sasha festival! It was held in Mesa, Arizona. At that time it was only on a Friday and a Saturday. I could not go on Friday, but spent that Saturday in Sasha heaven! I remember seeing a display of Sasha dolls through the years, and that was the first time I had seen a Gotz Sasha in person, and many early Sasha dolls. I learned so much about Sasha M, and her dolls and was so impressed with everything Sasha. At the luncheon that day, I won the centerpiece which was a very cute dungarees outfit for either a boy or girl, plus received a T-shirt, a pair of cowboy boots, and a lasso and some other small things as the souvenir. I went to my first sales room and met Mary Glenn and saw her wonderful smocked creations. Everyone was so friendly and outgoing, and I really was impressed with the entire Sasha community. That was it! I made up my mind that no longer would I buy Madame Alexander or other dolls, I would only buy Sasha dolls! I started doing the doll shows, and over the years sold all of my Madame Alexander dolls, and all the others that I had, and only bought Sasha dolls and certain modern artist dolls. I subscribed to a national doll magazine called Collectors United, and bought many Sasha dolls through that magazine. In fact, I bought a brunette Sasha NP from a Collectors United subscriber in upstate NY and got her for $125! I remember calling the lady to ask if the dolls hair was falling and what color elastic the doll had, and the lady said, I’m an old lady, and can’t hardly see, so I don’t know. She had bought the doll which was in a red dress at a flea market. So, I sent her a check and when I opened the box and saw this Sasha, I was completely shocked! I wasn’t even sure it was a no philtrum as I had really never seen one in person. At the next doll show, I took her to the doll show, and Laura Lindberg was there and I showed her the doll and she said, it’s a NP! Buying Sasha dolls through these publications was an adventure, unless the doll was a later one with its box, you just never knew what you were going to get. I think my favorite Sasha is #107 blonde gingham. At every doll show, with every ad I read posting one for sale, I would buy it. At that time, I was back at work and had extra income to buy and with selling all my other dolls, I had a doll account to buy the dolls that I really wanted. With these wonderful dolls, I learned more and more about side parts, full center parts, deep bangs, fringe girls, color of elastics, and met more and more people in Arizona that loved Sasha as much as I did.

I went back to work when the children were a little older, finding work in a school that hosted the Harley Davidson motorcycles, and then going to a field office as an administrative assistant. I had always wanted to work with children, so in the early 90’s, changed careers and became a teacher’s aide working with disabled, autistic children. An opportunity arose in the Vision department, so I switched and became a Braille Technician. I am certified in literary Braille and even though I am rusty, could still read it. I retired about 5 years ago, and have spent more time selling my vast collection of dolls and doll related things. After 43 years of collecting, it is time to downsize! However, that doesn’t seem to stop me from acquiring a new Sasha, one just speaks to me and says she wants to come and live with me! I am fortunate that my children and grandchildren live close, and I really enjoy spending time with my family.

 

some of Jackies collection

 

(Above some of Jackies’ Sasha doll collection)

studio dolls 1

 

 

studio dolls 2

 

(Above The following pictures are of my studio dolls and a table in my hall with some of my Sasha’s redressed in some of their special clothes!)

Mary Glenn and I had decided to host a Sasha festival here in Phoenix in 1999. So in 1997, we went to Iowa to the Sasha festival with was a Country Fair theme! What fun we had! The following year, Mary and I went to Cincinnati and again had a wonderful time with all of the Sasha community. I have hosted two more festivals, again in 2006 and is 2014 with Marti Murphy. This is what I love the most about collecting and loving Sasha dolls. I have made so many friends through this doll and our love for it, that it just makes me feel blessed to be in it all and part of it. Plus, I absolutely still love the doll! Finding a new one and opening the box when she comes in, whether mint in box, or a waif, taking her out, giving her a spa treatment, redressing her in something special, it just gives me a thrill every time! I usually take a few Sasha dolls with me to sell at the festivals. Most of the money that I make from the sales, pays for a new Sasha doll. I never thought I would be able to buy a studio doll, but after meeting Marie Morgan after she came to our festival in 1999, and then helping her host the 2000 festival in Huddersfield, I realized that I could have a studio doll. If I sold some of the dolls that I already had, I could trade-up! Most of my Sasha’s are in a glass enclosed doll case, and on a few tables in my living room. I have Sashas’ wardrobes separated by seasons in bins, and every season, almost all the dolls get something new to wear or a changed outfit. I am so lucky to know all these creative sewers out there, my Sasha’s have the best possible fashions available! There is a special shelf in the doll case where I keep my most special Sasha dolls. If there is a new special Sasha coming, I pull a doll out of that special shelf and trade her for the new one. I love finding special accessories for Sasha. I always check the key chains displayed in stores, and especially Christmas ornaments. Seems there is always something that is just the perfect size, the perfect toy just for our Sasha’s. I really don’t think I could own just one Sasha doll, plus I don’t think that I have an extra special favorite! They are all pretty special and unique and that is another reason to love Sasha!
Footnote:
A big thank you to Jackie for taking part and sharing her story. I first met Jackie at the 2012 Festival when i was an extreme newby and she took me under her wing and made me feel very welcome. Please do not copy any of Jackies’ photos without her permission.

 

by twizeltheresa Pro @ 2015-07-06 – 13:51:29

Hi Everyone, welcome back to part 2, Dawn’s Lunch.
This was my first visit to Dawns home as i previously mentioned. Dawn lives in a beautiful farm house surrounded by over 100 acres of land. Please see the photos below.
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I think you will agree that you would never get tired of looking out of your window to such beautiful views.

 

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(Above some more photos including Dawn’s great herb garden.)

 

Around the lake there were a pair of Swans with their signet, i didn’t want to intrude too closely on them as previous interactions with large feathered birds have taught me to be a bit cautious!

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(Above the lake and swans)

 

Dawns garden was full of life with a water feature pond and brightly coloured flowers.

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When i arrived at Dawns, Tim was not there and Dawn explained that he was out on the motor bike bringing in the ponies. I must have been looking a bit baffled and then Dawn explained that when the ponies hear the motor bike they follw Tim back to the paddock, and they did just that, it was amazing.

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Everyone started to arrive and Dawns home was filled with the chatter of old and and new friends and of course some sasha dolls.

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As i mentioned before sasha dolls were enjoying a bit of mingling too.

 

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(Above is my little tribute to the sasha Festival in Texas this year as I cannot attend. The two young rooting, tooting men on horse back are none other than my caleb wearing a horse themed jacket that was made by Ginny lee Myres from the 2012 Festival and my raffle boy who is wearing some suede chaps that I made for the occasion. Their weapon of mass distuction was sent over form the USA by Marti murphy.)

 

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(Above is Pippin proudly showing off her pram and litle baby that was a gift from Rosie Shortell.)

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(Above is a little group that I believe belong to Judith of dolly doodles, but please correct me if I am wrong)

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(Above is a striking young lady who belongs to Jocelyn rose)

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(Above this lovely group belongs to Dee Owen with Hattie standing at the front.)

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(Above these three beauties belong to Sarah Price.)

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(Above we have a mixed group)

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(Above another mixed group of lovely sasha and Gregors.)

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(Above is Harlequin, owned by Tricia and created by Janet, just wonderful)

 

Now did someone mention prams. I must say that i was in pram heaven.

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Dawns sasha family definately have lots of toys to keep them amused.

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Next it was off to visit Dawns special doll room that is only accessable by ladder. I got up the ladder fine, the getting down was a bit more difficult though.
I have taken photos of the dolls in the room but the flash on the camera has caused too much reflection on them to be published. However, I must say that if ever Dawn can’t get back down the ladder, she will have plenty to keep her occupied.

 

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(Above is a photo of Petrana who had suddenly developed a maternal bump after visiting the doll room mmmmm)

 

Back inside the house to meet Dawns studio dolls.

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(Above Dawns beautiful studio girl in gingham)

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(Above Dawns studio bebe’ in red duffle coat with very expressive eyes.)

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(Above Janet has fallen in love with Dawns little bebe’)

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(Above is a lovely early studio doll)

I asked Dawn if she had to choose one of her dolls which one would it be and she chose this one.

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I quite agree she is a beautful bebe’ studio doll and as soon as I held her I felt the urge to sing her a lullaby, ( I didn’t though as my singing is not that good)

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It seems i was not the only one who fell in love with this little bebe’

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Finally Dawns studio toddler, very rare and handsome too.

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I almost forgot to add Dawn’s car

sasha car

Well thats all from me, except to say a huge thank you to Dawn for sharing her story, her home and her wonderful collection with us.

Thanks for looking………………

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Hi everyone I am a bit late in posting this profile as I have had major computer issues.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, so without further ado.
I give you the lovely Dawn Law

 

(The photo above is a recent photo of Dawn)

At a Sasha Festival in the USA some years ago, I listened as a very knowledgeable Sasha doll collector suggested that most middle aged women who collect dolls, do so as the result of either a deprived or abused childhood. I do not fit into either of these categories having had a very happy and almost idyllic childhood.

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(Above Dawn aged 3 years old)

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(Above Dawn aged 4 years old)

We lived on the outskirts of a small village in rural Hertfordshire, and my early memories are of days spent playing with friends and a sense of complete freedom. We would knock on a friend’s door to find out if they could come out to play. We roamed the surrounding fields and woods in the school holidays, picking bluebells, bringing home tadpoles in a jam jar and watching them grow into frogs. It is so different now, who would let five and six year olds stay out most of the day, with a sandwich and some lemon barley in a string bag. As long as we were home by teatime, we were completely unsupervised.

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(Above dawn aged nine)

The primary school was more than a mile away on the other side of the village. At five years old, we walked there, returning home for lunch and back again, in all weathers and often alone. School was never closed, even if it snowed, we just went in our wellies and took shoes to change into.

I always loved dolls, doll houses, doll beds, prams and doll clothes. As a toddler, my earliest doll was made of rubber, from which I was told I was inseparable. She was probably very pretty originally but I only remember her in her terminal years as I grew older, by then the poor thing was limp and perished, and her face and fingers gone. She slept with a few other dolls and a teddy bear in a wooden drop-side doll’s cot at the foot of my bed. Mother had made sheets and a pillowcase from an old cotton bed sheet and knitted a multi coloured blanket with second hand wool. Her pram originally belonged to my cousin. It was old fashioned, dark red and quite small. Sadly, I remember, it only had three wheels, I forget what had happened to the fourth, but this was not too much of a problem, it just needed care to keep it balanced when pushing.

Christmas in our house was always special. My brother was twelve years old when I was born so I suppose I was the spoilt little sister. We had lots of Aunts and Uncles, and they always sent or brought lots of presents. I usually had a new doll, sometimes with clothes made or knitted by Mother or Gran. I remember receiving a Rosebud doll with eyes that opened and closed, and brown painted-on hair. I very naughtily chewed her hands, nibbling off all her fingers. I still remember the taste of the plastic. Likewise, the small pink plastic dolls that lived in my Triang doll house, – made of tin with green latticed windows that really opened, – they too were nibbled.

Apart from my dolls, I loved books. In those days we did not have so many and so they were read frequently. Through my books I could escape into an imaginary and pretend world. My favourites were the “Josephine and her Dolls” books written by a Mrs. Cradock, a series of books about a small girl called Josephine and her toys and dolls. I still have several of these books from my childhood, “Josephine’s Pantomime” being my special favourite. The dolls and toys in these books seemed to talk to Josephine, joining in her games. They lived in the “nursery” and played together when Josephine was asleep. I would creep into my bedroom very quietly, believing I would catch my dolls at play, or at least hoping to find that they had moved from where I had left them, but I never did.

When I was eleven years old, I outgrew the village school and went to the girls’ grammar school at Ware. This was an amazing place where we learned French and Latin and we had cooking lessons and also learned to sew. The first thing we made was a cookery apron. I found this very boring and was a very slow sewer. I remember the teacher finally congratulating me on completing the apron with some beautiful stitching. I did not tell her I had taken it home and my Mother had finished it. However I loved it when the following year we made a stuffed doll complete with clothes.

I don’t know what happened to my childhood dolls when I left home and married, but I think I may have passed my love of dolls on to our two daughters, our son preferring Action Man. The girls had the usual, nappy wetting Tiny Tears, Cabbage Patch and similar dolls, but it was when Penny, our eldest came home from her prep. school stating that the other girls, in fact “everyone” but her, had Sasha dolls. I had not heard of Sasha but not wishing to have a deprived child we all went to Osbornes in Oxford to buy a brunette gingham for her birthday. I was amazed at the price, costing a whole week’s housekeeping, needless to say Sasha was her only present. Later that year at Christmas she received a Baby nightdress. My Mother knitted jumpers and cardis and made tartan kilts and cotton dresses for Sasha, which Penny still has. It was not until 2012 that she told me that not “everyone” in her class had a Sasha doll, in fact there was only one girl who owned one, and she was the daughter of Lord Saye and Sele and lived at Broughton Castle! When daughter Hannah arrived she was given a black baby Sasha by her Aunt, who had also bought Sashas for her girls. This baby, the only Sasha in our family with a name is called Cola, She was much loved and even went to the beach with us where she was often carried in a pail full of sea water but lived to tell the tale and is still in perfect condition, despite a hard life.

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(Above Dawn and Tim on their wedding day)

When daughter Penny married, I reluctantly said goodbye to her Sasha dolls. I had looked after them as she outgrew them, washing their hair, making sure they kept their original clothes and shoes, etc. but I felt she should have them. One day in Smiths Newsagents I saw and bought a doll magazine. There was a small sales ad. at the back for three Sasha dolls. I telephoned to ask the prices, to be told that the magazine was a month old and the dolls were sold on the first day, but as the buyer had never sent the payment I could buy them. They were an early brunette blue gingham Sasha with Prim snap navy shoes, nearly mint in her tube, her early Gregor Jeans brother, also in his tube and a blonde baby in her cradle. The lady told me she was selling them as she was down -sizing and had bought them just before the birth of her first child, hoping for a girl. The baby was a boy and she went on to have four more boys, so the dolls were hardly used.

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( Dawns Children Penny and Fraser)

This was the beginning of my Sasha collection. In 2000 I saw a small advert in the Doll magazine for a Sasha festival in Huddersfield. I knew very little about the history of Sasha dolls so decided to attend and hopefully find out more. I knew no one, but the first person that greeted me was Jackie Kraemer. What a wonderful weekend, it was here that I first saw a Studio doll. Wow! I thought, this is something else!, and Marie Morgan helped me onto the Studio doll slippery slope, so I blame her and my daughter Penny for my addiction.

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(Above a couple of Dawn’s dress a sasha doll entries)

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(Above two of dawns beautiful studio Bebe’s)

I acquired so many Sashas that Tim, my husband, made me a doll room above his workshop where they can live along with my Stupsi dolls, Fisher Price early play sets and Sylvanian Families collection. People often ask him how many dolls I have. His answer is ‘too many’.
I would be interested to know what part of my childhood may be responsible for my collection of Sasha sized prams. Maybe I do have a problem? Could it be that pram I had as a small girl with only three wheels?

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(Above dawns fabulous pram collection)

Now some of you may or may not know that Dawn held one of her wonderful lunches recently, a great time was had by all whome attended and it gave me a chance to ask dawn some more questions for her profile.Dawn is a very modest lady and being one never to blow her own trumpet so to speak, so i will do it for her.

Dawn is quite the artist and whilst at her home i spied some of her fantastic art work.

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(Above are 3 painting by Dawn, they show parts of her home and are beautifully done.)

Inside dawns home I spied some moreof her unique artwork above the arches inside her home.

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Dawns home is wonderful and i am going to leave part one here, so i will see you in part 2…..

Hi Everyone here is the fifth profile in the from Childhood to Sasha series.
So without further ado i give you the wonderful Ted Menten.

Discovering Sasha

by Ted Menten

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(Above a photo of Ted Menten)

Someone once said that if you are going to tell a story it is best to start at the beginning.
I was born in 1932 and grew up in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. I lived with my parents and my grandmother, Nana Laura. My parents were both stunt pilots in a flying circus and my mother was a wing-walker.My father collected scale model railroad trains, mother collected miniature porcelain cats, and Nana Laura collected Steiff teddy bears and Madame Alexander dolls. I collected comic books.

Every Saturday my grandmother and I would board the Fifth Avenue double-decker bus and travel uptown to 59th street and the fabulous FAO Schwarz toy store. My grandmother was a popular customer and the salesgirls catered to her every whim. She had an adoption “process” that consisted of lining up the same bear or doll and staring intently into their slightly different faces until one “spoke” to her. Then, with an air of triumph, she would announce, “This is the one!” Then the doll or bear joined us for tea and pastries at the Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel across the street from FAO Schwarz. Years later I often loaned her Alexander doll collection to Schwarz to display when Madame Alexander made an appearance.
That is the beginning of the story.

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(Above a photo of “The Good Eggs” a toy created by Ted)

In the late 1960s I was a successful industrial designer with a thriving business and many interesting clients. Every night, after a long day of presentations, I would walk home and every night I would pass a small toy store with a bright green front. It was called “DollsanDreams” and was owned by a married couple from Switzerland named Yvonne and Bruno.
One night I noticed that the window display featured a group of dolls playing together and I was intrigued by their realistic poses. They seemed like real children at play. For the next few nights I would stop and study them because they were so different from the dolls my grandmother collected. These were children in simple outfits playing together. Not at all like the Alexander dolls in their fabulous gowns. On the following Saturday I went to the shop and asked Yvonne about the dolls in the window. Hours later, I left with a brunette Gregor who looked like my son, Adam. My Saturday visits became more and more frequent and the first Gregor was soon joined by several brothers and sisters. I met Yvonne’s young children and enjoyed watching the local children discover the Sasha dolls.

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(Above one of Ted’s original Sasha Dolls)

And, I followed in my Nana Laura’s footsteps and often lined up several Sasha dolls and peered into their faces until one spoke to me. Back then their faces were hand-painted and quite varied.
I created various window displays for the shop featuring Sasha dolls. I even built a giant tree house for them.

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(Above Ted’s tree house)

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(Above are two photos, the first one shows Sasha having a party and the second is aptly named the triplets)

Eventually I photographed the shop’s toys, including Sasha, for their catalog. My six year old red haired daughter, Alexandra, did her first modeling job for the catalog — posing with a redhead Sasha doll.

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(Above Ted’s daughter Alexandra)

Eventually, I got to go down into the shop basement where dozens of Trendon tubes lined the shelves and where I carefully selected more and more Sashas to come and live with my already overflowing family of Sashas.
Eventually I became a feature writer for DOLLS magazine and did a picture story about Sasha. I even had a little gallery show of my black and white photographs of my Sashas.

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(Above is a photo of Ted’s favourite wide faced blonde Sasha doll)

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(Above is a photo of Ted’s favourite wide faced brunette Sasha doll)

Over the years Sashas have never lost their charm — even when their face paint oxidizes and their hair falls out. They are unique among dolls and a real work of art.

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(Above a photo of Ted’s Sasha dolls from his Gallery show)

By the mid 1970s I had also become a doll and toy designer as well as a book and magazine writer. In the 1980s I turned to the world of Teddy Bears and taught bear making around the world. It was always a joy to come home to my familiar family of Sasha dolls.

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(Above is the cover of one of Ted’s many books he has written on bear making)

They say that first love is the sweetest. And that is true of my love for Sasha.

(I would like to thank Ted for telling us his story. It is also nice to have a man’s point of view on Sasha dolls too.
If you ever get the chance to make one of Ted’s Snappy Critters, i highly recommend it, they are great fun.)

Hi Everyone profile number 4 is from the lovely Dorisanne Osbourn.

My name is Dorisanne Weimert Osborn and I was born in Buffalo, New York on March 1, 1930. Yes, that was 85 years ago! I was a child of the Great Depression.

 

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(Above Photo taken by Francine Briggs at the 2008 Sasha Festival)

 

My Family:

I was born into an old German family which had lived in Buffalo since the early 1800s. My great great grandparents had a farm in South Buffalo; my great grandparents owned the “Weimert Tavern”, a “bed and breakfast” on the Old Post Road; and my grandfather was a grocer in Buffalo. My father graduated from Syracuse University as an electrical engineer and worked for the General Electric Company for 50 years. During the Depression years he used a portion of his salary to keep his assistants in their jobs.

My mother was born in northern New York state, near the Canadian border. My maternal grandfather, a farmer and blacksmith, was of English-Irish descent and my maternal grandmother (Dora Anna MacDonald, for whom I was named) was of Scotch and French descent. She passed away the summer before my birth, but I must have inherited my love of reading, sewing and quilting from her as my daughters and I all have her lovely quilts to enjoy in our homes today. My parents had lost a son and twin baby daughters prior to my birth and I grew up as an only child, surrounded by many cousins, aunts and uncles. We were rich in love, if not rich in money.

 

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(Above My Cousins—I am the youngest and in the front row with my dog and doll.)

 

In September 1950, 65 years ago, my family expanded when I married Charlie Osborn. I had met him first in 1942, right here on the campus of Keuka College when we attended a summer church conference, as he was the brother of a friend of mine. Seven years later, when I was a college student and he was doing graduate work at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, we began to date. We lived in Rochester, NY for 2 years while he completed his degree and I worked as a church secretary. In 1953, we were commissioned as American Baptist missionaries to work with native Americans in Oklahoma. I taught crafts and cooking while Charlie was the Director of the Anadarko Christian Centre, a recreational and educational centre. Our first two daughters, Anne Elizabeth and Jeanne Catherine, were born in Oklahoma and they adapted to “Indian ways” by sleeping in grocery cartons under the church pews, camping in tents, and playing on the wide open plains.

In the fall of 1958, we returned to the north-eastern part of the United States so Charlie could pursue his master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. Our third daughter, Carol Rebecca, as born in 1959 in the steel town of Braddock, PA. We lived in an apartment over a Kosher meat market which was soon destined to be demolished for urban renewal. We then moved to Edgewood, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where we lived for the next 25 years, and remodelled an old home built in 1850. This is where our children grew up and where we established our family home.

 

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(Above Our family circa 1960)

 

My Education:

I started kindergarten at age 4 and began first grade at age 5 in a small neighbourhood school—”21 annex”. There were grades K through 4 in this small wooden school, two grades per classroom. I walked back and forth to school daily. For grades 5 through 8, I went to a larger area school, walking over a mile each way, and when I was 13, I entered Bennett High School, a large city school. I often walked the 4 miles each way, and sometimes took the trolley to school. During my four years in high school, I was in the scholarship track, where I took four years of math, four years of science courses, five years of foreign languages (Latin and German), plus the usual four years of history and five years of language arts, and I was a member of the Legion of Honor. My elementary and high school years were during World War II, and I collected scrap metal, grew a victory garden, learned to fingerprint my classmates and identify aircraft, sewed my own clothes, used rationing stamps and bought war bonds. Growing up during the Great Depression and the war years shaped my early years and taught me life lessons that have served me well.

In 1947, I entered Keuka College, a small college for women in Keuka Park, NY on beautiful Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. I was now 125 miles from home and travelled back to Buffalo twice a year. I majored in Religion and minored in Italian Renaissance Art for three years and added a major in Social Studies Education my senior year. I lived at Strong Hall, the cooperative dormitory north of the campus, where students did all of the cooking and cleaning. I have served as the President of the Class of 1951 for over 25 years and keep in touch with my classmates and encourage them to support the college.

 

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(Above Keuka College)

 

Many years later in 1964, when our daughters were in school, I completed my Master’s Degree in Education of the Hearing Handicapped, followed by a second master’s degree in Learning Problems, both at the University of Pittsburgh. With the intention of developing a curriculum for multiply handicapped children, I entered the doctoral program in Curriculum and Supervision at Pitt, and soon became a doctoral assistant while completing my coursework, and taught graduate courses. This led me in unanticipated directions.

 

My Career:

My first professional job as an educator was as an elementary geography teacher for grades 4 through 6, and as a 4th grade homeroom teacher. I received a scholarship to study for my master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh and was hired as a teacher at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf where I taught for 20 years (and walked back and forth to work each day). I continued to receive scholarships at Pitt and studied there until 1979 when I accepted an offer to join the faculty at my undergraduate Alma Mater, Keuka College. They, along with Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, planned to start a new major in Special Education and I developed and coordinated the undergraduate program. I bought a house in Keuka Park, on Keuka Lake, on the north side of the campus, right next to Strong Hall where I had lived almost 30 years before as a student.

 

The Dolls in my Life:

Dolls have always been a special part of my life. Wherever I went, my dolls and paper dolls went with me. I was an only child and they were my best friends. At Christmas time, there was usually a doll for me under the tree, but often it was the doll from previous holidays with new clothes made by my mother. When I was 8 years old, I saw a McGuffey Ana doll in a down town department store’s Christmas display. She was in a large suitcase along with her wardrobe of nightgown and robe, coat and hat, and fancy dress. I wanted her more than anything in my life, and on Christmas morning I cried when I saw the suitcase beneath the tree and I cried tears of joy all day, whenever I saw her. I wonder how many simple suppers we ate or how many made over dresses I wore for my parents to be able to buy this dream for me.

 

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(Above My doll went boating with me on Georgian Bay.)

 

My father had finished our basement with beaver board walls for a laundry room for Mother, a workshop for Dad and a playroom for me. Neighbourhood and school friends were drawn to the playroom and brought their dolls over to play. We spent long hours playing “house” and “school” and “dress-ups”. We created clothes and toys for our dolls. When I went to high school I safely stored my dolls, their clothes and furniture, and my paper dolls in the closet in my bedroom and occasionally played with them in secret. When I left for college, I bid them “good-bye” and told them I would return.

 

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(Above My cousin “Little Jane” and I took our dolls everywhere.)

 

While I was away, my “generous” mother gave everything away to children who “had less than I did”. I was devastated. Our three daughters arrived during the 1950s and I was delighted that there was doll play in our home again. I sewed tiny dresses, quilts for beds, and knitted little sweaters and hats. By the time our three granddaughters and one grandson arrived in the 1980s and 1990s , Sasha dolls were a part of my life and I gave each grandchild a Sasha baby for third birthdays and a 16 inch Sasha for fifth birthdays. I also gave each of my daughters a Sasha doll for their very own. I began sewing and knitting for all of the Sasha dolls and I was thrilled when my daughters and grandchildren began attending Sasha Festivals with us.

 

My life with Sasha:

It was while I was teaching at the School for the Deaf that I discovered Sasha Dolls in the Creative Playthings catalogue. They were the dolls I had dreamed of having during childhood. I was an adult now and our three daughters were no longer playing with dolls; but I was hooked. I devised ways of using dolls in my language and social studies lessons and bought a Sasha for my classroom—then a Gregor. To teach diversity, Cora and Caleb joined the neighbourhood and of course, Sasha Babies followed. My Sasha family joined me as I taught graduate class at Pitt. When we moved from Pittsburgh to Keuka Park, I left the well played with doll family in my classroom. I still did not know that adults played with dolls.

 

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(Above Creative Playthings catalogue)

 

When I began teaching future special education teachers at Keuka College I realized that dolls would have to be a part of my teaching tools again so I found catalogue and local sources and bought the School Girl and School Boy—for starters. When I was using Sasha dolls in my classrooms, I looked unsuccessfully for clothing patterns so I could vary the dolls’ persona’s. Finally I wrote to the Stockport address in the UK which I found on a catalogue. When I received an reply, a whole new world opened for me. I found that doll collectors created clothing patterns, and that there was a newsletter for people who had Sasha dolls and that adults played with dolls. When Charlie and I went to our first Sasha Festival in New England I met wonderful people who became good friends. We exchanged letters and phone calls and began to compare dolls, ask questions and do research about the history of these wonderful dolls. I began to realize that I was not a “collector’’, but an educator. I wanted to learn all that I could, and I wanted to share my new knowledge with others.

I was fortunate to live near the US office of Goetz Puppenfabrik, the original producers of the manufactured Sasha dolls (1954-1970). Whenever I heard that Franz or Marianne Goetz would be at a doll show or a doll shop nearby I went to talk with them and ask them many questions about their early production. They were pleased to find someone who appreciated their work with Sasha Morgenthaler and their early efforts and were very generous with information. I wrote articles and shared them with the Sasha Doll Collectors’ Newsletter.

By 1988, the original newsletter was discontinued after the English production of Sasha dolls ended. Subscribers encouraged me to begin a newsletter. In January 1989 the international newsletter Friends of Sasha was launched and for the next seventeen years it took over my life as I met quarterly deadlines, collated, punched, folded, stuffed, addressed, stamped and mailed 250 to 750 issues four times a year. My research continued and I wrote many articles, took photos and corresponded with my subscribers. Fall of 1988 found us in Switzerland visiting Puppenmuseum Sasha Morgenthaler in Zuerich and we met Laura Knuesli and her family for the first time. Laura was to play a significant place in the success of Friends of Sasha with her wealth of knowledge about Sasha Morgenthaler and Swiss toys. Laura contributed many of her “Swiss Vignettes” to the newsletter and opened our eyes to the production, marketing, development, and exhibitions of Sasha’s Studio Dolls. Heddy Frick, a Swiss collector of Sasha Studio Dolls, also came into our lives on that trip and her letters and counsel over the years added much to my knowledge base. I decided on a format which would include a clothing pattern and an article on Sasha Doll history and identification in every issue. Through the “Sasha Dolls Through the Years” section every manufactured doll ever produced in Germany or England was photographed and described in depth. The patterns in each issue provided styles for Sasha, Gregor, babies and toddlers, and also all of the Migros patterns were added. Over the years many subscribers made worthy contributions to Friends of Sasha with their patterns, paper dolls, photos, stories and reports of regional activities. As I learned more about Sasha dolls, I was able to share more. I realized that I was still an educator as I shared the history of our dolls.

 

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(Above Friends of Sasha)

 

Being editor and publisher of Friends of Sasha opened many doors and requests came my way to be more involved. Over the years I have attended and often participated in 25 Sasha Festivals. Recently, to refresh my memory I read through all 68 issues of Friends of Sasha and subsequent issues of Sasha Friends, and was amazed to find out that I put on 15 programs at Festivals, participated in more than 20 Dress-a-Sasha contests, and contributed to over a dozen Festival Journals. Friends of Sasha sponsored the Sasha Doll Forums at fourteen Festivals as we looked closely at a selected manufactured doll or focused on a topic of interest. The newsletter also sponsored the Sasha Doll Forum and paper doll contests based on the Festival theme and provided prizes to the winners.

 

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(Above Glenn Curtiss, the pioneer aviator, built his planes on Keuka Lake and he was my entry in the 2009 Dress-a-Sasha contest)

 

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(Above Dress-a-Sasha scenes from a NYS Sasha Fun Day. The theme was celebrating the 120th anniversary of Sasha Morgenthaler’s birth and
Birthday Party’s was the theme for the contest.)

 

I enjoyed sharing and educating through exhibits of the manufactured and Studio Sasha Dolls. I participated in the Special Exhibit, “Sasha for all Seasons”, at the 1989 national convention of the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC). My contributions were the 1915 school room and playground in the Autumn setting, adding several dolls to the line-up of manufactured dolls, and sharing in the presentation of the Studio Dolls. I curated exhibits, with help from friends, at several Festivals and helped with others. In 1993 we put together an exhibit of Studio Dolls in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sasha Morgenthaler. At the 1995 Festival, an exhibit of the early production of Sasha Dolls by Goetz Puppenfabrik welcomed the new production of the German Sasha Dolls. In 1998, all of the later Goetz Sashas produced to date were in an exhibit. When the 2009 Sasha Festival was being planned for the Rochester, NY area, I was thrilled and offered to curate an exhibit of Studio Dolls for the Sunday morning Brunch. I contacted owners of Studio Dolls who were coming to the Festival and asked “The Three Anns” to help. The resulting exhibit was beyond our wildest dreams as almost 50 dolls provided the viewers with the many examples of Sasha Morgenthaler’s art. My swan song for exhibits was at the 2011 Sasha Festival when over 80 miniature quilts were brought together, many made by the owners and others won in the festival auctions.

 

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(Above Francine Briggs took dozens of photos of the Studio Doll Exhibit at the 2009 Festival Brunch)

 

I’ve enjoyed participating and sharing in the wonderful Sasha Festivals over the years, but 1991 was the year that it was our time to host a Sasha Festival. The early festivals were put on for a day or day and a half with participants coming from all over the United States for a program, Dress-a-Sasha contest, auction and sales room. When we went to the early festivals I came away wanting more time with friends and events, so in 1991, with the help of my husband and two of our daughters, and many Sasha friends, we decided to have a week long festival on the campus of Keuka College.

The events from Monday evening though Friday afternoon were optional and festival goers joined us throughout the week with about 30 coming for the whole week. Daytime was for workshops. The Marcy Street Sasha house was built in our garage, while a furniture workshop was held on the roof of our boathouse. Children had their own workshops while adults spent a day learning the art of smocking. Cross-stitch tee shirts were produced, oriental carp banners were made and tiny soft sculptured Japanese dolls were created, carrying out the theme of “Children of all the World”. In the evenings everyone gathered together in the dormitory lounge for Show and Tell programs on miniature quilts, hats and hair styles, and shoe making. On Friday, 40 people headed for the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum in Rochester, NY and toured the doll and toy collections. The people who stayed behind were hanging and labelling an exhibit of 50 framed posters and photos of Studio Dolls in the library’s Art Gallery, setting up tables and pedestals for the forthcoming Dress-a-Sasha contest, recreating the summer and fall scenes from the 1989 UFDC exhibits and the workshop projects. Hundreds of Sasha Dolls in original outfits were placed in chronological order, covering about 100 feet of glass shelves in the library. A Sasha Wonderland was ready for Saturday morning when the exhibits and the contest entries were enjoyed. Laura Knuesli presented two slide programs on “Impressions of Sasha Morgenthaler” and following the luncheon the Sasha Doll Fashion Show was held with 63 Sashas in clothing created by “designers” from around the world showing their special fashions. The first Sasha Festival souvenir outfit was unveiled at the luncheon.

The first Children’s Fund Auction—a silent auction—was held during the sales room. In the evening, everyone gathered in the library, surrounded by the 250 Sasha dolls in the “Sasha Dolls Through the Years” exhibit, for the Sasha Doll Forum. Brenda Walton was the resource leader and told of her years working at the Sasha Factory in England. The Forum was followed by a party celebrating the 700th birthday of Switzerland with a big Swiss flag, and the three cakes decorated like Swiss flags were cut by our three guests from Switzerland. On Sunday morning, following the Brunch, a whimsical presentation “Cooking for Sasha” was presented by our daughter Anne, with tiny pastries for all. Our marathon festival accomplished its goal of expanding all future festivals to at least three days, giving an opportunity to develop many more friendships. Over the years I have enjoyed contributing to every Children’s Fund Auction. The year after Laura Knuesli and I had the first Children’s Fund Auction with the proceeds going to children’s charities worldwide, the 1992 Sasha Festival combined the CFA and the Fashion Show ideas into the format which has continued ever since.

 

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(Above I enjoyed being the auctioneer at the 2009 Sasha Festival and gathering over 100 donations. Photo by F. Briggs)

 

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(Above One of my annual donations to the Children’s Fund Auction. I donated Baby Lilac and her trunk and my Aggie friends added many accessories.)

 

Sasha Fun Days have been a great addition to our Sasha Year. These regional gatherings are mini Festivals and give us a chance to meet Sasha Doll collectors nearby. It was fun to write articles about Sasha Fun Days in Arizona, Washington and Oregon, California, New England, Florida, Minnesota and New York State even though they were far away. These day long events follow the Sasha Festival format with a Dress-a-Sasha contest, souvenirs, workshops, Children’s Fund Auctions and sales rooms. We hosted the first New York State Sasha Day in 1988 at our home and have had several events here since then. Many close friendships have begun at these smaller gatherings and wet our appetites to attend the International Sasha Festivals. Our NYS Sasha group hosted the 2009 Sasha Festival and are now planning to welcome the 2016 Sasha Festival.

 

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(Above A New York Sasha Day gathering)

 

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(Above An article I wrote for Doll Reader (February 2005 pp. 24-29)

 

Over the years I have written numerous articles for magazines such as DOLLS, Doll Castle News, Contemporary Doll Collector, Doll World and Doll Reader. Theriault’s Doll Auctions contacted me many times to help them document Sasha Morgenthaler’s Studio Dolls and the manufactured dolls as they came up for auction. In 1998 they asked me to present a seminar prior to one of their auctions. While there I was asked “Why haven’t you written a book for us on Sasha Dolls?” And there began work on Sasha Dolls Through the Years which was published in 1999 in both soft cover and hard cover editions. Both editions are now out of print, but a few soft cover editions are still available from the author. My years of research for Friends of Sasha held me in good stead as I laid out the proposed book. We had already planned to go Florida in March 1999 to visit our youngest daughter and her family. I packed up dolls and ephemera and we headed for the Theriault offices in Annapolis, Maryland. Each doll was tagged and numbered, ready to be photographed by their staff photographer. After a week setting up scenes to be photographed, we took the near-by auto train to Florida. I worked on the text and captions for photos each day while we were in Florida and when we left for the Sasha Fun Day in Tallahassee my rough copy was ready. By the end of the month we were back in Annapolis, where I laid out the book using the wonderful photos which were waiting. After a week of steady work, the Sasha Dolls were packed into our car and we returned home. For several months, I was in contact, by phone and email, with the Theriault staff as I edited various copies. By the fall of 1999, Sasha Dolls Through the Years had come back from the printers in Hong Kong. 1999 was a great year for Sasha Dolls as three books were published: Sasha Dolls by Michael O’Brien in England; Sasha Puppen published by Benteli Press in Switzerland; and Sasha Dolls Through the Years in the United States.

 

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(Above Sasha Dolls Through the Years)
I was asked to tell about my favourite Sasha Dolls, and this would be as difficult as to name your favourite child or grandchild. I can tell about the Sasha Doll which came to me in a very special way. In 1993, Laura Knuesli suggested that we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Sasha Morgenthaler with a gathering In Zurich and Bern, Switzerland. We planned our visit so that we could be there on November 30th, the day of her birth. Six people were invited to participate in a week long session in Sasha’s atelier in Hongg, a suburb of Zurich, where Sasha had created her dolls several decades earlier. We each made two “course dolls” under the tutelage of Trudi Loeffler, Sasha’s long time assistant. The dolls were the 20” Type A1 dolls with cloth rag-doll bodies and cloth covered moulded gypsum heads, with a choice of human hair wigs or hemp hair. The following week we were joined by some American and European Sasha friends and we toured special exhibits at the Puppenmuseum Sasha Morgenthaler, Zuercher Spielzeug Museum and then we spent November 30th in Bern, visiting the home in which Sasha was born and grew up. A luncheon with Sasha’s son, Nicklaus Morgenthaler, visits in several homes of Sasha doll collectors, and a tour of the Lindt and Sprungli Chocolate factory added to the wonders of this anniversary trip.

 

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(Above This is the “course doll” which I made in Sasha Morgenthaler’s atelier in Switzerland, my dolls outfit was made by Ruth Hartley)

 

When I first discovered Sasha Dolls in a catalogue, I had no idea how meaningful they would be in my life. At first they were a teaching tool and a longed-for special doll. Then they challenged my curiosity about their creator and history. I was privileged to share what I learned through the newsletter Friends of Sasha, the book Sasha Dolls Through the Years and through magazine articles, exhibits and programs. I enjoyed the role of educator as well as learner, but I received so much more than I gave through my adventure with Sasha Morgenthaler and her dolls. My life is richer because of my travels around the United States and trips to Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Most of all the friendships made, which continue to this day, have blessed my life.

 

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(Above The high point of each Sasha Festival is being with special friends.)

 

Epilogue:
Where are we now?

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(Above Charlie and Dorisanne (Photo by Carmen Murphy at a NYS Sasha Day)

 

My family has supported and encouraged me on this Sasha trip. Charlie travelled to Sasha Festivals with me until 2000, unpacking the car, helping to set up exhibits and sales tables, making props and making friends. At 91, he now has Alzheimer’s but continues to enjoy our home on the lake. I no longer am able to attend all of the Sasha Festivals but I participate in the Children’s Fund Auction, contribute to Festival Journals, and I go to our annual NYS Sasha Days in the Rochester area. I continue to sew and knit for my dolls and find the little Sasha settings around our home to be enjoyable and relaxing.

Our daughters are busy young women and do not live close enough to us to visit often. Anne and John live in the Adirondack Mountains where Anne is a professor at Paul Smith’s College and she has a French restaurant in Saranac Lake which provides a living classroom for her students. Our granddaughter, Elizabeth (Ema) graduated from Boston University as a biologist. Three years ago she taught in South Korea for a year and visited Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and India on her way home. For the past two years she has been teaching Biology and training teachers in Shanghai, China and soon will come home via Indonesia and Australia. This fall she will begin her graduate work in epidemiology at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Many of you will remember Anne and Ema from past Festivals.

Jeanne has accompanied me to several recent Festivals and NYS Sasha Days. She has been a widow for 9 years and works as activity director for a senior community in Connecticut after 27 years as an administrator at Fairfield University. Our only grandson, Christopher, is a senior at James Madison University in Virginia, majoring in hospital administration. He attended his first Sasha Festival in 1993, at six months of age, in New Jersey and also attended Festivals in Virginia, Iowa and Massachusetts.

Carol and Eric have lived in Florida for 30 years which means that they and their daughters have not been able to be a part of most of our Sasha activities. Carol is a librarian and Eric is a lawyer in Hobe Sound, and Carol was able to join me for the Festival in Florida in 2004. Rachel (who introduced us to the word “philtrum” long ago) graduated from Butler University and remained in Indianapolis, IN. She is busy with her work, owns her own home, and recently became engaged. Sarah went to Stetson University in Florida and now works in Oregon. Carol and Sarah joined us for a Sasha Fun Day in Tallahassee many years ago.

 

our family

 

(Above Our family in 1975)

 

Life is good and has been made better because of our family and many Sasha friends.

Thank you Dorisanne for your wonderful life story. Once again everyone please do not copy any of the photos in this profile without permission from Dorisanne Osbourn.