My husband loves to bring people into my doll room. He leads them up our stairs and into our third bedroom, where my “happy place” resides. He positions himself ahead of our guests so that when they enter the room he has a spectator’s view of their facial expressions. And he is seldom disappointed by their “shock and awe.”
After the guest picks his/her jaw off the floor, the most frequent question is, “How many dolls do you have?” which my husband, who has gleefully counted them, is more than happy to answer.
Such people are usually not doll collectors themselves, as nearly all members of the collecting community know that, once you pass a certain number of dolls in your collection, you’d better stop counting. It’s just best for everyone concerned not to be able to answer that question.
It’s true that most collectors I know have more dolls in their collections than they’d care to admit to. But reducing our collections to the number of units they contain trivializes the heart and soul that go into most of these collections. I started amassing my own collection more than two decades ago, and many of my older dolls represent precious time spent with my mother as we traveled to various doll conventions throughout the country. They represent Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and “just because” gifts. Many of my pieces are one-of-a-kind (OOAK) dolls painted by extremely talented portrait artists. Many pieces of clothing were sewn by hand, their seamstresses achieving beautifully executed miniature-scaled couture. Others are dolls that I pursued for years before finally being able to acquire second-hand. I know the names that each artist represented in my collection gave to their creations.
My collection reflects my own creativity as well. I do not sew for or paint dolls, but I take great joy in mixing and matching their fashions, posing them, and photographing them. I do not excel in any of these things, but I enjoy it, and spending an hour with “my girls” at the end of a long day of work and motherhood is more effective therapy than that provided by the priciest shrink.
Yes, the number of my dolls can be visually overwhelming. But keep in mind that you are looking at much more than a collection of vinyl playthings. You are looking at unique pieces of art that represent the fruit of the creative endeavors of hundreds of talented people. So you will never hear me apologize for proudly displaying them—although I do reserve the right not to count them.