The wearing of the green

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I went through my 10-year archive of dolly pics and selected a variety of my girls in green. Some of these beauties have moved on, but most have stayed with me and continue to bring me joy. I hope they bring a smile to your face as you celebrate today with kisses to your loved ones and a nice frothy mug of green beer.

Introducing Miette

Anyone who reads my blog knows that Robert Tonner’s dolls hold a special place in my heart. I discovered Tonner’s dolls in 2003, when Tyler Wentworth and her world reigned supreme in Robert’s offerings. I was primarily enticed by the dolls’ uber-realistic, beautiful faces. They were so full of personality, and each one was distinct from the others. I loved that Robert injected racial diversity in his collections, regularly adding gorgeous African-American, Asian, and Hispanic characters into the mix. Today, I have hundreds of dolls from Tyler’s world in my collection, and they remain first in my heart.

But, of course, doll lines have short shelf lives in the world of high-end fashion dolls, and Tyler and her world were gradually phased out as collectors’ tastes changed. Tonner went on to create other doll lines. Cami, Re-imagination, DeeAnna, Antoinette, and Deja Vu took their turns in the spotlight, and many were gorgeous dolls. But while I purchased several of these dolls, none grabbed my attention like Tyler and Sydney once did. Back in those days, it was difficult for me to winnow down the list of dolls I wanted to purchase in each subsequent line unveiling. Like many collectors, I’d count down the days until Tonner’s latest unveiling, quickly emailing my dealer my wish list in hopes of getting to her first before my favorites sold out. But with Tonner’s subsequent lines, there were usually only a couple that stood out to me, and they rarely sold out.

It could be that I’m romanticizing my early collecting days, and the Wentworth family is a source of wistful nostalgia. It could be that I’ve matured as a collector, and I am now choosier with what I add to my collection. After all, I have to be out of necessity. My collection is bursting at the seams of my many doll cabinets.

At any rate, the point of all this rambling is to say that Robert Tonner just released a collection that has captured my imagination more than any other line since Miss Wentworth entered the scene. Her name is Miette, and she is far from a fashion doll. Miette’s back story casts her in the role of a character in the fictional, fairy tale-esque French village of “Faire Croire.” As described on Tonner’s website:

“Once upon a time, in a far off corner of a very southern part of France, lies a tiny village called, Faire Croire. Don’t bother to look on any map, you’ll never find it. It’s a lovely village where the people enjoy a life of beauty and peace. Every house in the village is a different color and has window boxes filled with flowers of all kinds. The moss covered thatched roofs slant in all angles. There are no locks on any doors or windows. The narrow cobblestone streets are lined with fragrant flowers growing in beautiful pots adorned in jewels. The air is always thick with the scent of freshly baked pain au chocolat.  It seems like a place you would hear about in a fairy tale.  Although Faire Croire is well over 500 years old, no one knows it’s there.  But, Faire Croire does have a quality, something sinister that hangs over the heads of all the villagers. Something like a dark cloud.  Could that feeling be coming from the castle on the hill?

How could a village be over 500 years old with no one except the people that live there knowing of its existence? Miette, the lovely daughter of the Mayor of Faire Croire, intends to find out.”

I love Tonner’s quirky back stories, and I hope he expands on this one. Miette’s aesthetic is full of pastel colors, ruffles, and eyelet fabric. Her face is open and innocent, her lips ever-so-slightly parted as if she might speak. She reminds me a great deal of one of my other favorite sculpts of Robert’s, Euphemia, one of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters. But while Euphemia is pouty and cross, Miette is sweet and tender.

It seems that I am not the only collector enchanted by Miette. She was just released yesterday, and the status of many dolls has gone from “in stock” to “coming soon,” which I assume means they have sold out of much of their first shipment. While I’m delighted for Tonner Doll, as I can’t remember this happening for some time, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to place my order today. I’m going to start out with a raven basic, and if she is as lovely as her pictures, I’ll likely add a dressed doll. If money were no object, my wish list would consist of the Raven Basic, Dainty Miette, Fanciful, and Enchanting Miette.

I wish Tonner the best with this new line, and I’m looking forward to adding Miette to my dolly world. Who knows, perhaps she will fill the empty place in my heart that Tyler left when she exited the scene.

 

Rufus’s Daydream

Rufus
*****
My mother loved Rufus Rutter. He was her favorite doll, and she delighted in bringing him to the dental office where she worked. There she would place him in the reception area so he could great patients with his big, dopey grin. Some patients loved him. Others were freaked out by him. Rufus was a conversation opener–and mom loved to talk to just about anyone.
Mom got her first glimpse of Rufus at his Tonner Con debut, where he joined his perpetual love, Ellowyne Wilde, as a table centerpiece. He wore a suit and plaid raincoat, clutching an umbrella in one hand and a heart-shaped box of chocolates in the other. Something about his getup and dopey grin appealed to mom, and she declared that she’d like to have him.
Now mom did not own–or want to own–an Ellowyne doll. She didn’t collect fashion dolls in general–child dolls most appealed to her. Rufus would be the oldest doll in her collection, and he would tower over her little girls. But she said that he made her laugh.
coat
Rufus would become the only doll in my mother’s collection that she actually played with. While the others stayed carefully arranged on curio shelves in static positions and wearing the same outfits year after year, Rufus sat on her dresser, where he sported a variety of casual and formal clothes. Rufus had a claim on my mother’s heart that no other doll ever had.
When I inherited mom’s collection, I took Rufus from her house first. He currently stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Prudence, who, in my world, is a lesbian and has become Rufus’s best friend. When I was brainstorming an article idea for the latest issue of FDQ, Rufus’s dopey grin caught my eye, and I was struck by a vision of him between his handyman jobs–dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt–lying in his basement apartment and dreaming, as always, of Ellowyne Wilde.
The resulting article, “Rufus’s Daydream,” appears in the Autumn 2015 edition of FDQ, now shipping to subscribers. Below is a teaser. To find out how the story ends, paper and digital issues are available at FDQ’s web site.
My very talented friend, Angela Nielsen, provided the story’s photos.
 *****
He spent a lot of time lying on the small cot that was his bed, wondering what she was doing in her apartment four stories above. His own apartment—much smaller than hers, of course—was in the basement of the grand Victorian home that once belonged to her grandmother. His space was modest, as was he, but he didn’t have many wants or needs—at least of the material sort. As the house’s resident handyman, it was also his workplace. And he didn’t venture out much— except at the insistence of Prudence, who never tired of telling him that he was growing paler by the day and needed to get out into the sunlight.
Prudence was her best friend, and his good friend as well. Prudence was also his handiest excuse to get closer to her. After all, she too did not venture out much, generally preferring to envelop herself in her pensive moods and linger over the trinkets and ephemera with which she surrounded herself in the spacious rooms she inhabited. In the handful of times he had been in her apartment, he was mesmerized at the number of antique clocks, vintage outfits on dress forms, porcelain ladies, and dried flowers that occupied every corner of her rooms.
It was an enchanted space frozen in time, much like she was. To him, she was not of this world, and that created a distance between them that he often despaired of ever bridging…

wedding