Home sweet home

Many of you have been following my recent move from Florida to Maryland and the trials and tribulations of transporting 500+ dolls along with all of my other crap. Well, it’s been two months since my family arrived in our new home, and the process of constructing my new office/doll room is complete. I am lucky to have a basement as well, which will house a couple cabinets that did not fit in my doll room. But today I wanted to share just pics of my anointed Dolly Room in all its glory.

My apologies for the poor quality of these photos. The room gets no direct sunlight, and my camera does not operate well in artificially lit rooms. But you should get the idea. So here’s the grand tour.

Immediately to the left when you enter the room are three cabinets and one bookshelf. The cabinets contain mostly Tonner fashion dolls, and the bookshelf is home to my mini dioramas. I am a big believer of taking advantage of any vertical space that is available, so some of my dolls aren’t far from the ceiling. Floor space is also valuable real estate, so I’ve positioned several of my Annette Himstedt girls there.


Confined to a small space, my dioramas are compact, but I enjoy making them. It really doesn’t take much to put together a classy diorama. An upholstered chair, a rug, and a glass of “wine” can show off a favorite doll to great effect. Sofas are great too—especially for the smaller girls.

On the opposite wall are two more narrow IKEA cabinets, on either side of a large window. By being creative, I managed to get quite a few Himstedts on that side. I’ve stacked up my plastic drawers that contain doll outfits and props.


Some of you may remember when Tonner Doll Company created totally over-the top table centerpieces during their annual convention and other events. I’m lucky enough to own two of these heavy, resin creations. My favorite is Aquaman riding his huge purple seahorse, “Storm,” his wife Mera by his side. The other is a street scene in which Rufus (who was making his debut) offers his heart to Ellowyne.


So there you have it. Once I get the remainder of my dolls set up in the basement, I’ll post pictures of them as well. I always love to see how others display their collections, so feel free to share a pic of your hoard as well.



On top of Doll Mountain

KewpieA few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry about my impending move out of state and the unsavory task of packing up an obscene number of dolls acquired during my 22 years of collecting. Many of you wrote me, asking to be kept updated on the drama of moving a doll hoard—I mean collection. You’ll be happy to know that I have succeeded in my task, and the seven curios, nine shelves, and innumerable boxes that once occupied my doll room have been replaced by what my family has dubbed “Doll Mountain.”


BOXES ONE BOXES TWO boxesI must admit that it’s an impressive sight. And I think I did an admirable job of consolidating the real estate that my 500+ girls occupy. I tossed out about 70% of my doll boxes, and instead carefully packed about 300 girls in sturdy plastic bins (complete with desiccant packs to avoid molding). The remaining 200 or so girls had either intricate gowns or hairdos or were deemed “too special” to travel via cargo. So they were lucky enough to get their own individual boxes.

The larger girls also got their own boxes in which to travel. Packing my dozen Himstedts (many taller than three feet) was no easy task. I have most of their huge boxes and shippers, but dragging those boxes out of storage meant confronting the ever-present “palmetto bugs” that reside in our garage. If you’ve ever seen a Florida palmetto bug, you know that it can reach roughly the size of a small rat. Now, I’m not frightened of many things. Snakes and spiders are fine with me. But Florida roaches are a fucking freak of nature and need to be destroyed at all costs. Needless to say, there was a lot of shrieking in the garage and orders to my husband to “kill the damned thing.”

The things I do for dolls.

Himstedt packing in progress. Can you spot the real child?
Himstedt packing in progress. Can you spot the real child?

I was nervous about packing my porcelain and resin dolls. In particular, I have one delicate porcelain Native American mother and child dressed in real leather and adorned with turquoise and sterling silver. Her artist named her “Butterfly Mother,” and she stands about two feet tall. I love this doll. I purchased her at, of all places, Trump Tower in Las Vegas for an amount of money that I will divulge only upon pain of death—and perhaps not even then. It was 2004, and I was in Vegas with my mom to see Barry Manilow in concert. (Yes, you read that right. Don’t judge.) This was also the trip in which I took my mother to see a Chippendales show. She enjoyed it way too much.

dancersSo, as you can imagine, this doll is not only gorgeous—it’s steeped in memories. I used a combination of bubble wrap, foam, and packing peanuts to cushion mother and child. I’ll be putting this box in the car with me when we make our journey. Not trusting any moving dudes with this treasure.

moving-homePacking up my girls did give me the opportunity to appreciate each one individually. It also was a chance to do an inventory. I entered the name of each doll in an Excel spreadsheet as I packed it away and noted the numbered box it was going into, which will help me identify where specific dolls are when we arrive at our new home. I’ve always been terrible at keeping track of my hoard, instead relying on memory, which, when it comes to dolls, is scarily good. I only had to consult the Internet a handful of times to identify specific dolls or their outfits as I packed them away. If only my memory worked just as well when it comes to locating my keys or glasses.

I was also able to identify a dozen or so dolls that I can live without. I’ve mostly sold them off, which will allow me to pay for a particular doll I’ve been waiting for all year. Paul Pham’s latest Numina doll—Sung—will join my other Numinas—Stratus and Alma—in October. Pinch me.


With the dollies and lots more of our household in boxes and ready for storage, hubby and I are working on some minor house fixes. So if anyone out there is interested in relocating to sunny Tampa, let me know and I’ll give you a deal!


Shopping for my “daughter”

We’ve all shopped for our dolls. And, when we do, it’s usually no mystery to anyone who the dresses, skirts, pants, hats, and jewelry we purchase are for. No one I know would fit into the gown I just purchased for my Tyler Wentworth doll, since no one I know is 16 inches tall. Likewise, the retailers and fellow collectors we purchase from know we are buying for dolls. They are selling for dolls. Duh.

Except when your doll is three feet tall.

I used to collect the dolls created by German artist Annette Himstedt. I say “used to” because I purchased my last Himstedt doll in 2009, when Annette’s factory fell victim to the recession and she ceased production. Over the years, I amassed 15 of her dolls. There are still many available on the secondary market I’d love to have, but lack of space and a limited dolly budget have prevented me from adding to my collection in recent years. Which is fine, really. My doll room looks like it doubles as a preschool classroom as it is.

My space-saving way of displaying some of my Himstedt dolls. They’re the tall ones almost touching the ceiling.

For those unfamiliar with Annette’s work, she creates incredibly lifelike representations of young children. And they are huge, typically ranging in size from two to three feet. As such, store-bought children’s clothing fit them quite well. Retail stores offer an endless variety of toddler clothing, and it can be very inexpensive. Much cheaper than the custom-made Himstedt clothing you’ll find on eBay and Etsy.

It has been at least five years since I redressed one of my Hinstedts, but I recently took several of them out of storage (I don’t have enough space to accommodate displaying them all at once), and my interest in them was revived. Since I had to go to Target this weekend for some household items, I made a stop in the children’s clothing section, and I selected some cute pink spring outfits. This was especially fun for me, since I have no daughters–my four-year-old son is my only child. And I’ve come to learn that boy’s clothing is boring as hell. Being able to pick out pink dresses and frilly tops with butterflies on them was a nice change.

When I went to pay for my items, the cashier lingered over the pink dress I selected. “This is so cute,” she said. “How old is your daughter?”

I was daydreaming about redressing my dolls when she spoke to me–I had barely noticed her at all. So I had no idea what she was talking about.

“My daughter?’ I asked.

“Uh, yeah,” she said.

“I don’t have a daughter,” I told her. “I have a son.”


Oh. I finally got it. She thinks the dress and frilly clothes are for my daughter. I laughed.

“Oh, no,” I said, “Those are for my dolls.”

Silence again. She quickly checked me out without another word.

And thus I think I did my part last weekend at Target to confirm the widespread belief that doll collectors are creepy people who have make-believe conversations with their vinyl friends when no one is looking.

I know I do.

Arinda in her new Target dress
Arinda in her new Target dress