Most gracious greetings! I am Jennifer Stewart, a collector of dolls and antiques from the time I acquired my first possessions. When I was a child, Christmas was magical because Santa always brought a doll. My two-year-old Christmas photo shows me sitting in my new rocker in a red dress (okay, the photo is black and white, but I know the dress was red) with a non-descript plastic doll wrapped in each arm. I also received a Beanie Jack-in-the-Box, based on the Cecil and Beanie TV cartoon, that year. Cecil was a sea monster creature, and his friend always wore a beanie hat with a propeller—but I digress . . .
For my fourth Christmas, I received a blonde Chatty Cathy with rose print flannel pajamas. My, was I proud! Other childhood dolls included Penny Brite, Pony Tail Barbie, Twist-n-Turn Barbie, Tubsie, Dancerina, Dawn, and a Liddle Kiddle. I have some stories to tell you about my adventures with these dolls! After playing with hard plastic and vinyl dolls for years, I decided that soft bodied baby dolls were much more child-friendly and cuddly. I no longer have any of these dolls, save one, which is another story, but of course I have collected a few replacements. And I still have my sweet plush Cocker Spaniel, Peppy, who has sock feet replacements, lovingly hand mended by my mother!
In my teen years, I worked for Kay Bee Toy and Hobby Shop. This was when they actually sold good quality collectible toys, and here is where I discovered Madame Alexander’s beautifully costumed creations and soft bodied baby dolls with wonderfully realistic faces. And they came in pretty pasteboard boxes with pink tissue paper and lids! I also found my Steiff bears at Kay Bee. In turn, I discovered and collected Fisher Price dolls, Sasha dolls, Ashton-Drakes porcelains, Diana Effner artist dolls, an Annette Himsteadt, an Amish doll, Waldorf style soft dolls, of course a Cabbage Patch Kid, anatomically correct baby dolls, My Twinns, dolls from Japan and Hong Kong while I lived in the Far East, a marvelous array of miniature doll house furnishings, a teeny tiny penny wooden doll, and childbirth education dolls—one that fits through a model pelvis, and one that is a dream to hold, to demonstrate breastfeeding technique.
Of course, with my propensity for making things, I made dolls, too. I made Japanese Kime Kome dolls, Waldorf style soft dolls for all my children, a yarn doll, sock dolls, a very mini china doll for the doll house, a Gandalf doll for my Tolkien class special project, and cornhusk and apple head dolls. Then there was the sewing and costuming for these dolls, the best part! I bought every pattern I could find for doll clothes and every scrap of fabric was turned into a fashionably coordinated outfit. My children had doll outfits that matched their hand-made shirts and dresses. I speak in past-tense here, but my doll costuming days are not over—not by a long shot! That is why I am so excited to have this platform for sharing with you my passion for dolls and costuming!
Antiques are my passion too, so it was only a matter of time before I came around to antique dolls. My sisters-in-law generously gave me some of their childhood dolls, which were about ten years older than my own. I adore their little Ginnys, one blonde, and one brunette. Then my lovely mother-in-law gave me her childhood Bye-Lo-Baby, my most special doll ever, and I will share this story with you as well. I did not receive my grandmother’s circa 1900 German china doll, and here is yet another story.
My collection now includes a number of antique German china shoulder head dolls, which are my favorites, a wax doll, and as you can see, I have come to admire some very special bisque dolls too. Soon, I will share with you an extraordinary American folk doll who is getting ready to come and live with me.
I look forward to sharing with you here my dolls, antiques, storytelling, crafting, folk art, needlework, costuming, and sustainable parenting and living adventures. Please join me on this exhilarating journey!