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2007: A Year to Remember
Limited to 250 pieces, “Saijin” measures 28 inches and is made of vinyl. Priced at $695, she comes with a hand-made backpack. Songwriter and philosopher John Lennon said it best: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Such a random chain of events led to Henry and Zofia Zawieruszynski trading in their Polish mailing address for a home and business nestled in the American heartland.

“Henry’s mother was born in the USA,” Zofia shares, “and we came to visit her in 1988. She was living in Minnesota. Be­lieve me, we had no plans to emigrate here. We planned to visit her and all of Henry’s family for a few weeks. And then a few months went by, and then a few more, and we still are here!”

Being able to be so impulsive, so in­credibly daring about such an earth-shattering decision, is part of the Zawieruszynskis’ artistic demeanor. This is a married couple that has never played by traditional 9-to-5 rules. Instead, they have always listened to their inner creative drive, the voice of risk-taking and goal-grabbing.

Back in Poland, Henry and Zofia met while working at a studio where they both designed and hand-painted decorative fabric. “From working side by side, we have worked together ever since,” Henry observes.

Eventually in Poland, they opened their own interior-decorating business. They also kept their creative juices flowing by in­dulging in painting and sculpting. Perhaps as a harbinger for their future careers as doll artists, Zofia started to make wooden and cloth dolls as well. It was an expressive outlet she greatly enjoyed.

“Here in America, in 1992, we made our first porcelain doll,” Zofia chronicles. Having settled in the Midwest, where the couple admits, “we were used to rough winters in Poland but Minnesota’s is even longer,” they worked at improving their doll sculpting and their day-to-day communication skills.

“The Zawieruszynskis are very admirable,” comments Debbie Bibb, manager of The Doll House, in Edmond, Okla. “They learned to speak English by listening to TV and to the radio. I think their success here in the States and around the world comes from very hard work and a real desire to live and prosper in this country.”

Bibb and The Doll House have hosted many shop appearances and signings by Henry and Zofia. Bibb numbers the couple among her friends. “I enjoy spending time with them, and I’ve had them to my home. We’ve been to eat many times and we’ve all had a good time. All our store’s customers just love it when the Zawieruszynskis come for a signing. They are so willing to please and to make each doll special. They honestly and sincerely want every collector to be happy with their dolls. I’ve seen more interest with new collectors this year than ever before,” Bibb elaborates.

Henry and Zofia, likewise, stress how essential it is to meet and greet, and learn from, their collectors. “We love to meet and to talk with the collectors at signings and at shows,” Zofia says. “We receive a lot of letters, comments, e-mails and inquiries from customers. We like to hear from our collectors because it only helps us to make our dolls better and better.”

Barrie Shapiro, proprietor of The Toy Shoppe, in Richmond, Va., agrees the Zawieruszynski Originals are a line she personally anticipates each year. “Theirs are designs we always look forward to seeing. It’s a continuation of all the special touches we have come to expect each year. In both their porcelain and in their vinyl lines, collectors are drawn to their work, each for various reasons. The vinyl holds an appeal because of its warm touch and its ‘un­breakable’ quality.”

For the 2007 line of Zawieruszynski Original Dolls, the couple had intended to make two or three porcelain dolls. However, their vinyl production had gotten so busy and their time was so divided that at press time they only had one porcelain creation done. The pair finds themselves immersed in every aspect of their dolls, from the top of the head to the tip of the toe. Being able to juggle their home life, business life, personal life and artistic life is difficult.

Despite the challenges, Henry and Zofia confess there is no other business they would care to be in. “We have done a lot of other things in the art world,” Henry asserts, “but making dolls is the passion that fuels our lives.”

Zofia wholeheartedly agrees. “We love to design new dolls. Every detail is carefully selected to match the character of the doll. Even accessories and the tiniest additions are supposed to exclaim what each doll is trying to express.”

Husband Henry picks up on his wife’s conversational thread: “We work hard, very hard, to dress them. Sometimes when we find interesting fabric, we know exactly what we are going to do with it. But some dolls do stand undressed for weeks.”

When it’s pointed out how chilly that must be for their “girls” in the cold Minnesota clime, the couple agrees and chuckles. “We experiment with many different fabric and ideas until we know we have created the outfit that is perfect for each doll,” Zofia explains.

“Luiza” is a very tall offering from the Zawieruszynskis. Standing 30 inches and part of an edition of 100, the coquettish lass is tagged at $745.What impresses Teresa Smith, proprietor of “All Dolled Up!” CT in Thomaston, Conn., is that the Zawieruszynskis “con­tinue to create dolls that are affordable to everyone. Their clothing has texture and color, and the dolls, which they create together in their studio, and at home, are works of art that many people respect and appreciate.”

Smith is familiar with the couple’s body of work and is a fan of their meticulous craftsmanship. “When I am presenting their dolls to potential new collectors in my shop, I alert them that the dolls were made by the artists, in their home in the United States. I touch upon the size of the dolls, as well as the quality of the material used, hence the value for the money. I also would point out the use of human-hair wigs and that the shoes are made of leather. Also, each doll comes with an individual presentation box and certificate. They are not just shipped in bags in a large box. The certificates are handwritten and signed, and the bodies of the dolls are hand-signed and numbered. Their collection of dolls this year has had mass appeal.”

One of the reasons why the 2007 line has garnered so much attention from collectors, and from award panels, is that they tried intentionally to move their dolls in a new, challenging direction. “We decided to make some of the dolls look a little more childish this year,” Zofia notes. “Our 2-year-old granddaugh­ter was the inspiration for this year’s collection.”

The Zawieruszynskis have two grown children, Agnieszka and Tomasz, and four grandchildren. They adore spending time with the extended families, which live nearby, and were overjoyed to utilize granddaughter Natallie as a model. “Most of our dolls have been made from our imaginations, but the ‘Natallie’ doll was based on a real child, our grandchild.”

This younger, fresher perspective the couple has brought to their recent offerings have not gone unnoticed. Among the favorable response has been getting the nod for five DOLLS Awards of Excellence (DAE). “We are so grateful for each nomination we received this year. Each doll is special to us, and we are happy they’ve been recognized and awarded. When we got the news about the nominations, we were at IDEX. We were surrounded by another artist and by many collectors. They all congratulated us on this achievement, and that made it even more special for us.”

The success of the 2007 line was no surprise to Marge Voigt, proprietor of The Nursery Window, in Kohler, Wis. “From the moment I saw ‘Natallie’ and ‘Alinka,’ I loved them. They were so wonderful; I knew right away they would be very, very popular. Henry and Zofia have always created beautiful and elegant dolls. Their faces are marvelously sculpted and the attention to detail with their clothing goes beyond what one usually finds. It’s a winning combination.”

The results of the DAE voting will be revealed in August, at the Doll & Teddy Bear Expo, held in Washington, D.C. Whether the Zawieruszynskis walk away with five awards or no awards, they consider themselves completely and totally blessed. “We live in a large house, located on five partially wooded acres. We have a large, very comfortable place to work. We enjoy remodeling and decorating our home; we love to garden, landscape and spend time with our family and our friends. We are already very rich in this life with these pleasures. Everything else is just extra!”

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I love all their dolls even the earlier ones, just wish we could buy them here in England cheaper and find them easier, may be you will be able to help/
gosia ridley , June 22, 2012

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2013 DOLLS Awards of Excellence

The winners of the 2013 Industry’s Choice DOLLS Awards of Excellence (DAEs) were announced April 12 at the Debut of Dolls Banquet held at IDEX in Orlando, Fla. Each entry in this year’s competition was evaluated by our panel of judges: Doll industry consultant Pat Burns, doll writer and historian Penny Herbst, Simon Farnworth of DollObservers.com, author and DOLLS contributor Stephanie Finnegan,

DOLLS editor-at-large Jill Jackson, and Modern Doll President Patsy Moyer. This year’s Industry’s Choice winners go on to become the nominees for the Public’s Choice awards voted on by DOLLS readers. Look for photos of all the nominees, ballot, and online voting instructions in the July 2013 issue of DOLLS.

 

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DOLLS publisher Carie Ferg wins special Colliii Award

Iola, Wis. – Jan. 9, 2013DOLLS magazine publisher and former editor Carie Ferg received a special VIP Award for Outstanding Achievement in the 2012 Colliii Awards. The Colliii Awards are the largest online dollmaking competition in the world.

“We wanted to present the 2012 VIP Award to Carie Ferg as a recognition of the dynamism and innovation she has brought to the doll industry over the past few years,” said Colliii Awards Director James Carlsson. “The VIP Award is presented every year to a person or organisation that has made a significant contribution to the doll world. It was Colliii.com’s pleasure to present this to Carie as a token of appreciation for her hard work.”

Past VIP Award winners include DOLLS’ Editor-at-Large Jill Jackson for her work with "Doll Reader," the Biemann family from Schildkröt dolls in Germany, and such atists as Stephanie Sullivan.

Registration for the 2013 Colliii Awards will begin in July. For more information about the competition, go to www.colliii.com/en.
ProSculpt 2012 winners announced

The winners of the 2012 ProSculpt Annual Sculpting Contest have been chosen by collectors and artists from around the world. Winners this year are from England, Italy, Japan, South America, and the United States. Photos of all the winners can be viewed at the Johnston Original Art Dolls website. The winners are:

 

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A Chair for Your 16-Inch Sweetheart

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Haute Doll introduces its new exclusive by Horsman Ltd., the modern-style “Heart Chair” perfect for 16-inch fashion dolls. The design was inspired by Verner Panton’s 1959 full-scale contemporary chair design.

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Rockin’ Out at Rockefeller Center: An outdoor winter event showcases model-worthy Manhattanites.

{besps}ravena{/besps}

{besps_c}0|1.jpg|Available on December 6, “Ravena, Winter Chic” is an exclusive BJD from Ruby Red Galleria and DOLLS magazine. It can only be purchased through DOLLS.|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|2.jpg|At a recent European fashion show, these lovely models showcased what Australian fashion designers are cooking up for winterwear. “Ravena” could have joined that lineup!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|3.jpg|Lauren Graham looks stylish and seasonal in her winter attire. Just because snow might be flurrying and blowing, no reason to let a fashion sense melt away!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|4.jpg|Singer/actress Brooke White was layered and lovely at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting.|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|5.jpg|When some of us layer, we come dangerously close to the Michelin Tire Man vibe. Sometimes too much bundling means near bursting!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|6.jpg|Cee Lo Green never worries about the curse of the Michelin Tire Man. The portly singer is proud to be a big man, and rejoices with his winter-clad Muppet pals.|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|7.jpg|The 80th Anniversary of the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting was a special one, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The 80-foot Norway spruce hailed from New Jersey! 45,000 LED lights caused it to glow so brightly!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|8.jpg|Even the Christmas trees in New York are fabulously dressed from head to toe! The Swarovski star that tops the Rockefeller Center tree is brilliant.|{/besps_c}I just learned about a new BJD debuting on December 6—it's a Ruby Red Galleria exclusive for DOLLS. The creation is so spot-on in its costuming and its attitude, I swear that one of the designers must have been tailing me last month.

When my friend Cam phoned me and invited me to the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, I should have said “no.” Any sane person would have, but sanity and an evening with Cam rarely go hand-in-hand. Instead, I agreed, and we headed out to Midtown Manhattan on one of the most crowded, most frantic nights of the year.

As we attempted to approach the skating rink where the enormous evergreen will reign supreme, I looked at Cam and burst out laughing.

“Isn’t this how ‘The Day of the Locust’ ends?” I shouted to him. (That film from the 1970s is among my and Cam’s favorite flicks. It stars Karen Black and Donald Sutherland, and it concludes with a horrible, free-for-all deadly crowd stampede.)

“Don’t be such a Grinch,” he called back. “Or should I say ‘Grinchette’!”

“I’m not sure there is a female Grinch,” I replied. “I know there was a Smurfette, the only blue gal around. But a Grinchette? I have to check my Seuss.”

And so this intellectual discourse continued as we fought our way through the jangling and jostling crowd—and, yes, the mass of people were LITERALLY jangling as they jostled. A huge number of them had on Santa hats with bells affixed or had bells attached to their lapels or collars. They were rude but they were rhythmic!

Since our trekking was so slow, and the other gawkers had gotten their much earlier to stake out their spots, Cam and I didn’t so much watch the tree lighting as watch the other folks’ reactions to all of the events.

A shrill shriek would emerge from the people way ahead of us.

“What is it?” I’d ask.

“Il Vole,” Cam would reply, referencing the teenage opera singers.

A cheer would erupt.

“Who is that?” I questioned.

“Chris Mann, from ‘The Voice.’” Another opera singer, who is marketed as a heartthrob.

Then just a smattering of applause.

“Mayor Bloomberg,” we both declared.

Since we were merely hearing the audio playback of the concert, we gazed at all the young men and women surrounding us.

“I think there is more wool here on Sixth Avenue than in all the sheep farms in Scotland,” Cam proclaimed.

Looking around, I had to agree.

Guys and girls were all decked out in the “official” apparel of the season: woolen flap hats, jauntily tied scarves, and boots. Girls had on legwarmers—“Hello, Flashdancers”—and fingerless gloves. (“What’s the point of that?” Cam groused. “Are we supposed to WANT our fingernails to turn blue?”) We had our very own Joan & Melissa Rivers Red Carpet fashion critique.

There’s a certain hip look that New Yorkers achieve—even when they are multilayering, they still come across as thin, chic, and hip. When I add scarves and sweaters and hats to my wardrobe, I look bundled up and ready to explode: envision the Michelin Tire Man, but not as perky.

When these twenty-somethings put on the extra bits of fabric, they look like they are taking a break en masse from shooting the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. It really is quite amazing.

“I wish we could bottle their youth,” Cam lamented, looking at all the rosy-cheeked kids, teens, and college students who were scrambling about.

“Yep,” I agreed, “but can you imagine how much it would cost? And just how big would that bottle have to be! Better just to dream about it.”

And, wouldn’t you know it, just in time for Christmas . . . a doll that perfectly embodies that free-spirited New York City style has loped onto the scene.

The ball-jointed doll, which is a collaboration between DOLLS magazine and Ruby Red Galleria, is fittingly named “Ravena, Winter Chic.” Limited to 100 pieces, she’ll sell for 149.95. And, like all the other fashionable femmes who congregate in Manhattan, she weighs only 2 pounds, 6.9 ounces! The “Ravena” doll is bundled up and beautiful. Quite a feat, indeed!

Like her advertising copy says: A New York City native, the harsh NYC winters don’t stop “Ravena, Winter Chic,” a DOLLS dressed doll exclusive by Ruby Red Galleria, from exploring the city she loves. From uptown boutiques and coffee shops to downtown restaurants and theater, “Ravena, Winter Chic” bundles into her purple tights and faux-fur boots, corduroy short pants, pansy T-shirt, black motorcycle-style jacket and cozy knit hat to hit the streets in style. Even when the elements are unforgiving, “Ravena” survives and thrives in the city that never sleeps! The fully dressed 12-inch ball-jointed vinyl doll features removable wig and eyes, plus underwear and a sweet “love” tank top.

Ruby Red Galleria always has a way with its wardrobe, and “Ravena, Winter Chic” is no exception. I am sure Cam will be ordering one online. He’s probably circled December 6 on his calendar. After all, if he was willing to chew “instant youth” vitamins or spray on “adolescent forever” cologne, can you imagine how happy he’ll be to have a chic New Yorker to call his own?

“Exercising and eating well . . . who could be bothered,” Cam knowingly observes. “I’d rather play my way to younger days.”

And, yes, it can’t be denied. Cam has the healthiest inner-child in town!

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Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event
Fans of Pullip and Dal pose with their dolls at PUDDLE 2011. Photo by Mike Hurlock

The fourth Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event (PUDDLE) drew 60 doll lovers from 10 different states and Canada to the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn in June. This year’s theme, cranes, was inspired by the sandhill cranes at the group's charity organization, the Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Six custom dolls and other items donated by sponsors like The Sleeping Elf and Denise's Dolls were raffled off at the event, raising $500 for the center.

The weekend started Friday night with dinner at Mitsuwa Japanese Mall in Arlington Heights, followed by a tea party at the hotel. PUDDLE officially kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday, starting with an organized buy-sell-trade opportunity, and dozens of fans milled around trading and buying doll wigs, eye chips, bodies, clothing, and more.

5_costume_contest_newEvery attendee received a door prize, thanks to generous donations from many sponsors. Distribution of the door prizes was followed by a secret gift swap and lunch break. Afterwards, an informal Q&A-format customizing workshop answered questions for many fans new to the hobby, followed by a display of fully customized and modified dolls entered in the customization contest. Winners of an online photo/art contest which was held and judged before the event were announced along with the customization contest winners. The photo and art entries can be seen at www.puddlestyle.com/photoart.html.

Many fans continued the fun over dinner in the hotel restaurant and in the hotel lobby until the wee hours. Krista Farmer, who traveled from Toronto for the event, said “It was a crazy cool day.” Although the event officially ended Saturday night, 11 fans stayed for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Willowbrook Wildlife Center Sunday. — Jane Easterly

For information on PUDDLE 2012, visit www.puddlestyle.com.
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R. John Wright Convention

Attendees at the third annual R. John Wright Convention enjoyed the festivities of several major holidays coupled with outstanding dolls,R. John Wright introduces the “Wicked Witch of the West,” the newest piece in the Wizard of Oz series, at the Halloween Masquerade Luncheon. all rolled into four fun-filled days! R. John and Susan Wright chose “Celebrations!” as the theme for their 2011 event held at the historic Desmond Hotel in Albany, N.Y., which was co-chaired by Loretta Nardone and Lillian Wright.

The convention opened with St. Patrick’s Day reception Wednesday evening, where everyone laid claim to being a wee bit Irish while enjoying a scrumptious dessert buffet. The sales room opened immediately after this kick-off event, with conventioneers hoping the “luck of the Irish” would help them find that perfect doll or dolls.

Thursday began early with the Easter Morning Breakfast; those attending this ticketed event didn’t have to search for large, beautifully decorated baskets serving as table centerpieces. They were filled with molded felt eggs in pastel colors. At the end of the breakfast, the eggs were distributed and the happy new owners opened them to find “Peep,” a 3-inch yellow mohair chick as their event souvenir. His companion, “Posey,” was available for sale. After breakfast the special and competitive exhibits opened, along with the helper room. This year’s special exhibit, arranged by John and Susan Wright’s daughter Emily, was titled “Happy Holidays” and showcased R. John Wright dolls and animal characters and the traditional holidays that inspired them.

That afternoon, attendees boarded buses for the short trip to Bennington, Vt., for a tour of the R. John Wright facility along with other local activities. The Wrights explained the development of their creations from concept through completion before everyone had the opportunity to visit with their employees as they made various doll parts and accessories and shopped in the R. John Wright store. The day culminated with a Fourth of July BBQ followed by fireworks at dusk.

“Rose Fairy,” a new addition to the Flower Fairy series, was available for purchase at the Valentine’s Day High Tea.Workshops by dollmaker Gail Wilson and a program by Alan Pate, a leading American expert on Japanese dolls, were offered on Friday, along with several roundtable discussions on various topics. Attendees dressed up for the frightfully fabulous costume parade leading into the Halloween Masquerade luncheon, with prizes awarded in five categories. After lunch, the newest piece from R. John Wright’s Wizard of Oz collection, “Wicked Witch of the West,” made her debut in front of an enthusiastic audience.

The ticketed Victorian Yuletide Dinner featured traditional table decorations and an enchanting program, “A Victorian Christmas,” presented by Nardone. The event souvenir was the 10-inch “Mary Frances,” the latest addition to the Victorian Children Collection. Available for purchase was her 7-inch little sister, “Baby Grace.”

Saturday morning’s activities included another program by Pate and a workshop conducted byElaine Romberg won the Best of Show ribbon in the Competitive Exhibit for her exceptional Lenci Leprechaun Gnome type character doll. Emily Wright. That afternoon, a Valentine’s Day High Tea charmed conventioneers with fine teas and delicacies. The newest addition to the Flower Fairies series, “Rose Fairy,” was available for purchase. The evening’s closing event was a New Year’s Eve Gala Celebration. This elegant banquet featured another entertaining program produced and presented by Nardone. When the souvenir dolls were distributed, delighted attendees found the adorable 12½-inch “Celebration Scootles” would be going home with them. As an added bonus, her delightful twin brother was available for purchase.

As the convention ended, attendees were already making plans for next year’s “Around the World” event, which will be held at the same location June 20-23, 2012 and will celebrate the magic of children around the globe. There will also be an added treat as the first bear event held at an R. John Wright convention will be incorporated into the excursion to the Wrights’ facility in Vermont. For more information, visit www.rjohnwright.com or call (802) 447-7072. — Pat Burns
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