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The Art of Ankie Daanen
Beautiful Family: Four figures, a pram and pull toy. Dutch artist Ankie Daanen’s porcelain dolls reach out, imploring the viewer to hear the story each one has to tell. When one enters her exhibit at a show, there is tale upon tale being conjured up on the display tables. In one corner, a joyful child manipulates strings and sets the world to dancing. There, a young woman wonders how she will juggle her way through all life has to offer. Yet another piece tempts you with a teacup filled with fun and fancy. Each doll arises from a world of its own through Daanen’s use of posture, facial expression, props and costuming.

Here, Daanen shares a bit of her life story and the story of her art.

Even as a child I was always searching for an outlet to express my artistic abilities, and much of my childhood I spend seated beside my mother’s sew­ing machine waiting for leftover scraps of fabric.

My mother made children clothes, and I copied her, working down on the floor creating ballroom dresses for my Barbie® dolls.

My dream was to follow a career as a ballet dancer, opera singer or designer. But when the time came to choose a profession, my parents did not share in my ambition of going to an art school. At that time they thought it did not guarantee a living.

Instead of art school, I went to an educational academy and became a teach­er. After five years of teaching, again I started searching for an avenue along which to direct my creative energy. My love for music led me to the conservatory to study music. I became a music teacher.

Mission: to Become a Dollmaker
About this time, I visited an exhibition of dollmakers’ works and it was overwhelming. I went back three times. And it was at that point that I was convinced: My mission was to become a dollmaker, and so I did! That was about 20 years ago.

I started taking a few classes from well-known dollmakers, but soon I began to teach my­self. I did not want to copy dolls from others; I wanted to have my own style.

About five years ago, after 15 years of sculpting dolls from stoneclay, I started to work with porcelain.

I love the charm of the smooth skin you get from porcelain and, of course, the longer life cycle of the doll.

After a while, you develop your own techniques and processes. For me, when the basic model is finished, I create the molds. When the doll comes out of the mold, I sculpt the doll’s features again. This second sculpting means that every doll I create has something unique about it.

Then, my great love for fabric, laces and trims, and all my in­spiration, imagination and fantasy (which is always available) goes into costuming the doll.

Two Styles
I know my audience loves two different styles—the more classic dolls and the fantasy ones. The second style of dolls have the name “fantastic dressed porcelains.” They are like people from another world, but with individual emotional expressions. And not two are the same. I love working with the fabrics, trims and beads for these dolls. Every costume I create needs to be unique. A lot of time goes in the creation of every new doll costume.

For a long time I shared my skills with other dollmakers. For 15 years I taught about 80 students a week.

When I had the opportunity, I gave up the hectic schedule of teaching. For about five years, I have been able to concentrate on my own dollmaking. Having a busy teaching schedule and finding the time to develop your own skills is a drain on your energy. You need to devote long hours to make each doll new and unique, and to invest in your own growth.

I am passionate about dollmaking. I am happy to see that it is becoming more and more a form of art. And it is being recognized as art. Although good craftsmanship is always the basis of a good doll, it has also to do with the expression of the doll, the recognition of emotions and the high quality of materials used.

It is the total impression of the doll that counts, not only the quality of the sculpting. The internal connection of the doll with the human spirit is important —to recognize that you feel some of the things that you see in the dolls. A good doll stays in the memory.

Teaching Again
Together with my colleague, doll artist Marlaine Verhelst, I teach an international master class two or three times a year. This class goes by the name “The Dutch Touch” and is designed to teach students from all over the world some of the creative and unconventional techniques that Dutch dollmakers are renowned for. The classes are taught inside and outside the Netherlands. For next year, Las Vegas and Reybrook, N.Y., are on the schedule.

Once a year I teach a very special dollmaking holiday class in our house in Spain. It is situated near the sea in a beautiful area. There, I make dolls during the beautiful seasons of spring and the early summertime. The students learn how to make dolls in combination with experiencing the good things Spain has to offer.

For now I consider myself as a very lucky dollmaker. My dolls are now seen all over the world, and I have to thank my audience for sharing their emotions with me because it is they who inspire me every time to try to make the perfect doll “that stays in the memory.”

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Latest Articles from News & Notes

2015 DOLLS Awards Industry's Choice winners announced

The 2015 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Industry’s Choice winners (DAEs, also called the Diamond Awards) were announced at the International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville, N.C., June 6. The Industry's Choice winners will go on to become the nominee's in the Public's Choice voting, set to begin in late June.

Without further ado, here are the winners of this year's Industry's Choice Diamond Awards!

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Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.

The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.

To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:

  • Been active in the doll or bear field a minimum of 25 years.
  • Maintained or increased the quality of reputation and product or service provided since inception.
  • Served the industry with integrity, honesty, reliability
  • Received a majority of the votes from previous recipients.

The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:

2002 Steiff
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2010 Helen Kish
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
2015 Kaye Wiggs

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BLACKALL ASSOCIATES INC. 
ANNOUNCING Winner of the Summer Heat Photo Contest

August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat. 

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i have very old magazines need to sell them before something happens to them
margie , December 20, 2014
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i really like all the barbie balack dress, can i ask question can i buy this, because its all out in the market now here in the philippines, can you help me please im a big fan of thiss dolls
mark christian paul l. carigma , December 16, 2014 | url

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The Chicago Toy Show

You haven’t seen a toy show until you’ve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and children’s playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.

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Konnichiwa and Grüezi - 150 years of Japan and Switzerland

19 April 2014 – 5 October 2014

A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.

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