Author: Debbie Behan Garrett

Bell’s Fabulous Entertainers

Floyd Bell, master doll artist, began making dolls in the late 1970s. A wood working educator for several years, his “lessons of love” and passion for woodworking inspired the creation of Bell’s first doll. The challenge was to create a sculpture from scraps of wood. Bell’s first doll is all wood with peg-jointed limbs, dressed in Victorian-period clothing, and stands 18in/45.72 cm tall. In a doll competition, he won a green ribbon for his first doll. Countless awards later, Bell’s dolls are housed in several museums and prestigious locations worldwide such as the Louvre in Paris, France; the Wanke Museum in Germany, the National Black Doll Museum in Ohio, the Philadelphia Doll Museum, and the White House Doll Collection USA.  Actors and other personalities own Floyd Bell dolls. All of his dolls are signed with his name, Floyd Bell ©, and dated.  His small dolls are signed, F. Bell.  (Excerpt from my book, Black Dolls A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating Collecting and Experiencing the Passion, Chapter 5, page 242.) The Nicholas Brothers were a dancing sensation in the 1930s (pictured above).  Bell’s Las Vegas Show Girl is a svelte and quite stunning, all-wood beauty, as illustrated in the following images: Along with Bell, I co-authored the article, “Fantastic Entertainers,” (DOLLS magazine, February 2010, pages 38-39, digital and/or hard copy versions).  The article includes additional information about this renowned, master doll maker and his works...

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A Visit with Santa

Several days before Christmas, Ginny and her twin brother, “Jimmy” visited Santa.  They shared their handwritten lists with Santa.  Ginny’s list is slightly longer than Jimmy’s. It reads: Dear Santa, I want a doll, a trike, a strove, clothes, shoes, and some dishes… please.  Thank you, Santa. Love, Ginny Jimmy’s reads: Dear Santa, I want a car, a truck, and a game.  I have been a good boy.  Thank you, Santa.  I love you. Jimmy Their trusty dog, Longfellow (who actually belongs to Only Hearts Club’s Briana Joy), tagged along.  They stopped long enough to take pictures with Santa and to share this Christmas greeting with you: We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas And a Happy New Year! Peace and blessings to you and your family, dbg – 2009   PS:  Ginny and “Jimmy” also want you to remember that the greatest gift to mankind was God’s gift of His son, Jesus Christ, sent here as an example of how we should live.  Even though we sometimes unintentionally fall short of the glory of God, His forgiving nature assures us that we can always sincerely ask for forgiveness and start all over...

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Holiday Decorating with Dolls

Many collectors celebrate the holidays by incorporating dolls into their holiday décor. Christmas dolls and dolls dressed in traditional Christmas colors are selected. Others are redressed in Christmas outfits made for them or similar size dolls, while child-size dolls are redressed in children’s clothing. The dolls can be incorporated into holiday décor by creating vignettes around the Christmas tree, at the fireplace hearth or on the mantle, and in other areas of the home.  Window scenes can also be created.  Mini dolls can be used as ornaments for Christmas trees and wreaths.  Incorporating doll images onto Christmas greetings is usually a delight for the card recipient. I recently viewed pictures of past holiday decorations using dolls and created a slideshow to share.  I hope you enjoy the slideshow and find some useful ideas for your holiday...

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A Joyous Barbie Reunion

I cannot recall the exact age when I received my first adult-figured, 11-1/2 inch Barbie®, but it was probably May or December of 1965 at age 10.  The doll and accessories were either a birthday or Christmas gift.   My mother, a high-fashion aficionado who always “dressed to the nines,” made certain that I owned Barbie® and her friends.  She also ensured that they were properly dressed in the current haute couture fashions. I do recall enjoying several hours of play for at least three years with my inanimate friend, Barbie®, and her host of friends and accessories.  Hours of doll play were spent in the bedroom of hot pink and orange décor that I shared with my younger sister, Robin.  Being six years my junior, Robin played with baby dolls and I played alone with my more mature girls and one male, Ken®. I enjoyed redressing the dolls in their trendy outfits, mixing and matching their clothing, popping heads on and off; and after play concluded, I made certain that each doll and accessory was properly stored in my baby blue, double-sided Barbie® case.  I can still visualize the graphics on that patent-leather doll case, those that were on the rectangular-shaped doll boxes, the fashion packs, and the miniature brochures that advertised additional fashions and accessories.  Those were the good old days when doll play was truly enjoyable and...

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The Early Collector Catches the Doll

Recently, I received an email from renowned doll artist, Patricia Coleman-Cobb announcing a group of 13, one-of-a-kind, “Girls in White Dresses” dolls. The email, which was read at 4 a.m., included the headshot of one of the dolls, which had already been sold, as well as a link to Coleman-Cobb’s website .  I hurriedly followed the link and viewed each doll individually.  Next, I wrote down the names of the ones that interested me:  Butterfly, Aretha, Coretta, Ivy (in no certain interest-me order).  I studied their images for several minutes, viewing them over and over again in an attempt to narrow down which one I would add to my collection.  The clock was ticking… I knew that several others received this announcement and I had to make a decision soon.  I drew an arrow to connect  Aretha and Ivy’s handwritten names, which must mean (thinking back) that I needed to re-view their images.  After I decided on the one that most affected me in the “must have” manner, I hurriedly crafted an email to the artist: Hi Pat, Thank you for notifying me of your little girls.  I would like to purchase Butterfly!  Please let me know how to proceed… While I awaited her reply, I began my workday, trying desperately not to think about Butterfly!  Ivy was also heavily on my mind.  I re-viewed her picture a couple...

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Dolls That Inspire Girls to Dream

I recently discovered the Prodigyrls after reading a fellow doll enthusiast’s blog about them.  She noted that two of the planned dolls are available for preorder and urged readers to visit the website and vote for their favorite doll. At the Prodigyrls website, I voted for the doll I plan to preorder and followed the link to “Design a Prodigyrl.”  I designed a “doll collector” doll that would have her own doll or two.  During my website visit, I inquired via the “contact us” link, why the dolls were not being released simultaneously.  A prompt reply from the dolls’ creator, Daniela Wiggins, MD, informed, “Releasing our dolls in phases helps with our research and product development.” Intrigued about the dolls and their concept, I wanted to know more about them and asked a series of questions that Dr. Wiggins again readily answered.  I believe doll enthusiasts (collectors and parents who desire to expose their daughters to wholesome dolls with a purpose) will delight in learning about the inspiration behind the dolls’ creation. Here is what Dr. Wiggins shared: “The idea for Prodigyrls (named by combining prodigy + girls) came to me about two years ago. Two completely separate thoughts came together to form our doll company. The first idea came as a result of my frustration with the lack of black dolls on the market. The second idea was to write a...

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