Author: Stephanie Finnegan

Wooden Wonders

There’s a tried-and-true saying: “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.” In the case of Marlene Xenis and daughters Tania and Jesse, this wood-themed maxim takes on a whole new significance. The Xenis family tree is ripe with creativity, self-expression, and dedication to hard work and big dreams. This is readily apparent in their family business, The Xenis Collection. A purveyor of fine wooden dolls, the firm is based out of Aldergrove, a small town located outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. Marlene, approaching 50 years old at the time, founded the firm in 1994. Not one to blankly...

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Breaking Boundaries

Since 1980 doll artist Susan Krey has been beckoning collectors to join her in an imaginative journey. Skilled and insightful, the creative Krey sculpts dolls that are lovely and realistic. She has the rare ability to make art that is both lyrical and empirical: Her work celebrates beauty and poetry while simultaneously honoring the faces and traits of everyday down-to-earth people from across the globe. Her dolls are international ambassadors, glowingly and meticulously depicting citizens of the world. The story of how and why Krey makes them is a voyage of external exploration and meaningful introspection. Her personal history,...

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Shades of Perfection

There’s an old, familiar saying: “A penny for your thoughts,” which implies a person is deep in meditation, conjuring up bright ideas, lost in a world of her own. Switch the spelling of “penny” to “Peni,” and you’ve got the perfect profile of Canadian artist Peni Dyer. Born in Jamaica in 1942, the talented sculptor has a landscape filled with imaginative creations cavorting in her mind. She is always ready to explore the fantastical figures and real-life inspirations that swirl in her thoughts. The artist describes her childhood on a sugar cane plantation as “fairly isolated.” She and her...

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Fabric of Their Lives

The fascinating thing about Brook Burns is how her so-called mundane, steady-paycheck job en­hances her imaginative, soul-soaring, part-time vocation. By day, Burns is a mild-mannered residential lending agent, but at night, she allows her penchant for pretending, her bias toward make-be­lieve, to run free. Working with number crunching and mortgage re­quirements means Burns knows a thing or two about zoning and amortization, prime rates and escrow. When she heads home in the evening, she is the founder of a land steeped in the love of learning, which welcomes all dreamers and where the greatest currencies are individuality and talent....

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2007: A Year to Remember

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...

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Creative Spirit

One of the best parts of being a dollmaker is the chance to create something out of nothing. It’s a heady experience to take a handful of fabric, threads, wool and buttons and con­vert them into a huggable and appealing character. For the creative team at Käthe Kruse, one of the most alluring factors of dollmaking was the chance to create a new lingo, to make the make-believe real and to dabble with a little bit of spiritualism and mysticism. They were able to do all this via their Feng Shui line and their popular Guardian Angel doll as...

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