Sunday, December 4, 2016

December: An Interview with Josephine Smith, Doll Collector from Down Under

Below is our December interview with Josephine Smith, doll collector, artist, seamstress, master gardener, and all around Renaissance woman!




1. When did you start collecting?


 I actually started collecting in around 1995. over a period of several months I bought 3 home art dolls. very pretty to look at but of no commercial value I guess. I added these to a Maori doll given to me after I visited a friend in N.Z.

I also have my first and one of only 2 of my childhood dolls. She is 24"tall and is a papier mache walking doll. Her original hair is a reddish mohair , as are her eye lashes. ( One of them anyway. The other is missing).

Lack of finances prevented me from buying any more dolls until after I collected my meager superannuation payout and a small inheritance from my parents.   Then about 2013,  I started collecting in earnest .



The first 2 dolls are rare  Australian wooden Carter dolls from the 1970s.






2, Have your tastes changed?


 Yes.  I started off only collecting antique German and French dolls, but later realized that dolls from the 30's through to the 50's are also beautiful dolls which I enjoy collecting.


Beautiful Felted Diorama Jo helped to create








3. What are your favorite dolls?


 My favorite dolls? That is hard, as I think all dolls are beautiful, but as mentioned before, I love the old antique dolls, especially porcelain / bisque  and composition. Within that group, I especially love to collect the small dolls from a few inches tall, up to about 13 inches. I have one little 7"A.M.390 that came with a head injury and no lower legs or feet. She was in original clothes. I have kept them, but made her new ones in the same style. It was a challenge making her legs and feet ,but I am quite proud of the end result as she can stand by herself .Also my repair abilities are self taught. I also love to collect baby dolls.  I forgot to mention that I also love the modern reborn dolls and would love to have a go at making one some time.


On the left is my papier mache walking doll. She has no markings but have been told she is also Australian. I have had her for 62 years.  Recently I made her new fingers on one hand and a new  thumb on the other. The girl next to her is also paper mache. Her head is marked 301 Paris. Neck  10 and her shoulder is stamped 4222.She has sleep glass eyes and tin lids. Her hair is stuck directly to her head and is made of imitation raffia.





4. What do you look for in a doll?


Characteristics that draw me to a doll are the facial expression, especially the eyes.
I also like a nice,  clear complexion  and well formed hands and fingers. Clothes also add to the overall picture, but if they are not dressed it doesn't matter


This is my  little 7"A.M. 390 that I made new feet and legs for

This is my first repair. She is an A. M. 390.
 I found the beautiful purple silk fabric that I made her outfit from ,in an op shop. ( thrift shop

5. Do you sew for your dolls?


 Yes , I do sew for my dolls. I started doing so when I was about 10. I  used to love designing clothes,  making the pattern , and then the clothes . I still do it when I have to, but these days I do have books and magazines with patterns included. I have also taught myself to make shoes.
Recently I purchased  a lovely Belgium  composition doll that was naked, also a French composition that was also naked, and I made them complete outfits. If I didn't make the underclothes first; they probably wouldn't get any. The very first doll I repaired and dressed was a lovely A.M .390. I bought her in an antique shop in pieces. I was asked if ,when I finish, could I please take a photo so that it could be shown to the 90 year old lady who previously owned her.  Apparently she was delighted with the end result.


She is a lovely James Taft doll from 1905. She is wearing a lovely home made smocked frock

6. What are you looking for?


 I am not looking for anything in particular , but one day I would  love to be able to afford a Jumeau.

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