Monday, October 24, 2016

October Interview with Rachel Hoffman

When did you start collecting?

When I was a child, I remember collecting Barbies and Polly Pockets. I had a lot of fun with those. I was so fortunate as a child to be surrounded by dolls. I have fabulous memories of going to the Madame Alexander conventions. They had a lot of great events for children. I think I still have the Madame Alexander doll that you could buy at Saks Fifth Avenue and get the matching dress to go with it. Walking around the Madame Alexander convention in the same dress as my doll was a thrill. As I grew older, I started getting out of the ‘doll thing’ and gravitated more toward the Ninja Turtles and less frilly dolly things. I still love turtles and have my Ninja Turtle action figures. I was surrounded with collecting parents. I love the magazine article I pictured here with my mother and I in one of her doll rooms when I was about one year old.
Rachel at Age 1 with her mother

Have your tastes changed over the years?

My taste in dolls has definitely changed over the years. I used to only really LOVE Raggedy Ann and homemade type cloth dolls. That was the only thing I really studied and knew about. As I have grown older, I really have an appreciation for every type of doll. My most favorite are still early Volland Raggedy Anns and German bisque K*R character dolls. It is a great time right now to buy both. I do have to say that I stay antique and vintage. The modern doll world is something I have not discovered. I really have so much to learn in vintage and antique that it would take lifetimes to discover it all so I see myself staying in antique and vintage dolls for a very long time.

Rachel with Teddies, all Photos are Courtesy Rachel Hoffman
What are your favorite types of dolls?

Honestly, my favorite dolls I have received from doll world are the people I have collected. Real people are my favorite dolls. I wish I could order a doll in my favorite people. (Actually, I am pretty sure you can do that now.) People that collect dolls are just awesome people. They are whimsical and open and loving. The people are what I have collected in the last several years that I love the most. I have met wonderful friends that I would have never met otherwise if I wasn’t involved with dolls. I wish I wasn’t as shy as I was when I was younger so I could have met them sooner but that confidence just comes with life experience. If I had to say my favorite type of actual dolls are antique quirky dolls. I really enjoy dolls that were made with very little experience or crude materials but lots of love. I also enjoy dolls that were controversial at the time of production 100-150 years ago. I imagine the person that they would appealed to and think that type of person I would be great friends with.

With Kewpie

What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll?

Personality, craftsmanship (skilled or untrained, I love them both), and how they feel. When you look at a doll, it’s really not supposed to sit there and look pretty and do nothing else. It’s supposed to make you feel something. That is after all, the purpose of any art.

Hard at work, with the Lovely Peyton Marie, lower right

Peyton Marie with Rachel

Do you sew for your dolls?

I do not but I have access to the best seamstresses in the world and I am lucky for that. I don’t handle a lot of the costuming but do give my input here and there. My business in the doll world is promotion and sales. I work for Turn of the Century Antiques and Ruby Lane in promotion and sales. I get dolls out there so people can see them. I promote doll culture. Through social media extensions, I have been able to connect the world with some of the most exceptional and knowledgeable people in the doll industry. I have worked very hard to be where I am and I am grateful everyday that I can make a job out of promoting something I truly love. I believe in the importance of dolls as teachers and the importance of them in our culture. Through dolls we can learn about our history and the history of others. The fact that I get to get up everyday and help educate, preserve, and promote dolls for a living is truly a dream.

Rachel, hard at work setting up at a doll show

Are you looking for anything in particular?

I would love to stumble across an Izannah Walker doll at the local thrift store sometime. 

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