Sunday, May 19, 2013


   You may have heard that there are as many reasons people 'collect' as there are people who collect. That sounds about right to me. There was a time, (Which my husband never tires of rubbing in.) that I said I didn't collect dolls. I wasn't denying that I had a...few. I was only saying that I didn't collect dolls specifically. In that respect it's still true. I have a bit of a 'collection' of a lot of different things. Too many for my own good. (What even counts as a 'collection'? More than one? More than two? More than a hundred?) For example:Vinyl records? I have a ton.Beatles stuff? Don't even get me started on that one. I have a lot of pretty art postcards. I amassed quite a few pigs of various mediums at one point. Later I somehow started buying vintage aprons and ladies hankies. I have a lot of children's books with beautiful illustrations. I have a gigantic cache of vintage fabric (Because, "Someday I'm going to make myself a quilt."Yeah.) The last few years I've been working on autographs of old movie stars.(Latest: William Powell, from my husband last Christmas.) And of course,all those dolls. At some point I had to say, "Ok. I collect dolls." It's one of those things you kind of grudgingly admit, because people look at you funny. Collect paintings and people think you must be intelligent and rich. Collect souvenir spoons and people don't pay much attention. But tell them you collect dolls and they want to run screaming into the night. To a great amount of people there's just something creepy about a grownup who 'plays with toys'. Especially dolls, which tend to spook people because they have faces, eyes that some people can't stand to have 'staring' at them.People are much harder on doll collectors than people who have model trains or antique tin toys. In fact, they're harder on collectors of 'girls toys' all around. Guys can get away with so much more. I even noticed that when my oldest child was in her early teens, and still enjoying her dolls, that she was looked on with much more criticism than boys who still had action figures or adults who play video games. I look at it this way. Dolls are art too, just like paintings and sculpture. In fact, dolls start life as sculpture. Somebody has to sculpt that original mold for those dolls. And they manage to instill those dolls with personality and character. That's not easy. It is, in fact, an art. I see dolls as another thing I like to look at, like those illustrations or vintage aprons. Some of them are appreciated for their beauty, some for their whimsey, some because they are just so incredibly cute, they are just irresistible. And some, like my Little Miss No Name appeal to me and creep my husband out so badly he can't stand to look at her. It's just like falling in love: there is no reasoning out why something appeals to some people and not to others. I like Little Miss No Name because she looks like she needs to be loved. I think her big sad eyes are cute. She makes me feel needed! (My husband is not necessarily comfortable with this method of choosing what I love. It doesn't do much for his ego.) I suppose some people are bothered by the way some doll collectors 'relate' to their dolls. The problem seems to be that dolls look like people. They are replicas of real living things, so people tend to...treat them like they're alive sometimes. Sometimes it's hard to look at those faces and not see a personality. You just KNOW what that little person would say if they could. Some people just carry that to the next stage. I don't tend to give personalities to my collection very often. Almost the only dolls I have that have personalities are my childhood dolls, (Because that's what kids do with dolls. They bring them to life. Except this one friend I have. She thought it was so weird when my oldest was a little girl, playing with her dolls and making them talk. She thought that was completely freaky. "Didn't you make your dolls talk when you were little?!" "No!" "Well what did you do with them?" "I dressed them." Well you must have had a ball.), and the dolls I have that  I played with, with my kids when they were little.(They insisted I bring my dolls in to play. Of course they had to have personalities then. As a creative person who once longed to be an actress, that wasn't  hard for me to get into! Then they insisted I needed my own doll house. I kept saying no, no. I don't need that. Then I found a big Barbie sized wooden dollhouse at a garage sale for $3...So then I created a family of dolls. And then another one.You know how things can snowball sometimes. Now my kids have outgrown dolls and I have no one to play with any more!)
  I just like having things that I like. That's the only qualification for something getting in my 'collection'. I'm not limiting myself to any specific type of doll... or anything else. If it makes me happy, that's the only criteria.And I suppose that's all that matters when somebody asks me if I collect dolls. I shouldn't worry that they're going to think I'm one of those 'weird doll people'. What do I care? It makes me happy.