When I first embarked on my fashion doll journey, sometime back in the late 1990’s, collecting dolls was rather straightforward; you collected them, and you either unboxed your dolls, or you didn’t. That was about it. At least that was all that anyone at the time was prepared to admit to. Maybe that was because we didn’t have Facebook and the permission to share it now gives us!
Since the advent of the Internet with its copious blogs, boards, forums and countless social media sites – not to mention DollObservers.com – the doll collectors’ world has expanded exponentially. Collectors have also felt the pinch of the economic downturn. This has pushed them to seek out new ways to add value to the collection that they already have, resulting in an explosion of creativity. What is even more evident is the obvious pleasure that adult collectors can get from actually playing and interacting with their dolls.
Fashion dolls are now no longer relegated to just standing on shelves, silently imploring their owner to play with them. They are now proudly displayed, redressed, repainted, restyled, furnished, sewn, crocheted and knitted for, written about and photographed. Heck, with the growth of the ‘frankendolly’ they are even given a whole new body or blessed with a brand new head!
When it comes to fashion doll creativity and play, my dear friend and force of nature Dom Cossu, is the
embodiment. She weaves a whole world for her dolls and has built a detailed townscape for them to inhabit in her Spanish home. The depth and breadth of this world of 16” fashion dolls she has created is truly a wonder. Dom herself states that she “I have no interest in keeping my dolls in boxes for the purpose of reselling them.” Be certain to check out her website Domi-Doll Stories and prepare to be amazed.
Playing With Dolls: The Science Part
What’s more than the ability for dolls to give collectors new opportunities is how our hobby can be doing us good. Another good doll friend, Viktor Zavadsky, recently brought an article to my attention via DollObservers.com, which stated how hobbies helped people live longer, richer lives. The Washington Post piece described a 2007 review paper by Gutman and Victoria Schindler which examined studies looking into how an interest in arts and crafts relates to human health and well-being. They discovered that those who took part in such activities were at less risk of stress-related illnesses and had a slower decline in brain function.
Another 2012 study by Professor Yonas Geda of the Mayo Clinic looked at the effects of taking part in a variety of hobby based activities, including play. They found that those who did were 30 to 50 percent less likely to have mild brain impairment to those who didn’t. The reason for this, it seems, is the more time spent on hobby based activities, the more stimulation the frontal brain cortex gets. Therefore, delaying its degeneration. The camaraderie of being among like-minded individuals who share a common interest, either online or at conventions and get-togethers, is also known to be of immense benefit to mental well-being.
So what are you waiting for? Play with your dolls and hit the boards: not only will it exercise your brain, but may just live longer into the bargain.
The original version of this article was first published in the now defunct Haute Doll Magazine in January 2015