The Santa Fe Art Doll Experience


1998 Report:

More info:


The award-winning *Prince on Throne*.
Please click to enlarge.

For Marlaine the Santa Fe Doll Festival very succesfull. Marlaine's *Prince on Throne* won the William Wiley Award of Excellence. The William Wiley Award of Excellence has become one of the most significant awards in the doll industry. A panel of international judges select what they consider the best limited edition or one-of-a-kind doll on display at both the Edith Lambert Gallery and the Santa Fe Doll Art.

Tine Kamerbeek, Marlaine, Yvonne Hoogesteger
and Ankie Daanen showing the William Wiley Award.

The schedule of events at The Santa Fe Doll Art Symposium of Excellence is very busy. From the time you arrive until the time you leave there is always an event or party or lecture or tour. If you always feel as if you are missing something. . .you are. One can easily and diligently attend eight different and informative sessions or meetings or workshops during the long weekend. Unfortunately you will miss twenty other events. It is just that busy.

Two seminars especially of interest to The Dollpage were led by two prominent international leaders of doll making history and academia. Marlaine Verhelst from Holland and Cheiko Ogawa from Japan taught their seminars with great verve and duty, informing and leading and upholding the value of the doll making industry as it is exhibited, and produced in their homelands. The audiences listened and inquired and took notes. Participants were able to handle the crafts as it pertained to the lectures. And aren't we lucky? Both agreed to further their detailed lectures from Santa Fe into monthly Dollpage reports, acknowledging the doll art productively blossoming from their countries studios

Marlaine Verhelst's lecture: Dollmaking in The Netherlands

The DeVargas room of the St. Francis Hotel in Santa Fe filled to capacity before the Dutch Master artist Marlaine Verhelst took the podium to promote and educate the many in attendance about the original doll world in Holland and the "Dutch Touch." During the lecture, the crowd listened and took notes and occasionally sighed at the amazing picture slides presented by Marlaine. Holland was well represented.

"I have tried to find an explanation for this "Dutch Touch." One reason could be our geographical situation: we are surrounded by water on two sides. I believe this gives us an open mind: in the past the Dutch have sailed around seven seas and we have had some great painters like Rembrandt van Rijn and van Gogh. Another reason could be that Holland does not have an historic dollmaking tradition of its own and therefore Dutch artists have had the opportunity to search for new materials, styles and techniques in dollmaking, unhindered by traditional skills."

Dollmaking in Holland is original and everyone knows it. Marlaine is not only an artist but an acadamien. She spoke for two hours about all facets of Holland's doll world and artistic community. She began with dollies and weaved her way through character artists, puppeteers, the older generation and the new generation. She introduced her enthusiasts to Joke Grobben, Bets van Boxel, and of course her contemporaries Ankie Daanen, Willemijn van der Spiegel, and famous Dutch actress and dollmaker Martine Bijl.

Marlaine mentioned her good friend Ankie Daanen's view of doll making. . . "Making a good doll is a process similar to the development towards adulthood. It is the experience which counts. And gaining experience in making dolls demands much time and the resilience to start again and again and to criticize the technique and artistic value of your own work. It makes a continuous striving to make that one doll, which people will never forget once they have seen it: the perfect expression of emotion and technique."

Dutch artists intend to express the wishes of many women: to create a new life. They each strive to achieve an unreachable beauty. Marlaine spoke to us about the dolls of Hennie Koffrie, "They are dreamlike and unturned, they exist in their own dimension, untouched and unaffected by the world's outside, but created inside." Marlaine told us that Hennie's figures are delicate, and she does not pretend them to be human. Her work has a curious, surrealistic charm. Hennie will always make her journey, regardless of what the market asks..

Chieko Ogawa's lecture: Dollmaking in Japan

Japan was noticeably represented by the lectures of Chieko Ogawa, and academically complemented by Harriet Beerfas. Chieko's lecture began with a hands-on display of how Tomoko Fukuda's delicately orchestrated dolls are given life. The audience gathered in a tight circle around Chieko earnestly inquiring about certain techniques of creating such delicate fingers and how the facial muslin could look so perfect. Chieko and Harriet fielded many questions. What type of wood shavings are these to make the body so tight? Did she thread the tiny strands of hair though each minuscule pore in the fabric? Why do the Japanese create such intricately constructed dolls? Did she use Japanese or American clay?

Following the overview of how a type of Japanese doll is made, Chieko spent an hour and a half diligently teaching and introducing the group to the extraordinary variety of Japanese dolls and artists. She overviewed the famous Hina dolls, and Washi Paper dolls and the great Japanese marionettes by Kataoka and the straw caricatures of Sylvester Stallone, Madonna, and President Clinton done by Shako.

Cinderella's Ball

"Cinderella sat down, and no sooner was the slipper tried, than it fitted like a glove. Then she drew the other slipper

Yvonne Hoogesteger, Ankie Daanen, Marlaine and Tine Kamerbeek.
from her pocket and put it on, and at that moment the Fairy appeared, and touching Cinderella's clothes with her wand, made them more splendid than ever. The sisters knew then that she was the beautiful Princess of the ball..."

The Santa Fe Doll Art concluded its grand festivities with a divine dinner and the Masquerade ball. The doll community knows how to throw a party! The extroverted spirits were out tonight as the moon shone with glaring magic. The world was hidden by the facade of elaborately designed costumes and sparkling masks. You had to be there.

Can there be a better way to end a symposium of creativity and community? Cinderella was there. And so was Prince Charming. And so was everyone else.

© Marlaine Verhelst 1998-2005
E-mail Marlaine