Tuesday, 5 September 2017

USA 2017 - Laura visits Dorisanne Osborn

It was a very special Tuesday on the 1 August, eagerly awaited. Hotel breakfast was over, the car was loaded with the Sasha family and the family started travelling South from Rochester, New York towards the scenic finger lakes. Laura was going to meet a very important person in the Sasha world and her collection.

Just before 11am we arrived at a house beside Keuka Lake and Dorisanne was at the door to meet us.  We had been corresponding for several years so this was another 'dream come true' for me to finally meet her, especially as she unfortunately had to cancel her place at the 2017 Sasha Festival because she wasn't quite well enough to travel all the way to Washington DC for the festival fun.

As we entered Dorisanne's house we were greeted by the glorious sight of her studio dolls sitting in a row on the sofa and it wasn't long before we were deep in conversation as Dorisanne showed them to us and explained a bit about each of them. Some of them featured in her book 'Sasha dolls through the years' published in 1999.


Dorisanne showing us the gorgeous Lucinda Jane

Dorisanne with Lucinda Jane (Lucy), named after her childhood doll.  Lucy has the rarest face shape, IV.

Lucinda Jane, body shape C, face shape IV, made of gypsum - showing the smocking detail on her yellow dress under the pinafore

Lucinda Jane, body shape C, face shape IV, gypsum

Dorisanne had been fortunate enough to spend time in Sasha's original studio making a course doll in November 1993 with 5 other Sasha collectors under the tutelage of Trudi Loeffler, Sasha's assistant, to mark 100 years since Sasha's birth. She told us all about that wonderful week as we sat and examined the doll she had made.

My girl holding Dorisanne's Course Doll which she had made herself in Sasha's studio.  This lovely doll has a very nicely painted face and is beautifully made.

Dorisanne's Course doll with our toddlers (my new Iona and young Edmund)

The tour of Sasha Studio dolls continued as we met several more treasures.

D Bebe kit doll with head painted by Sasha Morgenthaler - it came with pattern, fabric and stuffing (pages 19 and 20 of Dorisanne's book).

Both my girl and I were captivated by Suzanne, a dark haired girl with a pensive expression.

The gorgeous Suzanne, body type B, face type III, cloth body.  She was minty when Dorisanne first met her in Zurich and I agree with Dorisanne that Suzanne has the most beautiful face.
The next girl, Alice, was wearing a sweater by Diane Duke and a plaid skirt.  Dorisanne also has Alice's original clothes and is building a wardrobe of clothes for her.

Dorisanne with Alice, body type C, face shape I, minty and very lovely.

A Sasha studio toddler!  This little girl, made of gypsum, was very pretty.

Dorisanne holding her red haired toddler in blue gingham, this toddler is made from gypsum.

The Sasha Studio bebe with a cream coat was discussed next. This baby has a cloth body.

My girl holding a Sasha Bebe (D Bebe) in a lovely cream coloured coat.  This baby is on pages 19 and 21 of Dorisanne's book.
Sasha the artist was even able to make a plastic doll look wonderful, her Studio sailor boy is truly special and Dorisanne has named him for her grandson.

Dorisanne showing us the wonderful Christopher Charles

Christopher Charles is a wonderful sailor boy - named for Dorisanne's grandson.  He has a type C body and type III face shape and was made in 1968, he is made of synthetic plastic.  He features on pages 12 and 25 of her book.

Close up of Christopher's face with his wonderful eye painting
Not only did Sasha devise four main face shapes for her dolls, she also occasionally made portrait dolls.  A portrait doll is the likeness of a real named child.

Dorisanne with Liesel, a very early studio doll.  Liesel has a mohair wig and is a portrait doll of a real child.  She has a cloth body which is off white rather than the skin tone fabrics Sasha used for later dolls.

Liesel's legs and her grey felt shoes with knitted socks.  Her dress is beautifully embroidered blue gingham.

When she picked up Emmalee Rose from the sofa Dorisanne explained that this was her favourite (though how could anyone choose a favourite as they were all wonderful).  She is slowly building a wardrobe of clothes for this lovely hard plastic girl.

Dorisanne holding Emmalee Rose, who came from the doll studio at Marshall Field's store in Chicago from the original owner. Made in 1963 of hard plastic, Emmalee has a C type body and type I face shape. She is a 'Modern Colored Girl' and has Sasha's signature on her left foot.  She appears on pages 70 and 106 of 'Sasha Dolls: The history' by Anne Votaw, Ann Chandler and Susanne Lewis.

Close up of the faces of Liesel and Emmalee Rose

We were enthralled as Dorisanne also told us all about the first week long Sasha Festival, held at Keuka College and in her home in 1991.  People came for as long as they could - some came for the whole week, some came for a couple of days only.  This allowed plenty more time for people to spend together and with the dolls than could normally be managed in 1.5 or 2 days as the festivals had been until then.  The first Children's Fund Auction was held at that festival (though it was done as a silent auction), there were also Dress a Sasha, craft workshops (smocking, woodwork, children's crafts), exhibitions including a fashion show and many Sasha dolls on display, an excursion to Rochester NY to see the doll and toy collections in the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, the building of the Marcy Street doll house and a talk by Brenda Walton. This longest of the Sasha festivals resulted in all the subsequent festivals becoming at least 3 days long.  You can read more about it in Dorisanne's profile on Theresa's blog.

Dorisanne also showed us some of the pictures of Sasha dolls on the walls around her house as well as her "Sasha Condo" which she assembled from glass shelves and wooden brackets she found in the basement of the house when they moved in.  It held lots of Sasha sized furniture and accessories plus many redressed Sasha serie dolls in room settings.  One of them was wearing the 2017 Sasha Festival outfit which I had also received (the other colourway) as Dorisanne had only cancelled one of her two registrations so she would still get the souvenir outfits.  I didn't take any photos of the "Condo" or the dolls in it.

We enjoyed tea and biscuits with Dorisanne and her husband who had a good time chatting with my husband about the band organs we had seen at Olcott Beach.  We did our own mini gift exchange - I gave Dorisanne a push-along duck kit and some felt holiday glove puppets for Sasha.  Dorisanne gave us three pairs of shoes for Sasha (including sport shoes for Edmund) and her husband presented us with a Keuka College pennant which is now proudly displayed above our Sasha doll display shelf at home.

Laura, Edmund and Iona (not her new name) took their place on the sofa with Dorisanne's wonderful collection for some photos.

L-R: Iona, Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe, Christopher John, Edmund, Liesel, Emmalee Rose

L-R: Course doll, kit D Bebe, Lucy, Iona,  Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe, Christopher John, Edmund, Liesel, Emmalee Rose

L-R: Laura, Course doll, kit D Bebe, Lucy, Iona,  Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe

L-R: Laura, Course doll, kit D Bebe, Lucy, Iona,  Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe, Christopher John, Edmund, Liesel, Emmalee Rose

Laura was pleased to meet Dorisanne and the smiles in these photos testify to the wonderful visit we had with Dorisanne and her husband. 

Laura the travelling Sasha with Dorisanne

Indoors: DollMum with Iona, Dorisanne with Laura and DollMum's daughter with Edmund

Outdoors: DollMum with Iona, Dorisanne with Laura and DollMum's daughter with Edmund
It was sad to say goodbye - we all had such a good time. We drove along the lake road between Keuka College and the lake to see the venue of the 1991 Sasha doll festival.

Keuka lake from the lake road on campus

Keuka lake from the lake road on campus

Keuka lake from the lake road on campus

Keuka College, the site of the 1991 Sasha Doll week long festival

Norton Chapel, Keuka College
And so Laura embarked on the next stage of her USA road trip as she left Dorisanne and the home of the 1991 festival behind.  The drive north to Rome, near Utica was very pleasant, the weather remained sunny and the countryside scenic, with many farms and their barns. Laura had some American history to investigate on the next phase of her road trip.

Friday, 1 September 2017

USA 2017 - Laura at Niagara Falls and Rochester

On the Monday after the Band Organ Rally, Laura and her family were on the road again.  It was another glorious sunny day as we drove to Niagara Falls, not far from the Carousel museum at North Tonawanda which we had visited on Friday and Saturday.

Approaching the Niagara falls, in the distance the water smoke rose in the air

Laura and her girl approached the Niagara Falls in a semi shady park on the USA side

Laura was already wearing her blue raincoat when her girl picked up a poncho on the approach to the boat

The Maid of the Mist boat was filling up

Laura looked back at the observation tower on the USA side of the river as the Maid of the Mist drew away from the shore

The straighter falls threw white mist into the air

Laura was amazed by the amount of water tumbling over the edge and the noise of the falls


There is a rocky island between the straight (USA) falls and the curved Canadian falls

The Niagara falls island and cliff

The Maid of the Mist boat went as near as possible to the Niagara Falls and it was obvious why everyone needed rain ponchos as there was so much spray and mist, the camera lens was covered with water!  It was very exciting and Laura was glad to be sheltered under her girl's poncho.

As the boat turned away from the Niagara Falls, Laura stood in front of them (firmly held by her girl)

When she returned to dry land, Laura looked up at the Rainbow bridge 

She could see the international border between Canada and the USA in the middle of the bridge

Laura and her girl climbed up the steps alongside the straight, USA falls to get a closer look

There was so much mist in the air above the falls and Laura was glad she had kept her raincoat on

Laura could see that the plants alongside the falls were very green - it was hot and they got a lot of watering!

She enjoyed the view of the boat pulling away with another group of passengers as she want back to the observation tower

She had a wonderful view of the falls from the observation tower

Laura could see the path just below her where she had just been walking to get closer to the falls

Even the view after leaving the observation tower was exhilarating as the water thundered over the edge

The river just above the falls was very wide and rapid

Laura was glad to be standing firmly on dry land as she stood with the falls behind her
Laura bought a postcard of the Niagara falls for her friend Henry, who had visited them the previous year.  After leaving the Niagara Falls, Laura travelled to visit a music box and band organ collector and restorer in Rochester, New York. 

There was an intriguing automata which was a lot of fluffy pussy cats seated around a table moving their heads from side to side and meowing to be served.

Laura liked this miniature music box which looked like a barrel organ but actually contained a music box paper roll player, like one she had at home. 

The box acts as an amplifier for the music box mechanism (the tuned comb plucked by pins which are activated by holes in the music card).
Laura and her girl had fun playing with the cat at the music box collector's house too - it was chasing a laser light all around the room which was very funny. 

It had been a lovely day of contrasting things to see and do. Laura was looking forward to the next day.  She had a very special person and doll collection to visit.