Sunday, August 18, 2013

Christmas in July- the Annual Paper doll Convention

Here is another article from December1988/January1989 issue of Doll Reader about that years Annual Paper doll Convention.  This article was written by Peggy Jo Rosamond, who also took the photographs.

The Mansfield Sheratn Inn
Mansfield, Massachusetts
July 8 to 10, 1988

  Those who have enjoyed the doll conventions sponsored bu the UFDC (United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc.) would feel right at home at a paper doll convention. Your first stop after checking in and greeting old friends, is the registration desk where, upon signing in and receiving your name badges and a little book of coupons for your souvenirs and meals, you also get (instead of a souvenir book) a packet of paper dolls done just for this event.  Printed in black on white, these are donated by various artist. This year we are treated to a Christmas theme in many variations by artists Jim Farrone, Judy Johnson, Dorothy Lang, Lynne Perrella, Betty Rolenz, Sandra Vanderpool and Charles Ventura.  In adition to these was the usual "goodie bag" with more paper dolls (some in color), some Christmas trinkets and other various cutouts.  Another familiar sight would be the "helper" table where over a dozen paper treasures are displayed companioned with their little slot top boxes.  Sale of the appropriate tickets was brisk.
  The Friday morning registration was followed by a bus trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see the "Hollywood and History" exhibit of costumes used in the making of some of Hollywood' s most important films.The clothing was beautifully mounted on appropriate mannequins and displayed along with information about the designer and the film from which it has been created.  There were several places to eat lunch in the Museum, but most of us chose the cafeteria which left time to explore the exciting Decorative Arts Section of the Museum and browse the gift shop. The Hollywood Fashion exhibit was excellent, and there is a very good catalog available. It was a wonderful side trip, and even worth the "Surprise" of a bus designed for school children that lacked springs, padded seating and in air conditioning (temperatures were hugging the 100 degree mark that muggy weekend).
  While the tour group was in Boston, conventioneers were treated to "in-room" exhibits of antique and collectable paper dolls, all from the private collections of those attending.  Some of these were still on view when the bus returned and we saw Mauring Popp's almost complete gathering of paper dolls by Raphael Tucks and Sons of England (these are the cream of the antique paper dolls in the opinion of many collectors); paper dolls' houses that fold up into books brought by Anne Marie Reder; and comic page paper dolls of "the good old Days" (Jane Arden, Brenda Starr, Winnie Winkle, Boots, and too many more to mention) from the collection of Rosemary McBurnett and shown by Dot Smith.  Jean Polus brought a stunning array of bridge tallies and Janie Varsolona had a wonderful group of paper dolls by the McLaughlin Co., one of America's early publishers of children's books. John Darcy Noble shared his own paper doll art, including his beautiful new one, Emma, published by Garr-Maiden. The displays that I missed were Grayce Piemontessi's collection of Movie Dress-O-Graphs (these were printed in newspapers in the 1930s, and are much in demand by celebrity collectors), Military Paper dolls by Mary Sobourin and Beth Gray's Un-paper dolls (this included a fun quilt, I hear).
  While scurrying around trying to find the room dislays, I missed the Annual Meeting of the Original Paper Doll Artist Guild (OPDAG). Just like the doll conventions, there is never enough time to do everything.  It was announced that membership had reached close to the 600 mark.
  That evening was the first of our four meals included in registration price, and the issue of the first five souvenirs.  These were limited edition paper dolls done in full color just for the convention-goers. This evening we received Margie and Her Christmas Frocks and Dolls by Pat Stall, a charming little girl with holiday dresses.
  After dinner the OPDAG Showcase opened for viewing.  Each artist-member is invited to show as many pieces as can be accommodated.  There 29 member exhibited and the room was filled.   Rather than competition, this annual event is a joyous celebration of talent, and there is always a new artist to be discovered.  This year, John Axe was a first-time participant, and his vibrant and beautifully drawn makle paper dolls were a commanding presence.
  Saturday morning began early for many dealers, and only a little later for those entering their treasures in the exhibit.  There was much to see and do because at noon, everything closed for the luncheon and slide programs on "Paper Dolls at Christmas." Given by Maurine Popp, it covered a broad range of paper dolls with a Christmas theme from antiques to those of modern artist.  Another souvenir was presented, Cookie and her Christmas Bears by Judith Yates, a dear little girl with bears and dolls who had their own wardrobe. 
  After lunch the salesroom reopened, as did the competition.  For those with commercial booths( a large proportion of the attendees) it was necessary to close down in order to take a fast spin through the competition.  Although the judging had been done, there was also a general vote for favorite exhibit.  The fantastic paper doll sales-promotion packet produced in the 1930s by Bergdoft Goodman took the popular vote, although the judges gave their first place to Gloriana, The Glamorous Hollywood Star. This doll show in A Collector's Guide to Paper Dolls Second Series by Mary Young published by Collectors Books, a Division of Schroeder Publishing Co., Inc.  There are few pictures of the exhibit because the rules require everything to be encased in plastic, making it impossible to photograph, but a new artist, Brenda Sneathen from Indiana lifted the protection from her blue ribbon winner for me to record it for Doll Reader. She has not been doing paper dolls long, but her fashion-art training showed in her understanding of anatomy, her expert handling of textures and her colors which were glamorous and tender at the same time.
  The commercial room had to be cleared for the banquet, but there was still one more exhibit to see before dinner, a collection of paper Christmas items other than paper dolls. It was colorful and very interesting.  Included were cutout Santas, of course, as ell as paper trees to decorate, paper angles, and elves, Christmas advertizing items, paper creches, and party goods.  All were from the collection of Elsie Stevens, and the display, which she set up for just one hour, filled the room.
  The banquet slide program was given by John Darcy Noble, Curator Emeritus of the New York City Museum.  It was on fabulous Christmas tress and antique ornaments.  These were shown in great variety, the fragile "Dresden" ornaments were of cardboard on heavy paper, many were candy containers (a poplaur and almost mandatory ornament of 19th century Christmas trees.)  His collection included glass baskets, cotton batting fruit, figures and animals of many materials, and a few rare kugels (those early large heavier-than-you-would-expect glass balls from Germany that came in brilliant colors.) A silver one hangs by a matching ribbon from its own ceiling hook in the author's collection because it is much too heavy for today's wimpy plastic trees.
  Given at this time were TWO souvenirs, one, a do-it yourself tree top angel drawn by Tom Tierney, and the other was a paper doll booklet by Charlotte Whatley featuring a lusty Snow queen with dramatic costumes depicting snowfall, sunrise, and storm all in extravagant watercolor. This dinner featured centerpieces made by members of OPDAG and the one at our table was a pre-teen paper doll yawning over her Christmas gifts. Still in their boxes and tissue were clothes, a Teddy Bear with clothes of his own and a sled that appeared to be made of wood until we picked it up.  This fabulous set was made by Teri Pettit.  The other 14 centerpieces were made by Sherryl Knowles, Sandra Vanderpool, Bette Wells, Helen and Judy Johnson, Janie Barrett., Susan Hoffman, Doris Rockwell Gottilly, and this author.
  Sunday morning's brunch featured a full breakfast, served buffet style and one more souvenir, an exquisite little girl angle with Christmas costume by Helen Page. The table favors were small Christmas gift bags filled with goodies, a gift from Shackman.
  There was a post convention trip to Newport on the same school bus that took us to the museum in Boston (some of us followed in our own cars).  Newport was gearing up for the yacht trials, and part of the festivities was a kite flying event that was spirit-lifting to see.  There was only time to tour tow houses, and they were every different.  Hammersmith Farms, which had served as the Summer White House from 1961 to 1963 was charming, gracious, and quite livable.  Marble House, built by Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt in 1892 , should be called GOLD and Marble House and was breathtakingly opulent.  We had an early dinner at new Marriott in Newport before returning to Mansfiled to flog ourselves into packing up for departure the next morning.
  Towards the end of the weekend someone asked "What hs been the highlight of this convention for you?" I had to say that it was seeing paper doll friends again, even for so brief a time, and seeing paper dolls that I had never seen before, both antique and new. The part of the convention that gave me the greatest joy was when OPDAG presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Pat Stall for her tremendous contributions to the world of paper dolls.  She was given away more paper dolls than most of us could thing of in a lifetime, and she had been equally generous in her encouragement of new artist just getting into paper dolling. Pat was doing paper dolls for UFDC convention books and for Doll News long before any of us realized what a large contingent of paper doll collectors was out there to share our love. She donated all those precious beauties and thereby opened markets to the benefit of all collectors, and to those of us who also ahve them to sell.  We are in her debt, and we all cheer for the lady, and for the OPDAG award which was created by Judy Johnson.  It was a paper doll (of course) entitled The Spirit of Spring, nestled in a setting of silk flowers.  This might be a good time to point out that Pat had created a new paper doll.  A stunning model with up-to-the-minute clothing by Pierre Balman, it is done in crisp black line on five sheets of sturdy white stock and it reflects Pat's professional touch in all ways.
  While the paper doll conventions are planned several years in advance (next year's will be in Atlanta, and the following year's in Orlando), it is all done voluntarily.  The paper doll collectors have no organization, and there will be no conventions without willing and hardworking collectors who enjoy giving parties on large scale.  Our thanks for Mansfield party goes to Joyce McClelland, Marge Schaffer, Winnie McKelvey, Marion McLean, and Dorthy Smith who were identified on the program as "The Committee"

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