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Fragile but Fierce: Lorella Falconi’s dolls embody a rainbow of feelings
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Photos courtesy of Lorella Falconi

Now that my children have returned to school, we are back in the swing of homework assignments nearly every single night — including weekends, too! One of the first projects they have to tackle includes a look back at their accomplishments from birth, right up to yesterday! Since they are still in elementary school, they don't have to wade through decades of achievements, but still the children do have to settle down and take stock of what they consider personal milestones. I can't wait to see what they select!

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Artistic Craving: Shawna Clymer’s creations will get under your skin
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Photos courtesy of Clymer Creations

Now that the school year is about to kick off once again — and, yes, "kick" is the perfect word, as in a mule kick to the system — my children are reconciling themselves to having to return to the productive lives of elementary-school students. Gone will be the long, lazy, hazy days of summer — lounging for hours before the TV or video game console, reading books for the pure pleasure of it, playing with friends, visiting with cousins, and taking family day trips to see unexpected and interesting places. (Yep, we did the circus, the Renaissance Faire, historical villages, multimillionaire mansions!) Now the kids are going to have to buckle down to a concrete schedule. Like my daughter said, "Fall means FALLING back into routines!"

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Whimsical and Wonderful: Find out why Xenis rules the world of wooden dolls
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Photos courtesy of Marlene Xenis

I recently had the chance to chat with Marlene Xenis, the owner and driving force behind Xenis Gallery. We were talking about the ever-changing, always-evolving demands of owning and running a handmade business. (And this exchange was for DOLLS magazine's sister publication, HANDMADE BUSINESS! How fortuitous!) Here are some of the highlights of Xenis's view of what it means to be an intelligent entrepreneur and an artistic soul — two very essential ingredients for success and longevity.

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Downton Abbey Divas: Meet the porcelain versions of fan favorites
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Doll photos courtesy of Creations in Porcelain
"Downton Abbey" photos courtesy of PBS, WGBH, Boston

Gosh, it's nice to be liked! Or, at least, to have one's blog postings liked so many times. Last week's look at Monica Reo's porcelain version of Claire Randall from the "Outlander" series netted a bunch of thumbs-up "likes" and a large flurry of curious e-mails from readers. They all adored Claire's classic good looks and her spot-on costuming. The recurring question in all the feedback was "Can we see more of Claire? And more from Monica Reo?"

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Outlander Odyssey: Monica Reo’s Claire Randall doll is out of this world
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Photos Courtesy of Creations in Porcelain

One of the greatest joys of penning a doll blog is the chance to see so many lovely dolls visiting in my in-box. It's always a delight when I get a note from an artist acquaintance — my far-off, faraway friends — and they are eager to share a brand-new design or theme with me. Just recently, I got a very upbeat, happy e-mail from an artist that I have always admired. I've seen her work over the years, and what always impresses me is how cinematic and literary her creations are. When Monica Reo sits down to coax a doll out of porcelain, she is channeling fantastic film directors, romance-novel authors and all of us ladies who love to read, watch and swoon!

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Dream Catchers: The Gorjuss Doll collection lets you fill in the blanks!
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Photos courtesy of Santoro London

August 7 is National Doll Day, but for us doll enthusiasts, that is just like any other day on our calendars. It's akin to the exasperated mom who looks at her brood of offspring and declares, "Every day is children's day — I don't need to celebrate it specially on November 20." However, it is nice to see the object of our shared affections — the doll — given its 24 hours in the sun. When it comes to hobbies and pastimes, the doll still garners its fair share of double takes and headshakes. After all of these years of being purchased and displayed, dolls still make some adults uncomfortable and confused.

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Lasting Impressions: Berthe Morisot’s doll paintings are invitations to dream and discover
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Photos Courtesy of Princeton University Archive

It was more than a simple, pleasant surprise when I discovered the Impressionist exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum. It was actually a joyful moment — a great mating of happenstance and happiness. After all these years of residing in the Garden State, and trekking out to Princeton for theater and walking tours, I finally went into the campus's fine-arts museum ... and, oh boy, was I glad! (Though for purposes of this week's posting, I suppose I should say, "Oh girl, was I glad!")

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Who’s Your Dada? Two women might actually be the founding “fathers” of this art movement
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Photos courtesy of National Gallery of Art

The other day I was in our car and the classic Police song "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" came on the radio. Since I've heard that song repeatedly over the past 35 years, I took it in stride. Maybe I hummed along, or perhaps I even warbled a couple of the nonsense syllables, but my daughter and her friend found the lyrics to be hilarious. At ages 10 and 11, they consider themselves to be the arbiters of musical taste, and this ditty obviously didn't rate high in their estimation. They kept giggling about the sound of "do do," implying that it had to do with bodily waste, and the "da da" made them laugh uproariously about infants and baby talk. As they discussed what the song could possibly mean, I got to thinking about Dada, and I'm not talking about my father or theirs.

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