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Home Manufacturers Annette Himstedt Passport to Fantasy
Passport to Fantasy
Written by Robert Tonner   
Wednesday, 01 September 2004 00:00

The 2003 Himstedt line bears a resemblance to past offerings, but it is a fuller, richer, more personal gathering of porcelain and vinyl charmers. Doll artist Annette Himstedt was determined to shepherd her company into a new arena, anxious to have her creations priced af­fordably and to have more designs for her dedicated collectors and followers to choose from.

timoThe 2003 Himstedt line bears a resemblance to past offerings, but it is a fuller, richer, more personal gathering of porcelain and vinyl charmers. Doll artist Annette Himstedt was determined to shepherd her company into a new arena, anxious to have her creations priced af­fordably and to have more designs for her dedicated collectors and followers to choose from.

“I’m inspired by real children, and I just take what I see further in my imagination. I want them to look relaxed and not dressed up or forced into a role. It’s important that they appear as natural as possible and not full of clichés.” To achieve this lifelike quality, the artist has devised an ingenious method of blending mohair with human hair. To achieve this lifelike quality, the artist has devised an ingenious method of blending mohair with human hair

To achieve this lifelike quality, the artist has devised an ingenious method of blending mohair with human hair.

Always experimenting,always innovating, Himstedt is a hybrid of Madame Curie and Vidal Sassoon who gleefully parts ways with tradition.

“The most important thing about hairstyles is that the hair falls loosely and childlike into the doll’s face. That’s why I love mohair. It falls lightly and naturally without overwhelming the face. On the other hand, my collectors love long human hair, so I’ve designed a new kind of wig that combines both. The mohair still frames the faces of the ‘children,’ while the human hair falls long over the shoulders.”gerti

While talking about the Himstedt Kinder, it’s impossible not to slip up and think of them as “young’uns.” As a matter of fact, doll dealer Patt Sessa of Patt & Billy’s Dolls and Bears in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, swears that the Himstedt dolls come alive nightly. “I always joke around that the shop was a mess because of Annette’s dolls. ‘Look at the party they threw last evening,’ I'll complain. And my son, who was educated at West Point, will answer, ‘I wouldn’t put it past them. They’re too real.’” A hopeful sign of mutual co-existence, the dolls–with their varying skin tones, hair colors and eye hues–reflect all of the children who populate the earth. When asked about her dolls being peace emissaries, Himstedt is flattered but cautious: “I don’t use my dolls to convey political messages. I want people to enjoy my ‘children’ and hope that they help people be diverted from everyday worries. Of course, if I can do a little bit for greater tolerance in the world, it would be a nice bonus.”

Sammi Petersen, a Himstedt en­thusiast from Madison, Wisconsin, is extremely grateful for the artist’s global outlook. “I am the daughter of a Jewish American father and a Hindu Indian mother. I, in turn, have married a Danish man and we’ve just had our first child, a beautiful boy. He is the blending of the best of us–he isn’t any one nationality. I’ve collected Annette’s dolls for about six years, and I now have my very own living, breathing Himstedt. That’s the secret of her work. She shows that there are so many shades of beauty, and she makes us want to experience all of them.”

As a result of Himstedt’s extremely hectic life, she doesn’t have the time to travel anymore. However, she does hop a jet plane in her mind every time she sits down to sketch. “I love going on imaginary trips around the world. This is how my Masterpiece Collection came about. ‘Mairi’ comes from Europe, ‘Manisha’ from India, ‘Samili’ from Africa and ‘Li Shi’ from Tibet. The names I give them are partly made up and partly names I’ve read or have heard and liked.” The four Master­piece dolls that Himstedt cites are quite rare and priced accordingly. Lim­ited to a scarce 25 pieces worldwide, each one of the quartet sells for $5,125.

“By making her collection so much larger, while making each design so much smaller, she has become more interesting to collectors,” remarks Louis Camilleri, of Dear Little Dollies, in Bellmore, New York. “Her dolls have never wavered in how attractive they are, so the doll a customer buys from Himstedt is only a matter of taste. You can’t go wrong by buying one.”

The Masterpiece dolls define what it means to own an artist’s doll. Himstedt has lavished intensive labor, personal attention and meticulous grooming on each one. “Their clothes are made from antique fabrics that I have collected over the years. It’s hard to illustrate just how complicated it is to put together the clothes for such elaborate dolls. It is sometimes enough to make you go crazy! It was difficult to cut up these beautifully made antique pieces of fabric, but it was very comforting to see them become something else that was also beautiful.”

Through Himstedt’s magic fingers, an antique tablecloth was reborn as a “wonderfully soft dress” for the Masterpiece doll “Mairi.” It is no coincidence, then, that Himstedt has finally paid tribute to one of the all-time great transformations. A lifelong devotee of fairy tales, she has decided to tackle the myth of Cinderella (Aschenputtel in German). In a “before and after” pairing, the two dolls showcase “Aschen­puttel” in her lonely, kitchen drudge existence and “Cinderella” in her happily-ever-after finery.

“The hazelnut is a very important symbol in the Aschenputtel tale. She seeks solace at her mother’s grave under the tree,” Himstedt explains. “I have modeled a hazelnut choker whose color matches the doll’s dress. Another important symbol is the clay bowl with the peas. On the night of the ball, she is ordered to sort through them. Every single Aschenputtel will come with at least 113 peas in different colors and sizes.”

“Aschenputtel” gets the last laugh: she proves that living well is the best revenge. For the new and improved “Cinderella,” Himstedt has outdone Walt Disney.

“The hazelnut that had been brown is now shimmering in a fairy-tale blue on ‘Cinderella.’ The transformation is perfect. ‘Cinderella’ is so happy that she could fly. I’ve designed her with filigree fairy wings, which are made out of dove blue French lace.”

Himstedt is a self-described sucker for “any type of schmaltzy Hollywood movie.” She loves happy endings and delights that “Cinderella dances the night away in the arms of her prince, and he falls hopelessly in love with her.”

For the doll artist, the arrival of a new fellow has also sparked a flood of creativity and joy: “Originally I had planned to make proper mermaids this year as my Mini selection. But my grandson, Ruben, made me turn them into Sea Babies.” The Himstedt legacy will evolve as the years roll by. “I will continue to set new trends and standards in my work. I hope that my collectors will continue to fall in love with my ‘children.’”

A world of infatuated collectors is already lining up to say, “I will.”For more information, log onto www.annettehimstedt.com.

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