|Written by Pune Draker|
|Monday, 01 April 2002 00:00|
While doll folks in the know can spot a Himstedt creation the minute they see one, whether the piece is from two or 20 years ago, the children in her new-for-2002 line seem to have an extra scoop’s worth of her signature style. That was exactly the idea. “The new collection pays tribute to all the best things about those early dolls–their expressions, their dresses, the materials–and combines them with all the improvements that I have developed over the past two decades,” says Himstedt.
The dollmaker’s creative quest took her further into history than 1980, though, as she also drew on the art of the late 19th and early 20th century. “This year I was inspired by the Swedish painter and poet Carl Larsson, with his pictures of home life in the warm colors of old times, and the painter Alphonse Mucha,” she tells us. Larsson based many of his watercolors on the idyllic village in which he lived with his wife and children, and Himstedt remembered the comfort and warmth she felt as a child as she drew and painted, “trying to create wonderfully homey winter scenes.” Two of the children in her Himstedt Kinder line–pale-blond, blue-eyed “Michel” and “Trinchen”–would feel quite at home in one of Larsson’s vignettes. The pair also happen to be Himstedt’s favorite dolls this year. “They somehow remind me of myself as a child,” she says. “They were also modeled in such a way that they would each be suited to carrying a security blanket. This was inspired by my grandson, who holds his little security blanket to put himself to sleep.”
Alphonse Mucha was born in the Czech Republic and found his niche in Paris, where his work–with its strong composition, refined decorative elements and sensuous curves–ushered in the art nouveau movement. He first rose to fame, in fact, with a painting that became a poster for a Sarah Bernhardt play. Himstedt is particularly enthralled with Mucha’s depictions of “sensual women, which are framed by fascinating ornamental art nouveau borders.” You can see the influence in her dolls, too–the natural beauty of strawberry-haired and full-lipped “Rosemieke,” a piece that’s also new in the Himstedt Kinder Collection, is definitely reminiscent of one of Mucha’s subjects.
Die-hard Himstedt aficionados may have noticed that her vinyl collection has a new name–Himstedt Kinder–and that’s not just semantics. “During 2001, I thought a lot about the fact that I never felt happy with separating my children’s range from the collector’s range,” says the artist. “After all, both of these vinyl collections are made to the same high standard and share many similar qualities.” She also worried that the name for her collector’s line–Puppen Kinder, which translates from the German as “doll children”–had lost its meaning since its introduction in 1986. “It had become so widely adopted by anyone and everyone that it had sadly become too generic and not truly unique.”
To solve the problem, she did a lot of thinking–and a little re-naming. “My desire was to introduce a term that would very simply and to the point describe what my dolls are and who they’re by, and would unite the Himies and Puppen Kinder.” Thus the name Himstedt Kinder was born.
The artist applies the same careful planning and thought when it comes to the individual names of her dolls. “When I look at their faces, I first think of a selection of names that might suit them,” says Himstedt. “I then take a closer look and select the one that I feel is right for that particular Kinder.” And they’re not all necessarily names you'd find in a baby-naming book. “I sometimes make the names up myself,” she notes. “I make collages from names of rivers and mountains and so on. I like to be a bit poetic with my name giving. When I make couples or groups, I make sure that their names work well together, like ‘Krinchen,’ ‘Trinchen’ and ‘Minchen.’ Or ‘Prince Sunray’ and ‘Princess Moonstar,’ for example.”
If it sounds like the process from conceptualization to creation takes a long time, that’s because it does. “It was a lot of hard work,” the artist admits. But that’s an excellent reason to celebrate, and does she ever plan to in 2002! “As many collectors know,” says Himstedt, “I’ve always had a soft spot for the numbers 7 and 13. It may be my love of fairy tales that made me start to love numbers–and 7 and 13 are mythical and keep appearing in fairy tales.” So to celebrate the 13th year since she and her team moved into their current location, she’ll be releasing two anniversary dolls–a girl and a boy, both limited to editions of 713–in July, the anniversary of their move in 1990.
The party continues over at the Himstedt Club, which marks its seventh year in 2002. “To celebrate the relationships that have blossomed during that time,” she explains, “I’ll be offering my Club members two dolls to choose from.” (Can you guess the edition size?)
When DOLLS spoke with Himstedt, she was preparing to debut her new works at the American International Toy Fair in New York City in February. “When the moment arrives before the first day, it’s very exciting,” she notes. “I can finally relax and savor the time, putting finishing touches to the presentation of the new collection.” And if you don’t already love Himstedt’s dolls, the new expanded line will surely make you a true convert, she hopes. “All in all,” she says, “I think this will be a great year to be a Himstedt collector!” For more information, contact Annette Himstedt Puppen-manufaktur, Karl Schurz-Strasse 27, 33100 Paderborn, Germany, 011-49-5251-1730.
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