It’s not a coincidence that the advertising slogan for Beverly Stoehr Originals is “Follow your dreams” — Stoehr has been doing just that for more than 50 years. The mother of a special-needs child, Stoehr drew on her optimism and patience to provide a supportive and nurturing home.
Knowing that she needed to be available for life’s unpredictable ups-and-downs, she needed a job that permitted an adaptable schedule. Blessed with talent and ability, Stoehr said she found her entry into the world of sculpting a godsend. It allowed her to develop her artistic leanings while supporting her family. No wonder Stoehr describes her half-century as a dollmaker as a “wonderful gift for me and for my family; I will forever be grateful.”
These days, the always cheerful, always creative artist is busy at work conjuring up impeccably sculpted and garbed toddler dolls. “When you sculpt, your sculpt will bring out your heart and your soul. You do not sculpt just to sculpt. You have to envision the soul coming from you and into your dolls,” Stoehr said. “You have to feel love and happiness to create the look from the heart. I hope I am explaining this right, but if a person just sculpts to sculpt, the expressions don’t have meaning. You have to love it, and then the dolls’ expressions are truly made with love.”
Stoehr has been filling her Elma, New York, studio with a rainbow’s worth of love and adoration. She has worked to populate her workspace with dolls that represent “all of God’s children.” As one of the doll world’s most prolific and enduring doll artists, Stoehr remembers a time when the market was almost completely blond and Caucasian. “In many shows of the past few years, there truly was a lack of dolls of color. There were not a lot of dolls that looked like this very special group of collectors and up-and-coming collectors. But now I am so pleased to see many other artists are creating collections of dolls that are designed to be dolls of color. I love that the doll world is opening up to include more diverse dolls and more diverse doll collectors.”
Regardless of their ethnic background or carefully selected skin tones, Stoehr’s dolls for 2019 share a connection to family values, the importance of being nurtured and loved, and a salute to the virtues that are often seen as lacking in public forums. “Each and every design has to speak to me in her own way when she comes to life. I hope that when you look at my new BJD toddler line, you just want to pick them up and see what she will do next. Many of my dolls look like they are about to go and play. They are set to have a fun day. Some of them are happy and joyful because they have a grandmother who spoils them.
“I like when I finish a design and I say to myself, ‘This one has just finished talking to her grandma, for sure!’ Honestly, when my dolls are completed, I fall in love with each and every concept,” Stoehr said. “This is one of the most important parts of being an artist. When the design is completed, it fills you with the feeling that the little girl has just sprung to life. My dolls capture my heart. And I owe gratitude to my incredible clothing designers: Bonnie Larson, Barbara Zuchowski, Kalypso Parkis, and Maggie Kaczynska.”
In addition to universal wish fulfillment, Stoehr’s current dolls reflect her own accomplishments. “How funny it is that little things come into my mind when you do something, or see something, or think of something. That happened when I made one of my 12-inch BJDs with her hand-knitted coat, hat, and scarf. As I was making her, I realized she reminded me of a little German child from when I lived in Germany. When I moved to Germany, it was Christmas Eve. There was lots of snow and many children outside. They were outside of this little inn and were standing around a Christmas tree. This memory was placed way back in my mind, and it came forward when I made this doll. Many of my dolls are created because a thought or a memory comes back to me and suddenly the doll comes to life!”
A devoted doll artist and advocate, Stoehr is a proud member and ambassador for the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC). She considers her designation as the UFDC Chairperson for their Artist Showcase at the 70th national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, as one of her career highlights. Stoehr adores any opportunity to interact with doll collectors, colleagues, and friends. She has embraced her profession to her heart and her soul: “I love sweaters on my child dolls because that makes a statement of being loved and cared for. I love that my dolls are taken care of.” And collectors love that Beverly Stoehr has been doing the nurturing, too.