(Heidi Plusczok with a quartet of her dolls)
Photos courtesy of Plusczok Puppen
Thanksgiving week was a rollicking and frolicking one for me. In addition to my own children, I invited my little niece and nephew to come back home with us after Turkey Day, where we pretty much destroyed the myth that tryptophan makes you tired. (That’s the amino acid that is found in turkey and supposedly accounts for Uncle Joe immediately snoozing after the last drumstick is devoured.)
Being in the presence of so much supercharged energy is darn inspiring, and I can well understand why youth and childhood is such an intoxicating high. It is absolutely fascinating to watch and participate in children’s rituals that never, ever want to slow down. When one activity ends, another just HAS TO begin. If there is five minutes without entertainment or playtime, a niece or a nephew, a son or a daughter, will innovate a brand-new FUN time-waster. It is exciting and exhausting!
If, indeed, the company you keep helps to define you, then it’s no wonder that doll artist Heidi Plusczok is perennially exploring the antics and the attitude of children. When it comes to being the Pied Piper of realistic portrait dolls, Plusczok grabs that honor hands down!
When Heidi — that’s how I always think of her, an older version of the fabled storybook heroine — was celebrating her 35th anniversary in the doll world, I was lucky enough to interview her for her special feature profile. She burst on the scene in 1980 and has continued to charm her collectors, decade after decade after decade.
Here, then, are some highlights from my chat with the eternally youthful Heidi Plusczok.
“One of the reasons why my dolls have been so popular is that they are so much based on real children,” Heidi remarked. “I truly love children, and I think that is shown in my dolls. I always want to make dolls that look like they could be alive, and I think I have achieved that.”
Yes, we all can agree that Heidi has, indeed, attained her goal. Residing for many years across the way from an elementary school, Heidi could just peek out her front window and see examples of kids in their natural habitat! She can study contemporary children — how they act, react, compose themselves, and interact with one another and the world.
“The nicest compliment I have ever received is when people say that I can create dolls that look like they have souls!” she shared.
Heidi’s journey into the doll world began as a maternal offering. She desired to give her daughter Katja a special gift. She decided to try her hand at making a one-of-a-kind doll, and try she did! Heidi created a doll made of cernit, and that first attempt kindled a fire to want to do more. A year later, she was firing up a kiln and was introducing porcelain dolls to the world. As time sped by, and her reputation expanded, she also introduced vinyl versions of her handiwork. No matter the chosen medium, she always has imbued her dolls with attention to detail and lots of unconditional love.
“I am so fortunate that I have been able to continue to make dolls. It has fed my soul and my spirit. It has brightened my life so much!” she enthused.
Logging 36 years now in the doll world, Heidi understands that her career has been a prolific and meaningful one. What her dolls mean to her fans around the world has given her inspiration and motivation: “It is wonderful to know that people everywhere have looked forward to my dolls. It gives me great happiness.”
Knowing that a 40th anniversary could be a possibility, Heidi looks toward that next potential milestone with a calm and serene mind-set. “I owe a great deal to my team. They have arranged the collections with me. They have given advice, complimented, and critiqued me. They gave me their affection and their friendship that made it possible for me to find inspiration over and over again and create new things.”
Regarding the fans who have met her at expos and conventions, and who have sent her letters and e-mails, she is equally grateful: “I want to thank all of you who have been by my side on this long journey. I am very grateful for all the help and support I received along my way. Without it, I could have never been nearly as successful.”
Modest yet confident, talented and creative, Heidi Plusczok has charmed the collectors she’s met with her words and actions. Her charming dolls have realized her ambition to make characters that are soulful and joyful.
“I will be here for you for as long as I have ideas, for as long as my health allows, and for as long as you, my dear collectors, will love my dolls,” she affirmed.
Collectors the world over hope that there are many more years and many more collections to embrace.