For almost 28 years, Zwergnase has been making dolls that cause collectors to do double takes. Photos of their dolls, frequently posed against natural landscapes, make viewers wonder if they are witnessing actual children at play rather than exceptionally well-crafted dolls.
For designer Nicole Marschollek Menzner, dolls are part of her self-described passion, and they do seem to emerge from the pages of a children’s fashion magazine or the playground after school photo day. Her dolls are lifelike and lovely.
As brand representative Bernd Menzner has commented, “The attractive toys created by Nicole almost look real. They are carrying on in the footsteps of a long tradition. Nicole spent her childhood in Thuringia and studied toy design in Sonneberg, Germany, from 1988 to 1991. The secret behind her successful creations is the synthesis between the originality of the idea, the perfection of her craftwork, and her love of detail.”
Tulemore 3 (left) and Tulemore 4, both 31 inches, are limited editions of 25.
Nicole Menzner prefers to let her creations do the talking for her: “I cannot say why my dolls attract collectors. That must be answered by the collectors themselves. They know what kind of appeal my dolls radiate to them.”
For 2022, the artist said she was inspired by new fabrics and colors rather than following any particular theme for the year. “I can express myself creatively in our company. Our company’s concern has always been to produce high-quality dolls and bears in Germany,” she said. “It makes me very proud that collectors all over the world enjoy my dolls and bears,” Nicole said. “At the moment, I am working on a new, smaller ball-jointed doll.”
No matter the size of the Zwergnase doll, or its companion bear, the first order of business is the pursuit of making the doll seem childlike. Beyond the sculpting, Nicole delves her collectors’ memories of their own youthful pastimes and innocence. Though her dolls are decked out in fashionable ensembles, they always seem ready to explore a meadow or pick a handful of sunny dandelions.
Zwergnase’s dolls, Nicole Menzner said, “are the ‘children’ of a region in which dollmaking has been a traditional activity for centuries. Their home is Thuringia. There can be no doubt that their very special charm has something to do with their origins. In many ways and in minute details, their forms reflect the principle of nature. They are each unique and bear the signature of a sure and artistically founded feeling for style.”