Apr 17 2014

An Enduring Legacy

In 2008, Annette Himstedt closed her manufactory after 23 years of creating the world’s finest dolls. In her words, “I have spent nearly a quarter of a century in my manufactory and worked there with passion, much discipline and a lot of idealism.” But with the closing of her manufactory, the love and passion of Himstedt collectors worldwide has not faded. Here are a few highlights from her porcelain editions through the years.

Bastian Artist's Proof 1 of 1

Bastian is tuly a milestone in the world of dollmaking.


Looking back at Annette’s dollmaking career is like getting a glimpse of a piece of doll history. Bastian is a porcelain Artist’s Proof from 1985 and served as a blueprint for Annette’s very first vinyl collection called Barefoot Children created in 1986. Looking at the sculpting prowess, one could instantly see the promise that lied ahead for this amazing artist. She would look back on these dolls and say “These are the porcelain originals that were the blueprints for my first ever vinyl collection: the Barefoot Children. These dolls have written history.”

Striving for her creations to reach a level of perfection previously unseen in the doll world, Annette used only the finest materials. Annette Himstedt created her first dolls with porcelain and it remained her material of choice throughout her career. She always said that porcelain enabled her to achieve the nuances of realism that captured the character and personalities of her subjects. She also valued the permanence of porcelain as it would hold its color and remain true, possibly for centuries. In addition to the porcelain, other features, like real hair wigs and one-of-a-kind, hand-blown glass eyes were used in creating this amazing doll that would serve as a glimpse of her future greatness.


Jerina by Annette Himstedt

A beautiful porcelain beauty from Annette's 1996 collection

In 1996 as Annete had tended throughout her career, she created a series of doll from different nationalities and ethnicities. Jerina was a beautiful Hungarian girl measuring 21 inches. She has a wig made of real hair and one-of-a-kind, hand-blown glass eyes. Annette has even hand-painted a dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose. Her outfit, which was handmade by Annette is made of hand-dyed silks. She even includes a handmade porcelain bench and a copper name plate.

Jerina is a truly stunning edition featuring new jointing and more advancements that Annette had learned through her years of doll creation. This being one of Annette’s artist proofs, it holds a special significance as Annette reflected back on her dollmaking career. Speaking of her porcelain artist proofs she said “When I last saw all my porcelain children and held them in my hands, it became very clear to me that they possess an unbelievable charm. I got very emotional in the process.”

Moving on to 2001, Annette created an incredible trio of porcelain princesses named Sonne, Mond, and Stern, which is German for Sun, Moon and Star. Stern is a stunning 23.625 inches tall and made of porcelain. She has a hand-painted face, features mouth-blown glass eyes and a real hair wig complete with a porcelain star crown and a lovely veil.

Star Stern by Annette Himstedt

Stern is an amazing work of art from head to toe


Stern’s outfit is truly a treasure. The dress is made of hand-dyed metallic silk fabric that is composed of 80 percent metal. This gives the dress an amazing shimmering quality that mimics the twinkling of stars in the night sky.

The doll and outfit as a whole combine to create the perfect representation of the theme that she is meant to reflect. Annette discussed the symbolism and meaning behind this incredible edition, “What a wonderful theme this was to carry on for me to let my imagination run free. I played with symbolism, colors and fabrics. I’m happy about how much Sun, Moon and Star remind me of what I wanted them to represent. You don’t just have to look at their crowns to see who they are.”

This amazing edition truly blurs the line between doll and art. And being an artist proof just adds to the glamour of this incredible achievement in dollmaking.

Nov 12 2013

Dolls Inspiration From Around The World – Annette Himstedt

Afrika Girl Artist's Proof 1 of 1

Afrika Girl is a beautiful porcelain doll from 1992

Throughout her career, Annette Himstedt has always shown her love of ethnic children with her dolls. She has created dolls that represent children from all over the world. Some of her earliest dolls, the acclaimed Barefoot Children series, were originally planned to be used to raise money for UNICEF. For her porcelain dolls, Annette used multiple firings to achieve the skin tones and make sure they were just perfect.

A beautiful example of Annette’s amazing ethnic dolls is Afrika Girl from 1992. No detail was overlooked. The skin tone is absolutely perfect. Annette described the work that went into getting Afrika Girl’s skin tone just right. “To get the coloring right was unbelievably difficult – with every trial the brown paint wouldn’t come out the way I wanted it to. I mixed pigments and painted like a lunatic.” – Annette Himstedt

Afrika Girl features mouth-blown glass eyes and the beadwork for her outfit was handmade by Annette from colored rocailles. This particular edition even comes with its own porcelain base allowing her to stand easily.  When taken in as a whole, this striking edition truly blurs the line between doll and fine art.


Shilin by Annette Himstedt

Shilin was an edition from Annette's 2007 Sommer Kinder collection

In addition to Annette’s porcelain Masterpiece editions, she has created a number of ethnic dolls for her Puppen Kinder collections over the years. Shilin was part of the 2007 Sommer Kinder Collection. She is an exquisite doll of Asian decent featuring a real hair black wig and hand painted features. Her outfit was a designed b Annette herself and hand-dyed in soft pastel colors that were the motif of that collection.

Mohan Artist's Proof 2 of 2

Mohan is a young boy from India created in 1993

Annette always did wonderful dolls of Asian heritage. Dating as far back as Makimura in 1988 Annette has exhibited a love for dolls of Asian descent. In 1993 she created Mohan and Mohini. Again, Annette worked diligently to replicate the flesh tones, this time those of children from India. Annette said this about her experience with Mohan and Mohini – “Mohan and Mohini are a beautiful couple. Modeling ethnic dolls gives me the greatest pleasure and it always seems to be a very easy process to me. They never cause me any trouble and they’ve always stayed fondly in my heart. “

For Mohan’s attire, Annette created a a rich outfit from hand-dyed silks. He has a large, elegant, amber bead as the centerpiece of his leather necklace.

Jantje Artist's Proof 2 of 2

Jantje is a lovely African-American porcelain doll from 1999

Annette modeled her 1999 porcelain edition Jantje from a little girl from America. She considered the dolls  she was creating as 3 dimensional portraits. She felt that porcelain enabled her to capture the nuances of realism that came through in a child’s face.  Jantje features a gorgeous wig made of real hair that is decorated with handmade porcelain flowers. These delilcate editions were a labor of love. Annette described the trials of producing these complex editions as toy fairs quickly approached in 1999. “I had to work days and nights to get them done for the shows. It was as though they were jinxed. They kept shattering in the kiln and the toy fairs were creeping closer and closer. It was such an agonizing wait every time, because with each trial we’d only get the results after at least 26 hours. That’s how long one firing process took. I can’t count the times when we ran the huge kiln nearly empty, just to be able to finish individual pieces. Once we fired it up for just a hand-full of tiny blossoms. Anyone would have declared us insane… But I didn’t have a choice – I had to get everything finished on time.”

Annette closed her manufactory in 2008. She gathered all of her Artist’s Proofs to be sent to the U.S. to be made available to collectors. Understandably, it was a very poignant time. “When I last saw all my porcelain children and held them in my hands, it became very clear to me that they possess an unbelievable charm. I got very emotional in the process. It is my wish that you, dear collector, have the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy these special dolls. “  – Annette Himstedt


Aug 23 2011

How Annette Himstedt Created A New Realism Movement In Doll Making

German doll srtist Annette Himstedt is the latest in a distinct group of doll artists who defined their era. Over the past 200 years, new materials have been introduced that vastly changed the look and feel and possibilities available in doll making. Modern materials such as porcelain, vinyl, composition and resin had great affect on how we interact with dolls. These mediums affect a doll’s longevity and appearance. The materials also constrain or release an artist’s creativity through their very nature and physical properties. And yet over that same 200 years, there have been very few artistic Movements in doll making or innovative doll artists with the influence of Bru or Jumeau or the Munich Art Dolls of the early 1900s. There has been little “revolution” in dollmaking styles over that time. So when one came along, it was very contagious. This modern day doll revolution was begun by Annette Himstedt in the 1980s.

Before Annette, dolls were classic, simple and straightforward like those of Kathe Kruse. Renowned Swiss artist and dollmaker Sasha Morgenthaler designed her dolls with inexpressive, open looks that allowed them to be more adaptable to imaginative play than if they were forever smiling. Their differences were subtle and these dolls continue to be beloved around the world.

Annette took a different approach and broke many accepted conventions in dollmaking. As explained by Danny and Barrie Shapiro of The Toy Shoppe who first brought her dolls to the USA in 1986:

With her Barefoot Children in 1986, Annette Himstedt established a bold new direction for doll making. Gone was any mannequin-like structure: her dolls were like children at play with bent arms and fingers sculpted in relaxed, natural positions. Annette captured movement in her sculpts with her innovative natural posing. The large scale of her dolls was unique and very engaging. And their shoes, usually an integral part of a doll, were completely gone!

Annette Himstedt Barrie Danny New York Toy Fair

Annette Himstedt with Barrie and Danny at the New York Toy Fair in 2006

Perhaps it was her beginnings in portrait dolls that made Annette so in tune with that essence of childhood in which we all delight. Perhaps her background in fashion moved her to capture mood and expression in her dolls. Whatever the reason behind her drive, she was determined to bring her own artistic doll visions to life and did with amazing success. Her dolls were alive and both collectors and artists were drawn to them. Danny and Barrie of The Toy Shoppe expound:

This dramatic change sparked a renewed interest in dolls and Annette has presented fresh and exciting creations for over two decades! When history reflects on this time, it will surely credit Annette for inspiring artists to new and remarkable levels of creativity in the Realistic Doll Movement of the twentieth century.

In 2008, Annette closed her manufactory in Paderborn, Germany, and an era in contemporary dollmaking came to a sad close. She entrusted her good friends Danny and Barrie to represent her substantial personal collection ans well as the porcelain and vinyl artist proofs which she had accumulated over two decades of dollmaking. You can buy many of Annette Himstedt Puppen Kinder, Kinder aus Porzellan and Artist’s Proofs at The Toy Shoppe.

Aug 5 2011

Annette Himstedt Timeline

This timeline shows a Annette Himstedt’s career in doll making. This is shown originally on The Toy Shoppe’s website:

  • 1980 Annette begins modeling in porcelain, developing the technical expertise which would later bring her great acclaim within the doll world.
  • 1984 Neighborhood children model for a collection of portrait dolls, bringing magazine publicity and notoriety almost overnight.
  • 1984 During a trip to Africa for UNICEF Annette photographs a young girl named Fatou and sculpts her. This is the catalyst for Annette to create a line of vinyl dolls. Fatou, Lisa and Bekus were her first non-porcelain dolls.
  • 1986 Annette settles on Puppen Kinder (Doll Children) and Kinder Aus Porzellan (Porcelain Children) and registers these names as her trademarks. Danny and Barrie from the Toy Shoppe meet Annette at her booth in the Nuremberg Toy Fair where she introduces her Barefoot Children to instant commercial success.
  • 1988 Annette resolves to build her own doll manufactory in Paderborn, Germany.
  • 1986-2000 Signing tours across America and Europe give Annette the chance to meet many collectors.
  • 1990 Annette and her team move into her new doll manufactory. She finally has the scope to develop new techniques and realize them. As many as 80 people will be employed there at one time.
  • 1996 Himstedt Club founded. Member benefits include Undine, a club magazine chronicling Annette’s work. Club Gift is mini version of annual Club Doll.
  • 2002 Every doll in each collection would be a limited edition from this time forward for more exclusivity.
  • 2005 The first World’s Children Summit featuring dolls of varying ethnicity, from Eastern Europe, to the Caribbean to Africa. Such variety was a refreshing change from the often stereotypical selections produced by other designers.
  • 2007 Open Days begun to allow collectors to see up close every stage of the doll making process and meet the artist.
  • 2008 Annette closes her manufactory, ending an unparalleled 23-year creative era. Demand for her past editions increases as production ends.

Thanks to The Toy Shoppe for allowing us to use their information. You can call them toll free at 1 800 447-7995 if you are interested in Annette Himstedt dolls. Danny and Barrie have had Annette’s dolls since the 1980 and the shoppe offers payment plans that are very easy and convenient (and interest free)!

Aug 4 2011

True or False: Ten Interesting Facts About Annette Himstedt

Annette Himstedt Doll Artist 2008

Annette Himstedt Doll Artist

Annette Himstedt’s dolls were known by doll collectors around the globe but many people don’t know so much about Annette herself and how she became such and influencial and beloved doll artist. Here are some interesting facts about this wonderful doll artist:

10. True or False… Annette Himstedt was a fashion model.

True! She was a fashion model and used this to earn a living while learning the art of doll making.

9. True or FalsePuppen Kinder is the just the German translation for Puppet Children.

False! Annette trademarked the name Puppen Kinder her dolls in 1986. It translates from German as Doll Children.

8. True or False… Annette Himstedt made Sesame Street dolls.

True! When Annette began to learn doll making, she made a little Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street for herself.

7. True or False… Annette was approached by an Arab Sheik to make a portrait doll of his niece.

True! Annette was very well-known for her portrait dolls in the 1980s. So famous was she that a Sheik from the Arab Emirates contacted Annette to create a portrait doll of both his daughter and his niece!

6. True or False… Annette’s first Puppen Kinder doll was based on a real person.

True! Annette based Fatuo on a little girl she met while traveling to Senegal, Africa.

5. True or False… Annette created all of her dolls in Germany.

False! Before she built her doll manufactory in Paderborn, Germany, Annette traveled often to Spain to oversee the work on her vinyl dolls.

4. True or False… Every Puppen Kinder has Annette’s initials or signature engraved on the limbs.

False! Every Puppen Kinder should but in 1991 Annette forgot to engrave Liliane’s and Shireem’s legs.

3. True or False Since 1996, each sewn part and original piece of clothing bear a tag with the name Annette Himstedt.

True! This is one of the ways you can identify original Annette Himstedt dolls and outfits.

2. True or False… Dark skin tones on Annette Himstedt porcelain dolls may require as many as 30 coats.

True! Annette was famous in the doll world for the many subtle variations in her skin tones and went to great lengths to attain the exact tone.

1. True or False… It takes a full day to fire Annette’s porcelain dolls in a kiln.

False! It actually takes more. Annette mentioned that it would take 26 hours to fire a porcelain doll.

Bill's Journey Book by Annette Himstedt

Bill's Journey Around The World by Annette Himstedt

All of the facts were taken from Annette Himstedt’s book Bill’s Journey Around The World. The 176 page hardbound book is more than just beautiful photos: Annette goes to great lengths to explain her efforts to become a doll artist and the processes by which her dolls are created. Bill’s Journey is available at The Toy Shoppe.

Aug 4 2011

The Book Bill’s Journey – Annette Himstedt In Her Own Words

Bill's Journey Book by Annette Himstedt

Bill's Journey Around The World by Annette Himstedt

There are many books about doll artists but very few have been created by the artist themselves. This coffee-table book about German doll artist Annette Himstedt is definitely something you will want to leave out and show off. With all of the beautiful photos (many are full page closeups) and the unique and interesting graphic design of the book this book will draw in and captivate anyone who sees it. Oh, and one more very interesting feature… since Annette Himstedt is a German doll artist the book is written in both German AND English. Annette would continue including both languages with her catalogs announcing the new collections.

The book is available at The Toy Shoppe. On their site it states:

She leads us on a wonderful journey and takes us into her studio and factory…

Originally published in 1997, it took four years to create this book with Annette writing the content herself. It was a family project as well since Dierk Himstedt is credited with the “ final Text” and Imke Himstedt is credited with the “Design.” The book was published by Bonifatius GmbH in Paderborn, Germany, the same town where Annette Himstedt’s doll manufactory was located..

Bill’s Journey Around The World is a unique book both in size and content. It is 176 pages, hardbound with a dust jacket that wraps the book in a bright blue coat. The book also features an index in the back showing her Kinder auz Porzellan (porcelain dolls) and her Puppen Kinder (vinyl dolls) up to publication. The book mainly focuses on Annette’s dolls but also includes and Annette Himstedt Autobiography section which chronicles in detail with photos the begining of her career up til the books publishing in 1997.

In 1985 Annette traveled to Senegal Africa for a UNICEF project. They were interested in a line of dolls based on the children of other cultures. Although the line was never produced, the trip had profound effect on Annette and was a huge influence in the diversity of her future dolls.

Bill's Journey Around The World book Annette Himstedt dolls

The photography in Bill's Journey captures Annette Himstedt's dolls at play.

The title of the book becomes apparent as you meet all of the beautiful dolls Annette has based on different countries and elasticities around the world. The photography is stunning as the dolls are placed in very interesting scenes often depicting their origin. You travel with Bill from Japan to China, Nepal, India, Zambia, Ivory Coast, Spain, France, Switzerland, Romania, Hungary, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway,England, Russia, Senegal, Tuscany, Greenland, Corsica, Belgium, Mexico, Kenya, New Zealand, and the USA.

Annette takes us to mythical places as well including  Above the Sea, Land of the Fairies, and Under the Sea. Under the sea features Undine, the incredibly beautiful, life-size porcelain mermaid that was the centerpiece in the foyer of Annette Himstedt’s manufactory.

Bill's Journey Around The World book Undine Annette Himstedt

Bill's Journey Around The World book features beautiful photography including this image of Undine by Annette Himstedt

Annette Himstedt’s artistic integrity and drive always pushed her to excel when creating her dolls. She pushed the limits on this book as well and all in all this is a magnificent, one-of-a-kind book. Turning each page reveals an unexpected and enjoyable feast for the eyes. Although Annette has closed her manufactory, this books remains a wonderful chronicle of her talent and artistry.

As mentioned before, the book Bill’s Journey is available at The Toy Shoppe in Richmond Virginia. They also have a good selection of Annette Himstedt dolls for sale including dolls from Annette’s personal collection as well as Annette Himstedt’s Artist’s Proofs.