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 19 2011

Tawni: A Very Special Artist Doll By Annette Himstedt

Tawni Annette Himstedt Puppen Kinder Doll

Annette Himstedt’s doll Tawni is from the 2005 Children's World Summit Collection

We don’t often think of cultures when they originate in the USA, but Annette Himstedt looked deep into many countries to find inspiration for her dolls. In the United States she found Navaho Native Americans. Her doll Tawni is a beautiful doll that represents this culture.

Tawni stands about 34 inches tall and wears an outfit inspired by the Navaho’s but designed totally by Annette. The colors she chose for the outfit are rich and inviting: dusty purple with accents of deep red and teal. There are also feathers tied into the outfit. On her feet are brown moccasins.

Annette Himstedt dolls are always dressed perfectly, but it is the faces that she sculpts that are truly captivating. Tawni captures your eyes and that face is a delight to look upon. Her hair is set in pigtails tied with ribbons and loose bangs.

Tawni was one of Annette Himstedt’s Puppen Kinder – vinyl play dolls based on children. Tawni is from Annette’s 2005 collection called World’s Children Summit and very popular doll from the series.

You can see more of Tawni at The Toy Shoppe located in Richmond, Virginia. They were the first shoppe to offer Annette’s dolls in the USA in the 1980s and continue to have the best selection of Himstedt dolls. Click here to see them all.

Aug 15 2011

Annette Himstedt: A Cinderella Story

Aschenputtel - Cinderella doll by Annette Himstedt

Aschenputtel - 2003 vinyl doll by Annette Himstedt

For her 2003 vinyl collection,  doll artist Annette Himstedt brought to life a fairy tale of renown. Her two dolls, Aschenputtel and Cinderella, bring to life the classic fairy tale. Aschenputtel is from the version by the German brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The story is called Aschenputtel after the German name for Cinderella. Annette based her first doll on this story:

A rich gentleman’s wife lay dying, and she called her only daughter, the Cinderella figure, to her bedside. She asked the daughter to remain kind and generous, and God will protect her. She then died and was buried. Within the year, the widower married another woman, who had two beaitiful yet evil daughters. The stepsisters forced the girl to become a kitchen maid, stripping her of her fine clothes and possessions. Despite their cruelty, the girl remained pure in heart, and wept daily by her mother’s grave.

One day, the gentleman visits the city, promising his stepdaughters gifts of luxury. His own daughter merely asks for the first twig to knock his hat off on the way. She plants the twig, waters it with her tears and over the years, it grows into a silver birch tree. In its branches lives a dove, which comforts the girl during her misery.

The king gives a festival for three nights, and each time the girl retreats to the graveyard to ask for help. The dove presents her with gowns of gold and silver, but always leaving before the last strike of midnight. The Prince falls in love with her and threads off one of her golden shoes, but the sisters tried to trick the Prince by cutting off parts of their feet. The doves living on the tree alert the Prince to their treachery, and in the end during Aschenputtel’s wedding the birds fly down and strike the two sisters blind for the rest of their lives.

- source Wikipedia

Annette Himstedt’s Aschenputtel includes a dove (made of clay) as well as a bowl of peas. She is a beautiful doll a little over 36 inches tall. As the working maid for the house, Aschenputtel wears a pink scarf atop her hair and a ragged dress. Aschenputtel shares the same head mold as Cinderella so the transformation from poor scullery maid to princess is almost magical. More about Cinderella to come.

The Toy Shoppe in Richmond, Virginia, still has Aschenputtel by Annette Himstedt for sale. According to their web site, when Annette closed her manufactory, The Toy Shoppe worked with Annette to represent the pieces from her personal collection as well as her Artist’s Proofs. As of this writing, they still have a vinyl edition available as well as  Artist Proof 1/1 of Aschenputel by Annette Himstedt.

Aug 1 2011

Annette Himstedt Farewell Collection

Annette Himstedt Cover Doll Reader magazine 2009

Annette Himstedt's Farewell Collection was the cover for Doll Reader magazine 2009.

When Annette Himstedt announced the closing of her factory in Paderborn, Germany, we were all saddened to think there would be no more new dolls by Annette. It was the Fall of 2008 and normally new dolls were announced in January or February at the Nuremburg International Toy Fair or the New York International Toy Fair. Annette began to tedious process of finishing the existing orders for the 2008 collection and then closing the factory. The manufactory was due to close in early-mid 2009.

In June of 2009 we were all surprised to see Annette’s announcement of the Farewell Collection in Doll Reader. It makes sense, really. To create a collection of dolls, Annette Himstedt had to begin the designing and sculpting process almost a year in advance. By the time the September announcement came out, Annette already had taken this collection very far into the process. But she still hadn’t considered finishing them. As explained in  Doll Reader:

Between Annette Himstedt’s September 2008 announcement and the final closing of her manufactory in April 2009, so many details had to be taken care of that she had not dared think it possible to finish the five dolls she had begun. In the last weeks, her old determination pushed her into overdrive — and Annette herself hand-finished every single doll!

The collection consisted of only five dolls – five very beautiful and compelling dolls. There is Kateri (blond girl in white dress), Ole (the only boy in the group), Antha (dark skinned girl with peach and white dress) and the Asian twins Mei Mei (with open mouth smile) and Ping Mei. Since the manufactory was practically closed, only five staff members remained and so much work was done by hand that only 42 of each doll was created. Compare that to the much larger editions of 300 or more of each doll over the years. The effort to bring these dolls to life was very moving to Annette:

Annette Himstedt Farewell Collection Catalog

The catalog of the final Farewell Collection was preoduced by The Toy Shoppe.

These five dolls are very special to me. Not just because they’re the last manufactured dolls I’ll ever produce, but also because they are truly wonderful dolls. … I can’t really put it into words, but these dolls ‘talk’ to me in a very special way.

Annette Himstedt’s Farewell Collection of dolls was represented solely by The Toy Shoppe in Richmond, Virginia. The owners, Danny and Barrie, have worked with Annette since they first met at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1986. The developed a close personal relationship over the years. According to the article:

Upon sharing the news of her manufactory’s closure, Annette collaborated closely with Barrie and Danny Shapiro of The Toy Shoppe  to ensure the appropriate ending of this chapter in her career. She is very pleased to announce that her final collection, as well as her own private collection of past dolls and artist’s proofs, will be represented solely by The Toy Shoppe.

These dolls were the final vinyl dolls Annette Himstedt made at her manufactory and are exceptional. The efforts and experience of her twenty-some years of making artist dolls came together to produce a truly wonderful and touching series… perhaps the pinnacle of her career in vinyl dolls.

And to think, these were the dolls she never thought she’d make.

Annette Himstedt Farewell Collection

The five dolls in Annette Himstedt final collection are Kateri, Ole, Mei Mei, Ping Mei, and Antha.

Jul 28 2011


Hi everyone!

Annette Himstedt Doll Artist

Annette Himstedt Doll Artist working on one of her early porcelain dolls.

This is the start of a new website devoted to the beautiful dolls by Annette Himstedt, a German doll artist who recently closed her manufacturing plant in Padeborn Germany and retired from doll making. Her dolls (also known as Himstedt Kinder) are very special and doll collectors everywhere in the world love them. So come back and see what new things we can find to discuss…