Sunday, February 28, 2010


One of the most charming aspects of the Tommy Hilfiger line is the selection of accessories that come with each boxed fashion. Every item has a Hilfiger logo and features the red, white, and navy blue color scheme.

Sasha is wearing a charming terry cloth robe with a Tommy logo on the back. This outfit comes with a selection of hair accessories and Tommy Girl bottled cosmetic items. It also has a travel case , a hair band, and a towel -- plus a silver logo bracelet. Sasha completes her outfit with white clogs from the My Friend Mandy collection.

Baby Sasha is wearing a basic Trendon white sweater set paired with Tommy terry slippers with a Hilfiger logo on the tops. She is also wearing Tommy hair clips and playing with a mini Tommy Teddy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Here are the Sasha and Gregor twins wearing their Tommy Hilfiger matching outfits.

Gregor is wearing a zipper front Hilfiger sweater in the traditional red, white, and navy blue color scheme. He wears the sweater and matching scarf with his Trendon jeans plus navy and white sneakers. He also has a matching Tommy backpack.

Sasha wears her Hilfiger sweater over a color coordinated dress from the Magic Attic collection. She wears white tights and Trendon navy blue Mary Jane shoes. She carries a matching Tommy zippered clutch bag. Sasha wears her hair in twin ponytails held with Tommy Girl terry loops.


Soon after the beginning of WW2 my family, and several of our neighbors, moved from New York City to the suburbs of Long Island to work in defense plants and grow Victory Gardens. It was a bit of a culture shock for all of us who were used to the urban lifestyle. My adjustment was slower as I could not find any friends among my new classmates. I was an oddball by their standards. So my afternoons were spent at the local library where I sat for hours reading about people and places strange and wonderful.
The classic image of a librarian -- stern-faced with glasses, a tight bun of hair at the back of her neck, and wearing sensible shoes -- did not apply to Mrs. Mills.
"Millsie" -- as she became known to me -- was a young woman with short blonde hair and bright blue eyes, who dressed in chic suits purchased at Bonwit Teller in NYC. In the months and years that followed our first encounter she became my greatest intellectual influence and best friend.
She allowed me to read the ADULT books kept in a closet behind the front desk. Classics deemed too risque for children -- including Gray's Anatomy. She encouraged me to read more than any 16 year old normally would. She encouraged me to write which my teachers did not. I was a poor speller and never mastered the rules of grammar to their satisfaction.
But, best of all, Millsie terrified my Mother. Every time Millsie would drive up in her classic red MG sports car and beep the horn, my Mother would fret and say "What does that woman want with you?" I might have wondered the same thing but not for the same reason.
As it turned out, Millsie was just as lonely and isolated in that sleepy town as I was. We challenged each other -- me with curiosity and she with astounding revelations.

We remained friends until she died a few years ago. She was really only a few years older than me and was married to Jack who was five years her junior and only three years my senior. He was a tall, handsome "jock" with a winning smile and an easy laugh. He was not an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination. Theirs was romantic love and it lasted a lifetime.

I asked Millsie about it years later and she said that she might have married a brilliant man and possibly had a romantic affair on the side but that didn't interest her. She married for love and wonderful sex. And she had intellectual "affairs" on the side. Her group of bright students and professors that she spent her free time with.

After her death I was surprised to discover that several of my school mates were, like me, her intellectual lovers.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Here is another Tommy Hilfiger ensemble. The sweater has a denim vest front and a star motif on the back. The detailing, including stripes on only one sleeve, is terrific. The Mandarin style collar is another interesting touch. Sasha wears it with a Hilfiger visor and carries a mini back-pack with two Hilfiger bottles in the side pockets. Once again she slips into a pair of My Friend Mandy clogs.

The Hilfiger separates also work with some of the Magic Attic red, white, and blue outfits which really expands their potential.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Of all the current fashion designers, Tommy Hilfiger is probably the most popular with young kids who love his casual All-American style.
A few years ago, Madame Alexander created a series of Hilfiger dolls and fashions. While the Tommy dolls are shorter than Sasha, the fashions, except pants and shoes, fit Sasha perfectly. Madame Alexander is known for producing quality doll fashions and the Hilfiger outfits are beautifully crafted. And the accessories are creative and fantastically detailed.
This basic denim outfit fits Sasha as if it was created especially for her. Sasha pairs the separates up and wears a pair of clogs from the My Friend Mandy collection.
Speaking of shoes, the Hilfiger shoes might not fit Sasha but they do fit the Sasha baby perfectly as we will see in the days ahead.
There are many different mix-and-match Tommy Girl separates and because of the company's red, white, and blue theme they go well together.

In the days ahead we will see how it all works for Sasha.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


"Wow, look at my nifty new Goth knitted outfit."

"My knees might get cold when the temperature drops below zero."

"I can pull up my socks to keep my knees warm."

"And Teddy can wear my scarf when we go out to play."

I have often wondered how our beloved Sasha Morgenthaler might have interpreted today's styles into her dolls. Well, Dianne Lam provided one possible answer with this Goth inspired knitted outfit.
The Goth style is very popular with the Asian BJD dolls and has inspired many designers to create fashions based on the various Goth themes -- including the skull motif.
Gregor goes Goth with a sweater and knitted bike shorts plus matching knee socks, scarf, and beanie style cap. He wears "Dr. Martin" style shoes which are traditionally Goth. While it is unlikely that he will ever be the front man for a Heavy Metal band, he is delighted with the overall effect.

And so is his companion Teddy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Here are two Sasha babies from my first family. After adopting dozens of Sashas and Gregors in the early 1970s I finally decided to adopt two of the babies. Frankly, I was not impressed with any of the clothing available at the time and there were not any similar size dolls to borrow from so their wardrobes were limited to what I could make or what the "dollsandreams" sewing ladies created. However, I was able to find toys for them and over the years their toy chest has overflowed with small dolls and bears from the various countries I visited.
These days more designers make outfits for the Sasha babies so they are easier to shop for and I have made several outfits for them myself.


There have been many women who have influenced my life in various ways -- some more than others. Perhaps none more than Mary White.
When I wrote my first book about Teddy Bears I joined a local fan club. They were a delightful group of warm-hearted people who loved their bears and took them everywhere. They also insisted on "good works" and "spreading the love" associated with Teddy Bears.
And so I joined them one Sunday afternoon and visited sick kids in a local hospital. We had a great time distributing bears to kids recovering from various operations and altercations with strange objects. Mary White was our nurse guide through the afternoon. She was a large black woman with a powerful, but gentle, voice -- dressed in a starched uniform. She exuded authority and no nonsense as she dealt quietly with each child's needs.
I must confess that hospitals are not my favorite idea for a Sunday afternoon outing but that day was exceptional.
As we were leaving, Mary touched my arm and smiled at me, "You'll be back. I can see it."
Well, she was right. I did go back and over the years that followed I became a counselor for terminal kids and their families. I've worked in hospitals around the globe and been on call for the Red Cross in times of crisis. The entire direction of my life changed that Sunday afternoon and the mentoring efforts of nurse Mary.
As Easter approaches I'd like to honor Mary's memory by telling an amusing story about another Sunday afternoon. Mary sang in the choir of her church up in Harlem. She invited me to attend services and hear her solo. So on a bright Sunday morning I jumped in a cab and headed up to Harlem. The first thing I saw was a sight I will never forget. All the ladies were wearing amazing colorful and highly imaginative hats -- all beautifully crafted. Flowers, veiling, and ribbons festooned each brightly colored straw brim and matched or accented the ensemble of the wearer. As we sat in the church the hats created a garden of color that took on a life of its own as we stood to sing and sat to listen. Heads bobbed from side to side sending blossoms rippling as if in a gentle breeze.

Afterwards, I told Mary how impressed and delighted I was by the array of bonnets. She smiled her beautiful smile and took me hand.
"Honey, you can't talk to God without a good hat."

Monday, February 22, 2010


Another popular fashion style for Sasha was what I call "the Country Girls" because the outfits had a peasant influence. Another of the "dollsandreams" home designers created dozens of variations on this theme. These were very popular with the city kids who came by on Saturday to see what the sewing ladies had brought in their wicker baskets.
Looking back I have to confess that I was just as anxious to see their latest creations and was always happy to be able to buy one or two for my Sashas before the neighborhood kids snapped them up.
It was always a delight to watch these youngsters sitting on the floor at the back of the shop playing dress-up with their dolls. Little did any of us realize that these early play dolls would one day be worth hundreds -- even thousands of dollars.
We were all just following Sasha's direction to enjoy playing with her dolls. And play we did.

And still do.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Clairol advertising used to ask, "Do Blondes Have More Fun?" and I often wondered if they did. Blondes certainly dominated advertising for decades and they were more often the heroines in films and romantic novels.
And they were certainly popular in my photo studio back in the early 70s as well as today. While I love the brunettes they are not as easy to photograph because it is difficult to catch the highlights in their hair.

Here is another of my early blonde models wearing a dress borrowed from another doll in my collection. Back in the 70s I had lots of different dolls because I was working in the toy industry as a doll and toy designer.

While I had to photograph many dolls for work, and for articles I was writing, none ever captivated me as Sasha did. And they continue to charm me decades later.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Look at this wonderful hand-carved wooden rocking horse we got from Shelly in the UK. It is very heavy and cost a lot of money to come across the pond, but we think it was worth it. All the kids love him and take turns riding him. But we need costumes like a cowboy, or maybe a polo player, or even a jockey.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Sometimes little girls like to pretend to be grown-up ladies. One of the "dollsandreams" designers created a number of long dresses for Sasha to wear. She did several in this sparkle jersey fabric with the embroidered rose applique. The neighborhood children thought they were very glamorous and I suspect that they might have been influenced by their friends who played with Barbie dolls.
While Sasha is actually just a little girl she does manage to look quite sophisticated and grown-up modeling this gown

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Here is my "created" redhead modeling with two beautiful Victorian wicker pieces. I probably spent more time and money searching for vintage doll furniture than I did finding Sasha dolls. After all, I knew where to find the dolls but the furniture and accessories were much harder to find. This table and chair actually belonged to Nana Laura who bought them in a Paris doll shop.
My good friend, Ed Sibbett, created beautiful stained glass panels that he put into antique Victorian cabinets. He was one of Dover's most prolific authors and created several stained glass pattern books.
On weekends we'd go antique furniture hunting in New England and that is where we often found treasures in both human and doll size. I loved the flea markets in the Pennsylvania countryside -- often around New Hope where I rented a summer home.
My favorite Victorian furniture style was the country "twig" furniture and I over the years I have found dozens of interesting pieces.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Baby Sasha and Snappy Bunny have just discovered that their little wooden choo choo has a secret compartment inside if they open the roof of the engine's cab. This little engine is very like "The Little Engine That Could" -- one of their favorite children's stories.

Baby Sasha wonders if everyone has ordered a Snappy Bunny kit for their baby to play with.

Snappy Bunny wonders if she can hide a carrot inside the secret choo choo's compartment.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The Sashas enjoy their vintage hutch cabinet and the Victorian doll dishes displayed in it.
Take notice of the delicate floral hand-painted decoration on the cabinet doors.
Today we have a guest blogger who will help us to better understand the differences between antiques and collectibles. Please welcome Kay Davenport.

Kay writes: Whenever you put five qualified antique dealers into a room and ask the question, “How old is an antique?” you may receive ten different answers from the group. It’s not that antique dealers do not understand their business; the age of an antique is just a complicated question that can have a wide variety of answers.

All About Antique Age Categories:
Items can be classed into the category of ‘antique’ after they are 100 years old. In the United States, the U.S. Customs office uses this age100+ rule to define the line between an antique item and the vintage or collectible items that were made closer to today. However, there are times when reproductions are older than one hundred years, and newer items are considered old in their field. The term ‘antique’ becomes blurred when factors exist to cause exceptions to the 100-year rule. There are a variety of terms that can be used to describe an old item:

Antiquity = Ancient or very old items of interest.
Antique = All items that are older than 100-years.
Reproduction Antique = Reproduced items that are older than 100-years.
Antique Collectible = Items older than 100-years that people like to collect.
Heirloom = A vintage piece that is in a family for over 50-years.
Period Piece = All ages of items that are grouped by decade or time-period.
Vintage = Items that are over age 50, or early items from a newer time-period of collecting.
Reproduction = Reproductions can be of all ages and time periods.
Collectible = Everything new or old that people like to collect.

The bottom-line to the question of, “How old is an antique?” is that antique dealers and antique collectors all hold their own thoughts on what terminologies to use while describing their treasures, family possessions, or collections. Older people will refer to their antique items as ‘collectibles’ and younger people will refer to their collectibles as ‘vintage antiques’.
Kay Davenport writes for Antiques Furniture - her personal hobby blog focused on experiences related to antique furniture restoration . She helps her family and friends learn how to restore and evaluate their antique pieces.

Monday, February 15, 2010


A couple of years after I first discovered Sasha dolls in 1972 I created a series of black and white photographs of the dolls for a small gallery show.
This Sasha, dressed in a bikini outfit created by one of the "dollsandreams" home designers, was a favorite model of mine. In the black and white photo I was inspired by the 1930s Hollywood glamour photos by George Hurrell who became famous for his single point of light, deep shadowed images of Garbo and Crawford.

With all this snow around I thought it might be fun to think about our friends "down under" who are enjoying warmer, sunny weather.


For the past couple of years I have been working on a book titled "DARE TO FAIL: the risk factor of success"
When I teach, the first thing I always write on the blackboard is this observation.

"There are no lessons in success. All the lessons are in failure -- if we are willing to learn from our mistakes."

This is one brief chapter from that book.


Wall Street is a rat race. Madison Avenue is a rat race. Park Avenue is a rat race. Seventh Avenue is a rat race.Hey, let's go to the races!Let's go to the three-legged race. When I was a kid at camp back in the 1940s, we sang songs around the campfire and roasted marshmallows on a stick. We swam in the lake and paddled canoes. And we had three-legged races. That's a race where two campers have one of their legs tied to one of another camper's legs creating two campers with three legs. Depending on how mismatched the campers are in height, weight, and skill makes the race that much more fun. The more extreme the mismatch the bigger the laughs. This is one game where winning is not half as exciting as running the race itself. This is the perfect example of there only being lessons in failure because running a three-legged race is all about co-operation, overcoming obstacles, and compensating for differences. Pretty good life skills.Most of the players in the various rat races would do a lot better if they had run more three-legged races. I have many fond memories of the hundreds of three-legged races I participated in during my otherwise misspent youth. I was a tall, fat kid with poor co-ordination and that made me a great learning experience for my partners because we failed a lot more often than we succeeded. But when we learned from our failures it made success that much sweeter. The three-legged race was important to me for another reason; I'm an only child and sharing and co-operation and compensating were skills I desperately needed to learn and I learned them tied to the leg of a fellow camper. Now, when I'm in a relationship, I apply all of those lessons I learned at camp because all relationships are really three-legged and in order to succeed you have to risk being tied together--you have to dare to fail together.I want you to think about the successful relationships you know and think about how those two people interact. Is one running ahead alone with the other desperately trying to keep up? Is one dragging the other? Or pushing the other?Or are they tied together, co-operating with each other, overcoming obstacles, and compensating for their differences. Are they daring to risk failure together so that they can share success together.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


This Sasha loves her blue jeans and here she is modeling two very different versions -- borrowed from other dolls. First is an outfit from Carpatina called "Summer Fun" and features an embroidered and gem accented blouse over laced front bellbottoms. The outfit was designed for the slim version of Carpatina dolls, The fit is a tiny bit loose on Sasha but good if belted or worn over a shirt.
The second outfit is from the Tomy "Kimberly" doll fashion collection. Simply titled "Jeans Outfit" it consists of snug fitting slim leg jeans with realistic detailing and a cute lace trim short-sleeve sweater. The outfit is completed with molded plastic sneakers and a bright yellow Frisbee.
These two outfits represent a sort of reversal in time because the Tomy outfit from 1984 looks very contemporary and the 2010 jeans from Carpatina look quite retro and reflect the styles of the 1970s.
Sasha is a girl of many moods and likes both styles.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


This beautiful brunette studio doll was created by Sasha Morgenthaler and was in the "dollsandreams" collection. When I wrote my first DOLLS magazine article about Sasha dolls I had the privilege of photographing this stunning studio doll.
At the time, she had a strange thin white film over her entire face and body that I suspected was the result of the plastic drying out. After carefully removing all of her clothing I tested a small area on the back of her neck using baby oil. Since most plastics are oil based I thought rubbing oil into the surface, and letting it soak in, might eliminate the white film. If you have ever heard the expression "just dumb luck" you'll understand why this turned out to be the solution to the problem. After applying several coats of the baby oil to the doll's surface the white film vanished.
Years later I heard that other collector's had used similar techniques to restore some of the studio dolls that had developed this condition.
In the early 1970s the studio dolls were prized by collectors but had not yet reached the value they enjoy today both esthetic and monetary.
Sadly, these photos do not do this doll justice -- she is far more beautiful in person. At the time I had a deadline to meet and only took these few photos. She had a stunning blonde sister in a white dress that I also restored but never photographed.
Now, looking into her face, I realize just how unique she really is. Even in these photos one can see the beauty of her eyes and the soulful expression of her face. Her tie-dyed dress seems unusual by comparison to most of the dresses I have seen in various books and publications.

I wish that I had taken more photos of both dolls but, as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and back then I had no idea what these dolls would come to mean to all of us decades later

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Friday, February 12, 2010


Sasha, Gregor, and Baby are looking forward to Valentine's Day and receiving greeting cards and boxes full of chocolates. These kids from my first family loved posing together and were favorite models in my studio back then.


I was blessed with two very different Grandmothers. While Nana Laura was witty and outspoken with a unique but oddball wisdom, Nana Anna was a complete opposite.
At 16 Anna left Sweden for America to find "something better to do" than herd goats. She spoke no English and her first experience on these shores was a rude awakening. When she left Ellis Island and set foot in New York City she saw a fruit and vegetable vendor hawking his wares. Anna had never seen a tomato and, mistaking it for an apple, took a hearty bite. The result was her shocking introduction to America.
Anna was very tall and had powerful Nordic features that echoed her Viking heritage. She got a job as a nurse in a madhouse where she had to subdue the raving patients. That experience would later help when she raised three daughters. She married another Swede who owned a successful butcher shop in Brooklyn.
Their home was in the middle-class section a few blocks away from the mansion where Nana Laura lived. And that is how my parents happened to attend the same school and fall in love as teens.
Nana Anna went to church. Nana Laura did not. They both drank brandy -- Laura did it openly but Anna kept a ladylike flask in her purse "for her heart" and to get her through the boring Sunday sermons.
Laura was intentionally funny, but Anna was often accidentally amusing. For example, Anna had very poor vision and claimed to be blind. But she actually had eyes like a hawk. One Sunday morning, when I was seventeen, we were all at breakfast when Anna peered across the table at me and announced "Teddy has a love bite on his neck."
But it was Anna who stood up for me when I wanted to go to California that summer. My parents did not think I was old enough to travel across the country by myself.
Nana Anna scoffed and said, "I came to America at 16 and didn't speak English." Then she bought me a round-trip ticket to California.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


As Valentines Day approaches I went back into my archives and found these photos of my first Sasha family who are all "in the pink" and loving it. The variations on a Sailor Suit were created by one of the "dollsandreams" home designers. She made many different versions of the basic sailor suit and they were very popular with the young collectors who gathered every Saturday to see what was new for Sasha that week.