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Monday, January 28, 2013


Chili doll 'doctor' to soon close shop

Jan 28, 2013   
Written by Alan Morrell
For decades, Linda Greenfield has been preserving childhood memories and valuable keepsakes as the doll doctor of Chili.
But the doctor’s office is closing soon. Greenfield, who has run the Victorian Doll Museum & Chili Doll Hospital on Buffalo Road for 43 years, has decided that this will be her last year in business.
Doll collecting isn’t as popular as it once was, Greenfield said, and her craft is becoming outdated. She’s also looking to spend more time with the grandkids.
“I’m kind of like Kodak,” said Greenfield, 61, who closed the museum last year and sold many of the roughly 3,000 dolls she owned. “I could be here another 10 years, but I’m realistic. The importance that dolls once held in people’s lives has taken a back seat to technology today. Time brings change. I’m ready for change in my life.”
 Maybe she is, but some collectors are mourning the news. Kathy Case of Spencerport, a longtime friend and collector, called Greenfield’s work “impeccable.”“It’s a lost art,” Case said. “She’s restoring family heirlooms. You wonder, down the road, who will take care of things like this. Linda belongs in the Smithsonian herself.”
Greenfield works with modern doll series like American Girl, but many of the dolls she mends are antiques with porcelain heads and hands. And with age comes wear, particularly at the hands of enthusiastic children. Greenfield has replaced plenty of poked-out eyes and worn-out wigs since she started the business as a 15-year-old, originally working out of her parents’ home.
Greenfield started collecting when she was 8. Her maternal grandfather was an antiques dealer, and he often surprised her with dolls he had come across. One of her earliest prizes was a Bye-Lo Baby doll, one of the first realistic baby dolls ever constructed. The dolls were made in the 1920s with a bisque head and glass eyes that open and close.
Greenfield also played with Barbies as a child. It wasn’t long before she transitioned from playing with dolls to becoming immersed in the hobby of collecting. She went to antique shops and hobby shows with her mother. Frequently, they saw dolls that needed fixing, and that’s when Greenfield got the idea of becoming a “doll doctor.”
 “I always took art classes and ceramic classes,” said Greenfield, a lifelong resident of Chili. I’d already started trying to make my own dolls. In high school, I decided to have my own business.”She took a mail-order class in doll repair and opened up shop at home. Looking for a space with “room to grow for years and years,” Greenfield moved the business to its current location — 4332 Buffalo Road — in 1970. The building once housed a general store, as well as a grocery, dry cleaner, print shop and barber shop, Greenfield said. Eventually, upstairs apartments became available, and Greenfield and her parents moved in.
“Dad helped me with the soldering gun, and showed me how to hook up an air compressor,” she said. “Mom helped me with the artistic side.”
Her mother, Elizabeth, greeted customers as the place’s hostess for years. She died last year.
“A lot of people called her Aunt Betty,” Greenfield said, before pausing to choke back a tear. They went to many a mother-daughter banquet over the years, she explained.
Greenfield calls herself a caretaker as much as a “doctor,” and it’s apparent by the sensitivity she dedicates to her craft. While displaying one antique doll, she tenderly cradles it in the crook of her elbow as if holding a genuine newborn. She shares a story about a woman who gave her a cherished doll because the woman had severe arthritis and worried she would drop it.
Greenfield’s collection has shrunk to about 200 dolls. They’re not all the most cash-valuable ones.
“It’s not just the doll, but the person that owned it that I’m remembering,” she said. “I’ve gotten many letters from satisfied clients, including one from a woman who had a 40-year-old doll ‘reborn.’ That’s been my function — not only doing the work, but bringing back a little piece of yesterday.”
Greenfield has doctored dolls for museums as well as individuals. She once worked as a contractor for the old Strong Museum, when it was known as the “Museum of Fascination” and operated at the Allen’s Creek Road residence of Margaret Woodbury Strong in Pittsford. She once met the eccentric and wealthy Strong, a noted doll collector who called young Linda her “little competition.”
 “I said, ‘Not really, you get all the good stuff,’ ” Greenfield remembered.Greenfield’s “hospital” and museum have been featured in national publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest. As a youngster, she was interviewed by Rochester broadcast legend Eddie Meath and appeared on the long-ago Miss Rita’s Romper Room TV show. Her place has been featured on AAA’s TripTiks and visited by tour buses.
And soon, it will be no more. The place has been closed since just after Christmas time, but will reopen in mid-March. There’s still inventory to clear out. Greenfield said she will be doing more limited work this year, and she has not set a definite closing date.
“She’s given it her life,” said Case, the longtime friend. “I don’t know if people are passing on their heirlooms, but she kept it going with people who cherished that. I don’t think kids are having dolls at a young age so much. They’re all forced to grow up so quickly. But us big kids like having our dolls around.”

Get to know Linda Greenfield

• Greenfield’s doll collections includes the Dionne quintuplets, “nurse dolls” that have been donated to the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives, and Japanese dolls that came from a family visiting from Tokyo.
• Greenfield has done work on dolls from all over the United States as well as Canada.
• Greenfield attaches a “hospital wrist tag” with the name of her business to dolls that have been doctored.
• Her for-sale inventory includes Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls, porcelain collector dolls, Russian nesting dolls and lace and doll clothing.
• Her daughter, Christina, and husband, Bob, have helped out at the shop for years

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Master doll fixer finally finds his apprentice 

Jan. 13, 2013,
The Brisbane Doll and Teddy Hospital has been restoring treasured companions and playmates since the early 1940s.
George Georgiou, 65, has been running the business since 1977.
He is among the best at what he does, but as age has begun to wear on his own joints and other moving parts, the doll doctor has had to consider the future - his own, and that of his loyal clients.
Enter Laki Augustakis.
The 49-year-old had known Mr Georgiou for years, first through soccer and neighbourhood activities and then through his frequent visits to the iconic South Brisbane store delivering food.
“A friend of mine passed away and all my customers were worried about what was going to happen if I wasn’t here to look after their dolls,” Mr Georgiou said.
“And Laki used to deliver stuff to me every week and he was fascinated in what I did.
"He looked interested so I showed him a few things, just a couple of minutes a day when he would deliver and he seemed quite taken with it - and the rest is history.”
Mr Augustakis tells it a little differently.
“One day he said he was ‘busy, busy, busy’ and could I help him, because I had a background in construction. I didn’t know what I could do, but I said yes and one day led to another day to another day and here we are,” he said.
“My friends are stirring me up now asking me how my dolls are today. It’s not a career I would have thought of, but life throws these things at you and you should grab them with both hands. There is never a dull moment here.
"You’re always doing something different. The best thing is when you hand the doll back and you someone’s eyes light up.
"You hear a story about a doll and how much it means to a person and when they get it back, the thing that they love is back with them. It’s always a happy moment.”
If there were further proof needed that Mr Augustakis had fallen into the job he’d been waiting for, he’s never found a doll even remotely creepy.... except for maybe the lifelike newborn dolls.
“There are so many dolls heads and parts around that you start to get a bit blasé about the creepiness of it...but if they ever talk to me, it’s time to go,” he laughed.
Mr Georgiou said finding the right person to teach the craft was difficult – it wasn’t just about skills, he was looking for a certain attitude, a special spark - the same passion he himself feels for the job.
And as much as the pair enjoys stirring each other up and poking fun, theirs is a relationship of mutual respect, Mr Georgiou said.
Although, Mr Augustakis shouldn’t expect to find himself alone in the store anytime soon.
“He has a long way to go before he takes over,” Mr Georgiou said.
“A long, long way to go.”
However, it seems the master has finally found his apprentice.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Sickly? Artist creates life-size chocolate baby heads

"The look of the heads is quite controversial but if everybody liked them then it wouldn't be as fun to make them," says Annabel.

"At first, I found them a little bit disturbing but the more of them you see and create, the more you just get used to them. I was asked to make them to shock people and that's what I've done so from that point of view, I've accomplished the mission.

"It's quite surprising really but I don't actually like chocolate that much and there had to be a lot of experimenting to get the heads exactly how I wanted them to be but now that I have I think they're great."

If you're unsure how you would actually get into the chocolate head, think of it as an Easter egg - a light tap should do it. Or, as Annabel helpfully suggests, whack it with a hammer.


Doll Parts Faces

Freya Jobbins via Co.Design
Australian artist Freya Jobbins takes doll parts and recycles them into awesome/terrifying new faces. It's a little reminiscent of Sid's toys in the first Toy Story. (This is actually one of the less scary ones; see more at Co.Design.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Would you like to read the profile of a Colliii Award winning doll artist, maybe find out some ideas for your dolls at the 2013 Colliii Awards...
Discover Cheryl van Pletzen, winner of the Best Overall Reborn and Best Baby 2012...
(Includes video) What was your initial reaction when you saw the winner of "Best Reborn Overall"?
Cheryl: My heart skipped a beat and then started pounding in my chest, I just couldn't believe it! What about on seeing the second prize? "Best Reborn Baby"?
Cheryl: My mind was still spinning, trying to believe that my Rainer was awarded 'Best Reborn Overall'........I mean I was always hopeful, I just didn't expect such an amazing result! What have you done with little Rainer?
Cheryl: I didn't even expect to be nominated, so in the last week of the Colliii's I decided to list her on e-bay. Her auction ended just hours after she was announced a winner!....she's now living in Texas, USA Was this your first time entering the Colliii Awards? What expectations did you have? Why did you enter?

Cheryl: 2012 was my first time entering....I had no idea what to expect at all, it all seemed so exciting though. I missed out on last years Awards as I only heard of Collliii right at the time of the 2011 voting. I love competitions, I love seeing other artists impressions of the same kits, OOAK and fantasy dolls. I had heard how prestigious the Colliii Awards are and onlyreally 'dreamed' of winning. What brought you into Reborning dolls?
Cheryl: I was searching for a 'baby mannequinn' to model my hand knitted baby clothes and stumbled across a reborn doll on e-bay....I bought the first one I spotted. When he arrived, I picked him up and his head fell off! I thought, I can do better than this! favourite things in the world, babies, baby clothes and painting! I go to bed and wake up thinking about reborning.... Do you make custom orders? How do you promote your work?
Cheryl: I very rarely make custom orders, perhaps one or two a year....I  find woking to specification too restricting, it just doesn't feel comfortable. I use my website and forums to promote my work and occasionally when out shopping for baby clothes and people ask 'how old is the baby' I tell them all about reborning. Have you got any tips for new artists?
Cheryl: Oh yes.....get online and google everything you can on 'reborning' find a reborn supplier in your local area and/or e-bay and most important, join a forum or two. Forums are a great way to find out all those little tips on how to reborn and how to improve and also getting to know 'like minded' people really helps, especially when you come across negative responses from family and friends.
If you are lucky enough to attend a private reborning class, this will really put you ahead of the game. I taught myself from the old DVD's without any outside help for over a year! I was happy in my own little world, but I only started to improve once I'd attended reborning lessons.

 Ifyou can't get to lessons, there are wonderful Reborning and Rooting DVD's available, they are very reasonably priced and once you've familiarised yourself with the reborning process, you could sell them on.