By Sharla Rae
Writers live, eat and breathe writing, but imagination and creativity is something that migrates into every aspect of our lives. Here, under the topic of Other Obsessions I’m pleased to talk about one of my other obsessions. My doll collection.
I love my collection because it’s not the usual type with only antiques, Barbies or artist dolls. I collect dolls from all over the world in their native costumes, many handmade. That’s not to say that I don’t have a few of the other types. I do.
Another thing that makes the collection unique is that like my writing, it’s from the heart. While some of the dolls are quite valuable now, value or potential value isn’t how I choose them. If a doll touches something inside me, they earn a home in my doll cabinet. Like old and familiar friends, each and every one has its own story. Some, I admit have been gifts from friends who know me and my collection well, but most have arrived via my travels.
My husband started the whole thing. He’s Chinese and one day in the autumn of our first year of marriage, he took me shopping at an Asian grocery in Des Moines, Iowa. Amidst the cans of lychee and bamboo shoots, I spied a beautiful Korean doll sitting all by herself. Something about her made me smile and want to dance. She’s in a sitting position with a long string instrument across her lap, and her dainty, individually-sewn cloth fingers lay on the strings. The store owner said she was a wedding singer.
Believe it or not, I didn’t purchase the doll. I’ve always been practical and like most newlyweds hubby and I watched our pennies. But a couple months later on Christmas morning, there she was, my first Christmas present from my husband. He’d remembered, and he couldn’t have given me anything I would’ve liked better.
I now think of my little wedding singer as the First Lady of my collection which has grown to around 180 dolls representing 44 countries. These include, of course, a few novelties like my Star Trek Barbies, a few antiques and art dolls.
I’ll probably be talking about particular dolls once in a while. But right now, I’m going to relax on the sofa with a cup of chamomile tea and imagine great romances for a couple of them. I wonder . . . Is there a mysterious hero hidden behind the one with the ghastly African mask over his face?