Raggedy Ann & Andy

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A doll group to which I belong asked members to post memories of a doll from our childhoods. Here’s mine, followed by pictures I took today of the dolls mentioned at the end of the story:

“A doll I still love dearly is one my father brought me when he returned from a business trip from out of the state. I was a young girl, five years old. Oh, I remember my father handing me the box and how very happy I was! I loved my new friend so very much! He was a 19″ Raggedy Andy, and he was pure delight and perfection. I carried Andy everywhere I went. I slept with Andy. I shared my thoughts, wishes, and dreams with Andy. He was my best friend. I vividly remember holding one of his hands and “walking” side by side with Andy. I held his left hand in my right hand, always. One day, after a few years of holding hands, Andy’s left arm fell off. I cried. I was inconsolable. I thought I had killed him, and I was devastated. My mother could barely get Andy away from me so she could “operate” on him. I lay on my bed crying, brokenhearted. Moments later, my mother brought Andy back to me, his arm reattached. I hugged him so tight. I was elated! I loved and still cherished Andy for many years, even when his cloth body and face began to wear, shredding. We had a funeral for Andy when I was in my early 20s, though I have never truly said goodbye to Andy. He lives eternally in my heart. I told this story to Andy’s creator, Johnny Gruelle’ s son, Worth, years ago when I met him. Gosh, what a kind and nice elderly man he was! He smiled and told me, “That is how your relationship with Andy should be. You lived in his painted-on heart, and he lives in your heart.” Oh, my gosh! He autographed a set of my Ann and Andy dolls and my Marcella book that his dad had written about his sister! What precious memories!”

Ann and Andy sittingAnn fullAnn Gruelle autograph

My Favorite Doll Photograph

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I am no ace or professional photographer by any definition, although I admittedly enjoy photographing my beautiful and handsome dolls, primarily for my various blogs.  Because I do maintain several blogs, I take doll pictures regularly–usually daily.  Particularly because I have done a number of 365 projects–including the current one on my blog With Perfect Heart–I have taken hundreds of doll pictures of the past few years.  Some pictures are far better than others, and I confess that I have thought some of them above average–including the one which one the top prize for photography at the 2012 Tonner Doll Convention.  Another favorite is my Cythna (blonde Cami) standing amongst red roses on a gorgeous spring day; Robert Tonner, Cami’s creator, signed that photograph for me, and it hangs on my wall.  Everyone takes a stellar photograph occasionally, even those of us who are not trained photographers or who do not own top-of-the-line cameras and equipment.

Photography is a form of art, and the most important element of a stellar photograph is, for me, that the heart and soul of the photographer somehow emit from the photograph, as if imprinted with a fingerprint.  The artist must exist in her or his work for that work to have depth, authenticity, and–yes–life.  Art is a reflection of life, but only when that life transfers from artist to art.  I have stood in museums and gazed in awe at the works of Monet, Renoir, and Degas.  The stunning beauty, the colors that appear as if back-lit by the sun, the fluidity, the movement, the peace–magic.  These artists poured themselves into their works, onto their canvases, and it brings their works to life.  Photographers do the same.  When the subject matters personally to the artist and she or he connects with and becomes part of the subject, that transference occurs.

This happened to me the other day as I staged and took a photograph of Angilia for my blogs.  The pictures I take of her and her family members–who are, in fact, doll versions of characters I created and wrote to life in my novel Heart-Glow–are based on that novel and future novels in the series.  The characters and the novel draft pre-date the dolls, which are merely three-dimensional portraits of the characters.  Those pictures are true in respect to the novel that is published and those to follow in these coming years.  This particular picture was no different, and was born in the diary entries about her blessed past which Angilia shares with her father Eric in Chapter 7 of Heart-Glow.  I knew ahead of time what I wanted the picture to look like, although I doubted that the actual picture would live up to that vision.

After I took the picture and uploaded it to my computer so I could upload it to my blogs, I opened the picture–and stared at it for several minutes.  Had I just taken that picture?  I staged it in my upstairs hallway against a wall, with only the two hall ceiling lights on.  Without any arrogance, I admit that the colors, the seeming lit-from-behind quality that I saw, pleasantly surprised me.  I honestly consider this the best photograph I have ever taken.  With this picture, I took one baby step closer to my beloved Monet and Renoir and Degas, whose paintings never fail to take my breath and stun me.  I may never take another picture similar to this in quality, but I took this one, as if my magic.  I placed the backdrop, as always for doll pictures, I placed the “clouds” and the unicorn, and of course Angilia, I aimed the camera while sprawled on the floor, and I snapped the picture.  That is all I did, which is what I always do.  Something truly wondrous happened this time.  This photograph of Angilia and her Heavenly unicorn friend Bracken Pretty Coat is my favorite of all of the doll pictures I have taken.

Angilia with Bracken Pretty Coat

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

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Zelda Sayre

Born: 24 July 1900 in Montgomery, Alabama

Died: 10 March 1948 in Asheville, North Carolina

Married: Francis Scott Fitzgerald on 3 April 1920 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City

Novelist, short story writer, poet, artist, dancer, and original “Flapper Girl” who inspired most of her husband’s works

My 2nd cousin 3 times/generations removed

My tribute to her in the form of a OOAK custom portrait doll

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