Saturday, March 14, 2009

About Studio Dolls

Sasha Morgenthaler at workTasha's entry below makes me want to talk more about Sasha Studio dolls. I started an entry on this a long time ago and never finished, because there is so much that could be said it is overwhelming, so it's hard to know where to begin, what to say and what to leave out, because I don't want to write a whole book here.

So first, one paragraph about Sasha Morgenthaler. Sasha (a nickname) was born as Mary Magdelena Alexandra von Sinner in Bern, Switzerland on 30 November 1893. She studied painting and sculpture in her late teens/early 20's and married Ernst Morgenthaler, an artist, in 1916. She had 3 children, 2 sons and a daughter and made cloth dolls and animals for them when they were young. Sasha was trained as a mid-wife in 1934, and began doing commissioned art-work in her late 40's. She was 50 when she trained a team to assist her in production of her studio dolls. Sasha traveled all over the world and worked to aid refugees and children around the world. While her studio dolls were beautiful and popular, they were necessarily expensive because of the labor involved. She had a dream to have her dolls mass-produced so they might be affordable for all children to enjoy. This dream was realized in 1964/1965 when she signed manufacturing licenses with Gotz and Frido. She continued making dolls in her own studio and teaching doll making courses until she passed away 18 February 1975.

And now one paragraph on the studio dolls. Do you think I can do that? Sasha's earliest dolls had cloth bodies. Over time she experimented with different materials, such as gypsum (fiber reinforced plaster), wax, and early synthetic plastics. Sasha hand painted the faces on all of her dolls. The faces and even limbs are slightly assymetrical, and they do not have grins plastered on them. Because of this, the dolls can reflect a wide variety of different moods and emotions with a slight tilt of the head and can be sympathetic to any mood of the owner. As a child, Sasha once tried to scratch the grin off one of her dolls when she was feeling sad and her doll was not sympathizing with her. The dolls are proportioned like real children and are well balanced and free-standing. Sasha selected the fabric for each doll's clothing. Most dolls wore simple play clothes similar to what their owner's might wear, but some also wore lovely white dresses (which real little girls sometimes wore too). She made dolls representing all nationalities in the world and all socio-economic classes. Many represented street urchins. She also made commissioned dolls representing real individual children. The studio dolls were made in all different skin tones, though her signature brown-toned dolls were common. Most of the manufactured dolls were made in this brown tone which was intended to be a blending of the colors of all the children in the world.

Okay, one more paragraph. Sasha studio dolls are often identified with a letter and a roman numeral, e.g. Type C III. The letter represents the body type. A is a non-jointed cloth body. B is a jointed cloth body. C represents molded, jointed bodies of reinforced gypsum or synthetic molding. D refers to cloth babies, and E to synthetic or gypsum babies. F babies are similar to E, but the legs are straight and are sometimes called toddlers. The face types are harder to describe without pictures. I is a squarish face, and II is a rounder face, III is an oval face and probably one of the most commonly used, where IV is more of heart-shaped face. Most dolls were signed by Sasha on the sole of the foot. The signature would include Sasha's name, a molding code, the sequential number of the doll for a given year, the year (065= 1965), the body and face type and a code for the molding material. Sasha made roughly 150-200 dolls a year for over 30 years. She also instructed doll making workshops for many years, and her assistant, Trudi Loffler, continued teaching workshops until 1993. The dolls made in these workshops are known as course dolls.

If you want to know more, I recommend Sasha Dolls through the Years by Dorisanne Osborn and Sasha Puppen Sasha Dolls Bentali Verlag Bern mentioned in my entry on Sasha resources. That is where I got most of this information, and they both contain a lot more plus you'll get wonderful pictures besides. MamaT says she will probably never own a studio doll, but has thoroughly enjoyed their pictures in books, magazine articles, cards and on internet web sites. She says she is really grateful Sasha Morgenthaler designed these dolls that give so many people enjoyment, and we dolls, well we wouldn't exist otherwise, so we are REALLY grateful too.

Oh yes, and today's link. For a few more studio dolls, see Kelly's site:
And for a new site I haven't sent you to yet just for fun, see Lorraine's site:
Here's a sampling of few dolls in the Sasha Puppen Sasha Dolls book. I think the girl in the lower right corner was the inspiration for Yamka.

A few of my favorites--okay they're all my favorite

No comments: