Crowds flock to see dolls, bears

EMMA HORSLEY
Last updated 10:58 02/07/2012
Porcelain Doll and Bear Show
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Porcelain Doll and Bear Show
Dolls
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
PRETTY PORCELAIN: Hundreds of people flooded through the doors for the annual Porcelain Doll and Bear Show at the Community Hall in Ferguson St, Palmerston North.

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Numbers might be dwindling in the doll-making clubs but plenty of people wanted to come and look at the Porcelain Doll and Bear Show in Palmerston North at the weekend.

And they were buying up large too.

Committee members Jeanette Gray and Jude Le Fleming-Herd said that while the Manawatu club had dropped to a dozen stalwart members it was encouraging to see how many people were interested in the art of doll and bear-making.

"Who knows, it might make a resurgence," said Mrs Gray.

The show at the Community Centre in Ferguson St is one of the biggest in the country, rivalling Auckland for entries in the doll and bear-making competitions, but not quite able to top Christchurch.

"That's the biggest show, but we have people entering from all over the country, from as far south as Invercargill and as far north as Whangarei. But it is a dying art, which is a shame."

The women hoped that some of the people who came through the show might be inspired to join the club.

They believe collecting things as beautiful as handmade dolls and bears will come back into fashion.

"It's a throwaway culture at the moment, but I think people are now looking at getting back into the retro way of living," said Mrs Gray.

On display and for sale were dolls from the 1950s and 1960s, included highly collectable black dolls from the Pedigree company alongside the more traditional pale-skinned dolls.

Mrs Gray said she got into doll making when her children grew up and left home.

"I used to do ceramics but there are only so many plates and casseroles you can make, so then I got into dolls.

"It's great, the kids moved out and I moved in the dolls. They don't eat as much and they are a lot quieter."

Mrs Le Fleming-Herd is the sole bear maker at the club and teaches the art of bear-making and repair.

"The bears are more popular to buy and people use them as accessories at home," she said.

Entries into the competition categories were varied and not all were rosy-cheeked, curly-haired princesses. Zombies, chubby old men and little old ladies were taking out prizes for originality and workmanship.

Mrs Gray said people would make three or four dolls a year for competition and she kept everything she made.

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- Manawatu Standard

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