I used to be Beth Owens. I started collecting in 1992, and have been in and out of this hobby over the past 30 years. Back in the day, I wrote for Miller’s, Doll Reader, Haute Doll, and other publications. I also wrote the book Contemporary Fashion Dolls: The Next Generation, in which I chronicled the emergence of 16” and larger fashion dolls like Gene, Tyler Wentworth, Somers & Field (aka Willow and Daisy, aka The Mod British Birds), and others. In addition, I focused on modern Cissy, and found that I loved the big head aesthetic. Originally, I intended to write an update to my book but I was overwhelmed with the huge number of fashion dolls that came out in the wake of publication. Integrity introduced numerous lines, many designed by Jason Wu, who started out designing for Barbie and, later, important people like First Lady Michelle Obama. Among the Integrity lines were Fashion Royalty, Nu Face, Industry, and Poppy Parker. And then there were the resin ball jointed dolls out of Asia. Some looked like they stepped off the screen of Japanese anime while others were high fashion dolls with attitude. Additionally, Robert Tonner was busy with Antoinette, Cami and Jon, and an adult version of Marley Wentworth. And there was also this doll called Ellowyne Wilde.
Instead of writing a second volume of my book, I went back to nursing and went to graduate school. I also got divorced and was a single mom for several years. After I got married to the nicest man I’ve ever known, I changed my name, making some people I knew back in the day wonder who on earth I am! I went back to graduate school and finished my master’s degree in nursing education. And then I decided to get a PhD in nursing. I put my dolls away because I didn’t have time—or money—for them. The doctoral program was rigorous and difficult. It was also one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life. It was a huge mismatch because it focused on research rather than teaching. The program was intense and competitive and the resulting stress was worse than anything else I’d ever experienced. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia before starting my master’s program, and the stress of the doctorate made it even worse.
So let’s go to 2014, the most stressful year in my life. The wife of a ministerial colleague of my husband’s ran a workshop on meditation, but my fibromyalgia was bad enough that I couldn’t participate in all the exercises. The woman recommended I try meditating on an object, something like a crystal or beads or any random thing. I remembered how my dolls had always been an object of comfort for me. When my grandmother died, I sat on the stairs in my house and brushed a doll’s hair. So I unboxed some of my Tyler Wentworth dolls. One day I got an email about a sale at Wilde Imagination and ordered one doll because I was curious and had never seen an Ellowyne before. And that sealed my fate.
Ellowyne checks all my boxes. There are advantages to having an archival approach to a collection, and I have that with many of my dolls. I enjoy playing and keep a number of dolls to dress and redress (often in handmade clothing!), to change wigs, and hopefully one day to put into room boxes. Ellowyne is one of my muses. She inspires me to make jewelry, finally learn to knit, and do my own sewing. My other muse is Rufus, but that’s a topic for a different day, different discussion! Ellowyne and Rufus make me want to write. In graduate school, writing had to conform to scholarly requirements and it became a burdensome, soul-sucking task for me. But thanks to my muses, I’m writing what I WANT to write, not what I HAVE to write.
Well, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy my stories and will come back regularly to read my stuff. Gentle hugs!