Not many people would drop 700 dollars on a toy, but the dolls in the Gotz Artist Dolls Collection frequently sell for that much and sometimes even more. Only several hundred each of these limited edition dolls are ever produced. They have real human hair, mouth blown glass eyes and handmade clothing. Some look more real than actual children, which is both awe-inspiring and frightening.
I’ve never been a girl who cared much about dolls, but these dolls have so much personality that I have to restrain myself from pulling out a credit card and skipping groceries for the next four months.
The entire 2009 Gotz Artist Dolls Collection is wonderful; but one doll artist makes my heart explode more than the others. Her name is Hildegard Gunzel and the dolls in this post are all examples of her work with Gotz Dolls in 2009.
Although the realism she achieves is captivating, there are more subtle forces at work in Gunzel’s depiction of childhood. These dolls are made to be loved. It’s apparent in their expressions and they demand it without reproach. Each one looks as if it’s eternally waiting for an answer to an unspoken question.
Hildegard Gunzel started making dolls over 35 years ago when she tried to give one to her son. She told Dolls Magazine, “I was determined that my oldest son, Kai, would not grow up with the usual gender stereotypes. I wanted to raise him to be a nurturing, peaceful man.” But she made him a doll that didn’t quite turn out the way she had planned. “It was hideous,” she said. “It actually scared him. He cried when he saw it.”
The dolls that Gunzel makes now are meant for adult collectors. My aunt is one such collector and has cabinets full of antique dolls in handmade clothing. She explained that when she was young, her mother made her donate every one of her childhood dolls to charity. It was a painful experience, so now she collects.
The bond between children and their playthings can be irreplaceable and lasts a lifetime.
When Gunzel began making dolls in the 1970s she noticed an interesting trend. European women, who had lost dolls as children in World War II, spent hours shopping at flea markets for dolls like they had. In an interview with Dolls Magazine, Gunzel said that she had even read stories about women who reunited with their own exact dolls. They could identify them by imperfections and marks.
Immediately loveable, Hildegard Gunzel’s dolls exemplify the power that playthings can have over our emotions. Even for someone who has never understood the appeal of dolls, Gunzel is demonstrating that there is more to a toy than play.
This has been a Growing Tree Toys, “Amazing Toys” post! Huge thanks go to Samantha’s Collectable Dolls for the images!