Monthly Archives: April 2012

Bratz is Going Bald Too!

Not to be outdone by Mattel,  MGA Entertainment has announced that its Bratz dolls are going bald too!  Under the banner , “True Hope”, MGA is releasing three bald Bratz dolls, three bald Moxie Girlz dolls, and one bald Moxie Boyz doll.   Unlike Mattel’s Barbie, however the Bratz bald dolls will be offered to the general public for sale.   In addition, MGA is donating $1 for every doll sold to support cancer research at the City of Hope organization.

Apparently, Mattel is planning on distributing 10,000 of their bald Barbies directly to children stricken with cancer and other diseases, but there is an estimated 12,000 children suffering from diseases which cause them to lose their hair.

In contrast, Bratz is going to be appearing in retail stores in June, but a portion of the sales of the new dolls will be donated to City of Hope, a research, education and treatment center for cancer and other life threatening diseases.


Both these doll companies should be lauded for their efforts to help sick children understand that losing their hair does not make them less “beautiful.”  It is a shame that the courtroom showdowns between these two major doll companies has cast a shadow on this and other of their doll products.  I, for one, think there is enough room in this arena for both dollmakers and I say “kudo’s” to them both.

Some of my Cloth Dolls

Thought you might be interested in some of the cloth dolls I have made over the years.  I am trying various soft sculpt techniques, including the Waldorf method.  What is so great about cloth or rag dolls is how much variation you can achieve!

This rag doll was made using the Waldorf soft sculpture technique.  I like to paint my faces using acrylics and colored pencils.

This lady doll was also made using the Waldorf soft sculpture technique.  An “adult” figure was achieved by customizing the facial features, i.e. smaller eyes further down on the head,  and using a slimmer shaped body

These soft sculpted dolls have “flat” faces.  Facial features are accentuated with shadows.

Doll on the left was made from the wonderful patterns and instructions by Barbara Willis in her book CLOTH DOLL ARTISTRY  2009

Doll on right has a body cut from an original pattern by

Mary  Tressler…wonderful body design.  Head, hat and dress are my own creations.  

I would love to see some of your creations!  Leave your email address in a comment and I’ll contact you for your photos.

Excerpts of Conversation with Linda Lipfert White, Granddaughter of Doll Sculptor Bernard Lipfert

The following are excerpts of emails and conversations with Linda Lipfert White, the granddaughter of famed doll sculptor, Bernard Lipfert. I was able to visit  Linda who now lives in the Lipfert ancestral home in Westbury Long Island, New York during the summer of 2011.

Bernard Lipfert sculpted and creating dolls for most of the prominent doll and toy manufacturers in American from the 1920’s-1960’s including such successful dolls as Patsy, Shirley Temple, DyDee,  and many others.  Many articles were written about Bernarnd Lipfert and his dolls which, looking back is surprising as artists working for the large doll companies were not affored much credit for their creations.

Bernard Lipfert was born in the Thuringian  region of Germany in 1886. After an art education, he emigrated to the United States in 1912.  He married twice and had a son Max Lipfert, Linda’s father.  Having raised a family of her own, Linda  spends some of the time she is not attending to the grand-kids  in reconstructing the life of her grandparents, remembering the very human side of the man who has been dubbed the “Dean of American Dollmakers.”

Next year it will be 100 years since he came to this country and I still wish I had a bigger picture of his life.  He came from a family of toy makers, in Sonneberg… He was one of eight children.  I was given to understand that it was his brother who sent him to art school  Another picture places him in Ohrdorf, prior to emigration.  He came to this country to avoid the draft in Germany; his brother had emigrated prior to him. 

He came over initially in 1912, returned to Germany and came back with Frieda,(his first wife) in 1914. My father (Max Lipfert) was born in Brooklyn in 1915 by a midwife. They returned to Germany in 1920…to seek treatment for Frieda who suffered from TB.  They lived with my grandmother’s family in Schabhausen,Germany. 

Lipfert as a young man on right.  Frieda, his first wife seated in front of  Elsie, Lipfert’s second wife.

After Frieda died, my grandfather and Elsie (his second wife and Frieda’s sister)  returned to US, 1923.   Max(my father) returned to the US in 1926, on a ship by himself. 1930 census found them all in Brooklyn.  His (Lifpert’s) move in 1941 to Westbury as I remember was in part because of the damp basement he worked in.  As long as I can remember he and my grandmother would go to FL in the winter after the rush of preparing for the toy show finished.  The last doll that he (Lipfert) made, that went into production was when he was in his late 70’s.
Lynn:  Did your grandfather ever apply for a patent or copyright any of his doll creations?

Linda: I ask my mother how come he never copyrighted his stuff and she said “It was too much to do…” I mean he really liked to do his work…he had a patent for a doll that talked…that was in 1934 but he really didn’t want to get into royalties and all that stuff.

If he needed extra money he went to another manufacturer and said, ‘Do you want a variation thereof,’  and then he would do it and then he’d make various sizes… that again he would be charging for.

Lynn:  And of course they all liked the basic work he had done, like the Patsy doll…

Linda: Well that’s why I brought out this book  (shows Lynn the Composition doll book  I have a list of dolls from this book

But I can tell you just visually which ones were his because either I have in the attic or I have seen them in the house at some point…but her never displayed anything …. I am refurbishing what was his office and he had two chairs a small liquor cabinet and a card table because they always played cards and then he had a huge slab of marble that was his table.

Lynn: That’s what he worked on.

LINDA:  Yes that was his table and he had a florescent light, but he usually counted on daylight…he did like to work at night and that was it…he had a place for his plaster…he mixed his own plaster…he didn’t  have any helpers.

LYNN: Did he ever do any lady fashion dolls…looks like most of them were children?

LINDA:  …No, not only children…Revlon…I don’t know if Barbie was a little bit after Revlon?

LYNN: Revlon was about 1952 and Barbie came out in  1959

LINDA:  So he was the first one with dolls with boobs  and she had earrings…I have one upstairs.  He did Revlon…he did Betsy McCall…which is more a girl doll.

And his bridal dolls for Madame Alexander they weren’t really ladies…you’d have  to see the one upstairs…its not a girl …its not a woman; she doesn’t really  have a chest…its kind of an anjenou.

LYNN:  Are you aware that you were the model for the Baby Coos doll?

LINDA:  I heard that from my mother; I mean he tried to model my sister too, but she was very small from birth…she was five pounds at birth so he came over a couple to time to sketch her but I don’t think that he ever used her.   It’s funny because I asked my mother about    Amosandra because if you go into the articles they give a name of a lady who did illustrations…and she illustrated (Linda: is referring to Ruth Eleanor Newton who is credited with the design for the Amosandra doll.)

So sometimes you would have a concept; then they had the person who would draw the concept ; then you would have the modeler who would put it into a three dimensional final product; then there would be modifications.  They asked the lady (Newton) to draw  what they wanted and then he (Lipfert) sculpted  it .

Lynn:   I am not familiar with that doll?

Linda:  Amosandra was a baby of Amos from the Amos and Andy show…they had a baby on the program in fact that was …I have a picture of me… I was in first grade and  I am front and center holding an Amosandra doll and that’s the doll I loved to play with.

Lynn:  He sculpted a lot of character dolls.

Linda:  All kinds of dolls…he did Pebbles & Bam Bam… he did Campbell Kids, Patty Playpal, going back to 1924 Tynie Baby Patsy was 1928   Dydee was 1933,  the Qunituplets, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Babs Baby Food, Ginny doll, Betsy McCall…he did the Ricky doll from I Love Lucy.

And they were taking pictures and you see they gave him photographs …when he was doing…you see this was in Brooklyn but they gave him photographs of Shirley Temple

LYNN:  So this is actual photograph he was working from?

LINDA:  Apparently it was her (Temple’s) mother who picked him.

So what happened was , this is the grandmother I knew… this was her sister my father’s mother so she was a little older she is like 15 in this picture but she married my grandfather…he came over first then he brought her over and she contracted TB so after WWI, I think  1920 they went back and tried to get her treatment in Switzerland and she died  Then he got caught up in the Weimar Republic where he was worth nothing and he stayed on the farm to help and then and I don’t know who specifically, whether it was from  Horsman, or somebody else who had brought him over but they paid for his fare

LYNN: Do you know her name (grandmother)

LINDA:  Her name was Frieda

Lynn: So he married the sister

Linda:  Well she was the only one left…the sister and the grandmother were on the farm and in fact that particular grandmother left my father the farm which is in East Germany and he just relinquished the land  It didn’t seem to pay to go back…

LYNN:  Do you have any contact with their families or anyone else over there?

LINDA:  No not anymore…his niece used to come over and she was… she looked like “Brunhilda”…and she used to come over every so often…maybe three or four times.  This is in Brooklyn…this the grandmother that I knew…this is my grandfather….they had like a walk up and they had a full window here…this is where he would work; he would work on the first floor and the rest of the house…he always had a hat…he had thinning here he had his hat on…a fedora  before 1930’s

My father came over in between 1928 and 1930

Here is some other pictures:  This is Sonneburg this the town he came from …it’s Thuringinwald…its very Bavarian one of his grandmother’s owned a mill with a water wheel…my mother has the painting he did when he was 16 of the watermill…but this is the town…

LYNN:  Did you ever go on vacations with him…there are references to his going to Florida and the Adirondacks.

Linda:  They went up to Vermont NH…They used to go to Saratoga a lot. He liked the horses, so a lot of times he would walk to the raceway over here (Roosevelt Field) and he didn’t bet much,  but liked to watch the horses run…in Florida they went to Hialeah but that did not start until the 1950’s

LYNN: Did they have a house down there?

LINDA:  No they just stayed down there…usually they stayed for about 3 months, after the doll fair…

Lynn: Oh you mean the New York City Toy Fair?

Linda:  Yes, usually the end of January… February and after that it was like a hustle.  His birthday was December  22nd, if I remember right, and he would be working because the doll fair…you know it  was hard to pull  him down to eat…let alone blow out candles…then in the summer time they went for 2 months in July and August… when it was hot.

Lynn:  did he seem to like any doll companies better than any others?

Linda He appreciated Madam Alexander because she presented the doll in such a nice manner,  you know dressed them well.  He  had a soft spot for her…as a matter of fact he got himself into trouble…because…at one point there was…my mother told me this story.   There was a spinning wheel that belonged to my grandmother’s mother….and it was up in the attic… I cannot envision it, but  I can remember  when Madame Alexander came here…she came here…and it was somewhat like a celebrity coming to the house… she had furs and suits…

Lynn: How old would you say you were then?

Oh I can’t remember…I used to stay her at Easter time and Christmas time for a few days…probably 1950’s

But  anyways, as I said, I can’t envision Madame Alexander going up into the attic, but apparently my grandfather showed her this spinning wheel I don’t even know how the conversation started that it even existed,  but he told her about it and she liked it and wanted it and he gave it to her. Now I don’t know how she could take it out of the house without my grandmother knowing, but he gave it to her and my grandmother was just beside herself and said you have to get it back.  My grandmother was one for giving someone the cold shoulder and making life pretty miserable and my mother was the go between to make things better but the spinning wheel never came back.  I think it cost him a fur…

I think she got a fur out of that one.

Lynn:  What did he think about all the attention the media paid to him at the time?

Publicity photo of Lipfert sculpting a doll’s head

 Linda I told you he was asked to be interviewed by Edward R. Morrow when he was first  doing public television…when he first got started he wanted to interview my grandfather and he wouldn’t do it.  The family was biting at the bit, but he was afraid because he had a bit of an accent and it was the times…he was not a…I mean he was OK in the company of friends… he would tell jokes you know…he was very …he wasn’t a shy man…

LYNN:  But he wasn’t out looking for the attention.

Linda  No, no not looking.

Lynn: Did he feel he was successful? I am getting the undercurrent that he was kind of surprised that there was this much attention paid to him.

Linda:  His philosophy was money was to be enjoyed…you work hard and enjoy what you get and in that respect…they never had a maid in the house…they were  nobody to do the yard work…he mowed the lawn, he trimmed the hedges there were very much old world in their thinking.  He was happy.

Lynn: Did he think he was doing something special for children , or did he feel this was just a job?

Linda No, it wasn’t just a job…he enjoyed what he was doing.  If he had his choice he would have liked to be a designer of figurines…(Linda: shows Lynn the last figurine she has)  He liked porcelain sculpting.

Lynn:  How did the rest of the family feel about his work and success?

My father and my grandfather were two different animals.  My father was a tool and die maker and my grandmother… she always tells the tale of when they were back in Germany  and it was Easter and she had him dressed up in a white sailor suit and she found him in the pig stye.  He was a grease monkey when he was a teenager…you know…always under the car…fixing the car and I guess …my grandfather always wore…you know he always had a tye…a wool shirt…he was meticulous with the white shirt…always wore a white shirt…sent it to the Chinese laundry and he was meticulous that way…did not necessarily want to wear a suit, but when he went to work he dressed and he had an apron.

Lynn:  Do you have brothers or sisters?

Linda: I have a brother out in Colorado and a sister.

Lynn: How did they feel about your grandfather?

Linda : It’s  funny because my brother was the artistic one, so it was my father’s  idea that he was going to send my brother over here when  he was a teenager now I would have to ask my brother when  at least when he was in tenth grade  kind of  apprentice him….grandpa was going to teach him how to sculpt  Ha!  My grandfather had him mix things, you know, but it wasn’t what my brother wanted to do so he wound up having him hanging out the window, painting the house…it did not last that long because it just was not a good idea…but it was my father’s idea that his grandfather was going to teach him how to be an artist.

My sister was much younger…I think she was a little afraid of my grandfather

But for me he would play cards with us, tell us good stories, take us to the park … I was probably closer to him than the other two.

Linda I remember both grandparents with fondness for what they taught me and how they valued me.  It continues to amaze me that my grandfather practiced his craft until he was 80 and likewise my grandmother knit socks for my father until he died. I live in a house filled with very vibrant memories, to that end I wish that more people could have known the grandfather who sculpted dolls for generations past and present.

Bernard Lifpert died in his Westbury home on January 6, 1974.


© April 2012 Lynn Nalven

In Case You Haven’t Heard!

There is so much happening in the doll making and collecting world that it is hard to keep with it all!  Reading magazines and checking the doll collectors’ and manufacturers’ sites take time and sometimes we,  or should I say I, fall behind.  So for my first blog under this category I am going to try to summarize some of the more noteworthy doll news items so far this 2012 year!

  • Two major doll magazines, DOLLS and DOLL READER merged in Februrary of this year under the parent company Jones Publishing.  The new magazine will be published monthly with a special focus  issue every quarter appearing as DOLLS Presents: Haute Doll, entirely devoted to high-fashion and ball-jointed dolls . An FAQ is posted on the DOLLS website,  to answer questions about the merger.
  • Mattel has decided to respond to a successful Facebook campaign which called for the production of a “bald Barbie.”   This “Barbie Friend” will be manufactured and distributed to children who have lost their hair because of cancer or other illnesses. Planned for 2013, the dolls will not be sold in retail stores, but distributed directly to hospitals and alopecia foundations.   Hats, scarves and other fashion accessories will be provided to provide girls with a traditional fashion play experience.

  • Robert Tonner introduced his City Girls at the 2012 Toy Fair in New York City.  The City Girls™ characters are college grads who are just starting out…”all ready to take on the world and follow their dreams.”  Dolls are 16” and apparently will be priced for younger and more frugal collectors.

List of My Articles

I would like to open this blog category with a bibliography of the articles I have written for Doll Collector (formerly The Contemporary Doll Collector.)  Occasionally I will include excerpts from my articles which I think may be of interest to other bloggers.  If you have any questions about these and other topics, please leave a comment!

Dolls in Literature November 2003 Classic & current literary dolls

GI Joe July 2004  40 Years of Adventure

Monsters, Fiends & Villains November 2004  Those characters we love to hate

A Revolution of 14R Dolls January 2005 Vintage fashions dolls of the 1950’s &        1960’s

Make-up & Styling Head Dolls July 2005 Phenomenon of styling continues to be       Popular

Fashion Dolls Part I September 2005 Designers of the 1920’s through the 1960’s

Fashion Dolls  Part II November 2005 Designers from the 1990’s to the present

18 Inches: Just Right May 2006  18 Inch modern dolls are the new hype

Collecting Primitive and Rag Dolls March 2007 Rag dolls are coming back with a      new look!

Moving Forward with Fashion Dolls November 2007 Fashion dolls have had many       makeover over the years, including increased articulation and customizing.

Louise Goldsborough’s Fantasy Costume Designs May 2008 Ballet was a base          for Louise’s whimsical figures

Debbee Thibault’s American Collectibles July 2009 Art and practicality meld in the        hands of a doll artisan

“Hoarding” Dolls  March 2011 I once was a doll hoarder, but now I’m saved!

Decades of Dolls Part I May 2011 Dolls from the 1930’s to the 1940’s

Decades of Dolls Part II July 2011 1950’s thru 1970’s

Decades of Dolls Part III  September 2011 1980’s to 2000

The Popularity of the Doll Trunk November 2011  Toy & doll trunks from the     1800’s to the present

Lorraine Alippe’s 12 Fashion Lady Mannequins March 2012  Melding history   with doll artistry

Conversations with Linda Lipfert  White, Granddaughter of Bernard Lipfert       May 2012 The life and times of a famous doll designer

Watch for my upcoming article on Organizing a Doll Studio.


For full copies of the articles and all the pictures included, you can order back issues from the  Scott Publications website .