Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Show

Yesterday my husband and I dropped in on the Susan Quinian Doll & Teddy Bear Show which was held at the Clarion Hotel in Philadelphia. I know not to expect fashion dolls when the words "Teddy Bear" are in the title of a show; however, it's been my experience that it's worth looking at many different types of dolls. I enjoy chatting with the artists and seeing their passion and creativity.  Like most creatives, they love to tell you everything about their work.

Forgive me if you are a teddy bear lover because I'm not. They're cute and cuddly but I see them as toys in spite of the fact that gifted artists are creating them like no teddy bear I ever had as a child. Yes, they're collectible, blah, blah, blah. So are baseball cards. 

Anyway, I present here some of the many photographs I took. I tried to get the artists' names in every case, not always successfully. Click to enlarge any image.

Michael Natoli with his Great Gatsby dolls modeled from polymer clay. The clothes were fashionable and fabulous. 

Adriana Esqueda - multi media dolls. Wonderful textural creatures.

These dolls had very expressive personalities. Sadly, the artists were too busy talking to each other to even look up at us as we stood at their display.

Mizzippi Dolls by Gabriella DeLawey.  https://www.facebook.com/mizzippidolls
Amusing and unusual personalities in these cloth dolls. So much fun to look at.

Lee Feickert's Golliwogs. http://www.dollshopsunited.com/stores/leefeickert/
I had a disturbing experience with this artist. When I saw the Golliwogs at her table I asked, "Aren't these dolls considered racist?" She looked at me as if she didn't understand English. I had to ask FIVE times before she mumbled some incoherent reply which I couldn't decipher. (She did claim to be wearing hearing aids whose batteries died - in perfect English.) When I got home I looked up Golliwog on Wikipedia.
The image of the doll has become the subject of heated debate. While some see the golliwog as a cherished cultural artifact and childhood tradition, others argue that the golliwog is a destructive instance of racism against people of African descent, along with pickaninnies, minstrels, mammy figures, and other caricatures, and it has been described as "the least known of the major anti-Black caricatures in the United States".[1] In recent years, changing political attitudes with regard to race have reduced the popularity and sales of golliwogs as toys. Manufacturers who have used golliwogs as a motif have either withdrawn them as an icon, or changed the name. In particular, the association of the golliwog with the pejorative term "wog" has resulted in use of alternative names such as "golly" and "golly doll".

I can understand collecting dolls such as this one if it's a vintage example for a historical collection. But why would a modern artist continue to produce these images?

Comic relief break.  This is the Wolf after it's eaten Red Riding Hood's grandmother. I liked the bed more than the animal. I guess wolves and teddy bears occupy the same strata at these shows.

Linda Ehrenfried  Charm City Originals
Speaking of fairy tales, who do you think showed up in innumerable ways at the show? Yes, Alice.
This one was very memorable as the artist incorporated the entire story into one large representation of Alice. Every character in the story is on or in Alice somewhere. A good part of her torso is an openwork teapot complete with tea party and mad hatter. The rabbit hangs on as well. It was fantastic - and large.
 Tweedledee and his brother, Tweedledum are the heels of her shoes!

Bing Ruiter: More dolls with personality and pizazz.

I guess I have to admit it. I did like a few of the bears. 

Deborah Canham: This appealed to me because of the little white one's hug.

Michelle Lamb - oneandonlybears.com
This was my favorite because it was a soft rose color silky furry creature with a pastel floral headband. This artist has many beautiful bears on her website. She also teaches.

Diane Keeler  http://dianekeeler.com/   Two of the most beautiful dolls there!

A little scary.

Saandi McAslan  https://mcaslan.bizland.com/
Intricate "Timekeeper Box" with all sorts of odd medical thingies inside including a doll who might be under a spell or dead. I didn't ask.

Sandi McAslan
Dystopian, post-apocalyptic dolls are not my cup of tea. I love science fiction in books I read - not in my dolls.


Finally - we'll end on a snotty note.

Are you familiar with Mr. Mucus from the Mucinex commercials?

I'm pretty sure the artist did not intend this green creation to remind anyone of Mr. Mucus. But it did.  
Believe it or not...there are actually mucus plushies.   You probably didn't need to know that.

Oh, the things you can find on the internet.


  1. Terri,
    Artist Folls have really declined from their golden age from the 90's and early 2000s when Robert T was head of NIADA and the economy afforded doll buying as an art.
    Diane Keeler is the artist whose dolls are unidentified, her work can retail for several thousand dollars, and is OOAK and clearly stand apart with Michael Natoli.

    The Goliwog situation is horrifying...

    1. Two others recognized Diane's work and now I have fixed the post. Thank you. T

  2. In response to an email a reader sent me regarding his belief that he doesn't see what's wrong with Golliwogs...I suggested that he do a Google search for the dolls and see that the majority opinion is against using them. They are being compared to Little Black Sambo and other negative stereotypical way Blacks were depicted in the early 20th century. This person asked me what I think of Raggedy Ann. How is that similar?
    Read this excellent piece from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia:

  3. I don't know whether it's the same in the states, but here (UK) quite a few places still sell the dolls. Even more sell pin badges based on the ones that used to come with Robinsons jam (jelly) jars... But then everywhere I go I see election posters for UKIP (http://leftfootforward.org/2015/02/is-ukip-a-racist-party-these-15-comments-would-suggest-so/) so I suppose it shouldn't surprise me. :( On a happier note, those Diane Keeler dolls are gorgeous!

    1. Wow! Those are some disgusting people.

  4. Hah! Good for you for making the woman selling the racist artist dolls uncomfortable!

  5. Hey Terri! Thanks for your report! So fun to check out different shows!
    I just wanted to say that while I have never understood those golliwog dolls..the same as I have never understood white people in present times wanting to have a black lawn jockey on their properties, I always considered them racist, without knowing their histories.. I can see a collector of some type wanting 'originals' in their collections.. but I can't see manufacturing them still today...
    This comment I'm sure, will garner some bashing for me, but I felt the same way about Superdoll's doll named 'Blak'. To me, she looked like a Sybarite Golliwog, and I can't figure out why she is coveted. I don't think for a minute that the boys at SD are racist, so not sure what the deal was with the Blak doll.

    1. Hi...I wish you would have signed your name. I rarely post anonymous comments but yours is obviously thoughtful.
      I agree with everything you've said.
      I'm guessing you know the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. That type of behavior often happens among ardent fans of certain doll lines.
      I disliked Blak more than any other Sybarite ever. She was very unattractive IMO.