29 July 2012

Sasha Serendipity

One of my favorite things about going to festivals is being able to see my dear friend Tina in person. We live on opposite coasts and thus settle for email the rest of the year. Here is a picture of us from this year's festival, taken by Tina's husband Jason on our way to Friday dinner.

Tina won a navy blue jumpsuit in the Helper Drawings at the festival. Neither of us recognized it at first, but assumed it was an original item of clothing due to the metal zipper. It made us both smile when she realized it was part of the Gregor "Jumpsuit" outfit. You see, she already had a bandanna from our table hostess gifts at the 2010 Sasha Festival. A special bandanna; each of these bandannas were linked by their origin, as Tina had cut and sewn them from a piece of dealer replacement fabric. And she had similar shoes from her "Sailing Suit" doll - all she needed were red and white striped socks. I had a pair I bought from The Doll Works, which I sent her to complete the outfit. She emailed me this picture of her Gregor "looking like a million bucks".

Then she thought of something and emailed me another picture. I'd won a striped hat in the Children's Fund Auction at the 2009 Sasha Festival. Tina's Gregor was wearing a striped shirt at the time, so he borrowed the hat to look like "Where's Waldo". I wound up giving him the hat because it suited him so well. Now three years later I'd given him more red and white stripes.

Sometimes things were just meant to be.

28 July 2012

Children's Fund Auction History

After an email exchange with Dorisanne Osborn about the beginnings of the Children's Fund Auction, I suggested that perhaps she'd like to be the next guest blogger. I'm very glad that she accepted my offer to write about a subject that she knows so well. Dorisanne was the editor and publisher of the newsletter Friends of Sasha from 1989 to 2005, and author of the book Sasha Dolls Through the Years. She also hosted the 1991 Sasha Festival in Keuka Park, NY, which included a Children's Fund (silent) Auction and Sale - the first of what was to become an annual festival event.

Recent CFA Auctioneers in action, including Dorisanne at the 2009 Sasha Festival in Rochester, NY:
2009 CFA - Dorisanne O. 2011 CFA - Sheila F. 2012 CFA - Pat P.
The Children's Fund Auction
The Children's Fund Auction came of age during the 2012 Sasha Festival held in Stratford-upon-Avon 21-24 June. Twenty-one years ago, at the 1991 Sasha Festival in Keuka Park, New York the seeds of the CFA were planted. Laura Knuesli came from Switzerland to be the speaker during the Festival, and she wanted to donate something to raise money for needy children and to honor Sasha Morgenthaler's concern for children worldwide, and also to honor the 700th birthday of Switzerland. We decided to invite others to donate one-of-a kind items related to Sasha Dolls and have a small silent auction or sale instead of the doorprizes donated in previous years, with proceeds going to an international fund which serves the needs of refugee children, children who are the victims of war, famine, poverty or natural disasters. Dorisanne Osborn, put notices in her newsletter Friends of Sasha inviting subscribers to share their special donations. Laura and I decided to set up a table during the Trading Post sales room where the special hand made clothing, doll-sized Swiss toys and books, paintings, a Ltd. Ed. poster and many other items could be sold or won in a silent auction.

In 1991, we had already planned a big fashion show during the Saturday luncheon with 63 Sasha dolls modeling one of a kind outfits created by fourteen designers from around the world. Under the direction of Evalyn Stiles, ten festival children moved the models around the dining room to be admired by the crowd. The first Children's Fund sale and auction followed and $1600 was realized, and when festival related "goody bags" were sold following the festival, the total CFA donations in 1991were $1800. The money was sent to Save the Children, UNICEF, and OXFAM (the Oxford Group for Famine Relief).

When plans were made for the 1992 Sasha Festival held in Laconia, NH, Denise Ortkales and Cecile St. Gelais decided to have a "Fashion Show and Children's Fund Auction". In 1991, the clothing for the fashion show was loaned by the designers and items for the "Children's Fund Sale and Auction" were donated to raise money. In 1992, collectors were asked to donate one-of-a-kind outfits and Sasha related items for the Fashion Show with all funds raised going to the Children's Fund Auction. One of a kind clothing and quilts from 18 donors brought $1445 for the CFA.

By 1993, when the Sasha Festival was held in New Jersey, the Children's Fund Auction was the official terminology and it was a Festival highlight, with twenty-four stunning handcrafted items auctioned for $3100 for the Children's Fund. The donations included a Type A I course doll made by Laura Knuesli in a class taught by Trudi Loeffler in Sasha's Swiss atelier.

In 1994, the auction held at the Festival in Maine realized $2130 from 18 donations. By 1995, the total amount sent to children's charities in honor of Sasha Morgenthaler, totaled over $12,000 in five years.

Collectors of Sasha dolls were unique when they devised a plan in 1991 to raise funds to aid children worldwide. Over the years, donors began to send multiple donations, and items were received from Sasha collectors around the world.Even though only a limited numbers of the collectors were able to actually attend the Sasha Festival, the CFA gave many an opportunity to share in absentia. Some of the auction totals received matching gifts from the charitable organizations, and some years the totals were augmented by memorial gifts. A few festival organizers have chosen to give the income from their CFA to local charities, and others have added some of the money from their helper raffles to the CFA. Area gatherings such as the New York State Sasha Fun Day hold smaller auctions each year, with their receipts going to the Children's Fund charities.

Twenty-one years have passed since that first "auction" and the total sent over the years to honor Sasha Morgenthaler's concern for the needs of children worldwide is $207,124. Those who have sent donations, people at festivals who have bid high and often at the auctions, and Festival hosts who have continued this tradition should all be proud of our accomplishments.

Dorisanne Osborn

05 July 2012

Sasha Books

In addition to discussing Sasha Festival History during Friday's post-dinner program at the festival, Ann Chandler also introduced the latest Sasha book: Sasha Dolls, Clothing and Patterns. She has graciously agreed to let me share this commentary as well. I have a copy of this new book, and it is marvelous. (In fact I have copies of all five of the books she lists, and will certainly buy the two upcoming books once they're available.)


Information about ordering Sasha books

In 1986 and 1987, after the Trendon closed its doors, collectors were pushing for a book to be written about Sasha dolls. Anne Votaw had written an article about Sasha for Doll Reader Magazine, and because of that, and my newsletter, The Sasha Doll Collectors Club Newsletter, we were both hearing this request from collectors. We decided to write the book together. In 1987, we went to England on a research trip, with the idea of writing a definitive book about Sasha dolls. We figured we could have it out in about a year. Little did we know it would take us three decades to publish that book! By 2006, when we signed our contract with Reverie Publishing, our research and experience could not be contained between two covers. We added Susanna Lewis, well-known researcher and knitter, to our team. Eventually it will take a series of four books to tell the whole story.
Sasha Dolls the History is for sale now. This first book is a comprehensive look at the history of Sasha dolls, material that has been covered in none of the other books.
Sasha Dolls, Clothing and Patterns is available now through Susanna’s website, www.sashadoll.com . Orders must go through the website. Each person at the Festival received promotional card at dinner Friday evening, giving a synopsis of the book and ordering information.
Sasha Dolls, Serie Identification will be out in the summer of 2013. This book is being written primarily by Susanna Lewis. It includes detailed information about identifying your Sasha dolls, which comprise most of our collections. This includes details about packaging and dress sets. It will also include the special Sasha dolls, including those painted by Sasha herself, prototype Frido dolls, the counterfeit Mexican Sashas and the look-alike Moni dolls. It will be of great help in the buying or selling of Sasha dolls, and will enhance your appreciation of the dolls you own.
• In 2014, we plan to publish Sasha Dolls, Creative Collecting, which will tell about the wonderful creative things collectors do with their Sasha dolls, complete doll-houses in Sasha’s size, holding special events like Doll Camp for Sasha, and many other ways you may not have thought about to enjoy your dolls. This book will be popular with all ages of collectors, from six to ninety-six.
This series of four books by Anne Votaw, Susanna Lewis and me, will supplement the Sasha library that already exists.
• Michael O’Brien’s wonderful little soft-cover book, simply called Sasha, details his personal collection of early Trendon and Götz Sasha dolls.
• Dorisanne Osborn has recently announced that her great basic book Sasha Through the Years, is out of stock with her printer, and now only available directly from her. Dorisanne Osborn, 3977 Oak Street, Keuka Park, NY 14478.
• Stephen Biffinger’s delightful coffee-table book, published in Switzerland, and written in both English and German, is about Sasha Morgenthaler and her original hand-made Studio dolls. It is called Sasha Dolls/Sasha Puppen. Parts of this book were written by Sasha Morgenthaler herself, Sasha’s daughter, Barbara Morgenthaler Cameron, and our own fellow Sasha doll collector and friend, Laura Knusli. I was excited to hear at the Stratford Festival that a second printing is planned for this book, due to popular demand. Watch Susanna’s website for news of this event.
These three books were published in 1999, while we were still seeking a publisher and gathering ever-more information. It’s a good thing they stopped manufacturing Sasha dolls or we might still be gathering!

Information on ordering these earlier books can also be found at www.sashadoll.com, Susanna’s web site.

7/6/12 UPDATED: Corrected Dorisanne's address.
7/12/12 UPDATED: Changed publication year of the three books from 1989 to 1999.

Sasha Festival History

In my third post about this year's Sasha Festival, I mentioned that Ann Chandler spoke about the history of Sasha Festivals as part of Friday's post-dinner program. Many months ago I'd asked Ann if she would be willing to be a guest blogger, and she readily agreed. I then dropped the ball by not following up with topic ideas, and here was the perfect topic - one that Ann knows so much about, since she planned and hosted the early Sasha Festivals. I asked her if she would be willing to share her commentary on my blog, and she graciously agreed. Here is the text of her talk from that evening, along with a couple of pictures that she sent me from the 3rd Sasha Festival in 1985. Thank you Ann!

Sasha Festival Talk 2012
My name is Ann Chandler, and I am the founder of the annual event known as the Sasha Festival. I am absolutely thrilled to be here and to see all of you.
Once upon a time, long, long ago, in 1982, in a land far away known as America, I was married to Les Barden and known to everyone as Ann Barden. I lived in a time before computers, email, or blogs. I decided to publish a newsletter, called Sasha Doll Collectors Club Newsletter, for Sasha lovers like me who lived far from other collectors. The first issue was published in February 1982.
Meeting in person was impossible because of the distance between us, so it was decided to have a club by mail, in the form of a newsletter, where people could learn about the history of Sasha dolls, and sell used Sasha dolls, or clothing people made to fit Sasha. All things then were slow, and distances were greater than today. Long distance phone calls on land lines were expensive, and there were no cells phones.
Finding facts about dolls was not easy, and people in those days relied on magazines for information, because there was no Internet or even Wikipedia. My first ad to find subscribers was in Doll Castle News, a small doll magazine with inexpensive advertising rates. In that first ad, I offered four issues a year for $10. 25 subscriptions came in through that first ad, and it was followed by an ad in Doll Reader Magazine, which had a much wider circulation. By September, the newsletter’s third issue, there were 75 subscribers, and was gaining popularity with each issue.
It was a joy to correspond with Sasha collectors. Letters came to our farmhouse by Snail Mail, in a truck driven by a man who put messages in my virtual mailbox. They came from all over the world! Erica McLeod, in New Zealand, Betty Warburton, in England, and Laura Knusli, from Switzerland, were early subscribers. Subscriptions also came in from all over the United States, Texas, Florida, Ohio, California, and many other states. Some people knew me through my time at Marcy Street Doll Company, and word spread by word of mouth.
Most of the writing was mine. It was necessary to hand-draw all the illustrations in pen and ink because offset printing was very expensive, and at that time copy machines could not reproduce photographs. No one had digital cameras, and home copy machines or printers were unheard of. People were glad to receive the Sasha Newsletter, but they seldom contributed material, no matter how much I begged. Gradually, we began to pool our knowledge.
After only four issues of the Newsletter, and a year of corresponding with Sasha collectors, I began to want to meet some of these people in person. 1983 marked the 90th anniversary of Sasha Morgenthaler’s birth. What a good time to have a party, a celebration, a festival! I envisioned balloons, flowers, sales booths, food and fun.
Traveling to New York City, I attended the 1983 Toy Fair trade show, telling the gate-keepers that I was a retailer. In fact, my shop in my home was so small, and earned so little, it was more hobby than business. I had business cards printed. Fran Barrett, a subscriber who lived in Manhattan, agreed to let me sleep on her sofa for three or four nights to save hotel bills. Though we had only exchanged letters before then, we bonded instantly and became good friends. Her daughter Emily became the subject of my Sasha-size book, The Dolls in 12-E. I got Fran into the Toy Fair as my Sales Manager, another bending of the truth. I would do anything to get through those doors and be able to meet with the people at International Playthings, Sasha’s importers. Imagine our surprise when we found Sara and John Doggart, owners of Trendon Ltd. and manufacturers of Sasha dolls, sitting in the booth!
We made an appointment for the next day to sit down with the Doggarts and talk. They were excited when I ran my idea for a Sasha Festival by them. They told about Sasha Morgenthaler’s 80th birthday party, held at her atelier, I believe. Friends and family all brought gifts for Sasha, and soon they overflowed the tiny house. People lined them up outside, at the edges of her curved driveway and they soon went clear to the street. I had not yet visited Sasha’s Atelier, or work studio, when I was told this story, but several years later, when I did visit, I could visualize the happy birthday party, with the gifts spilling out the front door and down the driveway. I wanted the Festival to have that sort of celebratory atmosphere. I envisioned balloons, sales booths, music, and good food; like a country fair, perhaps.
I advertised the first Sasha Festival in the April 1983 Newsletter and 25 people from many parts of the United States showed up at our New Hampshire farmhouse in early October, 1983, for the first Festival. Sasha’s birthday comes at the end of November, which is an inconvenient time for people to travel or add anything to their social calendar, so we had it in October, as close as we could get.
We had a great time. There was a Dress-a-Sasha contest, which became one of the events repeated each year. I was flabbergasted by the wonderful quality of the sewing I saw in that first contest, and continue to see each year. We also had a sales room, and I was amazed to learn that all the dealers did well, in spite of the small crowd. There were about ten dealers, and only twenty-five attendees!
Our speaker that day was Yvonne French, owner of the New York shop Dollandreams. She had grown up in Switzerland; a neighbor of Sasha Morgenthaler’s and had one of her original studio dolls. She brought her doll with her and let us all hold her, much to our delight. We also had a slide show of photographs taken at the Puppenmuseum Sasha Morgenthaler in Zurich. The pictures were taken with an inexpensive camera in poor lighting, so they were not very good, but we were so eager to see Sasha’s original work, about which we knew nothing, we showed the program twice.
By the end of that day it was obvious that there would be another Sasha Festival. I had thought this would be the only one, but people had many ideas about other speakers and programs, and they wanted to meet again.
The second Festival was held at Pier II, a popular restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, right on the harbor. All day we watched boats go by under our windows. Beau James, Vice President in charge of Sales at International Playthings, importers of Sasha dolls for the United States, was our speaker. He had unique inside stories to tell about the development of the doll which kept everyone hanging on each word.
Our Festival theme was “Emphasis on Götz.” Sara Doggart sent a lovely Götz boy in the Schoolboy outfit. When Trendon went out of business, Sara gifted me this doll, for my efforts with Sasha. He also came with the original padded envelope, addressed to Sara Doggart. The return address was Ruth Morgenthaler, indicating that the doll had originally belonged to her, or perhaps to her husband, Fritz Morgenthaler, Sasha’s older son, who was Ruth’s husband. I have saved the envelope as part of his provenance.
Again, people attending had more ideas for the third Festival. They wanted the next one to be a two-day event, and so it came to be a weekend, rather than a day event.
Third Sasha Festival at Barden Farm (courtesy of Ann Chandler)
The third year, back at the Barden Farm, under a huge tent this time, we had our third Festival. Our speaker that year was my friend Carol-Lynn Rössel Waugh, who is a doll collector, teddy bear artist, professional writer and photographer, among other talents. She spoke about the difficulties of successfully turning a handmade doll into a manufactured one, while retaining the artist’s intent, which Sasha did more successfully than most. Carol-Lynn wrote an article about our event and it made the cover of Dolls, the magazine for collectors. This helped greatly in publicizing the newsletter and promoting Sasha Dolls.
Festival Hayride - 1985 (courtesy of Ann Chandler)
The fourth Festival was run by other people, and I became an attendee, but usually it is my pleasure to have a part in the Festivities, as this year.
It is important for everyone to know, Sasha Festivals are put together totally with volunteer help. Hosts, who give up about two years of their lives to put on a Festival such as this, speakers, exhibiters, those who make the Festival souvenir outfits and write the journal, all do so without pay. The participation of those who attend cannot be underestimated. This is almost unheard of in the doll world, where so much is commercially driven.
In 1991 we began the Children’s Fund Auction which has given well over $200,000 to children’s charities world-wide through Save the Children, UNICEF and other organizations. This makes all of us very proud! It is also part of the Magic of Sasha.
These days, we have moved into the twenty-first century and in addition to the Sasha Festival and the books available, there are web sites, blogs, Internet chat sites and on-line sales sites; things we could not imagine 30 years ago. The Internet has changed everything for the better. We jet across the Atlantic to attend Sasha Festivals in Five Star hotels, and have around 100 attendees each year. There are more people who would like to attend, but we keep it at that number to retain the intimacy so important to our enjoyment.
When the Sasha Festival began to morph into what it is today, some people missed the informality of the early Festivals. It was impossible to keep the Festivals from growing and changing, so events such as Sasha Fun Days popped up. These are usually single day events, very informal, with no more than 40 people. Dawn Law’s Tea Party, to be held after this festival, might be called a Fun Day. They do not take the place of Festivals, but rather augment them.
In closing, I would especially like to thank is Dorisanne Osborn, who picked up the newsletter when I stopped publishing in 1989 and so ably kept people in touch and informed through her Friends of Sasha newsletter for 17 long years. Today there are many newsletters in both England and America to delight collectors. You can find more information on Susanna Lewis’s website, www.sashadoll.com. Her website is a clearing house with connections to all events, publications, Sasha websites, and she always has dolls and other items for sale. It is the place to learn about new books coming out.
Let me once again welcome each of you to the Sasha Festival 2012. Have a wonderful time this weekend. We hope to see you in the USA, in 2013.
 7/6/12 UPDATED: Changed year of first Children's Fund Auction from 1993 to 1991, as I was informed that it began at the festival in Keuka Park that year.

04 July 2012

Fairy Dresses

For the festival's Sunday Brunch, I dressed Alison in a fairy ballet outfit made by Ruth Briggs. Imagine my surprise to see Betsy's doll wearing the same outfit in a different color. What a fun coincidence. I took a few hurried pictures of them together while the room was being cleared. Wish I'd brought my purple version for one of Boo's dolls to wear ...

02 July 2012

Sasha Festival 2012 - post 10

I'm working on culling, editing, and uploading my Sasha Festival pictures to an album on Picasa. It is going to take me longer than usual this year, since I took almost 1000(!) pictures. There are pictures of Sasha dolls and Sasha doll enthusiasts, group meals and programs, Dress-A-Sasha contest entries, Children's Fund Auction items, and raffle dolls. Please excuse any sub-par photos: lighting wasn't always ideal, space was tight, and I often felt rushed. Hopefully I was still able to capture the spirit of the festival. Here is a slideshow of the entire album:

Clicking on the picture below will take you directly to my Picasa album. There you can see all the photos from this slideshow, along with descriptive captions. Feel free to email me or add a comment if you know of corrections or additional information for any of my captions.

Sasha Festival 2012