Donna Helfen

TRADITIONAL PEG DOLLS

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My interest in clothespin dolls began some thirty-eight years ago when my husband Michael returned from England with some historical peg dolls for our daughter Amanda.
I grew up living near two grandmothers and an aunt who quilted, hooked rugs, and made costumes for dance recitals. They acquiesced to my request for clothes for my numerous dolls. By watching them transform pieces of left over cloth into elegant fashions, it wasn’t long before I enjoyed making the outfits myself. So the peg dolls re-activated my interest in costumes and fashion.

During my most active doll making days, I sold Pilgrims and Native Americans at Plimoth Plantation and colonial families at Colonial Williamsburg. My patriotic dolls were available at the Betsy Ross Museum in Philadelphia, and the Tri Con gift shop in Concord as well as the Wayside Inn in Sudbury. The Smithsonian Museum featured my dolls when Massachusetts crafts were highlighted at their annual Fourth of July Festival.

I enjoy looking for fabrics, ribbons, and a little “this and that” to transform a simple clothespin into a doll that represents a historical character or a child involved in a fun activity. Snowmen, mermaids, Santas, Brides and Grooms have also developed, with many more ideas ready to be explored.

Now my dolls are available at Collections Gallery in Sandwich, Coastal Craft Gallery in Orleans, and with a phone call to my home in Sandwich. I like to work at a slower pace so grandchildren, gardening, reading and travel can fit into my schedule.

 

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