The Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art
is what got me into dolls.
When I was in high school, my girl scout troop did a badge on dolls. For the badge, we went to the Rosalie Whyel museum, and one of the dolls (a bisque Amakusa Shiro in the contemporary dolls display area, made in 1996 by Teruko Miwa) really caught my attention. I tried to look him up online, to find photos of him, but was unsuccessful. In my frustration, I typed "Bishonen Doll" (literally "pretty-boy" or "pretty-man" doll) into a search engine, and stumbled across Volks' Dollfies and Super Dollfies. This was back in late 2000/early 2001.
Being someone who had never had any interest in dolls, my sudden obsession with these things caught me completely by surprise. As a young teen (I was about 14 at the time), I didn't have the resources to purchase the larger resin dolls (remember, this was back when there weren't
any lower-priced dolls available on the market - the cheapest were a whopping $500+, and they had to be purchased through a shopping service, because none of the half-dozen doll companies producing ABJD's sold internationally as of yet). So I contented myself with collecting and customizing the cheaper 1/6 scale vinyl Dollfies and Obitsu dolls. I still have a box of them in my closet.
Eventually, I became old enough to hold down a real job, and finally was able to save up enough money to start seriously considering the larger resin dolls. In 2003 I purchased my first three - a Volks SD13 boy with no head, a Volks Dollfie Dream with a resin SD13 Kira head, and a Blue Fairy 1/4-sized Dana. I never looked back. I no longer own any of those dolls, but the Dana is still a part of my life, as I gifted her to one of my best friends.
Fast forward a decade, and here I am, making high quality doll eyes from scratch, the administrator of one small and controversial doll forum, and a moderator on one of the largest and busiest English-speaking doll forums in the world. And it's all thanks to that bisque doll that I saw in the Rosalie Whyel museum.
When I heard that the museum was closing its doors for good on March 1st of this year, I convinced one of my friends to visit the museum with me again on February 27th, just a few days before it closed. They didn't allow photography in the museum, and never have, but this time around I thumbed my nose at the rules and took a picture of the Amakusa Shiro doll with my cell phone. For me, he's the doll that started me on this path, and I am thankful to him, and to the Rosalie Whyel museum, for this amazing gift.
Teruko Miwa, Japan, 1996