Oct 16, 2013
12:57 PM
Arts & Entertainment

Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! All Cultures and Time Periods Converge at "Dolls: No Ordinary Playthings," on View at Bristol's New England Carousel Museum

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A Q&A with Mary Forcier:

Tell us a bit about your adventures in traveling the world.

In 1982, I toured Romania and Greece with the Davis & Elkins College Pantomime Troupe. I toured Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 1984 with the St. Peter's Drum Corps of Torrington. I was their featured baton twirler!

Then, I had the privilege to travel with Up With People in 1985-86. That was the year the group performed at Superbowl XX in New Orleans. We toured the United States, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. After that tour ended, I backpacked through England, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Majorca.

What have you learned about dolls through the years?

I have learned about the history of dolls and the historical and cultural respresentation they teach. My collection was started for me by my mother who appreciated the representation of brides of all nations. They were a teaching tool for me to learn to appreciate the cultures around me and those I was eventually immersed in while traveling with Up With People.

What do the dolls tell us about the cultures from which they came?

The dolls in my displays represent the native dress of many countries and teach something about local customs. Can you find two dolls from Romania that show women spinning yarn? A Man playing a wooden recorder? A dancer? Many of the European dolls represent the cultures I was immersed in while touring with Up With People and staying with host families.

What materials were used by doll makers?

Doll makers in Europe in the late 1800s used materials such as cloth, porcelain and bisque. Composition dolls (made up of sawdust, glue and other materials such as cornstarch, resin and wood flour) became popular in the 1920s and were considered improvements over the fragile bisque dolls.

Can you find the doll in the Native American showcase made from the clay of the Southwestern United States? Many dolls in the international displays are made from celluloid, which originated in the 1940s. Yet some of the celluloid dolls in my display were purchased as late as the 1980s. Vinyl dolls began to be manufactured in the 1960s, and that material remains most common in the present day.

How would you advise people to begin a collection?

I would encourage people of all ages to collect not for monetary value, but for the meaning the objects hold for them. For me, dolls represent history and culture, and many remind me of a special event in my life.

What do you want visitors to notice when viewing your collection?

I would like everyone to appreciate the beauty of the dolls and the efforts of their makers. I would like everyone to take away a little bit more of an understanding of the culture and history that this display represents.

Turn to the following page for a list of other upcoming events at the New England Carousel Museum.

Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! All Cultures and Time Periods Converge at "Dolls: No Ordinary Playthings," on View at Bristol's New England Carousel Museum

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