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Dru the Artist

DruPhotoSm.jpg (9821 bytes)  The dolls shown on my web pages reflect my farm background in the rural Flint Hills of Kansas.
     As a child I attended a one-room school and later became an elementary teacher. During the next thirty years, I attended college, taught school, remained a farmer's wife, raised four children and became involved in church and 4-H work.   There were also all of the other activities one would expect in a small rural town.
    Sewing and art work filled every available minute and with the loss of a daughter and then retirement, dolls became my obsession.
   My whole family joined in my doll work and they soon became a family project. I credit my family with much help and with the acquisition of many accessories.
     Our home is our doll gallery and the grandchildren consider the dolls residents of a large doll house. The "Esslinger Kids" (as the dolls are known) are found in unexpected and interesting places. Below is a family portrait.
 Our home is my doll gallery. Our grandchildren consider the dolls as residents of a large doll house. This is a family portrait.
   My dolls are constructed using various techniques. I am primarily a soft cloth doll artist, but as you will see I like to experiment with different methods. My dolls are sculpted of hand-dyed fabric which is usually a high grade of cotton. At times I will do the head of a doll from sculpy and sometimes will combine cloth and sculpy. The doll dictates the method that will be used.
Because I have spent a lifetime in education I find that I continually seek new methods of doll making through classes or by reading. The never ending process is exciting.
Workshop2.jpg (11177 bytes)Throughout the years sewing — especially tailoring — has been very important to me. This stage of my life does not require tailored suits and coats, but my dolls do like to wear them! To be able to still design and make suits and coats for my dolls has been very satisfying to me!
With the use of buttons, zippers, hooks and eyes my doll clothing is easy to remove. This allows the dolls clothing to be changed with ease.
To compliment their outfits, underwear, hosiery, stockings, gloves, shoes, hats, pocketbooks and jewelry are all made by me, if possible.
An exciting chapter in my life came when I began a project for Lee Hubbard Crowe of California, to illustrate a book using my dolls. From the book evolved a movie, Art of the Dollmaker (The Doll), which featured my family and doll making. This movie has been instrumental in helping our family accept the loss of a daughter and sibling as well as spread the word about dolls throughout the country.
My new sewing machine had a program that needed a computer and my world changed. In an instant the computer has joined the doll community all over the world. Every day I can have a short visit with around 100 dollmakers to share our problems and ideas.
For an example, today I want to dye some fabric a certain skin color and I am not sure what to do. I get on the computer and in one of the doll clubs — or all of them I belong to— I can ask for advice. I can continue to work and go back to the computer and there will be several answers from people all over the world.
Strangers no longer take part in the conferences, we now know each other and each conference is like a family reunion!
Workshop.jpg (14075 bytes) We are going to visit a part of the country and need to know where to stay and where those perfect shops are — we ask on the internet and not only do we find out, we will probably get to meet some of the dollmakers in that area. What an addition this has been for dollmakers. 
I have to add that no longer is a dollmaker so isolated that they cannot find the doll making instruments or materials that they once could not find. Pushing a few buttons on the computer and you have these things coming to you in a few days. Retail shops are taking notice and are changing their methods of merchandising to the dollmaker. 
I have now gone from teaching first grade to teaching on the internet! To share my doll skills with someone half way around the world is unbelievable . Now I know why I tried to teach my students to use metric measurement!  
What’s next? Many of the pictures on this web site were taken with my digital camera and have been put right over the internet — WOW! 

Dru at Work!

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ICONTea.jpg (858 bytes) Read & See Dru's Doll Galleries      
ICONMarjo.jpg (754 bytes) Classes Taught by Dru     ICONSig.jpg (780 bytes) Pin-Ella-P Doll Club        
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