Celebrating 30 years of the Bundaberg Doll and Bear Fair, Mair Coward and Barbara Sengstock share memories of making beautiful creations.
Known as the stalwart of Doll Crafters and Collectors Bundaberg Incorporated it is said Mair has never missed a show, although she explains once travelled overseas and entered her dolls and exhibits into the show before leaving.
Her dedication and knowledge are highly regarded, and club president Barb Taylor said she is a vital part of the local group.
Mair moved to Bundaberg in 1988 and her passion for restoring dolls back to their original beauty is exceptional.
“I don’t know where my passion came from, I think it just developed as I got a lot of joy from bringing the old ones back to life,” Mair said.
“I enjoy living in Bundaberg and although I'm not internet friendly, I find it easy enough to buy books and follow the instructions on how to restore the dolls.”
Doll obsession varies for each individual
Barbara said each doll collector or creator had different strengths, and it depended on everyone’s interest and desire as to where they took their hobby.
“I make porcelain dolls and it’s a challenge to make dolls, it’s really not that easy,” Barbara said.
“Mair is much better at researching and bringing back the old dolls, where I make them from moulds that have been taken off the old dolls.
“We have different aspects but we both enjoy what we do; we help each other, and our group is quite unique.”
Mair says she believes there to be more joy out of restoring a “wrecked one and bringing it back to life” than she did out of making them from scratch.
“I don’t have family to pass them on to and my son says, ‘don’t worry mum there’s a big skip out the back for them’,” Mair said.
“And this is one reason I am here at the Doll and Bear Fair today to pass the dolls on to someone who may treasure them.”
Unique opportunity for doll and bear lovers
The Bundaberg Doll and Bear Fair is said to be one of the biggest shows in Queensland and is always well attended.
Organising the event Barb said stallholders had travelled from all over Queensland to take part in the annual Bundaberg Doll and Bear Show, with a lot of exhibitors returning year after year.
Regular stallholder Susan Lee is an avid collector.
“I love the old vintage dolls, clothes and barbie dolls and it’s easy to get so many you need to start thinning out the collection,” Susan said.
“Barbies started in 1959 and I have a replica of the original Barbie from than, I bought her from Toyworld in 1994, I started collecting in the 90s.
“It’s not considered rare, but you can’t buy it again as it was a limited edition bought out for the 35th anniversary put out by Mattel.”
Barb said often collectors would purchase a doll and keep it in its original box and years later they would increase significantly in price.
“This Barbie is listed for $50 and that’s really not bad for a collectable,” she said.
“Some of the dolls, particularly the old hard plastic have dropped in price over the years but they will come up again and it just depends what type of doll you are into and if you can be cluey enough to get one at a good price.”
She said celluloid dolls were always a popular collector choice, but it would depend on the condition as to what price she would go for.
“This doll is about 80 years old, but she is in beautiful, in an absolute gorgeous condition,” Barb said.
“She has glass eyes, some have painted, there is a lot of history with each type of doll and that’s why it’s great to have members like Mair who is very talented and taught us a lot about dolls.”
Barb said hundreds of dolls in a variety of types were all in the Multiplex for the Bundaberg Doll and Bear Fair and someone in the community missed out on seeing them and had an interest they could phone her on 0427 523 745.
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