Is it just me? Or do the faces of vintage and antique dolls freak you out and draw you in at the same time? I can’t even imagine the scenario where a child hugs many of the dolls I have seen or have in my own possession and says: “Lets have tea, Dolly” or “I love you, Dolly”. Or maybe the child would unwittingly say it and then the doll would do some horror movie head turn and respond: “Of course, sweet child.” in a chilling voice and the rest of the macabre movie would roll on. This is literally how I think of these dolls or similar doll-like decorative objects I have found in my travels. Did horror movies do this to me? Are porcelain dolls the new “creepy clown”? I look at doll images online and I cannot argue with the beauty of what people are creating or the artistry put into creating many of these dolls.
My mother loved porcelain dolls, and gave me some dolls that are the very ones that give me the willies the most, but I never got a chance to ask her what it was that she loved so much about dolls. I can only speculate as to why there were generations of people who didn’t find those porcelain faces unsettling at all. These collectible dolls are really valuable! Even now, I am so purely curious as to who loves these dolls and why. Who makes them? What do they mean to people? I’m old enough to remember the Seinfeld story line of George’s fiancee, Susan having the doll collection creeping him out but that was mostly about the Estelle Constanza doll… Who has them in their home and doesn’t sorta shudder when they walk by them?
Here’s the thing: I’ve always been fascinated by old things, their stories or how they got to us. I’ve always had a slightly morbid fascination with the past. I know porcelain dolls have a gothy appeal and I’ve seen those versions online which I can relate to having been brought up on the Cure - yet those purposely creepy dolls don’t freak me out. It’s the ones that were meant to be beautiful and lovely. I’m the biggest chicken, yet I love scaring myself.So, why if I find these dolls so scary… Why can’t I look away?
I found a really interesting article on just this subject from Smithsonian magazine. I really dug reading it and I hope you do too.