Louise Sowatzka

When I first started making dolls in the early 1980’s, we didn’t have the modern doll selection that we have today. We did have many antique reproduction doll molds to choose from. Most of the first choices of dolls were the Bye-lo babies.

The Bye-Lo was the first doll I made. I liked the dolls at the time, but wasn't overly enthused with them. I was just happy being able to make a doll.

Then I started some doll seminars and did a few small all-bisque dolls, a French doll and a German K*R baby doll.

Then I became more attached to antique reproduction dolls and started getting interested in the real antique dolls. I went through the mold catalogs and found a doll with a gorgeous face on a toddler body and fell instantly in love.

Her name was “Hilda.”

So, I made myself my first Hilda. I thought she was just beautiful. I just couldn’t help falling in love with this doll. My students began making her also. We all felt the same way, no doll would ever be able to take her place.

Through all the years of teaching dolls, we still go back to finding Hilda as our favorite antique reproduction. I would see a Hilda at many of the doll shows we have attended over the last 12 years and always dreamed of owning her. It almost became a quest to find the perfect Hilda.

When I’d see that characteristic face, my heart would skip a beat, but I’d always walk away disappointed. Many times they were either already sold or had too many flaws for the price they were asking.

Just recently, my husband did a doll appraisal for a gentleman who had to delete an estate for a 90-year-old woman. Gary called me when he finished the appraisal and told me that he found a Hilda in the collection.

My heart started racing.

Then he told me that she had a small hair-line crack in the side of her head. I thought about it for a minute and said I really didn’t want a broken doll, even if it was a Hilda.

A couple of days later, the gentleman called and told Gary that he could come back and have first choice of the dolls in the collection. Even though I told him I didn’t want her, Gary bought the Hilda anyway, with plans to sell it.

When he pulled her out of the box, I held her and I knew I could never part with her. Her face looked so real, almost as though she wanted to talk to me. Her bisque is so smooth and her cheeks are a rosy pink. She glows.

Hilda is home.