Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 16, 2013

THE DOLL MAKER

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When she was a little girl, Joan Infantino longed to have a little Shirley Temple doll that she saw in Kraussman’s Department Store.

But her mother said no, she needed a winter coat instead. So, Joan didn’t get the doll back then.

But, these days, her Lewiston home is filled with dolls, and two of them are Shirley Temple dolls.

“My husband laughed one day and said, ‘I guess you showed her,’” smiled Infantino recently while showing a visitor her collections.

Infantino is now a doll maker. It is a 25-year hobby that appears to be nearly an obsession, although she doesn’t see it that way. Her basement is filled with doll parts, including trays of teeny porcelain arms and legs, and even a little plastic box of doll eyes.

It would be a fascinating place to visit for anyone who has ever loved dolls, or lace, or even perfectly sewn, tiny, hand-made clothing.

Beyond her Shirley Temple dolls and her collection of antique dolls and the many dolls she has made herself, there are at least a dozen award winners, including the doll that just recently won her first international honors at a show in Harrisburg.

The little Asian award winner was made in her workshop, and from its porcelain body to its carefully styled black hair to its hand-painted eyes, it seems exquisite in detail, as noted by the judges at the show where she won the top award, a “Maggie,” for the best “non-professional, modern, all-bisque, under-16-inches” doll.

Infantino first took up doll-making the day she walked into a ceramics store on Webster Street in North Tonawanda about 25 years ago. Since then, she has acquired shelves of molds, two kilns and has created hundreds of dolls.

She is not a typical doll-maker. Many hobbyists attend multiple, costly seminars and take continuous training to learn to make specific dolls. Infantino purchased some molds and some kilns and gallons of porcelain and figured it out for herself in her basement workshop.

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