FAQs Part One: The Dolls

The Pavlova Project is a unique undertaking, and I get asked a lot of questions. Here are some of the most common regarding the dolls that I use.

Q: Where do you get the dolls?

A: I almost always buy my dolls, used and unclothed, on Ebay. They have all been made by The Tonner Doll Company, headed by the very talented doll designer Robert Tonner. These vinyl dolls, designed in the USA and manufactured in China, are considered Adult Collector Fashion Dolls, and are generally 16″ tall (adult female) or 17″ tall (adult male). Some of the adult female dolls come with ballet (en pointe) feet, others have interchangeable feet that can accommodate pointe shoes, high heels, or flats. The child dolls in my collection are also by Tonner and stand at 12″ high.

Robert has, unfortunately, discontinued most of these lines, but there is a huge secondary market on Ebay as well as on various online doll forums available only to collectors. Ebay is where I almost always buy my dolls, sometimes for a fraction of what a brand new, clothed doll would have cost. Rare dolls, however, can go for considerably more money. The price for one doll can range from $40 to over $200.

Q: Do you paint the faces and make the wigs?

A: No to both questions. The Tonner dolls already have beautiful faces originally designed by Robert and his team and hand-screened when the dolls are manufactured. Tonner has created dozens of different“sculpts”, each of which has its own name. His “Stella” sculpt and “Kit” sculpt are my favorites but there are many other lovely faces as well. Some dolls come with rooted hair, others with removable wigs. I buy all my replacement wigs from the wonderful Marcia Friend at Facets Boutique. Her selection is so vast that I can always find what I need. By dressing the doll in a costume or fashion, and making minor tweaks to the face and hair, I can usually come up with a convincing quarter-scale Anna Pavlova, whichever sculpt I use. The male dolls also come in many sculpts and hair styles, and I have lots of fun choosing my Najiinskys, my Mordkins, my Fokines, or whoever else partners my Pavlovas.

Q: Do you make the pointe shoes and tights?

A: No to both questions. All of my stockings and tights are made to order for me by the very talented Wendy Bierwirth, of the online shop Doll Secrets without whose help my dancers would have to go bare-legged, something that would have been frowned upon during Pavlova’s era! Wendy also has an Ebay store of the same name. The pointe shoes my dancers wear were initially bought through the Tonner Doll Company, but are now available on Ebay directly from the distributer in China. They have become increasingly rare, so I do snap them up when I can find them. For other kinds of shoes, I am once again indebted to the aforementioned Facets Boutique.