Dolls, bears, and doll clothes are just a few of the things created by Jane Parks of Kimbolton. When she talks about her creations, you can tell by the sparkle in her eyes that she truly enjoys what she does.
She remembers those first clothes she made back when she was fifteen. That was a time when Barbie dolls were very popular. Jane made clothes for Barbie and sold them to children on the school bus. That year she made enough money to buy Christmas presents for the entire family.
For a while, life took over and Jane was busy with work and family. She did find time to make some doll clothes for her daughter.
1978 was the year when she became more interested in making dolls and their clothes. She and her husband, Bill, were at a Steam Engine Show where they saw someone selling doll clothes in one of the booths. Bill told Jane that her doll clothes looked much better and she should try selling hers.
That next year, Jane took all the things she had made to the Steam Engine Show at Stumptown. She sat on the tailgate of an International Scout with her creations spread on wooden boards between two wooden horses. She charged fifty cents a dress and made $40 in four hours. She was hooked! Her business, Jane’s Dolls & Things began.
One of the first patterns she purchased was for a Shirley Temple doll as that doll had always been special to her. She still has that doll at home but it looks rather rough compared to what she makes today.
Her file cabinet is now filled to overflowing with patterns for dolls and dresses. Of course, Jane adds her personal touch to each item. Her biggest challenge is finding just the right peach-colored fabric for skin tones on the dolls.
Memory Bear might be made from a pattern, but each bear takes on a different presence. These bears are made in memory of loved ones who are deceased. What a comfort to hold a bear that is dressed in the material from a favorite suit, dress, jeans or scrubs of your loved one.
As a wife and grandmother, Jane has many chores that must be done but she smiled, “I’d rather be sewing.” If she was free, she could make ten Barbie pioneer dresses in one day. Or sometimes with interruptions, she could be working on a Memory Bear for a week. But there are times when she is so busy with orders that she can do nothing else.
An unusual doll is called My Sweet Baby. This doll has four faces which can be turned to fit the mood of the child…or the adult! The sides include faces that are sleeping, angry, crying, and happy.
Jane also makes all the jewelry, shoes, and hats that go on the dolls. One of her most recent creations for the girls is a mermaid dress, which became popular after Disney’s “Little Mermaid.” Boys from child to teen prefer Elliott, the dragon.
Another recent venture has been making layered wooden animals. People will send her a picture of their dog or horse and she will make a small wooden replica that looks remarkably like the picture. What a talented lady!
During the year, Jane and Bill set up her display at Roscoe Apple Butter Festival, Utica Ice Cream Festival, and the Caldwell Harvest Festival. Word of mouth from these and other festivals have sent many customers her direction. My first contact with Jane was at her Ohio State Fair display.
Jane belongs to the Ohio Canal Doll Club, which makes dolls and clothes for children who have had traumatic events in their life. The Glad Rags of Strasburg usually make doll clothes, but this year they had a special project of making dresses out of pillowcases to send to the young girls in Africa.
What would a dollmaker collect? Dolls! But she also admits to having an overflowing collection of books. Jane has a great sense of humor about life, as she laughed, “I’m older than dirt and slower than molasses.”
Her life is a busy one with three children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Wesley Chapel is very important to her and she teaches Sunday School there as well as helps with many of the youth activities.
Squeezing in time to make dolls, stuffed animals and their clothes is sometimes difficult, but the end result is appreciated by all her customers.
Right now you can find her display at Deal Busters Marketplace on 2nd Street in Byesville. If you would like to get in touch with her personally call 740-498-8806 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Jane’s Doll’s & Things make so many special items that you’re almost certain to find something that would appeal to someone in your family – children or adults. You’re never too old for a teddy bear!