photo courtesy of An

THE PASSION FOR BLYTHE

Part nine in my series on the obsession passion 
for the big-headed doll known as Blythe. 

Interview #9: An of Ohchiwawa from Antwerp, Belgium

****Please remember that these photos belong to An 
and may not be used in any way without her permission
photo courtesy of An

R: Thank you so much, An, for agreeing to the interview.  I’m very excited to introduce you to my readers, so why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, your family, your pets, your life.

A: Hi, my name is An, I’m 43 and I live in Antwerp, Belgium together with my husband and two daughters of almost 7 and 10.  
photo courtesy of An
photo courtesy of An
I have a degree in Marketing and used to work as a forwarder for several international companies.  Since the birth of my eldest girl in 2001 I am a stay at home mom.  Besides Blythe I love art, history, architecture and interior design.  I have tons of interior design magazines and books! Born in October, I am a very typical Libra: harmony and balance are my key words.
photo courtesy of An

R:  What is it about Blythe that interested you in collecting them and when did you get your first doll?  I always ask how many you currently have as it is a question that comes up a lot!

 A:  The 2009 summer collection of a Dutch clothing label for girls ‘Mim-Pi’  had some shirts with a very lovely doll on it. I bought a shirt for my girls and we kept wondering who that doll was and my daughter kept begging me to buy her one. After a search on the internet, I was quite shocked to find out how expensive they were and told her to forget about  it,  which we obviously both couldn’t! We were intrigued by the fact that that big headed doll could change her eyes and by her sweet and cute appearance.  After browsing through all these wonderful Flickr streams and forums I decided to buy ‘just one doll’ to ease our mind (lol!), the cheapest one at that time: an ADG Roaring Red. 
photo courtesy of An
That was in October 2009, and guess what: by the end of 2009 I already had 4 dolls! Currently I have 9 dolls, 
photo courtesy of An
 my doll family hasn’t changed that much, I sold 3 dolls and 1 Blythe is currently living with my sister. but I had most of my stock girls customized over the past 2 years. My 2 daughters each have 1 Blythe (Mango &; Guava) and 2 fakies.

photo courtesy of An

 R: I think of my dolls as very young, absolutely pre-teen and more like the ages of 6 to 10.  Do you also do this or does it depend on the doll? 
A: It sure depends on the doll and what she’s wearing. Lewis (my youngest daughter’s mini-me) definitely is the youngest and a real tomboy!  

photo courtesy of An

Jackie sure is the most distinguished one 
photo courtesy of An
and Billie the most romantic one. 
photo courtesy of An

I rather see them in terms of personality and appearance than in age.

 R: How and when did you begin creating little fashions for Blythe and how long have you been offering them on Etsy?


 A: The first dress I made was made of some awful felt of a Christmas DIY package from my kids, using a pattern from puchicollective which I adjusted.  I spent soooo much money on buying clothes for the dolls,  I decided to start making them myself to stop these expenses (which I failed, I still buy lots of clothes for them, lol!). 
photo courtesy of An
 Some people really liked what I was making and even though I felt very unsure about these dresses, the positive comments and requests about making a dress for other people’s dolls were the impulse to start a little shop on etsy in April 2010, without any expectation of actually selling something! 
photo courtesy of An
 The felt dresses I offered in the beginning were made by me, as well as the knitted hats. My mom joined me in making fabric doll clothes a bit later.

photo courtesy of An

photo courtesy of An
 R: I know you collaborate with your Mom and you seem to make a perfect team.  Tell us how that all began and about the process between the two of you for the fashions. 

A: My mom is very ‘essential’ when it comes to making doll clothes, she’s my extra pair of hands and eyes.  She used to be a professional seamstress when she was young and she made tons of clothes and knitted lots of sweaters for her kids (7 in total!).
photo courtesy of An
She’s very creative and learned me how to knit and crochet at the age of 6. At the age of 7 I had a very severe adverse drug reaction called Stevens Johnson Syndrome which left me with life long side effects. Most harm was done to my eyes, I was left blind in one eye and have limited sight in the other too.  So you can imagine it takes quite some effort to function in every day life , not to speak about making tiny doll clothes (and taking photographs). Knitting and crocheting is ok, I can almost do that keeping my eyes closed, but sewing is something else! 

photo courtesy of An

photo courtesy of An
 It really takes too much time and effort from my eyes, and my mom is just so much better at it too! 
photo courtesy of An
 We really enjoy doing this together: at least once a week we meet and spend some hours  knitting and sewing together and discussing what to make next. 
photo courtesy of An
 She loves my Blythe dolls and enjoys all the photos on Flickr too! I’m so proud of her, being 80 soon and still being so active and creative!
photo courtesy of An
      R:  Your name 'Ohchiwawa' is quite fun, how did you come up with that unusual name?


A:  When my youngest daughter Lise was 5, we made a painting together of her little stuffed Chihuahua. 
photo courtesy of An
 She used to sing that O Chihuahua song  from the movie ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ all the time! That is where  the name of my shop comes from, and the doggie in my banner on etsy was based on that painting too.   

R: At the moment I have several of your felt coats, a sweater and dress.  All of which I love on my girls.  I believe I saw your fashions on Flickr first and I wonder what role does Flickr play in directing business to your Etsy shop?

A: Aww I’m so glad you like it all Rella!  I think for most etsy sellers and Blythe collectors Flickr is an essential tool.
photo courtesy of An
Flickr is a good place to keep a portfolio. Even though I don’t know anything about photography and being limited by my restricted sight, I like to share my Blythe pics and admire other collectors’ streams. 
photo courtesy of An
 It’s nice to be part of the worldwide Blythe community. I made some great friends  and am very happy to have met some of my dearest ones IRL too!
photo courtesy of An

4 comments:

Creative Wings said...

rella these dolls and accesories are fab. i dont think i can start another collection. hubby might ax me.teehee
hugs

Virginia Llorca said...

Your blog is lovely.

Knotty By Nature said...

Great interview! Adorable Blythes and cute, cute clothes!! Thanks!

Awishdream said...

I enjoyed An's interview what a lovely person and such talent! I love her knitted outfits. Her dolls are so adorable! Thanks for sharing!
all these talented artists with us!
Hugs,
Mel