Staten Island woman lives with over 500 dolls: 'You name it, I have it'
“‘How many dolls do I have?’ is a good question. I’ve never actually counted all of them, but there was an estimate a few years ago — around 500,” Marilyn Mansfield told In The Know. “You name it, I have it.”
Mansfield was only 7 years old when she saw her first doll. From there, it’s grown into a full-blown love of all types of dolls and eventually turned into Mansfield making her own dolls in her Staten Island home.
“As far back as I can remember, my mom has always definitely been a doll collector,” Mansfield’s daughter, Skylar, told In The Know. “For my 16th birthday, my mom made a doll that replicates me — I call her my mini-me — she’s so, so adorable.”
Mansfield was inspired by an artist friend to start making her own dolls and she started adding realistic touches, like veins, to her creations. She has a small, portable oven in her dining room where she “bakes” the paint onto various doll parts before putting it all together.
The highlight of Mansfield’s collection is Ellie, which was originally sold as a “love doll” but now is just a member of Mansfield’s expanding doll family.
“I used to say, give me a doll and I’ll give it a life,” Mansfield said.
While Mansfield insists she doesn’t play favorites, baby Christopher is ranked somewhere at the top of her list. That’s the one Mansfield takes to run errands or brings to show at conventions.
“The reactions when we take out the dolls is usually, ‘Oh, how old is he or she?’ and then I say, it’s a doll,” said Mansfield. “They go, ‘Yeah, she is cute,’ and I go, no it’s literally a doll, like it’s not real.”
Mansfield loves that her artwork gets mistaken for real life and earns the reactions she gets from people. She said that while most people come into her house and start off thinking that it’s a joke, by the end of the visit they’re fixing the dolls’ hair and asking to apply lipstick on Ellie.
But it’s not all just for Mansfield. She donates her art to other people as well, knowing how much of an impact it can make.
“The most rewarding thing I’ve ever had experienced was the dolls that I had donated,” she said. “I’ve made a doll for a woman who lost her baby — that was very, very important to me. I’ve donated two dolls to Alzheimer's patients. Things like that, that’s the important stuff.”
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