More About Iaulanda and
Her Storyteller Dolls
Dear Friends of Iaulanda's dolls:
Here are a few updated details about my mother and her dolls.
In 1978 my mother destroyed the dies handmade by my father (who passed away in 1975). I had just graduated from high school. She then retired, married John Downey (in 1979), took up golf, and spent the rest of her days creating wonderful projects for family and friends. Eventually, they moved to Florida, where she died in 1990.
My mother never made a set for me (her daughter) because I was a little girl when she started making them. She always sent at least one of every new creation to my brother, who is 18 years older than me, but always said she would pass her set on to me. Of course, her set was the best because she also had all the ornaments that never made it into production as well as a few oddities.
Unfortunately, due to a complicated set of circumstances, my mother's ornaments were never passed to me. Instead, after my step-father died, (also unware to me at the time) his third wife sold them in a garage sale, including the prized Storyteller, my mother's signature piece.
My cousins and I were later able to collect a few of these originals including the little Finnish girl (see picture at left) mother made for me for my sixth-grade project on Finland. (I had a life-sized dress to match the doll.) Most of her dolls are still out there somewhere in private collections.
The photos on this site represent a small amount of all the dolls created by my mother. Initially, my mother began by creating what she called "The Ornament of the Month Club." Members received an ornament each month throughout the year. (These are the rarest, as so few were made.) She later sold from an annual list. At the climax of her work, she sold ornaments to Marshfield's in Chicago (and subsidiaries), and Frederick Nelson's in Seattle. She also sold to some specialty shops in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. She had a strong customer list of people who learned of her work via countless news articles, interviews, and word of mouth. She made dolls all year to sell in large quantities in November and December.
Several of the ornaments pictured onsite were made by my mother's good friend Lydia Meyer, and were the spark that got my mother started. My cousin Kerry enjoyed making ornaments in the flavor of my mother's ideas. (Click here to see some examples.) Unfortunately, he passed away in July of 2018. My younger son, Mark, also enjoyed making characters as a youngster, patterned after his favorite anime shows.
More than anything, we wish we could locate Mom's trademark piece, the Storyteller (the old man in the rocking chair w/books at his side pictured at right.) We believe this piece is somewhere in central Florida (Winter Haven?), but it may have passed through several hands by now and could be anywhere.
If you would like to know more about any item, please write to me via the contact form here. Many people write to me asking where they can buy them or if I make them, I do not. As noted above, production stopped in 1978 and no more have been made since then. The family always enjoys hearing stories from collectors. We are also interested in collecting ourselves, but also are always looking for more photos of those items we are missing. If you have an Iaulanda's story, please email it via the contact page.