Pittsburgh Press, Sunday Oct. 24, 1965
Fantasyland, that elusive childhood dream world, has become a real place, thanks to the imagination and creativity of Iaulanda Turner.
In a small room of her McMurray home, Mrs. Turner has created a special world of miniature fairy tale characters. Here Little Bo Peep searches for her sheep while Alice in Wonderland plays hide and seek with the Wizard of Oz and Jiminy Cricket.
There are sugar plum fairies that put the magic in Christmas and little characters called "pelfs" because they are half pixie and half elf. Choir boys sing their hearts out while Wee Willie Winkie runs around in a red and white striped nightshirt.
The characters - 34 different ones in all - are made from wired felt, scraps of fabric, sequins, ribbons, lace and other odds and ends. They range in size from five inches to six-and-a-half inches.
Mrs. Turner, mother of a married son and a five-and-a-half-year-old daughter, began creating her characters three years ago while her husband, Monte, was hospitalized after undergoing major surgery.
"For a while, we weren't sure whether my husband would live and I guess I turned to the dolls as an escape mechanism," Mrs. Turner explained.
"There were made as Christmas tree decorations so that Jamie would have something from her childhood to take into her adulthood. Being an older mother, I was fearful that I might not be alive to see her in her own home with her own family."
Mrs. Turner continued to create new characters during the eleven weeks her husband convalesced at home. Christmas came, and the family strung popcorn and cranberries around the colorful dolls suspended from the tree branches by thin gold threads.
That January, two weeks after Mr. Turner returned to his job, Mrs. Turner broke her arm and was unable to continue the intricate work on the dolls.
Last fall, at the request of friends and neighbors, Mrs. Turner again set up shop. She often spends 12 or 14 hours a day filling orders and creating new dolls from children's literature.
"The first dolls were traced from cardboard patterns, but I have so many orders to fill that my husband now makes dies for the body parts and does all the cutting for me." Mrs. Turner said. "I use interchanging parts anyplace I can."
Faces on the dolls are painted with a marking pencil. Finishing touches may include ruffled petticoats and pantaloons. The soft wire running through the bodies makes it possible to bend the dolls into various positions.
Mrs. Turner markets her dolls under the trade name of "Iaulanda's Story Tellers." Although, primarily purchased as Christmas tree ornaments, the dolls have been used for many other purposes. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary watered flowers in a garden display at a PTA luncheon last spring.
Mrs. Turner has had no formal training in art or crafts, but her inborn talent is on display throughout her home. She has done all the papering and painting in the house. She has made braid rugs, patchwork comforts and draperies, as well as upholstered most of the furniture for her Early American decor.
She sews most of her own clothes and all of the clothing worn by her daughter.
"My hands have to be busy all the time," she explained with a smile.