June 20, 2015 Helen Kish dolls
Program and display by Jeanne K / Summary and photos by Pat D
Jeanne had her whole collection of Kish dolls displayed along with catalogs, magazines, book and other Kish items. She has been a long-time fan of Helen Kish and collector of her dolls and has attended special events at UFDC and Helen Kish conventions. The club members were treated to a very clever, fun and informative Powerpoint slideshow. Then she and members gave details about their dolls on display.
A well done and enjoyable program and an amazing display. Thank you Jeanne!
Kish and Tell: The Tale in 3 Parts
Part I – Before Riley: Helen Irene Nalty was born in 1950 in Denver. She started out making paper doll cut outs until she had a whole family of them complete with clothes. Her curiosity about dolls started with a ballerina doll with moveable joints and Ginny dolls. By age eleven Helen Kish was constructing dolls that had embroidered faces. She did this all through high school but did not tell her friends to avoid teasing. She began to experiment with terracotta figurines, which broke easily.
Age 20 in 1970 Helen married Tomas Kish and by 1979 they had 3 children. She started getting serious about doll making and began using polymer clay, took classes, read everything on sculpting and making molds. 1983 saw her first vinyl doll Isabelle Rose. She created over one hundred dolls that she sold at craft shows.
In the 1980’s she made dolls for the Franklin Mint, Danbury Mint, Hamilton, Dakin, The San Francisco Music Box Co. and other prestigious companies through the 1990’s. She was chosen to sculpt and design the “Girls of Many Lands”, the new line of dolls from the Pleasant Company (American Girl), launched in October 2002.
In 1991 Helen formed her own company Helen Kish Originals and her dolls sold worldwide.
Part II – Life of Riley: Riley was introduced in the 2002 UFDC salesroom and she was a star from the start. She is described as a 21st century child, around 3-1/2 years old. This angelic faced doll has continued her great popularity thru to today.
Other accomplishments: Helen has won numerous awards such as the Doll Award of Excellence in 1995 and 1996. Her work and dolls are exhibited in galleries around the world. Her works are in the “Museum des Artes Decoratifs” in France, the Royal Whyel Museum of Doll Art in Washington and Southwest Design Gallery in New Orleans.
Part III – After Riley:
A hardcover book “Helen Kish: The Artist and Her Dolls by Louise Fecher was published July 2006.
The Kish’s sponsored 6 conventions from 2007 – 2013. More recent additions include Resin vest pocket BJD’s, Porcelain 8”-9-1/2” babies and girls, 11” Resin BJD’s and Love & Kishes (porcelain cake toppers, figurines and boxes).
In 2010, Helen Kish won a Lifetime Achievement award from Dolls’ Magazine. Helen’s “Thumbelina” was the souvenir doll for the UFDC National Convention in 2006. Other special editions include “Electra” pillar doll for the 2005 UFDC convention, “The Little Fairy” for the 2013 UFDC convention and so many more for luncheons, events, magazines and the Kish Conventions.
She has made dolls from several mediums over the years, using clay, stoneware, bronze, a vinyl limited edition, resin and porcelain. Her unique style has never been imitated and her dolls continue to grow in popularity, a shining star in the doll world.