June 18, 2016 “Jan McLean Dolls” by Carol D.
Synopsis and photos by Pat D.
What a fun program! Carol inserts so much humor and enthusiasm into her programs, so it was easy to fall in love with this talented doll artist and her creations. Carol shared how Jan McLean became involved with doll making, her adventure into the world of retail sales and a PowerPoint slide show with many of these amazing dolls. Carol also shared a wonderful array of her own Jan McCLean dolls from tiny to tall, along with large info boards loaded with beautiful pictures. Thank you Carol!
(For Cleveland Doll Club Members only)
A native of Dunedin, New Zealand, Jan McLean is regarded as one of the most well-known and highly respected contemporary doll artists.
Jan McLean comes from an artistic background. Her grandmother was a sculptress and her mother was a portrait artist. As a child Jan McLean was given dolls her grandmother made in the 1950’s. They had wonderful faces made from fine paper marcher modeled from the faces of children, very like the dolls made in Europe in the 1940’s. Jan never forgot the dolls, and while researching her family history, decided to make a doll for her only daughter to be passed down through the generations.
She studied doll making in 1983, and initially made reproduction dolls, learning her craft as she taught others.
In 1985, the wonderful German doll artist, Hildegard Gunzel visited New Zealand. Her dolls were the most exciting creations Jan had ever seen and inspired her to try sculpting her own. Her first dolls, Chloe and Phoebe were “born” in 1987 and were followed by Poppy and Pansy.
With little previous experience in porcelain doll making or entrepreneurship Mrs. McLean made her international debut at the 1991 International Toy Fair in New York City, mainly with her dolls Poppy and Pansy, along with a few other early original sculpts. During that year’s toy fair her talents were discovered and she became an overnight success. She sold over $40,000 worth of samples and had over $1,000,000 in orders for her dolls. Her doll “Pansy” won a 1991 Dolls Award for Excellence.
After her debut in 1991, Jan McLean Originals began producing high-end dolls in small editions. These “artist original” dolls sold for several thousand dollars each and were hand produced in editions ranging from 20 to 100 pieces.
After winning an excellence award at the New York Tory Fair, McLean received hundreds of orders for her dolls, and was even asked to create a doll for Disney enterprises. These initial sales provided the capital to launch her business. McLean developed her company, Jan McLean Originals, first from home, and then from a larger studio with eight staff members consisting of a jeweler, beader, seamstress, milliner (hat-maker), cobbler (shoe-maker), as well as record-keepers, secretaries and marketers.
Now her dolls are frequently acclaimed as masterpieces. Jan designs, crafts, and styles sophisticated porcelain and vinyl dolls which are prized as an art form in international markets. Her work continues to receive publicity, and her participation and awards at trade fairs strengthen the reputation and value of her product. The unique product and its market niche helped McLean to enter foreign markets with relative ease, as her dolls are sold around the world. Jan has created three products: the porcelain chubby childlike dolls and the tall thin, elegant adolescent dolls, and the vinyl lollypop doll collection.
Jan McLean Dolls Fan Site www.janmcleandolls.info/about