Dolls are known as the oldest known toy. Whether as toys, icons, or collector items, dolls are as popular as ever. Did you have a doll as a kid? Do you know much about this obscure industry?
Here are some cool doll facts that might surprise you: Did you know that Barbie dolls have been around since 1959? Or that a collector GI Joe Action Figure sold for over $200,000? Can you believe that Japanese traditional dolls date back to 2000 BC? Or that the first doll hospital was founded in Portugal in 1830? The doll industry is bigger than you might realize.
One cool job in the doll industry is a doll maker. Doll makers design, fabricate, and assemble three-dimensional models of humans and creatures that are made out of plastic, wood, cloth, porcelain, or other materials. This creative niche allows doll makers to design and market their dolls to doll enthusiasts of all ages.
Dolls like Barbie, Raggedy Ann, My Little Pony, My Buddy, American Girl, or Cabbage Patch Kids are usually associated with wide-eyed, fun-seeking children. For children, playing with dolls has several benefits. Dolls serve as objects of comfort, help children develop both mentally and physically, and help to boost the imagination.
Dolls are also very popular with adults. Dolls are often used in magic rituals and religious ceremonies. Antique dealers and collectors will pay top dollar for unique dolls. A doll of Wu-Tang Clan rapper, Ghostface Killah, costs $499.99 retail. The original Barbie costs $8,000 if in mint condition. An automaton doll that plays the flute called L’Oiseleur costs $6.25 million. That’s a pretty high price tag for a single doll!
The majority of doll makers start out as hobbyists. Crafts stores sell doll making kits where aspiring doll makers can learn about materials, wigs, fabrics, designs, packaging, body construction, assembly, proportions, and parts. Doll makers also need to develop appropriate skills such as sewing, painting, or carving to complete their projects.
Doll makers hone their craft through books, websites, and workshops. Most doll makers start selling their dolls at craft shows, online, or to friends. Ideally their dolls will develop a following by doll enthusiasts around the world.
Ultimately, doll makers can develop their own doll making business or they can find full time work with toy companies like Mattel, American Girl, or Hasbro. Many doll makers teach classes and workshops to supplement their income. Some open doll hospitals that specialize in doll repair. Others branch out into doll collecting, doll design, or doll appraisal.
Doll makers develop a reputation based on the quality of their dolls. If they develop a following of doll enthusiasts, they can charge big bucks. They may even be able to work their iconic dolls into book, television, and film deals. If they find a job with a big toy company they can also make a healthy income.
Most doll makers make dolls because they are passionate about their craft. A fully committed doll maker can make $20,000 and $50,000 per year. According to MyMajors.com, the average salary for a doll maker is $28,190 per year.
If you’re creative and enjoy the delicate craft of doll making, then you should pursue a job as a doll maker. The only question is, what type of doll are you going to make?
Quick Facts About Doll Makers
Job Title: Doll Maker
Office: Doll shop
Description: Design, fabricate, and assemble dolls
Certifications/Education: No formal training required
Necessary Skills: Creativity, Attention to detail, Doll marketing
Potential Employers: Toy companies, Self-employed
Pay: $28,190 per year