Thursday, November 29, 2012

Picture This: Exquisite Steiff and Madame Alexander Photography

It goes without saying that most Steiff treasures are pretty as a picture.  And today's special guest couldn't agree more!  He uses Steiff dogs, cats, and other pets as accessories in his exquisite doll photography.   Come meet a terrific artist who really brings our favorite things to life!

Steiffgal:  
Please tell us your name, where you live, and how you spend your days.
 
Cissy by Madame Alexander, 1957



Bruce:  
My name is Bruce Allen de Armond - I use my middle name to hopefully alleviate the confusion of my last name which sometimes becomes Armond - thinking the de is a middle name. Computer reservations and TSA can be very unforgiving. I live in Olde Towne, Portsmouth Virginia. I moved back to Tidewater VA after living in the Las Vegas for 18 years and Southern CA before that -  all polar opposites from each other. I'm retired from designing casinos and hotels around the world. Now that our parents and sister are deceased, I work with my sister Jenny on family issues. I've picked up our parents beloved doll business where they left off once Mom's Alzheimer's took over in 2000.

Steiffgal:  
Tell us a little about your doll photography.  How long have you been doing it? How did you get started?

Jacqueline & Caroline by Madame Alexander, 1962
Bruce:  
I come from a long time doll family. I started my own collecting in the mid 1980s - but dropped out in the mid 1990s and came back to collecting in 2005. I started with Barbie, and sold my collection to a friend who went on to become a very prominent Barbie collector. He was an art director for a magazine which started giving me ideas on how to photograph my own dolls. I had discovered Madame Alexander and Cissy - and started taking photos with my first 35 mm camera. They were pretty bad for the most part, but I was learning about lighting and backgrounds… and what was complimentary to my subject.


Steiffgal:  
What made you think of using Steiff items in your work?  What was the inspiration behind this?

Winnie Walker by Madame Alexander, 1953
Bruce:  
One of the single most inspirational things about using Steiff was seeing the window display Steiff did for FAO Schwarz for their Las Vegas store when it first opened in 1997 (now closed). I love mixing vintage, antiques and history with technology. That window was a masterful blend of all those elements. I saw Steiff in a new light, and started looking at their considerable story to appreciate more of what they had done and were doing.

Steiffgal:  
What is it about Steiff items that makes them good complements for doll photography?


Bill by Madame Alexander, 1957
Bruce:
Both Steiff and Madame Alexander have compelling histories. Both make beautiful products for a discriminating customer. This makes them a natural for collectors to gravitate towards. Also, both companies have long histories with FAO Schwarz. So, in a way, they are intertwined on several levels. One of my biggest elements of design is scale. Steiff came/comes in numerous sizes, so getting the right size to complement what I'm trying to do on my end is not a problem. Also, the textures and colors used by Steiff are a wonderful complement with vintage dolls. Most of all is the Steiff sense of whimsy - which makes a natural fit with vintage dolls. 

Steiff:  
Are there other artists or photographers or authors who use dolls and/or Steiff in their work that you admire or follow? For example, Dare Wright used a small Jackie bear in her Lonely Doll books.  

(L) Cissy and (R) Elsie by Madame Alexander, 1959.  Wearing FAO Schwarz Exclusive Skirt and Sweater Sets
Bruce:  
As a child, I was totally in love with Dare Wright's Edith the Lonely Doll. The photography and layouts held me captive for hours.  When you add props and other elements, the work for a photographer becomes vastly more complicated. She made it look so effortless, simple and elegant. There have been other artists that have shaken things up - Billy Boy and Mel Odom have done beautiful work giving their muses rousing images to enjoy. In a different format, some of the auction catalogs are wonderful inspiration for mixing Steiff, dolls and a few accent pieces.

Steiff:  
Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic and wonderfully creative work with us today!

Steiffgal hopes this conversation and photo exhibit has added some beauty to your day!

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let's talk! Click here to learn more.  

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