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PROFILE: Kathy Storer, Secretary and Dollmaker

Date: April 3, 2001
By: Erin Duffy
Mail comments to: Mary Bridget Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos by: Colleen Kelley
Archive: Profiles Archive

With all the changes taking place on campus, the Office of Campus Planning and Design in University Hall is one of the busiest places at UC. Of course, not everyone who works in planning thinks only of the UC Master Plan. Long-time UC employee Kathy Storer keeps busy in her spare time preparing for upcoming doll shows. She's a doll-maker and a member of River City Dollmakers.

Kathy, or Katie as she is known in the doll world, says of her creations, "They are considered contemporary art dolls, which basically means they are made of any substance other than porcelain." These contemporary art dolls come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Some are large enough to display in a home, while others are small enough to wear as a pin. While most of her dolls are cloth, Storer also has begun using a product called Sculpi III - a polymer clay that must be sculpted to form the doll's features.

Katie Storer

How does a talented artist like Storer market her products? With a group of fellow doll-makers, of course. River City Dollmakers formed three years ago from a doll-making class at St. Theresa's Textile Trove in Cincinnati. A group of friends in the class enjoyed their time together and the art of doll-making so much, they decided to meet outside the classroom.

The small band of eight first used a community center next door to St. Theresa's for meeting space, but were a bit chilly in the unheated building during the fall and winter months. One Saturday, the group took their meeting to the York Street Café in Newport, Ky., for lunch. There, they caught the eye of café owner Betsy Cunningham, an artist herself. Sympathetic to their plight, Cunningham allowed the group to meet in the restaurant's back room. When the club outgrew the room, they switched to the cafe's upstairs nightclub, which was empty during the day.

Since its official founding in September of 1998, River City Dollmakers has grown from eight to 36. While the group originally formed just for fun, the club now holds frequent shows in which each member sells dolls. One of their most important shows is the annual November show at the York Street Cafe. This show is special because of the bond that the group has with the café and it's owners, and it's truly a win-win situation. "They let us use their credit card machine, and they charge us a commission fee. But they give us the room for free, and they also mail out postcards for us to publicize the show. So, we get a lot for our money." The show also brings many hungry customers to the cafe, so as Storer states, "It's a symbiotic relationship."

Katie Storer

Storer and other club members sell dolls at a variety of prices, depending on the size of the doll and the amount of time and money spent in making the doll. While Storer asks several hundred dollars for some of her larger dolls, she says, "It's impossible to get your labor back from a project. I do it for the love of doing it." Very happy with her position at UC, she concedes that she would like to make doll-making a second career. "But my goal right now is to make enough money at my hobby to where it becomes self-sustaining."

Storer recently moved into her job at Campus Planning from the Renal Transplantation Division in surgery. "I worked there for 12 wonderful years, but it was time for a change. And to come from a scientific background to a more creative environment has been a wonderful change of pace."

If you'd like to see some of Storer's and the group's dolls, check out their upcoming spring show at the Aurora Borealis, an art gallery in Aurora, Ind. For this show, River City Dollmakers had to submit a portfolio, which has been accepted by the gallery. The show opens April 14 and will run for a month. The group also is scheduled to do a larger show at the Promont House Museum, 906 Main St., Milford, for six weeks starting at the end of April.

To meet other UC people, go to the profiles archive.

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