heri (Bogucki) Wirtz, of Rosewood Dolls. Here's some information writtern by sister Kathi:
Sheri Wirtz was a Barbie fanatic when she was a kid. She had the dolls and the carrying cases, the shoes, and the fabulously cool Barbie Country Camper. Of course, there were also all of those great clothes. She had many different outfits for her dolls and even began sewing at the age of 5 so she could make more clothes for them. There was only one problem in this Barbie dream world, Sheri didn‚t like to share her dolls with anyone. .. .I know this because she is my sister. Now, this wasn‚t a huge issue for me because Barbie doesn‚t know how to properly sit on a horse and Breyer models were more my thing at the time. But the allure of all that "stuff" was just too much sometimes! I knew I should stick to my horses. Heaven only knows it was safer than trying to get my hands on those Barbie dolls. Once in awhile though, I just had to play with them! Needless to say there was some friction between us when we were young!
Eventually, of course, she packed the dolls into storage in favor of more grownup pursuits. But her love of sewing never went away. We didn‚t have a lot of money when we were growing up. Our father was a self employed artist and that meant there were plenty of times when we all had to understand that we couldn‚t have every little thing our hearts desired. My Sister began sewing clothes for herself in High School. Her determination to have new things to wear was admirable. One evening she actually sewed through the nail on her index finger as she rushed to finish the next day‚s outfit. After removing the broken sewing machine needle and having a good cry, she finished those green corduroy overalls and wore them the following day!
With that sort of dedication, no one was surprised when she decided to major in Clothing, Textiles, and Design in College at the University of Wisconsin Stout. Her formal education introduced her to pattern making and complex sewing techniques. She became a skilled tailor and discovered a passion for designing classic , well constructed, clothing.
After college she worked for a local textile mill as a designer for awhile but eventually took up working for our Father. His artwork had always been a family affair with everyone helping where we could. Shortly after Sheri was out of college he became very busy with commissioned work and there was a need for someone to help full time with mold making, wax pouring, and applying bronze patinas.
In her free time, she continued to sew. She designed beautiful dresses for her young Daughter Sarah and her work became increasingly more detail oriented as she took up hand smocking, tatting, lace crocheting, embroidery, and counted cross stitch.
In 1997 we were introduced by a mutual friend, to Donna Chaney, a lovely artist from England. Donna had just been at Breyerfest in Lexington, Kentucky and she stopped for a visit before returning home. She told us about her involvement in the model horse hobby and showed us some of her work as well as a few model horse publications. For me, it was a pivotal moment. I was hooked. I released my first resin at Breyerfest in 1998. My Father did a resin edition as well and, before long, we had a nice sized following of collectors.
At first, Sheri‚s interest in the model horse hobby was about as enthusiastic as it had been when we were kids. Let‚s just say that I never caught her secretly playing with my horses like I tried with her dolls! After some initial research though, it turned out that the hobby was a lot more involved and extensive than any of us had imagined. So, when she saw some of the literature we had picked up from the various vendors in Kentucky that first year. . .she was intrigued.
Sheri likes working on the tiniest details, things that make me shake and fidget after 15 minutes will entertain her for hours at a time. She started with a 1/9th scale, western saddle kit. Before long she had designed and sculpted her own saddle trees and redrawn all of the patterns to her specifications. She studied how real saddles were made and applied the knowledge wherever possible. Her miniature leather work was quite impressive and in 1999, Rosewood Saddle Company was born. Western saddles, sidesaddles, saddle pads, specialty tack from all sorts of equestrian pursuits around the world, there wasn‚t anything she wasn‚t willing to try.
In 2000, while searching on Ebay, Sheri saw her first customized show doll. While dolls had been a popular and, often required part of model horse showing in England for many years, they were still a relatively new concept in the United States. The idea of trying to duplicate realistic clothing in a hobby scale format was irresistible to her. Sheri had finally found her niche! Later that same year, she began selling her own customized dolls on Ebay. In 2001 Sheri joined us on our yearly pilgrimage to Breyerfest and her dolls were received with great enthusiasm by the collectors! She even found herself sewing up a few last minute orders in the hotel room for people who needed a doll for one of that weekend‚s shows.
The research she devotes to each costume is tireless. 18th century riding habits aren‚t just correct on the surface, they have crisply starched petticoats underneath the skirts. Modern sidesaddle skirts and aprons are cut to the exact shape and fit supplied by the finest real-life equestrian clothiers. Jackets are tailored and sewn with the tiniest stitches possible to ensure that they lay correctly. While they might appear to be fragile, the clothes are all machine and hand-sewn for the durability required to keep a top quality show doll looking it‚s best, season after season. Sheri spends countless hours searching for fabrics that will lend the appropriate look without adding unwanted and unrealistic bulk to the overall appearance of the doll. Miniscule beads and knots and other adornments are applied to give the refined appearance of fine clothing. If an item is slightly out of scale, she simply won‚t use it.
Her patterns are entirely her own design and are constantly being modified to reflect the current styles and trends in the real horse show ring. Sheri has recently added her own handmade English riding boots to her list of customizing options. While the dolls themselves have always received gorgeous new hairdos in lustrous mohair, they can now also be found sporting entirely new faces! Utilizing the hand painting techniques of classic doll artists, Sheri gives each doll a personality of it‚s own to match their one of a kind outfits. She delights in creating a complete illusion of reality.
Even though Rosewood Saddle Company doesn‚t actually produce many saddles anymore, Sheri is always eager to see what ideas her customers come up with for her to create. Occasionally there is still a need for her to call those tack making skills into use again. Inspiration is everywhere in the rich diversity of equestrian culture and, even though the requests she receives are occasionally mind boggling and seemingly impossible, she has yet to meet a costume that she couldn‚t reproduce as closely as the scale permitted. She simply keeps at it until she and the customer are satisfied.
With more than 320 dolls in collections worldwide, it is a constant challenge to keep her work fresh and interesting. Not only for herself but also for her customers. Sheri has always insisted on each doll being one of a kind. She wants her collectors to each have something truly unique so they can be confident they will always have a stand out entry on the show table, and stand out they do! So many of her dolls have helped their owners win championships in shows at the local and national level, that she simply cannot keep count any more.
In the last few years Sheri has also been working with Breyer Animal Creations on new clothing designs for some of their rider dolls. With the release of the new Western doll , collectors were introduced to a higher quality, yet affordable show doll with that special Rosewood flair.
So, all of these years later, I am still playing with my model horses and Sheri is still playing with her dolls. It‚s funny that so much time has passed and yet we have found our daily work so firmly rooted in the pleasures of our youth. I‚ve found myself chuckling over seeing my Sister tacking up tiny horses for photos. I‚m sure she can‚t believe she‚s doing it either! We don‚t argue about dolls any more. She even lets me hold these seemingly delicate creations and look at them for as long as I like. I think I speak for many people when I say. . .Isn‚t it wonderful that Sheri finally decided to share her dolls after all?
You can email Sheri and check out her website.
Female western doll in chaps. Black, purple. Created 2009.
Female western doll in jeans. Denim, white. Created 2009.
Male western doll in duster. Brown. Created 2009.
Female western doll trio in chaps. Tan, brown, cream. Lime, brown. Tan, taupe, cream. Created 2008.
Female western doll trio in jeans. Black, teal. Cream, white, black. Black, mauve. Created 2008.
Female huntseat doll in knitted sweater. Black, natural heather. Created 2008.
Female huntseat doll. Peach, tweed. Created 2008.
Female doll. Black, pink. Created 2009.
Female western doll in chaps. Black, maroon. Created 2009.
Female western doll in chaps. Maroon, white. Created 2009.
Female huntseat doll in chaps. Cream, red. Created 2008.
Indian doll in chaps. Tan, green, red. Created 2008.
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