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Did you Know?
Kezi's Doll "Dilley" has been featured as the Doll Net's Logo since 1997!
Click HERE for more information on our Logo Doll "Dilley".
Did you Also Know?
Kezi's Doll "Dilley" was featured on the 1st in Series Collectible Mouse Pad!
In late 2010 the Cloth Doll World lost a very dear friend, Kezi Matthews.
Kezi is remembered by dollmakers worldwide...
Catching Up With Kezi
After a 25-year doll career that included almost every form of doll making and feature articles in every major doll magazine, Kezi closed her business in 1994 to care for her ailing husband. She had no way of knowing that many of her fans worldwide would never let her go. Even now, twelve years later out of the limelight, she still receives fan mail and requests for her catalog. Having seen first hand the enthusiastic response to the Doll Net® Market's Limited Edition Kezi patterns, we thought it was time to put up a Kezi Profile for her longtime fans and for the many doll making newcomers who've fallen in love with her beautiful, traditional patterns.
Her focus for the last ten years of her career before she closed shop was devoted to cloth doll designs; designs that are very beautiful, traditional in concept, and widely noted for their quality and ease of construction.
Kezi is above all a genuine original, always doing her own thing in her own way regardless of trends that come and go. She is a lifelong advocate of simplicity and calls it the heart and soul of timeless design. She has been called a renaissance woman because she is seemingly at ease working in any medium she chooses.
Her work ranges
She left an early career in radio and television to try her hand at doll making just as the rage for reproduction of antique porcelain dolls was getting into full swing. But she didn't take the reproduction route. Instead she threw her enormous creative drive into creating her own original porcelain dolls. Unlike today, there were no bookshelves crammed with how-to doll making books back in those days. Would-be doll artists had to have a lot of persistence, determination and faith in their ability to develop their own techniques through trial and error, putting in long hours often in isolation. Kezi stuck with it as the exceptional quality of her porcelain earned Blue Ribbons whenever it was exhibited. She gradually built a steady clientele for her work as word of mouth spread and eventually the magazines began to take notice of her. When her work was featured in a 5-page spread in the April '83 issue of Doll Reader magazine, the Gorham Company of Providence, RI offered her a commission to create a series of original dolls for them.
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The next few years were spent creating several musical series for Gorham, among them the well-received 8-doll Golden Gifts and the lovely Four Seasons (Adrienne, the winter doll was nominated for that year's DOTY award.) An allergy to the ceramic materials she worked with began to gradually slow her down. It eventually curtailed her porcelain work altogether. But she went on to create Spaghetti, a line of whimsical cloth dolls for Gorham. A short while later, Gorham was acquired by the Lennox Company and Kezi, curious to find out what lay ahead for her, opted out of any further commercial commission work.
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She began exploring various mediums including composition, polymer clay, paper mache, paper doll design. Nothing satisfied until she began working in felt, creating her own models and press molds. The dolls were an immediate success with collectors but halfway through her second felt series, she was injured in an automobile accident. Full recuperation took many months. To pass the time and chase away a severe case of the blues, she began to make small free-form cloth dolls by hand which she later described as very much like a form of meditation and very therapeutic.
When she was finally able to resume her career full-time she was surprised to find herself ‘in love' with her cloth creations. She placed a small test ad for her California Dreamer pattern, a long-legged, big-eyed dolly-doll, in McCall magazine and received about 250 orders within a couple of weeks. Even though cloth dolls were considered by most at that time as primarily for children, and ‘not all that important,' Kezi sensed a need and when she received a letter from one of her first customers thanking her for ‘thinking of cloth doll makers,' she decided to focus on cloth doll design. Within a few short months she found herself running her own pattern studio By the time she closed shop in 1994, she had created some of cloth dollmaking's most beautiful and timeless patterns and had over 5,000 repeat customers worldwide.
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Her husband of 34 years died in 2003. In the ten years that she cared for him she managed in her quiet times to become an award-winning novelist, writing three powerful novels and a number of short stories for young people. We caught up with her recently via email and asked how she was doing and what she was up to.
Her reply: I'm doing really well. A light stroke in 2004 left little or no residual damage but it did remind me that it was time to start downsizing. Little by little I got it done...no small task I can tell you! My best decision by far was to put the safety and "future" of my patterns into Paul's trusty hands. I'm so impressed with the gorgeous job he's doing with that as he makes sure my years of my work will live on. Can't thank him enough! Looking at those patterns, I realize how truly privileged I've been to contribute to the fantastic, all-inclusive world of cloth doll making. So, I'm doing well. I'll be 82 in March and am thoroughly enjoying life and, of course, staying busy with a myriad of little projects that eventually wend their way to Goodwill and to the Children's Sunshine Division at Christmas time. But I'll never be so busy that I forget to send my thanks and love to all the wonderful cloth doll makers that supported my career for so many years! Blessings!
Note: We've only touched on some of the highlights of Kezi's career. Additional information about her work can be found in the following articles.
Kezi Articles & Features Reference:
- Collectors' Showcase Sept/Oct 1982
- Doll Reader, April 1983
- Doll Reader, June/July 1984
- Giftware News, July 1984
- Figurine Collector, August 1984
- Contemporary Artist Dolls (Collector's Guide) 1986
- Doll Designs, January 1988
- Doll Castle News, Jan/Feb, 1990
- Dollmaking Projects & Plans, Summer 1991
- Dollmaking Projects & Plans, Winter 1991
- Dolls, The Collector's Magazine,1992
- The Cloth Doll Magazine (1990s)
- John Riley's Daughter, Front Street/Cricket Books, 2000
- Scorpio's Child, Cricket Books, 2001
- Flying Lessons, Cricket Books, 2002