|Joan Benzell is
a native of New Jersey, having lived in New York state for 18 years and returning to New
Jersey in 1983. She always enjoyed sewing, painting and dolls. A graduate of The Berkeley
School of Business, she was an Executive Secretary in an engineering office for several
Joan and her husband Lou were high school sweethearts. They have four children, Lauri, Lisa, Louis and Lance, and many grandchildren, all of whom love and appreciate the dolls created in the Benzell household.
In 1976, after eight years of teaching in her own ceramic studio, "Joan's Kiln Korner," Joan decided to close the door and combine her love of dolls with her knowledge of porcelain and china painting. Adding her creative ability in dressmaking she began to produce collectible dolls ranging in size from 10" to 18". In February of 1977, she successfully began to make dollhouse doll reproductions. In 1983, she created her own originals in one-inch scale. Both her reproductions and originals have won 1st place ribbons and other special awards.
Joan gets much support from her husband. While she was learning about making dolls, Lou learned about mold making. Together their venture makes a successful team. Joan's dolls are sold under the name of Joan's Bisque Be'Be's.
In 1989, a new family of dolls was created for the wholesale market. These dolls are sold under the name of Petite Porcelain Ltd. In 1986, in a joint effort with Susan Sirkis, a one-inch scale half doll was created and called a "Footloose" doll.
Joan has written numerous articles relating to all phases of miniature doll making. She lectures and presents slide programs and has exhibited her dolls in museums and special exhibits in the Northeast.
She has been a member of the Doll Artisan Guild since its formation and is an instructor of miniature dolls as well as a senior judge for their competitions since 1978. In addition she teaches seminars and workshops in all phases of miniature dollmaking throughout the United States.
In 1976 Joan became a member of United Federation of Doll Clubs. She has held the office of President for two terms in the Jersey Cape Doll and Toy Club and was Chairman of a Regional Conference held in Ocean City, New Jersey in 1994.
Joan has been a member of NAME since 1977. She has served as Regional Coordinator for M-1. In 1990 she was Chairman of M-1's Regional Houseparty in Atlantic City. In 1992 she Co-Chaired the National Houseparty in Philadelphia. In 1984 she was elected to status of Fellow in the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. In 1993 she was Honorary Chairman for the Annual Miniature & Dollhouse Event sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana in New Orleans.
Reprinted from "A Reference Guide to Miniature Makers Marks" ISBN: 0-9644481-0-6
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