When checking over a porcelain doll in competition, the first thing you do is check the ears.
So says Esther Hill.
“If anyone is going to misclean a doll, it’s going to be right above or below the ear,” she said. “Then you feel for all the little seam lines.”
When porcelain dolls are initially formed, seam lines remain from the molding process. They must be smoothed away and cleaned to receive high marks.
She should know. Hill, a master judge of porcelain dolls and ceramics, literally wrote the book on the subject.
“I was co-author of the doll judging manual for the International Federation of Doll Makers,” she said.
When Hill, 75, wasn’t traveling to national competitions in California, Nevada and Texas, she was running her ceramics store in Huachuca City.
Hill Haven Ceramics has been a presence in the area for 30 years. Now, after three decades, what may be the oldest business in Huachuca City closed shop last week after years of struggling against slowing sales and rising rent and operational costs.
Like so many businesses in the area, much of Hill Haven’s business comes from Fort Huachuca. Wives of soldiers would drop by on a daily basis, said John Hill, Esther’s son.
“They’d say, thank goodness there’s a ceramics shop,” said John, who, along with his wife Peggy, have helped his mother run the store for more than 25 years.
Photo by dogfrog