Paper Dolls, Imagination, and Writing

From the time I was a little girl, my mother helped feed my imagination. She showed me ways to entertain my younger brothers  with stories I made up. Paper dolls became my characters and catalogs became my prized asset. As soon as the catalogs were outdated, I attacked them with scissors. I could create whole families and pair them up as I saw fit. Of course, each couple had to have a baby, no matter how many other brothers and sisters there were in the paper doll family.

Every family needed furniture to sit on and so did my paper dolls. My mother showed me how to cut couches, beds, highchairs, chairs, tables, and rockers out of cardboard. No cardboard box was safe after that. I would grab the cereal boxes and detergent boxes, etc. I could decorate the furniture with crayons, paint, and pictures from the catalogs. I bent the paper dolls at the waist and placed them on the furniture. Babies snuggled down in their baby beds or cradles. Paper doll mommies could rock little children and watch a cardboard television.

If I did not have a catalog to cut up, my mother would draw people for me. My imagination expanded as I cut out the hand drawn figures, colored them, and added them to my collection of make-believe characters. Those times shaped my longing to be a story writer.

My brothers either joined in the fun or sat and watched me play and talk aloud, building stories as I introduced the families of paper dolls. I am sorry to report that dishonorable paper dolls, representing criminals or thieves, met the quick hand of justice. Heads would roll or the cords to the drapes became a hangman’s noose. Sorry … life is harsh in a paper world. The innocent must be protected!

We lived out in the country in Michigan. At that time, we had no television so my imagination became Mom’s babysitter. And even today, I have three, old catalogs stacked on a closet shelf. The tattered catalogs have come in handy when a child is bored with the store bought toys. Cereal boxes are confiscated and made into interesting copies of furniture.

I would rather have children leaving pieces of catalog or magazine pages on the bedroom floor, and using their imagination, instead of sitting in front of the television or sprawled on a couch with an electronic device in their young hands.

Thank you for reading this post. It gives you an idea of where I started with my storytelling and writing. Please, scroll down and leave a comment.              



Karen Campbell Prough

© Karen Campbell Prough 2012






9 Responses to Paper Dolls, Imagination, and Writing

  • I can’t wait for you to write some more blogs. You are such a wonderful example of what a christian should be like!

    • Thanks for reading my blog. I’m getting ready to post another one. I hope to soon get used to blogging. I think I’m going to be “all over the page”. Who knows what I’ll post. Ha.

  • Hi Karen,

    This is Torch Designs. We were just checking to make sure your comments are working.



  • I love this idea! How creative! Thank you for sharing…

    • Comment from Ron Reynolds:

      Hi Karen. I too have heard many stores from your Grandpa Reynolds’ brother. My dad Earl Reynolds. They were quite a family. 13 kids. WOW!And I thought my five were a lot. Yes that Reynolds family had many stories and I know you are a GREAT writer. So I am anxious and ready for more of your writings. Those of us who KNOW you, know what a great Christian lady you are and such a blessing to so many. I’m proud to call you my cousin.

  • Love it! It is such a blessing to have creativity passed down from your parents. I hope that I can bless my daughter with that as well. 🙂

  • That is fascinating and quite unique especially the punitive aspect with nooses.
    Karen, I think your “priced” asset should be “prized” asset in sentence #2. Can we see some other cardboard furniture pieces? A showroom of sorts?

    • Jenny, thank you for your comment. I’m glad you pointed out my mistake. Spell check didn’t catch it! Ha. I corrected it. Yes, I will see about showing some other furniture…bed, rocker, etc. Not sure when I’ll get to it, but I’ll let you know. I have an example of a cardboard bed that one of the children painted different colors last summer. That might be a good project for them when they come over. I will tell them I want them to design a showroom for my blog. Thanks!

      • The first year I taught 5th grade, we read a story about a squirrel that made furnishings out of acorns and walnuts and twigs, so I assigned the kids a project to make any kind of furniture they wanted to create using just items they’d find in nature. I was ASTONISHED at what they came up with! We displayed it on PTA night for parents to see and they were amazed as well.

        Read your blog to mom who grew up in meager digs in Concord NC. They made clothes from feed sacks and learned firsthand what was important growing up with 6 kids like tying a string to a june bug’s leg for entertainment. Those are precious experiences…simple joys and most memorable.

        I’m so proud of you for pursuing the writing. It’s heart felt and publishable.

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