Confessions of a Paper Doll

From the moment my chubby little girl fingers could maneuver a pair of blunt-tip scissors, I loved paper.

Cutting paper.
Folding paper.
Coloring paper.
Sharing paper.
Reading paper.
Smelling paper.
Touching paper.

And then...TRACING paper! Once I learned to trace, I started designing my OWN paper dolls and their clothes.  As much as I loved the store-bought books of paper dolls, I learned it was even more entertaining to create my own line of clothes for those compliant, one-dimensional friends of my childhood.

Who among us didn't find a world of adventure, expanding our vocabulary and reading skills from the collection of printed cereal boxes standing at attention on the breakfast table every morning? OK - maybe it was just us paper geeks...but wow...what a memory!

So many of my childhood memories include paper, that I can't imagine a world without it.

  • My "box top princesses" resulted from my relentless determination to draw crayon princesses on any surface that would hold still, with the inside of a gift box presenting the ultimate opportunity for the perfect frame for my artwork. 
  • First grade? Living close enough to the Carnegie Library to go several times a week and get new books.
  • Second grade?  Writing, illustrating and saddle stitching my friend Dorothy's book "Felinka Flea" - a true masterpiece of imagination, crayon, manila paper and staples in a 3.5" format!
  • Fourth grade? Sheet music! I have yet to be able to let go of a single piece of sheet music, despite the fact that I haven't taught music or directed a choir in 20 years.  It's my PAPER - I have to KEEP it.
The first time I went home after marrying, I was brokenhearted to find that my mother had TOSSED the shoe boxes full of paper scraps carefully archived since the 1950s in my closet. She needed the space. It's been over 40 years, and I still remember my dismay at losing my collection. Bummer...

Don't get me wrong - I love my electronic devices, and can't imagine getting along without them.  But...they're not PAPER!!  

We've all watched with consternation as pop culture has mistakenly equated the use of paper and printing with being wickedly wasteful of the earth's resources.  I've pondered the weirdness of this for long enough, and have decided to do my part to combat it.  

Over the next year, Girls Who Print will provide a platform to correct the misinformation about printing and paper.  I've named the campaign "Peace. Love. Girls Who Print." and will be launching it before Graph Expo.  It's no "Felinka Flea", but it sure will hearken back to those "paper doll" roots, and I can't wait to show it to all of you!                                                                                             

OH...Don't forget National "Girls Who Print" Day at Graph Expo on October 9 - You're going to have a great time, no matter where you are in the country - we'll see to it!!


  1. Hello Mary Beth, I thought I would drop you a quick line as I think you will love what Megs (a client of ours) launched earlier this year. and, we were lucky enough for Megs to choose us as her print partner and Rossie, Lucy and Abbi came up an absolute treat! I will be sure to let Ally (my betterhalf and also my business partner)know about "Peace. Love. Girls Who Print."

    1. Thank you! I tried to respond to your kind comments from my iPhone, and it just wouldn't publish!! I loved looking at the Paper Doll Chick website - so much fun!!

      Greetings to all the Girls Who Print "down under"!!

      :) mb

  2. Mary Beth,
    Thank you for reminding me about one of the great loves from my childhood,the paper doll. I too loved making them, cutting them and too lost my box full at a garage sale my mother held, unbeknownst to me.
    My early childhood memories might be the reason I now work for Mohawk Fine Papers. The colors, textures and smell of paper have always been fun.
    Will definitely join you at Graph Expo. "Peace. Love. Girls Who Print."
    Molly Rosenthal
    Market Development Manager, Digital

    1. Mohawk Rocks!! Peace and Love to you, too, Molly - see you in October!!

      :) mb

  3. Mary Beth,
    thanks for creating this site. I too, share your love of paper and paper dolls. I live a few miles from Key West, FL in an artist's paradise among other obvious things that make it paradise here. Paper, graphics and printing have a been huge part of who I am. I am a mixed media artist and photographer. My daughter and I have been working on some paper dolls designs we hope to show and sell one day. Are you going to have another Graph Expo in 2013?

  4. Roberta, how exciting for you and your daughter! Be sure and let me know when your project is ready to go to market - I'm sure the GWP members would be delighted to see your work!

    BTW - Graph Expo is held in Chicago every year. In 2013, it will be the Print 2013 show, held from Sept 8-12. You can find the website at to stay up with the news as the time draws near.

    Thanks for reading!!

    :) mb


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