Autumn Travels

Hello friends!

It's been a whirlwind Sept and Oct -- with November and the holidays TOO quickly approaching!

Though I'll admit that the past couple of months have been more than a little stressful, I managed to intertwine convention work and travel with a bit of fun fabric shopping, visits with special friends and birthday celebrations, too! (BIG thanks to everyone along the way who made this possible!)

September began with a visit to nearby Ohio to help a dolly friend unpack and move boxes to get situated in her new home. It was fun to see her many treasures and hear the stories associated with each one.

I've been blessed by many friends who've lent a hand to help me throughout the years -- many times, I simply could not have made it without them. It felt great to invest a few days helping my friend -- knowing I made a difference in her life, and in some indirect ways repaying all the kindness and assistance friends have -- and continue to -- show me.

Mid September brought a much overdue visit to Texas -- one of my favorite (and most productive) places. I always enjoy working and spending time with close friends there!

I flew out of Dallas to spend a few days with another dolly friend in Los Angeles before taking an adventurous road trip together to Vegas and the Modern Doll Convention. It was very cool driving through the desert (no pun intended) in her Caddy with the radio and anticipation sweeping us along the highway.

I love the lights, sounds, and architecture of Vegas -- kind of like a fairytale land for grown ups (Yes -- even though we were there to play with dolly's, we WERE supposed to be grown ups! LOL). This trip we had the good fortune of being invited to stay in a friend's time share and had the opportunity to really take in the sights as we strolled down the strip to and from the convention hotel.

Modern Doll was great -- it's always a wonderful place to see and learn about dolls other than those I collect, and catch up with friends and manufacturers I may not have the opportunity to see at other events.

As always, one of the highlights of the trip for me was discovering fabric treasures in both Vegas and Los Angeles --something I hope you'll all enjoy the benefits of as much as I enjoy the process!

On the heels of Modern Doll came the Wilde Imagination convention, held in the perfect setting at the historical Seelbach Hotel, in my adopted home town of Louisville -- I barely had time to repack and ship orders out! To my delight, my Dallas gal -pals, Sherlyn and Sherry, had surprised me with the news that they, too, had registered for Wilde Weekend so the "3 S's" (as we've nicknamed ourselves) could drive to Louisville from Dallas for the weekend! Of course, I simply couldn't resist another road trip with my buddies, so off we went at 6AM (excruciatingly early for me -- LOL) and I became what may be the first person in history to attend a convention where she lives -- still driving 13 hours to get there...and back, too! :)

So as not to miss a "working" opportunity, I spent my time riding by presenting a fashion show from the back seat with Evangeline modeling "Radio Days" fashions! It was the first time I'd had a chance to try them on a this body type, and was thrilled that so many fit beautifully and were absolutely stunning on her!

As with all Tonner events, Wilde Weekend was packed full with fun activities, beautiful dolls, and fabulous friends -- and Evangeline attended all events decked out in "Radio Days" style!

Convention #3 came only a couple of weeks after Wilde Weekend -- in the form of the 2nd Superdoll "Unconventionalist Convention" in London. Taking place over my birthday weekend, I had planned attending this gala event as a celebration. Thankfully, there was a small break in incoming shipments of backorders -- and I had the airline points-- so I felt I could indulge myself with the treat of this special "birthday trip".

London was fabulous -- there were many highlights of the weekend -- among them spectacular dolls, the Salon grand opening, and dinner on a swanky yacht -- but visiting with my European friends, meeting new American friends, and hanging out with friends I don't get to see often will long stand out in my memories.

My birthday was a fun filled day of more fabric shopping -- though I further indulged with some exquisite lace trim, I restrained myself to only a couple yards of fabric! (But of course I got the information to order more!! LOL!! )

A dear friend surprised me with tickets to a Members Only curators' discussion and program on the Hollywood Costume Exhibit at the V&A, presented by guest curator, noted Hollywood costume designer Deborah Landis. It was followed by a preview of the much anticipated "Hollywood Costume" exhibition.

I was thrilled that we were also able to view the "Ballgown -- British Glamour Since 1950" exhibition on it's last weekend. I was even more thrilled to see Chanel's original sequin jacket and pants ensemble that was the inspiration for the Radio Days fashion, "Madame Coco and many of the gowns featured in Nashville's "Golden Age of Couture" exhibit highlighted in the V&A's newly renovated fashion gallery.

What phenomenal exhibits both the Hollywood and Ballgown exhibitions were -- very interesting and beautifully done!

"Hollywood Costumes" was a mix of magnificent Golden Age Hollywood treasures and equally important more recent costumes, with the dramatic installation and presentation making each one as fascinating as the next.

It's been suggested that the Hollywood exhibit would be ideal to plan a convention around -- something that I've had in mind since I first heard rumors of it's opening a couple years ago. At the book signing following the curators' talk, I seized the opportunity to speak briefly to Ms. Landis about possible dates and places for the exhibition to be presented here in the United States -- and came away with the idea that perhaps it was planned as a traveling exhibit to be shown in more than one US location, beginning in the fall of 2013.

It was too early to find out definite plans, but I'll keep trying! The challenges of planning a convention to coincide with any exhibition are knowing times/places soon enough to plan the event and get product manufactured, and finding dates that are workable around other events in the doll community. However, if the exhibit is featured in more than one US location, that will give us more options! :)

I've been exploring a couple of other fun ideas and locations as well, so even if the Hollywood Costume exhibit doesn't work for our theme, the 2013 convention promises to be another fun filled event packed with the panache you've come to expect from a "Sandra Stillwell Presents" event!

I've done lots of preliminary work, but once I get the backorders completed from Radio Days, I'm ready to hit the ground running with serious planning and site selection visits. so stay tuned for information to come!

Speaking of backorders -- I'm very happy to report that some of the waitlisted fashions have arrived, and I've gotten reports that others are ready for shipping from the factory and should arrive next week, with the last shipment expected mid November.

I emailed everyone status updates and confirmation on RSVP orders before I left for London, so if you haven't heard from me or have any additional questions or additions, please phone or email.

If you're interested in a back ordered fashion but did not RSVP, it might not be too late -- as once all the orders are shipped, I may have a couple of each design that can be released for sale. Photos of all fashions can be found here on the blog -- just click on the individual "Radio Day's" meal functions at the right of the page.

My "Sandra Stillwell Presents" blog sales pages will be updated with information about availability as soon as time permits, but until then, please contact me for details. Don't wait too long, as quantities are extremely limited.

Remember -- it's never too early to start holiday shipping for that special doll in your life -- and "Sandra Stillwell Presents" sales page is the perfect place to do it! Your vinyl diva will adore you for it -- and you'll be pretty happy, too!

As for the birthday celebrations -- we still have a couple of days in October, so, back in the USA, I took a little time out from packing yesterday to celebrate my birthday -- again -- with gal-pals in Dallas before heading back to Kentucky tomorrow...

And there, the shipping will continue!

The stress of the past couple of months has begun to lift from my shoulders...I'm enjoying the thrill of seeing the fashions again as they come in and reading the wonderful emails from those of you who have received packages.

Many thanks to those of you who provided shoulders and assistance, and to you all for your patience and understanding -- I feel certain you'll find it's all been worth the wait....
My one regret over the past couple of months is that there's not enough time, money, or ME to attend all the wonderful events I would like to support -- but I'm looking forward to plans for 2013 and hope to see many of you then...


Radio Days Musings... Coming Full Circle

I can't imagine a more perfect beginning to the second decade of "Sandra Stillwell Presents" conventions than to be surrounded by friends -- both old and new -- in the lovely city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In an interesting way, it's as if we've come full circle, as it was 10 years ago that my dear friend, George Sarofeen, first proposed hosting a Gene convention in his adopted hometown of Cincinnati. My first Gene convention, Tulsa's "Oil Baron's Ball" had wrapped only a couple of weeks before, and I was riding high with enthusiasm and awe for everything Gene -- including the talented "Gene Team" designer, George.

I can still hear the excitement in George's voice as he told me about the magnificent Netherland Plaza Hotel and ideas for his chosen theme, "Radio Days".

I, on the other hand, had my heart set on a "Derby Dreams" convention in Louisville -- my beloved husband, Danny's, hometown.
In the following weeks, I became a big fan of Cincinnati and all that George proposed, but in true gentleman style, he graciously conceded that Louisville would be the perfect place for the 2003 convention -- as long as HE could host Gene's 10th anniversary convention in Cincinnati!

Thus, George and I formed a fast friendship that would endure many ups and downs of life, including the passing of my dear Danny and the retirement of Gene.

And the 10th Anniversary Gene Convention? George again graciously conceded that I could organize that convention -- in my chosen city of Stamford Connecticut, Gene's "hometown" -- and that he would fill the role of convention costume designer. Working with George on the fashions for the "Decade of Dreams" convention was one of the highlights of my "Gene years" -- as well as a lifeline I so desperately needed after losing Danny only a few short weeks before -- and I silently vowed to one day repay George's kindness by making the Cincinnati convention he so desired actually happen.

I'm very grateful I could do that with "Sandra Stillwell Presents: Radio Days", complete with George's new associates, Horsman Dolls, and their muse, Vita, in attendance! It was especially neat to hear George's recollections and pictures from his illustrious history in doll fashion design and his bright future with Horsman.

Though there were changes from George's original ideas ten years ago, the basics still remained. I believe -- and am confident George would agree -- that "Radio Days" was everything he had envisioned, and more! Sold out in record time, it was an unbelievable success!
And now that our 2012 convention, "Sandra Stillwell Presents: Radio Days" has come to an end, I can't help but reflect on the many memories surrounding not only this convention, but also those throughout the past decade that have brought us to this point. Whether heartwarming or heartbreaking, happy or sad, laughter and tears -- they are all heartfelt reflections that have helped make me, personally, and "Sandra Stillwell Presents" what it is today. The constant thread throughout the years is the doll friends I've encountered and relationships built along the way -- people I am so grateful to have included in my life.

So now we have come full circle -- and kicked off the second decade of "Sandra Stillwell Presents" conventions in high style!

Before closing, I have to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who made our 2012 "Radio Days" convention the overwhelming success that it was!
To my core volunteer staff: There are simply no words to express my gratitude and appreciation for all you do to help make conventions the best they can be. Your valued friendships keep me uplifted and on track, bringing immeasurable richness to my life. I could not -- and would not want to -- do it without you. Some of my greatest blessings have come from knowing you all, and I thank you for your trust, understanding, and support throughout the years.

To everyone who made jewelry, sewed a bead, made a hat, dressed/undressed a doll, switched a head, stuffed a package, carried a box or any other of the multitude of convention duties: Thank you SO much for your time, efforts, and help! Your finishing touches truly helped make convention outstanding.

To everyone involved in producing our fabulous "Radio Days" souvenirs, fashions, and accessories: Thank you for your hard work and dedication to beautifully execute and bring my visions to "life". I am so very proud of all the wonderful fashions we created for this year's collection!

Especially to Dorinda Balanecki, Ken Young and George Sarofeen of the Horsman Doll Company: Thank you for being such an invaluable part of "Sandra Stillwell Presents: Radio Days". It was an honor to have you join us this year! We look forward to having you with us at conventions to come!!

Special Thanks to George for the "Radio Days" inspiration and your constant friendship throughout the years.

This year was also especially meaningful because, in addition to the treasured friends who grace us every year, we had several new guests and long missed friends with us in Cincinnati.

Most importantly -- to all of our "Radio Days" attendees:

My deepest thanks for all your efforts to join us for this 2012 "Sandra Stillwell Presents" convention!  I know it takes long travel, much money, and other sacrifices to attend an event -- and your participation means the world to me! I am forever grateful for your support. Thanks, too, for my giant card and all your heartfelt sentiments -- I will cherish it always.

I'd also like to extend sincere thanks to the absentees and others who support convention through purchases -- your patronage helps make convention possible!

Each of you played a role in making "Radio Days" very special, indeed! I hope the sweet "melodies" of convention will continue to play in your hearts in remembrance of our wonderful time together in Cincinnati!

And finally, much appreciation to everyone for you enthusiasm for this years "Radio Days" collection. It means more than I can express.

Photos of all the "Radio Days" fashions and a recap of the festivities have been uploaded below-- along with information about any available fashions on the Sales page. Please visit often for updates!

Stay tuned for upcoming news about our 2013 "Sandra Stillwell Presents" convention -- plans are already underway for another FUN event!!

I hope to see you all next year!


Taking a short break....

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone who attended Radio Days had a pleasant trip home and thank you for coming!

I am making a short visit to New York City for a few days. I will have limited Internet access and will respond to your emails as soon as possible.

The sales page has now been updated with items from Radio Days. Feel free to email me if you would like to purchase anything or have any questions. Please remember I am traveling so I may not get right back to you. Email me at or you can try calling 502-377-5153.

Believe it or not, I am already starting work on next years event! I hope to see you all again in 2013!


Radio Days is now ON THE AIR!!

Sandra Stillwell Presents... Radio Days began on Thursday with an optional off site tour to Augusta, KY and Rosemary Clooney's home/history museum.

Attendees will recieve
Girl Singer
This is a photo of the first prototype, which is a work in progress and subject to change.

Photo by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Thursday Reception

Ken Young, President,  Dorinda Balanecki, design director & George Sarofeen, designer of Horsman Ltd were special guests for the opening reception. Dorinda gave a presentation to the group on the evolution of Vita. It was Ken's birthday and a special cake topped with Vita was presented to him.

My Valentine Vita in teal dressed doll
 The complete fashion and wig was available to purchase as well.

Optional purchase items:
Madame Coco
Inspired by a 1930's Chanel design.

Velvet Touch in red, black, blue, teal, green & purple

Euphoric in burgundy or teal

Gossamer Romance in green or lavender

Horsman gave attendees a hat box

And everyone received a Gene size replica of a 1930's Bluebird radio from Sandra Stillwell as part of the convention package.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Friday Breakfast

Breakfast featured a lecture by Cincinnati Art Museum costume department curator Cynthia Amneus with an overview of the museum and its costume collection.

Arcadia Tea

Optional Purchase items:
Queen City Gal

Oriental Bouquet

Platinum Lux

Canapes & Cocktails
Inspired by a Jean Desses fashion

Everyone received the the breakfast souvenir
A Work of Art
A recreation of a gown by Hattie Carnegie from the Cincinnati Museum collection.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Friday Dinner & PJ Party

At the Airwaves to the Stars dinner, guests received a mini "Cincinnati Radio" book. As a special treat, Horsman's Dorinda Balanecki shared a rare glimpse into the production of  Vita, followed by George Sarofeen's presentation on his illustrious history with Gene/Ashton Drake and now Horsman - complete with a beautiful display of his designs.

The Centerpieces were:
The Big Broadcast

Airwaves to the Stars

Over the Airwaves

Optional purchase items were:
Grand Silhouette

Elegance Defined

Everyone will receive the lovely Deco inspired Huntress.

Shortly following dinner, attendees donned their best PJ's for the Studio Commissary PJ Party. Three lucky contestants played a game of "Let's Make a Deal' followed by a best PJ contest. The Studio Commissary provided movie candy for all and the Doris Day film "My Dream is Yours" was shown.

Photos by Jeff Lega & Sue T.

Radio Days Saturday Breakfast

Attendees were treated to a Cincinnati themed breakfast where an interesting documentary on local celebrity, Ruth Lyons, was shown.

Centerpieces were:
Union Terminal Arrival

Strolling on Fountain Square

Everyone received
Lady of Leisure
A multi piece ensemble for a leisurely Saturday morning.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Saturday Lunch

Lunch was devoted to "Afternoon Diversions" of the 1930's. Mini vintage Radio Stars magazines graced the tables. A program on celebrities from the Cincinnati area was given by local historian Jim Bruckmann, a docent from the Cincinnati History Museum.

The centerpieces were:
America's Sweetheart (purple) & America's Beloved (teal)

Optional purchase item:
Brave New World

Guests received
Social Butterfly

Sandra showed prototypes of companion fashions that didn't make it in time for the event. These are still a work in progress and coat/hat colors & design subject to change.
Heart & Soul

Body & Soul

Cheek to Cheek

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Saturday Matinee

Lullaby of Broadway, starring Doris Day, was shown with popcorn and beverages served.

The centerpiece, "My Dream is Yours", was based on a costume from the Doris Day film of the same name which was viewed at the Friday night PJ party.

Photos by Jeff Lega

Radio Days Saturday Night Banquet

The final dinner was a tribute to Cincinnati's sweetheart Doris Day. During dinner a "fashion show" was held highlighting the optional purchase items. Sandra gave a fascinating PowerPoint presentation on the inspirations for the Radio Days Collection. The evening closed with the results of the silent helper auction and helper raffle.

Auction doll:
Cincinnati Inquirer

Centerpieces were Sentimental Journey in purple, yellow and lavender. These were based on a Doris Day fashion from film "By the Light of the Silvery Moon".

Optional purchase items:
From Dusk to Dawn

Morning Dew
Above fashions based on a costume designed for the Doris Day film Midnight Lace.

Moonlight Garden

My Own Invention
Based on an Elizabeth Hawes gown c. 1930's named "It's My Own Invention".

 Based on "Styx", another Elizabeth Hawes design, this was shown to attendees as a forthcoming fashion.

Everyone attending will receive "Somebody Loves Me", inspired by a Doris Day costume from the film "Lullyby of Broadway". 


Photos by Jeff Lega