Former probation officer still plays with dolls

If you think dolls are just for little girls, think again.

LuJean Whitmore, 53, has been making dolls for almost 32 years. She began while pregnant with her first child, thinking it would be a girl but instead she had a boy. She has been making and painting porcelain dolls on and off for the past six years after meeting Johanna Billig, a master doll maker who has a studio in Carson City but is a native of Holland.

Whitmore is a former probation officer at Aurora Pines.

"I was very proud of the title 'The probation officer that plays with dolls.' That always made me smile," she said.

Whitmore recently attended the Doll Artisan Guild competition that took place in Sacramento this year. DAG is an international organization. Although this was her first entry into a competition, Whitmore received second-place ribbons on both of the dolls she entered. The judging was based on authenticity, creativity, crisp painting, costuming, realistic appearance and workmanship.

Whitmore said the next competition is in Dublin, Ireland, and she doesn't think she will enter that one.

A total of 17 dolls were entered from Nevada, all from Northern Nevada. Whitmore was the youngest participant, with the oldest 75 years old.

Whitmore has been a Carson Valley resident for 24 years, 23 of them spent as a probation officer. She retired in September 2005 and now spends most of her time with her 4-year-old granddaughter Kelsea Palmer, who Whitmore said is an active participant in the doll making.

"Most of the dolls I have made in the last four years are made from pictures of her," she said.

As for future plans, "I plan to continue being a full-time grandma, although I have taken a part-time job to support my doll habit," she said.


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