Dianna Effner grew up in Park Forest, Illinois, with an architect father and a homemaker mother, who liked sewing and arts and crafts. When she was small her father drew flash cards to introduce her to reading. One card was especially fascinating. It had “DOLL” on one side and a drawing of a rag doll on the other. These images gave her an early interest in art and a sense of the possibilities. Expected to attend college, Dianna confirmed with her fifth-grade teacher that it was possible to study art in college, and thereupon decided to pursue a career in art. She earned a BFA from Bradley University in 1967.
Dianna became one of the most well-known, beloved doll artists through her own doll art, as well as the successful company she created for teaching and the marketing of molds she designed to help others learn the craft she loved. She was elected into NIADA in 1990.
In a teaching video made quite a few years ago for aspiring dollmakers, she invites us watch her sculpting techniques. She says, “Imitation is a natural way to learn. Watching someone work is an excellent way to learn to do something.” Generously offering us insight into her methods and skills, she tells her students, “I hope your life is enriched by the opportunity to model a child. Mine certainly has been. I’m so very grateful for having been given a chance to learn, to work, to serve, and to teach through sculpting and dollmaking.”