Faith, family ties fuel Rosenberg’s clothespin dollmaking at Park Place

Everything revolves around clothespin dolls for Park Place of West Knoxville resident Ceil Rosenberg, whose “pride and joy” wall of dolls depicts her seven grandchildren: Dani, Jake, Madison, Jessie, Sydney, Zev and Joshea, and grandson-in-law, Matt.
Park Place of West Knoxville resident Ceil Rosenberg, 77, has given clothespins a life of their own.

She makes dolls out of them.

“I love making the dolls,” Rosenberg said. “I have lots and lots and lots. I love my girls (the dolls).”

She has been making clothespin dolls for about 25 years, but she does not stop there. Rosenberg also uses clothespins in her wreath designs as photo hangers, finger puppets for her great-granddaughter and other crafts.

“Everything has clothespins, everything,” Rosenberg noted.

While she does not remember what inspired the idea to make the dolls, she said, “I started making them because I loved doing it and for no other reason.

“I guess it just fascinated me to see such a thing look not only so cute, but real,” Rosenberg added. “Somehow or other, they sort of come to life … Sometimes I can’t believe I made them.

“I know, now on the computer, thousands and thousands of people are making clothespin dolls,” she noted.

Rosenberg recalled she has had so many dolls, she had to pack away many of them.

“They were all over the place during the holiday,” she said.

Rosenberg estimated she currently has about 80 dolls. But before this past Christmas she had even more, giving them as gifts to fellow Park Place residents.

She “had each of them pick out dolls from themes I already made.”

Rosenberg still has a memento of the ones she gave away.

“I have a book that has all the pictures of all of them,” she said. “They’re like family.”

Rosenberg has dolls for every theme and every special event in her life, drawing her inspirations from her love of family and her Jewish faith. For example, on a wall in Rosenberg’s bedroom, dolls depicting her grandchildren sit on walls next their photos.

“This is my pride and joy,” she said, motioning to the wall. “You’ll notice (the dolls) all match the photos.”

Rosenberg also made a boy and girl in bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah attire for her grandchildren.

“You can see everything pretty much revolves around my dolls,” she added.

Rosenberg even found a way to brighten the birthdays of fellow residents.

“I’ve been making these dolls and giving them to the people, the ladies’ birthdays, here (at Park Place), she said. “I had one at the end of the month, and I’m ready to start February … so this is one of my little gifts to them.”

“She makes them for everybody,” said Rebecca Phillips, Park Place lifestyle director. “She makes their birthdays special.”

Rosenberg also makes dolls based on themes, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Frozen, The Little Mermaid, Star Wars, Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio.

She is the mother of three children: Hal Rosenberg, Aileen Hoffman and Tara Hartman; grandmother of seven: Dani, Jake, Madison, Jessie, Sydney, Zev and Joshea; and great-grandmother of 2-month-old Emerson Leigh.

Rosenberg was born and reared in Brooklyn, New York, to Abe and Doris Plachter, the youngest of their three children, who included brothers, the late Martin Plachter and late Mitchell Plachter.

In Brooklyn, she worked for Republic National Bank for many years. When Rosenberg retired in 1969, she moved to Florida, where she partnered with a friend to operate a business, Crafts by Celé, which she had for eight years.

She already had been crafting — making wreaths and floral arrangements with artificial flowers and clothespin dolls — on her own

But after Rosenberg’s friend got her a job at Office Depot Corporate, they started taking her designs to craft shows, which inspired them to start their own business.

The business’ name was taken from her first name. She

explained her mother had lost her birth certificate, which was later found and had the spelling, Cele.

“And all my life I had been spelling it Ceil,” she said. “So, when my best friend and I decided to do a business, she looked at my birth certificate, and she said, ‘Oh, Crafts by Celé!’

Before coming to Park Place, she previously had lived in Tennessee for a while, where her son and daughter-in-law live, but she moved back to New York because “family needed me.

“I always said that if I had to leave, I would be back,” she said.