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Skilled costume designer turns passion into purpose creating unique dolls to spread happiness

Posted: 3:44 AM, Mar 12, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-12 08:04:16-04
Helen Campbell dolls

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Fashion designer John Galliano once said, "The joy of dressing is an art."

For more than three decades, Helen Cantonis Campbell created that art as a costume designer. Her creations have since changed in scale, but grown in meaning.

As a former costumer designer, she could take thrift store goods and make ornate pieces that would shine on the stage.

One could say her parents had a hand in her future.

"My father was a trained tailor from France. My mother was a trained seamstress from Greece, but I hated it growing up," Campbell said.

Her family's history would help create her own.

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She retired from theater costume design, but not from designing. The big change is that her five-foot subjects are now five inches tall.

"I get up at 3:00 in the morning and I don’t know what to do," said Campbell. "And I'm like oh, I guess I'll make another doll."

She began making the dolls for small groups in January and sent them to people in nursing homes and anyone who just needed a pick me up that day.

"It gives me a blessing to know that somebody who was not feeling good that day received one of my dolls and cheered them up," said Campbell.

Each doll is different, but Campbell has the same thought when each one is finished.

"I always say, oh this is my last doll and then I get a letter, you know, thank you and I go oh well, I guess the Lord wants me to continue," said Campbell. "Anyone who walks in the house gets a doll."

The dolls are free, but there is one thing Campbell wants to come from them.

“I want it to bring joy. People to be kind to each other," said Campbell. "To be forgiving. To love each other and appreciate each other because we’re not here forever.”