Alma Siedhoff-Buscher’s 'Small Ship-Building Game' is still produced today. She succeeded in developing a child-friendly toy, made of 22 parts, that offered not only the possibility of imitation but also free creative development. At the same time, it can be manufactured industrially.

Portrait of Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, photo: Atelier Hüttich-Oemler (Weimar), 1923, Reproduction. Bauhaus Archiv Berlin / © unknown.
Portrait of Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, photo: Atelier Hüttich-Oemler (Weimar), 1923, Reproduction. Bauhaus Archiv Berlin / © unknown.

Alma Siedhoff-Buscher was born on 4 January 1899 in Kreuztal near Siegen. Her eleven years of schooling in Berlin, which she completed with the certificate of eligibility for university entrance in 1916, were initially followed by her education at the Elisabeth School for Women in Berlin and studies at the Reimann School from 1917 to 1920. With this basis, Siedhoff-Buscher studied until Easter 1922 at the training institute of the State Arts and Crafts Museum of Berlin. That same year, Alma Siedhoff-Buscher entered the Bauhaus and initially attended the preliminary course taught by Johannes Itten and classes by Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. In October, she was accepted to the weaving workshop with Georg Muche and Helene Börner. In 1923, she switched to the wood sculpture workshop under the direction of Muche and Josef Hartwig.

In connection with the major Bauhaus exhibition of 1923, Alma Siedhoff-Buscher designed the furnishings of the children’s room in the prototype Am Horn house and participated in Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack’s 'Colour-Light Games'. She also created various children’s toys such as the 'Small Ship-Building Game' and a puppet theatre.

Small Ship-Building Game, author: Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, 1923. Klassik Stiftung Weimar / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Small Ship-Building Game, author: Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, 1923. Klassik Stiftung Weimar / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

In 1924, the Zeiss Kindergarten in Jena was equipped with furniture designed by Siedhoff-Buscher. Her toy and furniture designs were also presented at the exhibition for the conference of the professional organisation for kindergarten teachers, day-care providers and youth leaders during the Fröbel Days in Jena, as well as Weimar’s Youth Welfare in Thuringia exhibition. In 1926, she participated with her works in the exhibition called The Toy in Nuremberg.

In 1925, Alma Siedhoff-Buscher moved to Dessau with the Bauhaus. She was a student there until 1927 and then later worked as an employee. During her last year at the Bauhaus, she designed the cut-out kits and colouring books for the publisher Verlag Otto Maier Ravensburg.

Throw Dolls , author: Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, 1924. Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Förderverein der Kunstsammlungen / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Throw Dolls , author: Alma Siedhoff-Buscher, 1924. Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Förderverein der Kunstsammlungen / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

She married Werner Siedhoff – a dancer and actor who was actively involved with Schlemmer’s Bauhaus stage – in 1926 and she also gave birth to her son Joost that same year and daughter Lore in 1928. The phase of her life that was characterised by relative stability at the Bauhaus ended in 1928. Werner Siedhoff’s engagements on various German stages caused a frequent change of residence. Alma Siedhoff-Buscher was the victim of a bombing raid in Buchschlag near Frankfurt a. M. on 25 September 1944. 

Re-editions of her Small Ship-Building Game and the Sailboat and Crane cut-out kits became available in 1977.

Literature:
Müller, Ulrike (2007): Die klugen Frauen von Weimar. Regentinnen, Salondamen, Schriftstellerinnen und Künstlerinnen, Munich.
Boyaki, Amanda (2010): Alma Buscher Siedhoff. An Examination of Children’s Design and Gender at the Bauhaus during the Weimar Period, Dissertation.
Baumhoff, Anja (2009): Verhaltenslehren der Kälte? Implikationen moderner Diskursformen am Bauhaus Dessau am Beispiel der Geschichte der Alma Buscher, in: Wagner, Christoph (ed.): Esoterik am Bauhaus: Eine Revision der Moderne? Internationales Wissenschaftliches Symposium, Berlin, p. 191–206.