If Ever I Would *LEAF You

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I don’t see it, the scariness. Oh sure, her hair’s a little messy, but so’s mine, and I’M not a Halloween prop! Or am I? Oh dear…

A lot of dolls have come to my house over the years, to the point where I can tell a LOT about a doll simply by her knock. Most knocks express excitement by these little girls, knowing that they’ll soon have a chance to be loved again. 

This knock however was different. It was sad. I couldn’t get the door open fast enough. There stood this little doll, and she was weeping. I asked her what was wrong.

Nothing lifts a girls spirit more than some wings and a wand! And a few little curls.

“I found myself at a table surrounded by lots of other things, and I overheard an adult human talking…”

At this point, she stopped and blew her nose and bowed her head.

“What did the adult human say?” I asked, my heart breaking just a little bit for this little girl.

“They said I was creepy and scary, and that I’d be a good prop for Halloween!” 

WELL. There was certainly something I could do about THAT…

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 94. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I had so much fun working on our Aubrey, because she was so grateful for each little thing! She didn’t need *too* much in the way of work. The toes on her right foot had been nibbled off by mice. Her arm had been exposed to water and had “melted” a little bit. That doesn’t make her a witch!

INSPIRATION PHOTO

I think the main reason she was perceived as scary was because of her hair the the dirt that had formed in her eyes. Her wig was so firmly glued on that it would have been nearly impossible to remove without destroying it. Turns out, it was filthy in addition to being messy, so I used the Windex method to clean it. Namely, you spritz a wig with Windex avoiding a doll’s skin, and you blot it with paper towels.

Sometimes you can’t tell how much dirt you’re getting off because the towel is wet with Windex so it doesn’t show. For my own satisfaction, I took that damp paper towel and IRONED it so I could better see the dirt. YESS. Satisfying.

I then curled her wig with Spoolies and a little small barrel curling iron touch up.

Aubrey has a crown and an acorn sceptre-wand for granting wishes, but my favorite thing that led me to wanting to make her into an Autumn Fairy was the idea of LEAFS as WINGS. How clever is that? Now the trick was to find some good leaves. My kind neighbor gave me some, but I needed a few more. What to do…?

I’ve asked if I could buy one of their baskets, which look very similar to this one with the fabric sides that collapse and the metal handle. Alas, no dice.

ENTER the V&S Variety Store. I LOVE that place! It’s in Humboldt, Iowa which has a population of about 4,800. So pretty big in comparison to Rolfe. It’s not too far away, about 30 minutes, and there you can find all sorts of things that you wouldn’t find anyplace else. It’s like stepping back in time! Possibly not on purpose, even. More like good old fashioned Iowa thriftiness. If it’s not worn out, why throw it away? Even the shopping baskets are treasures!

They have candies I haven’t seen in years, and little toys, and cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes, and fabrics! A very nice couple run it, and I get a lot of joy in my heart anytime I can sneak over to Humboldt and see what’s new there. Come to think of it, the fabric for Aubrey’s dress came from V&S!

There’s the coat from my YouTube video tutorial, there’s the dress with the fabric from V&S, and there’s a better view of the leaf wings.

So with a little vintage magic – and a little help from my friends, our girl Aubrey is ready to conquer the world. Perhaps more importantly, she’s ready to conquer HALLOWEEN. Not creepy, not scary, certainly not a prop! Just a little girl who wants to be loved…

Here’s a “living” before and “after.”

A hearty thank you to those who gave my three dolls last week good homes. Agnes A. of Carrollton, PA, Corinne S. of Lexington, MA, and Dennis Z. of Kirksville, MO. Much appreciated!

With that, I leaf you! And even if your hair is a fright, you’re STILL my favorite.

*The title of this blog post came to me as I was working on Aubrey. “If Ever I Would LEAF You” – get it? From that song in ‘Camelot’ with “leaf” instead of “leave”?! Comedy GOLD!

It takes very little to entertain me. I even called my beloved mother and cackled to her about it. Yep.

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A Colossal LOVE

A pierced-ear Parian with leather arms. Have you ever SEEN anything more beautiful?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am the America of doll collecting. “Give me your tired, your poor, your broken limb, your hole in the head….”

I added fresh sawdust, made earrings for her from a necklace and a dress from old lace.

I never, ever buy mint. Not because I can’t afford it (although I can’t!), but because I’m just so tickled pink to actually have these old treasures right in my hands that I don’t care WHAT’S wrong with them. You must understand, I lived in a world before ebay! Hard to imagine, but there once was one. The only time I ever saw my future loves, old dolls, was in antique stores. There they sat, behind glass doors, out of reach in more ways than one, faded, frustratingly turned upside-down labels attached to their wrists.

Bad acrylic wigs, but sweet as can be turns into…

“Ooh! Does that say $25.00?” I would eagerly think to myself, contorting my body into the oddest of positions trying to see that elusive tag. I would contain my excitement as I made my way to the front of the store. Contain it as I followed the helpful store lady back to my find, dutifully stepping back and not lunging as she unlocked the case.

,,,FLAPPERS!

“Here she is,” the lady would kindly say, laying this glorious treasure in my arms.

“Oh, hmm…” I would nonchalantly murmur as I surreptitiously take a look at the tag, only to have my heart sink. $250.00 – NOT $25.00. I would give the doll one last squeeze before gently handing her back to the woman. “I’ll have to think about it. Thank you.” I would say.

These little girls had all sorts of problems! No hair, cracked and reglued heads, no clothes. No matter, because now they’re PIRATES. And a Jester.

If that happened once, it happened a hundred times. To this day I do not care what shape an old girl is in, I’m just honored to hold her and have her for my own, even if it’s just for a little while.

This summer I had to change my tactics a little and sell some of my dolls quickly to get by. My older dolls that are monetarily worth more – except they’re once again dolls I could afford, that were therefore very flawed, that I loved to distraction nevertheless.

This is my machine. It’s literally STEEL. Well, it’s some kind of metal. It’s old and only goes forwards and backwards, but it’s a tank and I adore it. Kingston Royal Deluxe Precision. (The machine in back is for winding bobbins.)

I intended to simply sell them quickly, like ripping off a bandage. But when it comes to dolls, sometimes me and fabric are a magnet, and my sewing machine is STEEL. In some cases, I just had to do SOMETHING.

So I sewed for some of them. The ones that I could, that I had time for.

I learned a LOT this summer, like how to string a bisque head, composition body doll. Or how to make a jester hat, or how to easily make a reticule (little drawstring purses like the ones the Flappers are holding. I’m thinking of doing a video on them, they’re super easy – now that I figured out how).

A reticule.

I’ve shown just a few of these girls here, and now there are three that I have left. That for whatever reason didn’t call out to anybody at the “Buy It Now” prices I set. But I’ve already said goodbye to them in my heart, and while I work on the next O.L.D., I’m sending these girls off auction-style. Now I know for certain as do they that no matter what, they’ll be going someplace new very soon. I’ll miss them! But you never know when there will be another knock at my door when another doll arrives…

HERE ARE THE THREE. As you expect, one has a hole in her head, another some broken legs (I made new ones), and another is the one I learned to restring on. It was TRICKY. She’s the closest thing to a Hazel Twigg-style doll I’ve done all summer.

MYSTERY DOLL. You can see her HERE.

Rosy-cheeked China head. See her HERE.

Armand Marseille School Girl. See her HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARVEL was adopted by…dearest JANEY J. Oakland, California! Isn’t it wonderful when O.L.D.’s and old friends collide? Oh sure, I’ve never actually MET Janey, but she feels like an old friend all the same! THANK YOU, JANEY!

And with that, I leave you! Happy cooler weather and popping walnuts, you’re my favorite.

It Had To Be You. Her. IT.

DEJA VU:

Several years ago I came across a photo from the 1920’s or thereabouts that so entranced me that I not only purchased it, which is unusual for me as I am a thrifty soul, I also became a fan of the photographer. His name was Mack Sennett, and he was an actor and director of silent films. He also rounded up various beautiful women and they became “Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties.”

Thus began the description for HazelTwigg No. 91. Sharp-eyed readers may notice that THIS particular girl is 93! When I did a bathing beauty two dolls and many moons ago, I picked one that I liked, but as my sister asked, “Why didn’t you just do your favorite?”

The ORIGINAL Marvel Rea. She looks a little wistful here, doesn’t she?

Well, it’s never too late, even as the Summer of 2017, around 100 years after the black and white photo you see was taken, has come to an end…

THUS begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. No. 93, Marvel Rea. You can see her adoption page HERE.

As mentioned in my previous post, a lot of these Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties were nameless. However! If you want to find anything, simply check out the internet. There’s even a Facebook page devoted to these particular beauties.

I learned that my particular girl has been identified. She’s Marvel Rae. I love the name Marvel!

Unfortunately, bathing beauty Marvel had a tragic life and died at a young age. I debated not making her and moving onto something else, but I’d been thinking about her all summer. IT HAD TO BE HER.

See those diamonds and circles? Figuring out how to do that was a time-consuming ponder.

To portray Marvel I needed a special doll. A unique mold I don’t think I’ve used before. One girl in the crowd kept calling out to me.

It may not look like much, but when you remove the rest of the lifted skin, the space you have to repair becomes that much larger.

But she had one of my least favorite things to fix: lifting and chipping around her eyes. In the past I’ve even started on a doll with this problem, gotten frustrated, and moved onto someone else with you being nary the wiser.

This took hours. The first time I did it, I was working on her and it kept bothering me because I wasn’t happy with the results. The second time? BETTER. I could focus on HER.

I looked and looked, but no other doll would do. She simply captured the uniqueness that was Marvel. IT HAD TO BE HER.

Our Marvel was a redhead, so I wanted something extra special for her alternative outfit because redheads are rare.

“The bathing suit’s enough!” my sister Julie cried, waving her tiny fists. She only wants what’s best for me. She knows how slow I am at sewing – and how productive I need to be. But I had some recently received fabric that came to me by way of angels including one piece of pink woven fabric. I love pink on redheads. IT HAD TO DO IT.

A few months ago my friend Cindy D.K. saw a post from a friend of hers who was clearing out her studio and generously put the word out on Facebook asking if anyone wanted some of the studio’s contents.

GUESS WHAT THAT STUDIO CONTAINED? Fabric. This woman’s name is Peggy Estridge Latta, and she creates the most exquisite and beautiful miniature gowns I have ever seen. You can see them at her site, Heirloom Textile Art.

Peggy had several people clamoring politely for different things, and bless friend Cindy’s heart, she kindly clamored on my behalf. When  Peggy asked, “What kind of fabric does she use?” Cindy directed her to this here site to see some of my work.

The beautiful velvet used for the hat and scarf were from Peggy too.

You can tell a lot about an artist’s talent by their instincts. Peggy got me to a T, as if she’d known me for years.

Peggy lives in Indiana. So does Cindy’s mom, Waneta. Peggy gave the fabric to Waneta who brought the fabric to Cindy who brought it to me. GORGEOUS silks and wools and velvets in all kinds of colors, including the pink weave I used for Marvel’s coat, which Peggy found it at a thrift store in the form of a jacket. She’s a kindred spirit!

I had been worried that I would have a hard time coming up with new themes each week. Now I have themes GALORE. I know what I’m doing for the next several dolls. THANK YOU, lovely ladies.

Speaking of the coat, I have a new video up on YouTube. It’s called, “Hazel Twigg Says Let’s Make a Vintage Doll Coat!” It’s been awhile since I’ve done one, as you can see…

And with that, I leave you! Happy Fall and new beginnings! You’re my favorite.

The LEAKERS

If you live anywhere on planet earth then I’m sure you are well aware that last weekend was Greater Rolfe Days here in  the crown jewel of America: Rolfe, Iowa.

For two and a half days our little family of 540 or so will get together and celebrate all that is Rolfe. There are tractor rides, the Lutheran Women’s Pie and Ice Cream Social, the rodeo…there are also the kids’ games.

Julie and I have done the kids’ games for most of the 11 years that we’ve lived here. Wanna know how it went? Here’s an excerpt I wrote in a letter to a friend:

So easy!

Yesterday the kids’ games went great. There were of course several fiascos, but I’ve learned not to worry as no matter what, the kids just have fun. The main fiasco was the water balloons we bought. For years Julie and I have sat at the outside spigots at our various houses because those were the only faucets that would take our water balloons. There we would sit, sweating and swearing in the hot, hot sun trying to fill a hundred plus water balloons, missing the parade and other festivities. We were so happy to see a new invention that fills up 20 balloons at once! Not only that, they seal themselves when filled! BRILLIANT.

I got to Julie’s house 45 minutes before the games to help set up as planned, only to find Julie and Scott frantically trying to get the water balloons filled. They weren’t sealing themselves, as advertised!

Here’s how they’re supposed to work: Each balloon has an incredibly tiny rubber band, and when the balloon is filled it comes off this little tube, and the rubber band is supposed to close the neck of the balloon enough that the water doesn’t come back out. Apparently, the tiny rubber bands weren’t tiny enough. So there we were, sitting at this big tub attached to the back of Julie and Scott’s lawn mower, Scott was working the hose and Julie and I were working like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory trying to shove those little rubber bands down far enough so that the balloons wouldn’t leak. That *mostly* did the trick.

We tried taking the worst of them and tying knots instead. These balloons are made to be thin-skinned and are also biodegradable. Great for our planet, but tying? Not so much. I pride myself on the nimbleness of my fingers. I felt like Shrek with those little things.

Julie asked Scott what time it was amidst our frantic fumbling and when she heard she swore. Five minutes before game time and there were still dozens to go! I gathered up what we would need for the first game and took off to the park, leaving Julie and Scott to finish the balloons and follow. When I got there, there were several kids waiting.

“Not to worry, kids! We’ve had a slight water balloon emergency, but everything will be just fine!” I said cheerily.

I then started the first game which involved colanders and water and a relay to fill a empty ice cream bucket. As I was demonstrating, I dipped the colander into the trough and was going to put it over my own head for entertainment purposes. Plus, I was hot. But the thing was empty before I got it two feet out of the trough! This wasn’t going to work. Thinking fast, I doubled the colanders. Not much better. 

Thinking even faster, I ran to my car and found…shopping bags! PHEW. If you put shopping bags into colanders, yes, it’s not tidy looking, but it stopped the water leaking enough…In my mind, the parents were thinking, “Why don’t they test these things out first?” although I’m sure they were far more charitable than that.

Then Julie arrived, absolutely mortified. Against Scott’s advice she had attempted to dump some of the water out of the tub. Half of those hard-gotten balloons had fallen out, just as Scott had warned. He was right! THIS TIME.

We are SAVED!

Even though we’d planned to finish with a water balloon fight, such was the fragility of these fiddly balloons that we had to have it right there and then. There were so few that had survived the leaking and dumping that the fight lasted less than two minutes and the kids were still raring to carry on. This time it was Julie’s turn to think fast. “Scott, go to the grocery store and get some cups!” 

When Scott arrived with the cups…HUGE SUCCESS. This is Julie and my’s something like 10th time doing these kids games. All those years! ALL THOSE YEARS spent messing with those frustrating water balloons! And we weren’t saved with a new and handy invention, we were saved by plastic CUPS. Well, now we know.

We’re going to hot glue some of those colander holes for next year. Yessirree, next year will be PERFECT for sure…
Another Greater Rolfe Days Kids’ Games is in the history books.

Independence was adopted by…Deanna W. of Fredericksburg, Virginia. A new face! And she wrote me one of the nicest letters I’ve ever received. Thank you so much, Deanna!

I shall be going on a brief hiatus from Hazel Twigg, but do not forget me! I’ll be back!

And with that, I leave you! Happy hot days of summer! You’re my favorite.

Let Freedom Ring!

My sister, the Mayor, is quite the crafty and rather gifted girl. A year or so ago when I was at a quilter’s estate auction I spied a lovely old dressmaker’s dummy that I KNEW she would like. I would have liked it too, but I have no room!

I’m so glad I gave it to her. She came up with something quite lovely. I probably would have decoupaged some old vintage advertising on it or some such thing. Not her! She spent days toiling away. It’s a sight to behold in person, with it’s swirl of patriotic bunting and rhinestones and pearls. The draping of the fabric reminded me of the Statue of Liberty. Therefore, I have my sister to thank for the inspiration for O.L.D. No. 92…

Thus begins the description for #92, Independence! You can see her adoption page HERE.

Thank goodness me wee dear sister finds dolls scary, because she would give me a run for my money. It’s not for nothing that I sneak into her house in the dead of night, a particularly scary doll clutched in my fist, whispering in the dark, “I’m gonna bite you with my nice….sharp….teeth.” Ah, the times we have! Plus, it keeps her good and scared of my dolls, and keeps me safe up here on my perch alone.

For those of you who don’t know, Julie and her husband Scott (the First Dude) live in a rather mansion-y house here in town, and I feel very fortunate every time I drive up her driveway. “Why, yes! I know these people who live here! That’s right, I have friends in this manse! Sure, they’re related, but…they like me! They really like me!”

I would never say this out loud to others, and they could probably give two flips about it, but to me it’s a privilege. I love Julie and Scott’s home. It was built in 1893, and the living room is large enough to boast two gorgeous old crystal chandeliers. There’s a cloak room in the entryway, and you can picture couples pulling up in horse and carriages to attend a ball. This thrills and fires my imagination.

There are two staircases, one for servants close to the kitchen, and the main one that leads up from the living room for the family. The main one has a landing with a bench, should you care to rest between climbs. Two staircases! That kind of house.

Which is why I knew Julie would have the space for that wonderful dressmaker’s dummy that nobody wanted. At that estate sale there were three in all. Two fairly nice new ones, and this old number with its cast iron base and chipboard body with the dented boob. The other two went for $15 or $20 each. The one I wanted…nothing! I bid $2 and held my breath. SOLD! Of course, I told Julie as I magnanimously gave it to her that I paid $50, but…that is neither here nor there.

The Statue of Liberty is wearing sandals! Mine are made from gold foiled leather.

Julie and I like to give each other little surprises now and then because life can be a tricky thing. But even with her busy schedule of Mayoring and working full time, she makes everything look so effortless.

I based my torch on this Staret brooch from the 1940’s.

“Whatcha doin’?” I’ll casually ask during one of our many, many conversations per day. “Oh, crafts.” And then I’ll go over to her house, and she’ll show me all these things she’s made! Wonderful things! When I first saw what she’d done with the dummy, I said, “Um, can I have that back…?” Of course I was just joking. Mostly. Well, at least I could steal the inspiration…

I love this image. It makes my toes curl with fear, but I love it.

Julie had this wonderful old bunting she used for her dummy. I alas did not. I hand painted each and every star. “Oh, I’ll just zip downstairs to the kitchen, paint the stars, and while that’s drying I’ll….” NO SUCH THING. Turns out, painting hundreds of starts takes awhile. After all that painting, I then scrunched up the fabric so you couldn’t really see them anyway. No matter, I wanted scrunchy bunting, and I know the stars are there…

Thank you, Thomas Barrow.

The beading was so much fun to do, but also time consuming! If it weren’t for Dowton Abbey, I might have injured myself. I’m currently watching all six seasons of “Downton Abbey” over and over as I sew. Thank goodness I find it engaging, because sometimes sitting there for hours with beads and threads and sharp, pointy needles…*bonk!* Next thing you know, your head droops, and there goes an eye…

Independence was a labor of love, and I hope you love her as we celebrate America’s birthday this coming week.

Bathing Beauty Macie was adopted by…Hillary P. of New York, New York! And to think I’ve never been there! THANK YOU, HILLARY!

With that, I leave you! Happy July 4th! You’re my favorite.

 

A Burgeoning Bevy of Bathing Beauties…

Several years ago I came across a photo from the 1920’s or thereabouts that so entranced me that I not only purchased it, which is unusual for me as I am a thrifty soul, I also became a fan of the photographer. His name was Mack Sennett, and he was an actor and director of silent films. He also rounded up various beautiful women and they became “Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties.”

So when it came the season to do a bathing beauty, I knew just who to use for my inspiration. 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 91, Macie. You can see her adoption page HERE.

The eye-catching image of which I speak hangs in my bedroom. I love it as much now as when I first saw it. Here it is:

I bet you can guess which girl and outfit mesmerized me the most. She has a GIFT, and I don’t think it’s just the outfit. It’s the angle of her! Also, you know how I like pointy hats…

These women wore boots or shoes with knee-high socks. And almost always, they wore some kind of hat. I picked and chose among them to get different aspects of Macie’s outfit…

Mack Sennett was born in Canada in 1880 and eventually moved to California, where he became a producer and director. He discovered Charlie Chaplin, and directed him in 35 films. He also worked with W.C. Fields, Bing Crosby and Buster Keaton, to name a few. And sprinkled throughout many of his films was a bevy of attractive girls.

Though many of the Beauties did eventually go on to have thriving careers in Hollywood, most of them remained anonymous and came and went throughout the years. I studied Mr. Sennett’s photos of these “curious beauties” for inspiration for a swimming outfit from 1918 – to the early 20’s or so.

…but this girl’s swimsuit was my main inspiration.

And to portray my bathing beauty, I was looking for a cheerful, happy girl who could come from that era. In this composition Arranbee Nancy doll, I found her! But there was a problem. Gulp. It was with her eyes…

A nice woman had contacted me via my YouTube channel with questions about her own doll. At the time, I had just begun working on Macie. I’ll let an excerpt from one of my responses to her in an email do the talking for me…

Funny your doll should have an eye problem! My current doll I’m working on had badly shattered eyes. Usually it doesn’t bother me because I’m super laid back with my dolls, but I’m trying to find a new home for this girl, so…. Anyway, I was going to try and just do an iris replacement. I have some eyes from other old dolls that have “passed on.” 
 

Here’s our pretty Macie before. Her hair turned noticeably lighter when her wig was washed.

What a NIGHTMARE. It took me FOREVER to dig the irises out of the spare pair, and then when it came time to remove the ones I wanted to replace, there was a steel post in the way! I tried in vain to sand the post down – like THAT would work – and instead spent half an hour on the floor with a flashlight trying to find the crumbled bits of original eye. I only found 2/3’s. I glued the pieces in as best I could with clear glue and fortified the rest with tiny bits of leather and clear plastic, having gone mildly insane with panic by then….Sounds scary, huh?

Macie is wearing an inexplicable pink brooch with her orange coat. It’s ‘splicable to me, based on a costumer and a Shakespeare play, but that’s a tale for another time.

I always say, “With doll repair you can have NO FEAR.” But I confess, that can sometimes lead to great panic. Ah, well! There was no way I could tell that sweet, cheerful girl she would have to wait for months or years until I got my nerve again, so onward we went!

I of course had to make another outfit for her for when she’s not frolicking on the beach. This includes a dress, coat and hat. The coat and hat are from some delicious old upholstery fabric with wonderful huge orange flowers sprinkled about. Our Macie is one of the few who could actually pull this fabric off!

Macie is O.L.D. No. NINETY-ONE. Just think! Only eight more before we’re in triple digits! I’m feverishly at work on number 92, who has GOT to be finished by this Sunday, otherwise she won’t be timely! Also, there’s my mortgage guy to think about. Let us not forget HIM…

Our sweet Safari Sahara was adopted by the even SWEETER Janey J. of Oakland, California! That makes FIVE O.L.D.’s for her! Janey, you know how much I adore you!

And with that, I leave you! As of today, the days are getting shorter. This gives me joy. Do not hate me, because you’re my favorite!

Call of the Wild

There was a knock at the door. Hazel rushed to answer it, and I was a step behind her. 

“Come in! Come in!” Hazel cried. She loves the arrival of new lost dolls. “You’re an Anne Shirley!” (she’s also getting quite expert at identifying them). “But what’s your name?” she continued.

The little girl’s pretty brown eyes looked up at us from her somewhat dirty face. “Sahara,” she said proudly.

“Goodness, Sara! Have you got the hiccups?” I asked.

Suddenly, “BOO!” 

Dot had jumped out from nowhere. For being such a small doll herself, it was a very loud “boo.”

“Dot!” I exclaimed. “You scared the new girl!”

“That was the idea!” Dot said. “I was trying to get rid of her hiccups for her. I been waiting my whole life to do that…” she muttered to herself, a satisfied grin on her face.

The new little girl laughed. “I don’t have the hiccups, my name is SaHARa! You know, like the desert.”

She hadn’t even stepped out of the entryway, and I knew EXACTLY how she would be dressed…

My mom was able to find this picture from that night.

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 90, Sahara! You can see her adoption page HERE.

I have a soft spot for Safari girls. One of my favorite things about my childhood was how much my parents loved each other. There truly is no greater gift to give your children.

I remember one night in particular, It must have been around Halloween. My dad dressed up as a Sheik, and my mom dressed up as a Safari girl. I remember how beautiful my mother looked with her glamorous false eyelashes, and how funny my dad was as he really got into character to capture this gorgeous maiden. He took her in his arms and dipped her just before they swept out the door. It was pure joy to see them this way.

So of course I JUMPED at the chance to do my own Safari girl!

Reader, I swear to you: I’m doing my very best to try and get one girl up for adoption a week. After all, there are so many O.L.D.’s clamoring for their turn, in addition to me needing to keep a roof over their poor heads in the meantime! But try as I might, I lost two days on this one girl.

The first lost day was with the helmet. When you think of it, there are few dome-shaped things that exist that one might use. There are round things aplenty! Domed things, not so much. No matter, I had WIRE HANGERS! I could make my own! I spent all day grunting swearing and forming and shaping, trying to get the right angle. Trying to get them secure so that I might pull fabric tautly over them. I’m nothing if not stubborn.

I used the red one from a set just like this. If you ever have a colander emergency and Sahara is your girl, you’ll know just what to do!

But try as I might, it just wasn’t going to work. So what could I use? A-hah! Kitchen gadget drawer to the rescue! I used the largest of three small strainers. While I’m still not 100% happy with her helmet, at least she has one! And with that sturdy metal, she can go into any construction site without fear. Bonus!

The second day was lost over a monkey. I always have such visions of what my dolls will look like, imagining their “gallery” picture on eBay. In my mind, Sahara was surrounded by animals; a giraffe’s neck soaring out of sight. A colorful macaw on her shoulder. A monkey doing a photo bomb in front. I TRIED SO HARD.

I started with the monkey. It would have been absolutely worth it to me if it had worked! But even with all that toil, what I was getting was not one bit cute. In fact, he was a little scary looking. And just how was I to do the giraffe? It’s not as if I have “mini giraffe-pattern” fabric laying about. I swear, I contemplated appliqueing each little misshapen brown spot onto some pale yellow fabric if I could find some in the right shade. The macaw’s hooked beak was another matter…reality finally kicked in, and my sister Julie The Mayor got to say, “I told you so!”

Once I figured out an alternative so I could finish Sahara sometime this year, it was Julie that provided me with the styrofoam ball. She already given me the vintage animal cake toppers in the past, which is how I got the idea for this unusual accessory in the first place. I was contemplating using the somewhat dented styrofoam ball I had on hand because I dislike leaving my house. It was Julie that convinced me to use hers, as it was more dense than most and therefore took paint more easily so I could make a planet for these animals to march around.

I was so pleased when I finally figured out what to use to make Sahara’s binoculars: if you guessed chess pieces, you guessed right!

“You’d better not pooh-pooh it!” she implored when I told her I was on my way over.

HMPF. Apparently, I “pooh-pooh” things a lot! Well, I’m aware now. How ungracious of me to pooh-pooh a gift horse! I kindly thank you, sweet Julie, and I shall attempt to pooh-pooh as little as possible in the future.

And I’d like to thank the Box Fairy that has been leaving boxes on my porch, answering my plea! No pooh-poohing here!

Vivian the Vivandiere was adopted by…..Michelle E.! She of Hudson, Colorado! I swear, it warmed my heart to see her again, because I take comfort in familiar things. Thank you, Michelle! And a thank you to all those that are familiar, and those that will be familiar in the future…

With that, I leave you! Happy next adventure, you’re my favorite!

Forgotten No More!

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I love to do a Patriotic doll. I was looking for inspiration and coming across images I’ve seen dozens of times before. But then I discovered something I’ve never heard of in all my days: Vivandiere. 

vi·van·dière

[vee-vahn-dyair; French vee-vahn-dyer]

This girl was kind of my main inspiration. If you look closely, you can see the gold embroidery on her jacket.

NOUN 1. a woman who formerly followed an army or maintained a store on an army post to sell provisions to the soldiers.

American women adopted this French term mainly during the Civil War, where both the Confederate and Union sides had Vivandieres in service. And no, these weren’t hussies! They were wives and daughters of soldiers who wanted to do what they could to help. So without further ado…

Thus begins the description page for Vivian the Vivandiere, O.L.D. No. 89. You can see her adoption page HERE.

…I liked this girl’s hat and blue satchel.

I learn so much researching “What To Do Next” when coming up with inspiration for dolls! For example, did you know that the slouchy hat worn by both the Confederate and Union soldiers in the Civil War is called a “Kepi” hat? Me neither!

Unfortunately, as much as I learn there’s no way I can become an expert at something and complete an outfit in any reasonable length of time. I’m sure I’ve got some French things in there as well as Civil War. But sometimes I just have to go with what appeals to me and what I have on hand!

For example, months ago I purchased a bag of red, white, and blue fabric. It was mostly polyester, but there were a few other pieces that appealed to me as well, so for $2 I snatched it up. One of the things that appealed to me was two cut off legs from pair of bell bottoms. Somebody must’ve wanted some shorts in the 70’s…PERFECT for what would later become this girl’s skirt!

A lot of my inspiration photos came from a surprisingly lively and active site. It’s called “Civil War Talk” and they have several threads posted with more photos about Vivandieres. I was pleased to read on one of the threads a comment from a poster that said, ‘I’ve been on this site for two years, and I’d never heard of a Vivandiere!” Phew. So not just me then.

Even the official U.S. Army website has a page entitled, “Vivandieres: Forgotten Women of the Civil War.”

I can’t show all of the inspiration photos here, but the majority of them show the women carrying these wooden casks, so of course I wanted to make one for Vivian too.

As always, I used what I have on hand. In this case, a wooden spool, napkin rings, popsicle sticks, the metal shaft from a paintbrush, a bead, a toothpick, and another metal thingy I found in the road.

I find a lot of little treasures in the road! Including the rusty ol’ bolt I found the other day when taking my new cat Piper in for spaying. In the gravel of the vet’s office, there was a just visible hexagon. I dug it out, pocketed it, took it home, cleaned it, and voila! Nice heavy stand for Vivian’s flag – which I also made!

I shall close with a refrain from a military ballad called, “The Pride of the Regiment” (or the Jolly Vivandiere) by Geo. Maywood:

For she’s a wonder!
The boys all ponder
To whom she’ll give her heart and hand,
This dearest girl in all the land!
She is the neatest, completest, sweetest,
A girl without a peer, the jolly vivandiere!

…Now YOU know about Vivandiere’s too!

Sweet Cinnamon Drop was adopted by…Hillary of New York! I also thoughtfully sent her some scissors accidentally left in the box. Honestly, I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often. Luckily, I am rich in scissors…thank you, Hillary!

And with that, I leave you! Happy upcoming Memorial Day! You’re my favorite. 

 

Apocalyptic Home

In my defense, when I picked this little girl along with her name and fabrics, it was still very un-Springlike outside. I was still clomping along in my house wearing my trusty Mukluks and infinity scarfs! I confess to be one of those very few who actually prefers winter and who has a hard time saying goodbye to it and longs for the day when it will come again.

“Hurry up leaves!” I cry to the trees with the fresh green sprouts. “Hurry up and GROW so you can TURN YELLOW AND DIE!”

To make up for it, I made O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 88 a previously unplanned “Springy” dress. Now she’s ready for ANY season…

Thus begins the description for Cinnamon Drop. You can see her adoption page HERE.

The instant I picked Cinnamon up, I knew her name and exactly what she would wear. I LOVE when that happens! At first I was just going to use her for my video on restringing, but in that time when I was feeling like a fish in unfamiliar water, I needed to do something that felt warmly familiar. So even though spring was upon us and cinnamon is a decidedly fall spice, I decided to go with her now.

“Okay, but DO NOT make that spring dress!” my sister The Mayor cried, waving her tiny fists. “Make her strictly a cold weather girl!”

The spring dress. I have ribbon that matches better, but this one brought the dress to LIFE.

Julie only wants the best for me. It was Sunday morning and I was rushing to get Cinnamon ready to put up for adoption that night.

I’d gone back and forth. There are practical considerations! For example, her cold weather outfit called for brown shoes and what kind of spring dress goes with those? I was already struggling to regain my footing, and I already take so long on these girls…

WELL. Never tell me what not to do! Ha-hah! THAT SEALED IT. I made a spring dress for her because I found some old fabric I adore that I thought would work.

I was able to get her done in time but was exhausted when I finished. Even though it was 5:30 I decided to take a nap. There have to be some perks working for yourself! The ability to take naps at odd hours! When I woke up that evening at 10:30, it was as if there had been an apocalypse, and me and Teddy and my new cat Piper were the only ones alive on the planet. I’d completely missed Julie, who I talk to several times in the evening.

It was a little bit magical standing there outside in a silent Rolfe in the moonlight with the stars twinkling overhead and Teddy on a leash sniffing about and Piper in my arms because she isn’t fixed yet.

When I checked to see how Cinnamon was doing and saw that many people wanted her, I almost cried. I definitely said a prayer of thanksgiving. Because it’s hard to feel so lost for awhile and to wonder what it is you should be doing. So I would like to thank all who follow and who look and who bid. YOU and THIS are where I belong.

SPRING & LILLY were adopted by our dear Hillary P. of New York. THANK YOU, Hillary! More than you know.

And with that, I leave you! It’s nice to re-meet you. You’re my favorite!

Hazel Twigg NOT DEAD!

Honestly, Reader. It’s not you, it’s ME.

As I mentioned in my last post, “Hazel Twigg LIVE!” I was going to do a series of videos and post them on Facebook and YouTube, and I did! I did my level best. This was all very new to me and really rather tricky. My brothers had grown somewhat impatient, wondering why I wasn’t also on Instagram and Snapchat, and why I wasn’t posting things several times a day. They had nothing but great and loving intentions. Nevertheless, I have since had an ever-so-genteel meltdown, with tears flowing down my face like the sparkliest of diamonds and hardly any snot at all.

I think of it as sort of a Stockholm syndrome thing going on here.

When I first moved to this small town of a scant square mile in the middle of nowhere ten and a half years ago, I had a hard time not going insane if I didn’t get out of town at least – at least – once a week.

Can you tell the deer guard is bent? It goes with my garage! I bought the car back when I was able.

Enter the winters. Sometimes there’s no traveling, even if you have the will. I learned this lesson my first winter here, where I had the worst case of cabin fever ever known to this woman. I HAD TO GET OUT OF TOWN. So I called a friend with a truck, and bless his heart, he hooked up my Durango, and he drrraaaagggggged me out of that last deep bank of snow in my driveway, bending my deer guard. I didn’t care! I was free! I WAS FREE!

When I finally got to Target an hour or so later by the skin of my teeth I was tempted to kiss the ground. Not because I was glad to see civilization in the form of retail, but because I was still alive. And desperately dreading the drive back home. I vowed never to drive when the weather was bad again.

Soon I was working from home on the dolls that I love so much, although my income was not a guarantee. If I was able to make it out of town once a month during the times when the weather was good I was grateful. Then came the year of operations with months of recovery time, which prompted me to give up my car altogether. For two years I bummed rides when I could. If I got a wild hair, which I frequently did, and longed to go somewhere, anywhere! I walked to the cemetery or grocery store instead.

To keep from going insane, I embraced the trap. I embraced it hard. A Stockholm vacuum as it were. A cozy cave were I could write and create and not comb my hair or wear a bra and I go for days where the only face I see is my dog Teddy’s. I often don’t set foot outside my own yard, let alone this little town in the middle of nowhere.

So going from that to opening myself up to the world just wasn’t going to happen. I love you madly and you ARE my favorite, we’re just going to have to take this thing a little bit slow.

But Hazel Twigg is NOT dead. Far from it! I’ve gone back to working on dolls in my cozy cave alone with no one watching and I’m feverishly working on the rewrite every chance I get. I’m excited about the book’s whole new direction and still believe in its upcoming success.  And 20 years from now I shall be the token old lady celebrity on season 57 of “Dancing With The Stars.” People shall watch in dreadful anticipation to see a legend author/doll restorer prance, and I shall surprise and amaze them with my nimble fluidity and my ability to kick high, for an old lady…

I’ll be doing a post on my current O.L.D. 88 Cinnamon Drop in a day or two.

And with that, I leave you! Never, ever forget YOU ARE MY FAVORITE and I adore you!