The Royals

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The red-faced girl at the door with her arms full of clothes looked vaguely familiar. 

“Haven’t you already been through here?” I asked suspiciously as I relieved her of her burden and ushered her inside. I was secretly alarmed. Had she been rejected…?!

“I knew it!” she said triumphantly. “I KNEW you’d forgotten about us! I’m part of the Sewickley crew. You’ve kept us separate from the others, tucked away in a box in the shipping room…”

Reader, it was MY turn to be red-faced. I’d forgotten they were there…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 97, Heidi, who also happens to be part of the Sewickley crew. You can see her adoption page HERE.

That’s me on the left, Holly on the right.

My description for this particular girl is pretty lengthy.  I always figure if someone doesn’t want to read the flotsam and jetsam, they don’t have to as long as the pertinent points are easy to find.

Truthfully, I could have written pages and pages about this girl, and the memories she evokes! But here in this place, I’ll just write about one.

This memory has to do with my childhood and my best friend growing up, Holly. I’ve written about her here and there. She was my Julie before Julie was born.

Both Holly and my’s dads worked at the same place; The Church College of Hawaii, aka C.C.H., as it was known back then. It’s currently BYU, Hawaii. My father was in the college administration, her father was in maintenance. Both had perks to their positions: my dad would bring home reams of scratch paper. During church, I would kneel between the rows of pews, facing the back of the chapel, using the bench as my desk, and I would sketch the people behind me. At least I was quiet! Or Holly and I would make countless, countless paper dolls with an infinite number of outfits for each that we would design our very own selves.

The perks from Holly’s dad was movies. Laie, Hawaii where C.C.H. was located was a very small town on the north shore of Oahu. There were no movie theaters and this was long before the luxuries of Blockbuster (who?) and VHS. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to watch whatever was on the three whole channels of TV, and that was IT.

Enter Herb, Holly’s dad. The college would occasionally show movies in the auditorium. For .25 you could go see an old movie, like “The Wizard of Oz,” or “Pollyanna.” Besides being a character, Herb was a very resourceful fellow; he was able to get a projector and movies and bring them home for Holly and I to watch. Just we two! It’s hard to remember a time before instant streaming and downloads. Back then, getting to watch a movie at a time of your own choosing in the comfort of your own home was HUGE. HUGE.

 

One of my favorites was “Heidi” with Shirley Temple. For some reason, a scene stuck out in my mind that I’ve always been taken with: on her way to meet her mean old grandfather for the first time, Heidi doesn’t have a suitcase. So not only are her arms full of clothes, but she’s wearing lots of outfits layered one on top of the other. She gets hot and drops her pile in the middle of the street and starts pulling off sweaters and endless skirts. I just thought it was the niftiest thing.

Enter O.L.D. No. 97! When the Sewickley crew arrived, not only were there the nine dolls, there were tons of doll clothes and some fabric and trims. One wonderful Sunday I got to sit in bed surrounded by these recent arrivals and go through the clothes and see who fit what. Heidi made out like a bandit.

I made the coat, the hat and the carpet bag. Other than that…

A BANDIT.

Here I made the red velvet hat to go with the blue velvet outfit, as well as the robe and the bunny slippers.

I have a soft spot for the name “Heidi.” Not just because of the movie, but also because my best friend Holly has a sister named Heidi. Our O.L.D. Heidi has Holly’s unusual coloring of brown eyes and blonde hair. And she has a lot of clothes and a place to go and no suitcase to put them in.

It’s been a pleasure and a series of wonderful flashbacks working on this doll. Of two little girls who got to eat popcorn or homemade anise candy or lime slush in the formal living room and watch flickering scenes of magic whenever our hearts desired. Royalty couldn’t have had it better. Thank you, Heidi! Thank you, Holly! Thank you, Herb!

And thank you to a new face, Carmen Z. of Toledo, Ohio who gave Mary Ellen a home! Turns out, there’s a doll club in Toledo, and they recently had a Hazel Twigg program where those that had ’em, brought ’em for the others to see! How nifty is that? I tell you, it tickles me pink.

As do YOU. Know why? ‘Cause you’re my favorite!

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Forever M.E. With Love

We’ve got this whole “lost doll coming to the Hideaway” thing down pretty well!

“Name?” Hazel said with a friendly smile, getting ready to scribble down information in her notebook. 

“Mary Ellen,” the sweet new arrival replied.

I said, “Good night, Mary Ellen!” Only to find Hazel and the other dolls looking at me quizzically, which was understandable. It was full daylight outside. 

“It’s from an old TV show. Before your time, I guess” I said, looking at Hazel. I laughed as I looked at the dolls, “and AFTER yours…”

“You’re going to make her a nightgown for nighttime, and then a dress for day!” Hazel exclaimed. She likes to try to figure out what I’m going to do for each doll. Good night. Nightgown. And of course Mary Ellen would need something for daytime. I could see where Hazel was coming from. But I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to do a different sort of extreme…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 96, Mary Ellen. You can see her adoption page HERE.

This girl has so many levels! First of all, her initials are M.E., and as her clothing morphed, I realized I was making a summer outfit and a winter outfit! See where I’m going here? Yeah, Julie didn’t either. Well, a song from my favorite album of all time is “Summer Me, Winter Me”!

COCO CHANEL: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” ME: NO!

And with your kisses morning me,      evening me
And as the world sleeps far away, star away
Forever me with love…

I LOVE that song! I love that album! I guess at this point in time, it’s a little obscure…But come to think of it, I’m positive I would put this record on when Julie and I would bake cookies together growing up.

JULIE vs. RUTH. Creamy vs. Extra Crunchy. Colgate vs. Crest. Yet still, we get along…

The dress Mary Ellen’s wearing for summer was initially going to be the dress she wore with the gray coat, but it just wasn’t fitting in its style. So I decided to use it for a more summery look, and make a second dress to go with the winter coat.

As I worked on the winter outfit and kept adding and adding, it occurred to me that not only would Coco Chanel not approve of my styling’s for M.E.’s winter look, with her velvet muff hanging from a chain, the beaded necklace, the deep red stockings…but also that the contrast between summer and winter were a lot like my sister Julie – freshly minted third term mayor, thankyouverymuch – and myself.

That summer dress is absolutely Julie’s favorite colors, green and blue on a predominately white background. The outfit itself: simplicity.

M.E.’s summer hat is made from one of those straw placemats you occasionally see in thrift stores. Just cut a hole for the head, and another for the size brim you want, a few nail-biting moments while you sew trim around, and voila!

This hat was easy. A velvet circle, six even scallops on the gray, and some silk upholstery fabric remnant flowers. It’s lined, of course. Mustn’t muss the mussy hair!

Whereas the winter outfit is more like me: a somewhat gaudy, gypsy style. “Take one thing off,” Ms. Chanel? I THINK NOT. What can I add?

Not only that, but if I had to pick a single season, it would be winter. Julie likes summer best. Which is nice, because as long as one of us is happy, we’re both happy.

I often marvel at the way things work; the wonderful way the world functions.

Witness the seasons: Winter solstice takes place a few days before Christmas. That’s when it’s the shortest daylight of the year. After that, the days get longer and longer. This makes BOTH Julie and me happy: me because I know there’s still a lot of winter left and Christmas is almost here, Julie because the days are getting longer. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Also, Christmas is almost here.

You can read about M.E.’s finger fiasco HERE.

I don’t know what I’d do without Julie. She’s my brain and helps me keep track of the practical things when my mind is off on some odd tangent. She has troubles of her own, yet patiently helps me deal with mine. We’ve made a pact to give each other unconditional love, which we do. It’s good to have that in your life. Thank you, Julie! Summer, Winter, simple, gaudy, I’m glad you were born!

I’ll wrap you up and ribbon you, rainbow you
And shower you with shine…
…Always be mine

Flying Ace J.P. was adopted by…Martha B. of Chantilly, Virginia. A new face! J.P. arrived there safely after a long flight, and is happy in his new home. Thank you, Martha!

And with that, I leave you! Next to Julie, you’re my favorite. And THAT is saying something.

First, Do No – WHOOPS!

When you handle as many of these O.L.D.’s as I do, you’re bound to have a mishap now and then.

I have a doll up for adoption. This isn’t her “official” post, but if you like, you can see her page HERE.

When she arrived, it was only upon closer inspection while cleaning her that I discovered that some of her fingers had been broken and reglued, and others had been completely rebuilt! I’m happy to say it wasn’t a bad job, but the angle was slightly off on one, and another was a little too short…hmm….to fix or not to fix?

I had her two little arms in one hand and was taking pictures with the other to ask another Holder her opinion, when CRASH. I dropped her arms! Two of her little fingers broke off! “No problem,” I thought confidently. “This isn’t my first rodeo with DeWees Cochran hands,” I said snootily to myself, preening because I knew what these types of hands are called – even though there was no one around to witness my brilliance.

To rebuild fingers, it’s a good idea to insert a pin into the stub for strength. Have you ever tried to hang a picture in an old house, only to have the hammer practically bounce back into your face because the wall’s so hard? This Anne Shirley’s fingers are IMPENETRABLE. I was going to need a drill bit. A really, really small one.

Here is the story in picture and song. Also, I’m probably dancing…

Here are the hands BEFORE. See? Not a bad job! The pinky on the left hand was a little stubby, and the ring finger on the right was at a slightly off angle. But not a bad job at all…

AFTER THE WHOOPS. Dingity, dangity…And, to add insult to injury, I LOST THE RIGHT PINKY, which was original and reglued!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That pin just bent and scratched the heck outta me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I usually insert stronger-than-normal pins that I’m able to “drill” in by hand. But as small as this drill bit was, it required a thicker piece of wire. I used a lawn flag thingy…

While I was at it, I sanded the slightly stubby left pinky so I could adjust the angle. Note the inserted wires are curved, because Dewees Cochran fingers are curved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After rebuilding. I use an epoxy called Milliput. It’s from jolly old England.

HANDY TIP: Emery boards are AWESOME for rebuilding fingers. They’re thin to fit in between, and rigid for maneuverability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HANDY TIP: These types of hands have a clear-ish, orangey nail polish. To achieve this, just mix some orange paint in the right shade with a little craft varnish. Voila!

SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON:

So now the left pinky is a little longer and at a better angle than before.

The ring finger is slimmer and longer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was it worth the extra effort? I secretly don’t think so. If I could pull a Cher and turn back time, and NOT drop those poor little hands, I would do so. Glass half full, practice makes perfect. Yessirree, a few dozen more dropped hands, and I’ll have these hands down to a T.

You’re my favorite!

 

Let’s Hear It For The BOY!

We were playing in the attic, as we frequently do while waiting for the next Once-Loved Doll to appear. Out of nowhere, I heard a whirring noise. I looked up and saw something zooming around. Of course I assumed it was a bat. Hazel and her little friends were too engrossed with a trunk they were exploring to notice. I forced myself to remain calm as I calculated how long it would take us to get to the stairs if we crawled really, really fast. I steeled myself to look more closely at the flying creature and was relieved and surprised to see that it was actually an old metal plane come to life.

“What on earth?!” I exclaimed.

Just then, far below from the first floor, there was a loud and insistent banging at the door… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 95, J.P. the Flying Ace! You can see his adoption page HERE.

J.P. had a bit of a false start. After 94 dolls, NINETY-FOUR mind you! Ebay says I can’t put “HazelTwigg.com” on my pictures, or say, “Like Hazel Twigg on Facebook…” so after three days, they took my original adoption page down. HMPF. Well, I can understand why, I guess, but…HMPF!

So stinkin’ CUTE.

No matter! He’s back now. The ORIGINAL J.P. is my darling nephew, son of my brother Kenny. Ever since I saw him dressed as a flying ace in my other brother Dennis’s award-winning short film, “The Girl Who Wanted To Do Something Big,” I wanted to do a flying ace. I was just waiting for the right guy to come along…

He finally did. Our J.P. is a Schoenhut all wood doll. He arrived bald, with his eyes repainted, and some chipping and a big blob of hardened glue on his forehead, poor fellow! It was a daunting task, but I got the glue off, filled in his forehead, and repainted his eyes to look more like they originally would have. I was also lucky enough to find a really great wig for him in my stash.

While researching the flying aces of WWI and WWII, I learned so much, especially from this article. Namely, about the leather bomber jackets they wore. They were called A-2’s, and each airman personalized their own, painting images onto the back of the jacket, and adding painted leather patches to the fronts and sleeves.

More important was what was inside. No, not just then men themselves (that goes without saying), I’m talking about their Blood Chits. A Chit is a notice an airman would wear on the inside of his jacket. It would have the flag of the country they were in, with a notice written in the local language.  The Blood Chit states that the bearer of the Chit is American, requires assistance, and that those who help the soldier or pilot will be rewarded for their service.

Also, when the men discovered that having an American flag on the backs of their jackets made them easier targets, they started wearing them on the inside, near their hearts. It makes me so proud and grateful to think of their great spirit!

These are all based on actual patches. Note the “95” on the top center patch.

I now have a jar of capers in my fridge with a tinfoil lid.

 

Our J.P.’s jacket is made from a Wilson’s leather jacket, and I hand painted each of the patches as well as the image on the back and the blood chit and American flag with 48 stars, which was the number of stars at the time. The jacket alone took me four days! The helmet was made from the same Wilson jacket, dyed with a combination of Old English furniture oil, and craft paints in burnt umber with a touch of black because I didn’t want the jacket and hat to exactly match. For the ear inserts, I used two lids from jars of capers from our local grocery store. I love a good caper! I then sanded it for wear.

Here’s J.P. with his sister, sweet Sophie, aka the model for the Hazel Twigg logo.

J.P.’s cap is plaid wool.

As with all my O.L.D.’s, if I can, I like to give them an additional outfit. So…where to go for inspiration, I wonder? BACK TO NEPHEW J.P. There’s a photo of him I adore. It could have been from a different era! In it, he wore a cap. I remembered as I sewed that my dad used to wear one just like it. Imagine my pleasure when I discovered after talking to my mom, that the hat J.P. is wearing in the photo IS my father’s!

It’s called a “flat cap” or a “driving cap,” and I found a useful pattern and tutorial HERE.

I also cut up a sweater to make a sweater for our J.P. “Put leather patches on the elbows!” my wee little sister cried. So I did, although you can’t see them here.

Working on J.P. has been a labor of love and joy and tribute for not just my nephew, but for all who have served, and what better time than when Veteran’s day is almost upon us? Thank you, Veterans.

Meanwhile, O.L.D. No. 94 Aubrey the Autumn Fairy was adopted by Linda L. of Portola Valley, California. If memory (and my search engine) serves me correctly, this is Hazel Twigg doll number three for her. Thank you, Linda!

And with that, I leave you! Veteran’s Day is a November 11th. Thank a Veteran, if’n you get a chance, and HAPPY FRIDAY! You’re my FAVORITE.

My favorite veteran, and my favorite mom. Side by side for 60+ years.

If Ever I Would *LEAF You

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.

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!