June, 2017

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A Burgeoning Bevy of Bathing Beauties…

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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!
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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!