April, 2018

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Rock-a-bye Billie

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“Nice hat!” Dot laughingly said to our new arrival.

“Dot, be nice to Shirley.” 

Then I had to laugh too. Shirley was trying to see her own “hat,” which was an overly thick acrylic replacement wig. She was flipping her head heavenward and trying to catch a glimpse. Somehow, her eyes could just never get there in time. I lifted her to look at herself in the hall tree mirror.

“Oh, goodness!” she exclaimed. “This isn’t right at all! Well, I s’pose I’ll need a new one. I can’t wait to meet my new human!”

Reader, my heart sank. I knew that there wasn’t a Shirley Temple wig in my stash, and heaven knows when I’d ever get one! But this Shirley – whose first little human had named Billie – was so eager to go. I would have to come up with something…

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 108, our little Billie and her hobby horse Bingo. You can see their adoption page HERE.

I was so excited to get to work on a little cowgirl as soon as the idea came to me from a little voice with equally tiny fists. Especially when I saw images like these:

What great spirit! Ten gallon hats! Fur chaps! FRINGE! But then I remembered: in 1936, the Ideal Toy Company, manufacturers of Shirley Temple dolls, had come out with a Shirley Temple cowgirl for the Texas Centennial.

OH.

The more I looked at that picture of the original Shirley Temple cowgirl doll, the more intimidated I became. She had been so well done! Any idea of mine on how she would look paled in comparison.

“One word,” that helpful little voice said when I called her in despair.

“What word is that?” I asked.

“ROCKABILLY.” Julie stated. “Look up ‘Vintage Rockabilly Cowboy’.”

Which, and I’m no mathematician, is actually THREE words, but no matter! PHEW. I was inspired! And SAVED. And about to get a lot of holes in my fingernails. Embroidering leather is NOT for sissies!

Not to mention that this girl’s name is Billie. Get it?! RockaBILLIE…? So many levels!

“Rockabilly” is hard to define, but when I looked up images for that three worded phrase, up popped a definite style. Lots of embroidered flowers and the exact kind of free spirit of those black and white cowgirl images above.

And it’s a good thing this Shirley is only 13″ tall! I of course didn’t have small leather fringe laying around, so I had to cut it all. It was a little bit nerve racking: one false move, and your fringe would be missing a “tooth”!

Billie needed a companion with which to ride the wild range (try saying that three times fast!), so I created Bingo with wool, cotton, and leather ears and harness.

The non-Shirley wig I found for Billie in my stash is a vintage human hair wig in braids. It was a little large for her and had to be adjusted, but I liked what the warm tone of it did for her.

So there you have her! I’d like to thank my sister Julie for giving me that boost, and my mom for sending me a care package that contained those snippy scissors. I LOVE those things! Thank you, Mom! And thank you all for being here. Truly.

HOLLY was adopted by Linda L. of Portola Valley, California! Lucky number six for her! THANK YOU, Linda! From my old stomping grounds…Well, my stomping state, anyway.

And with that, I leave you! Happy “Spring,” we’ve been recently clobbered by snow and ice!

Hot or cold, you’re my favorite!

 

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TUG O’ WAR(drobe)

My heart went through a plethora of emotions upon seeing this little girl at my door. First, of course, was EXCITEMENT. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the day when an American Child would come strolling into my house! AT LAST!!

The next emotion was dismay. Honestly, 83% of the O.L.D.s (Once-Loved Dolls) that come here are naked and bald. But this one was different: Someone had loved this girl enough to remold nearly all her fingers, and then inexplicably put her away, most likely in an attic judging by the fly dirt. Without even a rag to protect her! All those years…

The final emotion was determination. To misquote Shakespeare, “If you prick me, am I not sawdust and glue?” 

This girl, special and forlorn, deserved to be loved again no matter how daunting the task. So without further adieu…

Hazel Twigg No. 107 is an Effanbee American Child doll, and her name is Holly. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Left to right, 1.) Before. Those aren’t freckles all over her face, that’s all I’m saying about THAT. 2.) After cleaning I picked this wig for her from my stash. It too was filthy and tattered. 3.) Wig washed and mended and paint touch up done. 4.) “Before” arm showing the worst of the chipping paint and the previously repaired fingers. All in all, these repairs and cleaning took nearly three days to complete.

Upper right corner in the orange.

“American Child” dolls were manufactured in the 1930’s for about four years by the Effanbee doll company, who would later manufacture Anne Shirley dolls which were produced for 20 years, making the American Child doll’s much more rare.

There were six different face shapes in all. That combined with different hair and eye colors meant that little girls could have dolls that looked just like themselves!

They were also one of 17 dolls chosen for the “Classic American Dolls” postage stamps that came out in 1997. It had taken nearly 10 years to decide which dolls would make the cut, so you know they’re something special.

Segue alert! WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE.

As you may know, my sister Julie who is The Mayor also works at yon post office in Pokey, and I love old dolls! She tries to keep me realistic, bless her heart. I told her my plans for Holly.

“She does NOT need THREE DRESSES!”

This was the first time in months I had seen Julie for any length of time. Cold weather makes hermits of us all. I vaguely noted as I followed her tiny waving fists that her knuckles were almost as chappy as mine. It’s been a long winter here in Iowa.

“HEY!”

Julie, sensing that my mind was elsewhere, jumped as high as she could, stretching her arms upwards as she tried to regain my attention. It worked.

“Huh,” I responded as I took in her rosy cheeks and snapping blue eyes. “I would’ve thought you’d be more upset by the two coats.”

“I AM!” This time she both waved her fists and stomped her feet. It was good to see her again. I’d forgotten how very cute and little she is.

She’s been right a lot in the past, but maybe this time she was wrong! I was determined to TRY. There was so much I wanted to do for this rare and unusual little girl.

There was a LOT. That red, white and blue dress was trickier than it looks.

Reader, I worked day and night. When I told Julie a few days before Holly’s adoption date what was left to be done, she said, “There will be other dolls!” (Meaning, “You can make those other things for THEM.”)

THE CURSE OF JULIE

It was 3:00 Easter Sunday afternoon and adoption time is 6:33. I’d been working since 5:00 in the morning, frantically finishing allll the little touches. I won’t tell you all the things I attempted and failed at, either due to lack of skill or time, but bless my heart, I tried! I touched base with Julie.

“I have to finish NOW. It’s not like taking pictures takes no time at all! All those outfits to change in and out of…”

“Another reason to whittle things down!” she replied.

HMPF.

I was giving the coat one last ironing. That lowest button would have to be lowered just a bit more – later. Where was that hat…?

Suddenly the smell of something burning accosted my nostrils. “Whatever could that be?” I wondered to myself. NoooOOooOOOoooo!!! IT WAS THE COAT. I had singed that beautiful wool! It wasn’t a mirage, it was there. PERMANENT. On the one panel that I’d done my first hand sewn buttonholes on!

“That’s okay, it goes well with my eyes!” sweet Holly cheered me.

“Plus, it matches the buttons!” kind Betty chimed in.

Well, there was nothing for it. I gathered the smoldering coat, found the hat that was laying nearby, as well as all of Holly’s clothes and my camera, and went into my photography/shipping room. I made that 6:33 adoption time by the skin of my teeth.

Maybe next time I’ll listen to Julie. Maybe…

Little Navy and smaller Bean were adopted by Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas! This is Gwen’s second O.L.D. Thank you so much, Gwen, it’s nice to see you again (POET)!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Wednesday, You’re my favorite.