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While You Were Sleeping…

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It has been my observation that as a rule, Kewpies are not very talkative. In fact, they make very little noise at all. Perhaps it’s the way their mouths are painted. But THIS Kewpie was an exception.

Before, with the kissy lips.

In our entryway we have a large mirror. When the lost dolls first enter the hideaway they are of course very curious to see themselves. Wouldn’t you be after decades spent asleep? Well! The minute this fellow looked in the mirror he shrieked and started vigorously rubbing his starfish hands across his mouth. He then quickly removed the cute crochet outfit with the pink pow he’d arrived in and kicked it off to one side, grabbing a stray sock on the floor and hastily tying it around his chubby waist.

“What on earth is wrong?!” I asked.

“I’m not a girl!” he said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” he added sheepishly, upon viewing all the solely female faces around him. 

I laughed and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll soon have you put to rights. I’ve been waiting for you…”

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 125 Eddy, also known as “Mr. C.” to his students. You can see his adoption page HERE. Eddy is a composition Kewpie doll.

There’s no telling what can happen to a doll once it’s little human has outgrown childhood and the doll falls into a deep sleep. Some well-meaning grandmother might take it upon herself to redo said doll’s face and crochet a little outfit for them. Well, he’s awake now and back to “himself.”

Eddy is based on one of the best men I know. He’s married to my sister Carol’s daughter Rhiannon. My Nephew-in-law…? And definitely a welcome addition to our family. It’s one thing to excel when your childhood is perfect. Quite another to become an exceptional funny, kind and hard-working human being when you face challenges early in life, as our Eddy did. He’s a great dad, husband, nephew, teacher, and friend. And now he’s a great principal. Who better to dedicate an O.L.D. to?

Eddy is No. 4 in the “Daily Heroes” series.

It occurs to me that it takes a village sometimes to put these O.L.D. dolls together. I wish I could remember who gave me the little baggie of teacher pins that inspired me to one day do a teacher. Because basically there’s no real “costume” for a teacher, a teacher is pretty much a neatly dressed human being that does great things. The pins would be just the thing to define this particular doll as a Teacher.

Thank you to whoever gave me these pins! Whomever? Perhaps I need to go back to school.

For the books I used little old savings account booklets from our local bank after it was sold and they became obsolete. Old stock was brought up from the basement. Savings books, pens, pencils…

The pencils were made from dowels that my wee sister Julie gave me when I didn’t have any in just the right size.

I grabbed some of each, but thought, “Well, I guess I could do a banker maybe?” Never realizing that these nifty little old books were the perfect size for dolls! And that if you find images you like and have a great friend named Jennifer T. with an fancy printer, you could paint said books, decoupage the little nifty prints on them, and voila! You have a doll-sized book of any kind that you can imagine. Why, oh WHY didn’t I grab more?!

The Hideaway. Where clothes come to DIE. Mwahaha!

My neighbor CC gives me old clothes she no longer wants that are made up of great fabric. A faux suede jacket she recently gave me made up the buttons and collar of Eddy’s jacket.

Not knowing exactly where to put those pins on our dear teacher, I was going to make some kind of sash. It was my mother that suggested I put them on the strap of the satchel when I told her I was planning on making one. I was going to base the satchel on my dad’s old briefcase, the one with a hard front and back and curved top and the accordion sides and bottom.

Principal Eddy C. Good guy!

“Why don’t you just put the pins on the strap?” my mom suggested helpfully.

Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? I made the strap a little wider to accommodate said pins. Thanks, Mom!

And a big “Thank You” to all the teachers and principals out there, especially at this time of year!

Recently a dear friend-I’ve-never-met (yet!) sent me a picture of all her Hazel Twigg dolls standing side by side together.

So fun to see O.L.D. faces again. Feel free to send pictures of your Hazel Twigg doll in her new natural habitat, whether it’s one or many!

That same friend, we shall call her Janey J. of Oakland, California for that is her name, now has another Hazel Twigg joining her. Flossie the Summer Drummer is already there and has been welcomed by many open arms. Thank you, dear Janey!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Back-to-School season, you’re my favorite! You are my village.

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It’s Only A Flesh Wound!

Over the years, we’ve had all sorts of knocks at our front door when it comes to the Once-Loved Dolls. Shy ones, eager ones, soft ones…So I KNOW my knocks!

But this one I confess scared me a little. It made me jump! Because I could tell this was not a knock. Someone was kicking at the door! And they sounded almost…angry. Still. I’m much bigger than they are. I flung open the door to give our latest O.L.D. what for, when to my surprise I saw the jolliest face I’d seen in a long time! Then I started laughing. She wasn’t angry, she was excited!

I was right about the kick, however. As with most dolls that started out with magic skin arms, the “magic” had long since disintegrated…

Thus begins the description for doll No. 124, “Flossie the Patriotic Summer Drummer.” You can see her description HERE.

The ad reads, “with those marvelous Eyes and Rubber Arms and Legs that feel so real!”

“Flossie” is this doll’s given name straight from the manufacturer. The Ideal Toy company made her, and although she is not marked, her face is unmistakable. She measures 18″ tall.

I love Flossie Flirts! So named because not only do their eyes sleep, they move side to side. In addition to these flirty eyes, many of the Flossies had a new feature: soft rubber, aka “Magic Skin” arms and sometimes even legs.

Here she is, mid replacement. I attached her arms the same way they would have been attached at the factory. They’re fully functional and move up and down, holding a pose.

Think of it! For the first time, dolls had limbs that weren’t hard and unyielding, these you could actually squeeze! They were soft, and you could bend them! I remember my mother telling me about how exciting it was when she and her sisters received dolls with this wonderful new skin that felt so real.

Unfortunately, the new skin didn’t age well. The rubber would either shrivel or disintegrate, so frequently in this day and age, if you’re lucky enough to get a sweet Flossie Flirt, nine times out of ten she’ll have arms and occasionally legs that are misshapen or missing altogether. Such was the case with our Flossie. Hence the kicking at the door. It’s hard to knock when you don’t have any arms!

Thank goodness for the Givers! I found a pair of arms for Flossie that would do.

The Three Pringles. Salt & Vinegar, Pizza, and Ranch, if I recall correctly…

Since she now had arms, by golly Flossie wanted to use them! What better way than as a drummer? Since it’s summer, why not a Patriotic one? Thus the “Patriotic Summer Drummer” was born. And she has arms that, while they’re not squishy or bendable, will last her a very, very long time.

Fortuitously, HyVee had a “Summer Snack Sale!” Flossie’s drums are made from the bottoms of three Pringles potato chip cans. Urp. How I suffer for my art…

Finally! My first dip back into the pool after a bit of an absence. Summer’s almost over, school’s about to begin again. I’m swimming in earnest now, just you wait!

Many moons ago there was a Flapper named Marilyn. She has already spent a languid summer in Portola Valley, California by now and I’m sure feels very much at home with our dear friend Linda L. Thank you so much, Linda!!

And with that, I leave you! I love you like I love fall! HARK! Is that a hint of yellow in the leaves? No? Not quite yet? Well, it’s coming! You’re my favorite!

The Face-in-the-Hole Gang

Painted a year or two after I moved here in 2006.

This morning there was a whiff of coolness in the air. MAGIC!! I woke up with a spring in my step, finally ready to get back into that sewing room that I love so much. Especially since wee Julie tells me that school in Iowa starts August 23. THAT’S EXACTLY ONE MONTH FROM TODAY. Yikes! If I’m going to have a “Patriotic Summer Drummer,” then I’d better hurry!

In the meantime, here’s one of the projects I was busy with this summer. Years ago, possibly over a decade, I painted a face-in-the-hole board with a pirate and a mermaid for some sort of town function.

The Official Poster

Then a few weeks ago I was asked if I’d do a new one for the Rolfe Library’s Summer Reading Program. The theme was “A Universe of Stories.” You betcha!

But they decided that they didn’t want me to paint over the pirate and the mermaid (which I was totally prepared to do), they wanted me to paint the other side. Absolutely!

The problem was, I would need to work with the existing holes which were somewhat close together. I came up with a few different sketches.

I traced the two face openings as they existed onto different sheets of paper to see which one I liked best. Which one would YOU have picked?

For me the one where both kids would get to be driving space ships would be the best! It was tricky getting two spaceships to fit into such a confined space, but with a little work I was able to do it, using the poster from the program for inspiration. Voila!

Still, not that exciting, right? GUESS WHAT? Cute little faces in it make ALL the difference:

SO MUCH BETTER. My cute neighbor Sarah M. sent this of two of her grandkids. NOW I can see the magic of it! Thanks, neighbor Sarah!

Hope your summer’s going well! You’re my favorite.

Always The Bride

I can’t always be in the living room when a new O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) arrives. I was currently in the kitchen at the crucial moment when the noodles for the mac and cheese I was making for our supper needed to be drained. I am nothing if not an accomplished cook, and the house dolls and Hazel loved this particular feasting extravaganza.

I was hastily adding the butter and cheese powder to the pot so I could meet our new arrival when the strains of Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” reached my ears. Dot and Betty slowy entered the kitchen behind a sweet Anne Shirley in what could only be called a procession.

“Ooh, a bride!” I exclaimed. With my previous doll, I had learned that it’s not always a bad thing to use a new arrival’s existing clothes for a theme.

“We can make a veil for you, and a lovely bouquet…”

“If you please,” the new girl said softly, “I’ve been a bride forever. I’d like to perhaps…kick my heels up a little bit…?”

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 123, Marilyn. She’s a roaring 1920’s Flapper. You can see her adoption page HERE. As you can see, Marilyn is an Effanbee Anne Shirley. She’s 18″ tall.

BETTY.
DOT.

I could certainly see why she’d want a change of pace. While she was in her wedding gown, everywhere she went she had to walk step, meet. Step, meet. It’s a very hard and excruciatingly slow way to get around. Even just following her into the kitchen from the front door, while sweet Betty was very good, matching Marilyn’s stately pace, Dot had clearly grown impatient. By the time the tiny trio entered the kitchen, Dot had turned her part of the solemn procession into a conga, complete with enthusiastic “Ha-cha-cha!”s at the end of every familiar musical line.

It was definitely time for a change. Time for BEADING.

…it’s really quite glorious. Here’s a better view.
Here she is with her coat. You can’t really see the pattern of the fabric…

I channeled Marilyn Monroe from “Some Like It Hot” for our Marilyn’s dress, with a more fitted style. Then bead by bead…by bead….by BEAD I stitched. Shiny black ebony with splashes of gunmetal gray for color. Ahem.

For actual color, rather than making her T-strap style shoes black to match, I chose red. Marilyn’s crown is made from a rhinestone necklace turned upside down and attached to some of my beloved chipboard (thanks, Jennifer!) with some 100% silk covering it.

But even with all that beading, and all that detail, that’s not the only reason this girl took longer than my targeted two weeks per O.L.D. Into each life a little rain must fall, and we Iowans have been getting plenty of rain lately. We’ve been lucky enough to have *avoided tornadoes, but we’ve had very strong winds nonetheless and finally, after 12 1/2 years of finding shingles in my yard after every storm, my roof has started to leak. This can mean the death of a house! The death of the Hideaway! So I’m doing my best to work my magic to arrange some kind of financing.

Secretly, I didn’t want to get on and off the ladder, so I climbed out my bedroom window.
Not the actual hole. Not to brag or anything, but mine’s bigger.

While waiting for a fix, I decided to do my best to patch the worse hole, which is in the porch roof. I got everything I needed and climbed a borrowed ladder, worried I might not be able to see the hole. Gulp. Oh, I could see it all right. It was three feet long by about 6 – 8″ wide! I looked at the measly piece of metal I’d brought with me to cover it and knew I’d have to improvise.

I improvise for a living! I got the scraps of wood left over from when I fortified my dollhouse. That and the shingles I’d picked up off the road years ago north of town. I thought they’d make nice, antique-y looking backgrounds for miniature portraits and landscapes. I stretched the puny tube of tar as far as I could and got to patching.

I’m proud to say that my patch lasted for not one, but TWO storms! If at first you don’t succeed…I will try again! As soon as things get a little drier. Wish me luck! And hopefully someday soon my fellow Rolfians will see Roofians atop my house. Fingers crossed!

Sweet Shelley was adopted by Sweetest Janey J! Janey lives in a magical floral forest in Oakland, California. Thank you, Janey!

And with that, I leave you! Stay dry! You’re my favorite.

*I spoke too soon! Our town siren blared this afternoon at 5:00 for a decent chunk of time. We were in a tornado’s path. Lucky us, nothing’s happened…YET.

Just The Way You Are

Reader, my heart sank when I saw her. She needed a cleaning to be sure, and a good chunk of one foot was missing, but…that coat! That hat! Those are my two favorite things to make, and there was no way I could possibly improve upon what she was already wearing. I would have to think of something…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 122, Shelly the United States Navy girl. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Here’s how sweet Shelly appeared on my doorstep.

And it’s true! I loved what she was wearing more than anything I could make for her. But I had to do something besides the usual cleaning and few repairs! So I got to work.

First of all, while her coat was so nicely made and while it even had the perfect dress AND onesie beneath it, it looked a little too short! It needed something to go beneath. Some pants would do…and you can’t wear pants with a dress, so a shirt too! And of course some shoes…

Then while looking for something else entirely I came across I skirt I got from heaven knows where that I’ve had for years. I wanted to give it to some little girl, but never knew any that it would fit. Besides, it might be an adult size skirt. I could have worn it back in the day, but now…If I had a second one, I could put each around my thighs and perhaps create a new sensation of bell-bottom shorts, but no. Shelly needed this skirt much more than I did. So when I found a tattered little nightgown that suited her, I decided that a special hooded cape would be in good order.

Mine’s a cut to shreds. Here’s one I found in cream and blue.

The skirt is an ESPRIT skirt. It was navy blue and had two white stripes at the bottom. Avove those stripes were the words:

A curious sailor boy appeared and took my hand, and led me only goodness knows where.

I managed to get the first half of that quote going around the bottom of Shelly’s cape. After all, she’s only 15″ tall!

Then I wanted to make a tote, or sailor’s kit for her to carry everything in. I found a WONDERFUL tutorial and modified it to doll size. I then mimicked the “U.S.N.” and anchor motif on her uniform sleeve along with her O.L.D. number in paint on one side. And voila! She can now carry the rest of her clothes.

But she still needed something. I love to put brooches on my doll’s coat for a touch of sparkle, but you can’t put a brooch on a U.S. Navy coat, it would be undignified!

“I have the perfect thing!” my wee sister’s voice squeaked to me from the other end of the line.

Secretly, I doubted it. I’m around these dolls all day and even *I* can misjudge their size and how very small they are. I wouldn’t want to weigh this girl down.

Minutes later she came screeching to a halt in front of my house and I ran out to see her, sure that I would be proved – once again – right.

I WAS WRONG. She handed me a little pin of a tiny ship’s wheel about the size of a nickel and surrounded by rhinestones. JULIE WAS RIGHT, it was PERFECT.

And now our little Shelly is complete, basically Just The Way She Was but with a few extra things to help her on her journey to new adventures unknown. To your house, perhaps…?

Another girl who’s now experiencing new adventures is TAHITI, who had an adventure on her way because SOMEBODY transposed the numbers in her zip code (that would be me. That makes twice in the past week and a half I’ve been wrong. Oh dear). But she finally safely arrive and is so happy with Gwen R. of Bedford, TX. Thank you, Gwen! And your kind husband too!

And with that, I leave you! Be kind to your Mother’s, you’re her favorite!

Time to SHAKE THINGS UP!

Dot heard it first, the distant and rapid tattooing of a drum. We had just opened our windows for the first time since winter began and there it was: Boom-boom!! boomboomboomboomboomboom BOOM!

Hearing that beat I was instantly transported to my childhood. I grew up on the north shore of Oahu, a horse field away from the Polynesian Cultural Center. We used to walk there and get coconut ice cream cones. At night I would lay in bed, listening to the distant music of the shows they put on featuring different Polynesian islands. You could always tell when there was a Tahitian dance going on by the fast and energetic beating of those drums…

One of the Maori years.

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 121 Tahiti! The Tahitian dancer. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I have a confession to make: I’m all kinds of confused about Polynesia and Hawaii and the relationship between the two. The reason is this: growing up in a small town on the the island of Oahu, every May 1st was a big deal. It was May Day! As you may or may not know, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.

The Queen looks impressed.

For weeks before hand all through elementary school we small kids would prepare, painting stripes on to paper and then cutting them up into strips for our skirts if we were going to represent the Maoris that year, or hula skirts out of coconut tree fronds and leis that would last through the day long celebration if we were going to be hula dancers, and working on said dances to present to the King and Queen of the festival. There were seven cultures in all: Fijian, Samoan, Tahitian, Maori, Hawaii, and, um, two more I can’t think of right now. To this day I can vociferously shout a Maori war chant at the drop of a hat, complete with waggling tongue! Sadly, no one ever asks…

Tahitian dancers are kind of like Vegas showgirls with a native twist and a lot more wiggle.

Also, there are seven islands that make up Hawaii so that must be where all these different cultures come from, right? After all, we had native Fijians, and Samoans, etc., right in our school! But no. Some of those are from someplace called Polynesia. Huh? No matter! Wherever these islands and cultures are, they’re near and dear to my heart.

Tahiti Anne “before.”

So it’s odd that I never thought of doing a Tahitian dancer before this. Once I got the idea, there was NO STOPPING ME.

Thanks for the feathers, Suzanne!

I was fortunate to find just the right candidate: It was an 18″ Effanbee Anne Shirley with brown eyes and somewhat deeper than usual toned skin, once she was cleaned. Anne Shirley’s have very nicely detailed stomachs and waists and I love using them for my costumed dolls. Luckily, this girl was also wearing a thick acrylic replacement wig, so I didn’t feel badly taking it off. I found a human-sized, human hair wiglet. I stripped it down to the wefts and sewed them to a new skull cap I’d made just for her.

My sister-in-law Suzanne had out of the blue sent me a box of odds and ends after she’d tidied up her craft room. One of those odds was a bag full of feathers. How fortuitous!

My Dad always loved his Hawaiian shirts and wore them throughout the rest of his life. So when I found a fabric that greatly reminded me of one of his shirts, a sort of tiki brown and white pattern, I had to sneak it somewhere into Tahiti’s outfit. I put it at the back of her headdress and used it for the strap that attaches it to her head:

My Dad with two of my brothers and the headdress back. The brother on the right is the future husband of my sister in law Suzanne, who gave me the feathers. The brother on the left is a STINKER.

You know what’s tricky? Sewing seashells to fabric. Turns out, because of their curved nature seashells cannot be sewn with needles. Instead, fishing twine must be used. Only fishing twine is sturdy enough to push through the contours of each and every unique shell. Unfortunately, it’s not sturdy enough to push through fabric. So sewing shells onto Tahiti’s headdress and belt required threading the needle with twine, sewing the twine up through the fabric, removing the needle, pushing it through the shell, putting the needle back on to push back through the fabric, repeat. For each and every shell. This is why this girl took me a little longer.

She also has a fern headress and lavalava cover up (insert). I found the one Hawaiian shirt in the whole thrift store here in Iowa to make it.
In full regalia.

The “Kukui nut” necklace is made from large dark brown glass beads with smaller wooden beads in between. The grass skirt is made from a human size hula skirt. I split the strands for a finer texture. The tassels are embroidery floss. Her “undies,” also known as a bathing suit bottom, were made from one of Julie’s halter tops from her wilder days.

From the thrumming drums that were the lullaby of my youth, to the feathers from Suzanne and the halter top from Julie, to the fabric that reminds me so strongly of my Dad, this girl has the story of my family woven all the way through. It’s been such a joy to work on her.

In the meantime, Poison Ivy was adopted by…Janey J. of Oakland, California! Though we’ve never actually met, Janey J. is quickly becoming like family herself! Janey also has Leilani, my Hawaiian hula girl.

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

She Came In Like A Wrecking Ball

Ivy’s helmet is made from half a Styrofoam ball hollowed out and reinforced with chipboard. It’s covered in green leather.

We were languishing in the living room doing nothing in particular, when we heard a low rumble in the distance. The skies were perfectly crystal clear! But that rumbling grew louder and louder. We got up from our various spots and wandered to the windows, curious as to what was making that sound. Suddenly, CRASH.

“That came from the front door!” Betty said.

We opened it just in time to see a strange little girl, breathless with laughter as she got to her feet and brushed herself off… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 120, Poison Ivy, the Roller Derby girl. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Our Ivy is an early composition doll measuring about 15 1/2″. She’s a less expensive doll of her day. Can you imagine a doll that doesn’t cost much nowadays with a human hair wig and green tin eyes? And separate little inserted teeth (that scare my wee sister so mightily)?

The stripes on her shirt are from a dress my sister January sent me. I don’t think I’ll wear it now, not with all those chunks cut out of it…Ivy’s shin-high “spats” snap on from the back. There’s a “P” on one side of her ankle, and an “I” on the other.

A few days before Ivy arrived my own wee sister Julie, with her snapping blue eyes and rosy red cheeks, suggested doing a roller derby girl.

You can see where I got the inspiration for the leather patches at Ivy’s knees, hips and elbows.

“Too modern!” I immediately nipped that idea in the bud. But then came that rumbling sound advancing to my door. Hmm…

Turns out, the roller derby as we know it today was started in Chicago in the 1930’s. Skating events first started as marathon races to see who could skate the longest, etc. Then Leo Seltzer and Damon Runyon added physical contact and teamwork and voila! A new sport was born.

Even here in our own little Rolfe we have roller derby events come into town. They are well attended and fun to see.

The real “Poison Ivy” with W.C. Fields, who was a roller derby fan.

“Poison Ivy?” my mother cried. “That doesn’t sound like a very appealing name. Are you sure?”

“SURE I’m sure!” I answered back assuredly. “It’s a real roller derby girl’s name!”

Surprisingly, Julie said that I would need (NEED!) to do a second outfit for this girl. Something girlish for when she wasn’t skating. I of course was planning on doing one anyway. I knew a regular coat, hat and dress wouldn’t do. Not with Ivy’s boisterous personality! So I decided to do something a little…loud.

The flower buttons on Ivy’s coat were sent to me by my sister-in-law Suzanne’s mum, all the way from England. Thank you, Rosemary!

Gretchen was adopted by sweet Janey J. of Oakland, California. This is her SEVENTH O.L.D.! She also solved a mystery for me: if you look at the Registry for O.L.D.’s 61-80, you’ll see that I thought I’d completely skipped No. 79. Not so! For some reason, sweet 79 never got a post or even a mention. I’ll be fixing that on the table in a bit. Thank you, Janey!

In the meantime, O.L.D.’s Nos. 81-100 has just been added. I’m almost up to date.

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

Yours, Mine, and “OURS.”

“WAIT! Don’t tell me…”

The little girl stood there gazing up at me with her piercing blue eyes, patiently waiting.

“My Pet!” I crowed. I’m always proud when I can identify a doll that’s not necessarily composition. 

“OUR Pet,” said Dot the smart aleck, peering at the back of our new arrivals head. I should never have taught her where to look for markings.

Here’s her “before” picture. She came with a brown acrylic wig.

I would soon learn that this little girl was a doll of few words. No matter. Her cheeks gave away how very excited she was at the prospect of being loved again… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 119, Gretchen, our very first “Our Pet” doll. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Just because she’s the “first” doesn’t mean there are a wqhole bunch of other “Our Pet” dolls waiting in the wings. She may very well be the one and only! They were made by the Armand Marseille company usually associated with bisque head dolls. This doll’s head appears to almost be a fired clay that’s been painted, as close as I can tell by looking inside her head.

I had no particular theme for her in mind; I just want to make her as cute as possible. She is such an adorable size at just over 14″, so perfect to hold. If I could keep her, I would. But alas, there’s always another doll clamoring for attention so I must prepare her, love her, and send her on her way. First I started with her few minor repairs.


Her forehead was pitted and devoid of paint, and if you look closely, you’ll see some chips around her eyes. I did a little light minimizing touch up. Her sleep eyes are made of glass. She’s actually marked “Our Pet”.

Granted, the blonde mohair wig I chose for her is a little scraggly. All my wigs are! I have three bins of scraggly wigs, all patiently waiting their turn to be pieced together so they can once more sit atop a future beloved doll’s head and therefore be loved once again themselves! Same with all my fabrics. “Pick ME this time!” “Me!” “ME!” It’s amazing I get anything done with all those voices clamoring around me…

Speaking of voices, “ONE DRESS!” my wee sister cried. But, honestly! We’re straddling winter and spring here, what’s a girl to do? I soothed her by telling her I would use the same pattern for both dresses. Then I added a sweater and two aprons…I cannot be stopped!

That’s Susanna on the left. She of “Nosegate” fame.

It’s no secret I enjoy a sweater with flowers embroidered on it. I know three stitches, and by golly I use them. This sweater was made from the stash of beautiful old wool sweaters that were thrift store finds that Julie had given me awhile ago. I love using sweaters to make sweaters!

Look at that pretty brooch! Thanks to whoever gave it to me. It was in a shoe box full of costume jewelry…

The pointy hat and mittens are made from red cotton velvet. The mittens are attached to each other with middy braid. For the hat ties, I braided red cotton string and made pompoms.

I had flashbacks the whole time I was working on the coat. I don’t know how, but I rarely make coats using the same fabric I’ve used before, at least without mixing and matching. The fabric for Gretchen’s coat is the same fabric I used for Holly’s coat when I was rushing and I singed it. Don’t think I didn’t pay close attention this time!

The shoes are based on some originals I’d seen. You know what I need? Good scallop cutting scissors. I didn’t have any, so bless my heart I cut them as evenly as I could. They’re leather and the ties are braided embroidery floss.

I found an already made slip that with some added lace was the perfect length to peek out from both her dresses. Pointy hats, flowered sweaters, and lace peeking out from the bottom of a dress. Does it get any better?

So there you have her, a wee little girl with high rosy cheeks and messy hair, counting the days to her new adventures.

You know who’s not counting the days? Sally Joy! She was adopted by Gwen R. of Medford, Texas. I think this is O.L.D. number five for Gwen. Thank you, Gwen! And your sweet husband too.

And with that, I leave you on this first day of spring! No matter the season, YOU are my favorite.

Grandma’s Got A Brand New BAG

You can see why I thought perhaps she was a grandma when I could only see the top of her head.
S.J.’s hair got noticeably lighter after washing.

The girl standing at the door was rather large. Even so, it was impossible to see her face beneath the pile of clothes she was carrying in her arms. Was she a girl? Or a little old lady? The hair peeking out from the top of the pile was decidedly gray…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 118, Sally Joy. We call her S.J. You can see her adoption page HERE.

This is only the second time I’ve had this particular doll model walk through my door. HERE’S the first. Her name was Felicity. She’s the one I gave the first legolectomy to. Luckily for me, S.J.’s legs were just fine.

One would think with all the clothes she arrived with I wouldn’t need to make her a thing! That I could simply clean her, do a few needed repairs to her composition, and send her on her way. AU CONTRAIRE!

First of all, S.J. arrived just as the hasn’t-happened-in-20-years Polar Vortex was ending, where temperatures were well below zero for both highs and lows, and the “feels like” temps were -50 degrees! All of S.J.’s clothes appeared to be more suited to summer.

The dress on the right is a little large, but I didn’t show it on her adoption page so I’m showing it here. Not shown is a beautiful, crisp white on white embroidered slip that’s much older than S.J. It too is too big, but it’s coming with her too!
Bless her heart, S.J. doesn’t have much in the way of hips (I’ll share mine!) so I made the top with a bit of a flare.

One of my inspiration images.

To go with her summery clothes, I made some white leather sandals and the floppy hat with the large white flower. They go with everything.

Perhaps I was longing for a little summer myself; the first thing I made for her was a 1920’s style bathing suit. I also made a simple “wrap” – basically, a square piece of cloth, selvage to selvage and hemmed on either side, that she could use as a towel or simply to lay upon the beach. The fabric came from an old cardboard suitcase that was filled with 1930’s fabric that I found in the house I bought behind me. One of my FAVORITE FINDS EVER.

Thanks, Jule!

Then I set about making her more wintry outfit. A kind fellow Rolfian we shall call Jule H. – not to be confused with me wee own sister – had been cleaning out her fabric supply and gifted me with a bag of fabric! I LOVE fresh meat! I also love fresh fabric…When S.J.’s wig became so noticeably lighter, I thought that the pretty cream checked fabric contained within that bag would make her sort of glow.

That’s a lot of stuff. Believe it or not, I still need to make some undies.

I then made her a very heavy, very 20’s style coat, a coordinating wool cloche-style hat, and a pair of brown leather shoes. And of course, a carpet bag to carry everything in so she could more easily make her way to her new home.

She comes with a LOT of stuff. At 23″ give or take, she’s a rather large girl. But like all large girls, she can sit with several smaller dolls on her lap so barely takes up any space at all when it comes right down to it. And she is oh so very kind.

Wee little Pendleton, my very first composition doll ever, went to…the lovely Linda L. of Portola Valley, California! California happens to be where I was living when I adopted her in the first place. Pendleton has gone full circle. Thank you, Linda!

And with that, I leave you! I think we’re on our last single digit weather day. Spring is in the air! And YOU are my favorite.

Set Her Free

Reader, I could not believe my eyes when I opened a bin from a dark corner of the closet and saw her laying there. I checked her back just to make sure and saw the horrible strips of skin that confirmed her identity, but I already knew. I turned her back over and looked at the sweet face I’d first seen 20 years ago. There was no mistaking those features. After all, I’d painted them myself…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 117, Pendleton. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Thank goodness when I tried this method, I tried it on her back, poor thing.

There was a time when I didn’t know that composition dolls existed. I don’t know if I ever would have were it not for the popping of my childhood friend into my life for a brief moment. She showed me her collection of old dolls and I was entranced. WOW. There were bisques, hard plastics and composition dolls. For the next few years I would scour the antique stores for ones I could afford but never found any.

Fast forward to 1999. I was standing in the living room in my little house in Napa, California talking to my sister Carol, when she handed the phone to her daughter Rhiannon. There was excitement and relish in her voice as she told me, “There’s this site. You’re going to absolutely love it. It’s called ‘Ebay’.”

I have no actual “Before” picture. This was back in the day of the One Hour Photo, or the scanner, if you were lucky. I removed her painted features with skilled photo editing. Ahem.

Ebay? What a strange name! I joined but worried about sending my money to some stranger. These were the days before Paypal, when you would pay by mail. It seemed like quite the risky gamble. But then I saw her. That goggly fish. She was filthy and had no hair or painted features, and she was cracked all over but she was also very affordable. I loved her instantly.

I found a nice little wig for her.

When it came time for her auction to finish, I waited anxiously by the computer, my heart pounding, my cheeks flushed. I put in a bid, but was it enough? There was no automatic countdown. You had to refresh the page each time. And when you did, it reloaded as slowly as the sun rising above the horizon, except backwards and line by line…by…line. GAH!!! I was almost too scared to look, but I HAD WON HER!!! And it hadn’t even been a contest! Apparently, no one wanted her but me. That suited me just fine.

Once she was finally into my anxious little hands, after my check traveled one way, and then she traveled the other, the next problem became how to fix her. I got a very well known doll repair book that mentioned “Formby’s” and how it magically re-creamed the composition together, kind of like a paint thinner. This didn’t seem right at all, but nothing ventured…

Seems legit. JUST KIDDING, DON’T DO THIS!!

I didn’t have any Formby’s or paint thinner on hand, but I had fingernail polish remover! It seems so silly now, but I was merely trying to be brave and doing what I could for this girl. I was horrified when I saw the results. WHAT TO DO?

Then a light bulb went on over my head. My friend Holly! She had mentioned doll repair while I was still trying to absorb the wonders of these creatures that weren’t in museums or antique stores behind glass. I contacted her. And she gave me that best tip I use to this day.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Pendleton clothes. My brother Kenny worked at the Pendleton store at Disneyland for a time.
This dress is made from a Pendleton suit a neighbor gave me. How fortuitous!

And now here she sat, poor little Pendleton. Lonely and forgotten. That sweet face that started everything for me now as neglected as the Once-Loved Dolls I vowed to try to save. Which is why as an act of love this Valentine season I’m letting her go. THANK YOU, PENDLETON!! I shall never, ever forget you.

As I mentioned on Pendleton’s adoption page, there’s a song from a movie that would move me to gulping, sobbing tears if I let it. Instead I control myself, genteelly biting my lips, silent tears flowing like diamonds down my rose petal cheeks. Also, my nose gets a little snotty. Can you guess it? Here it is:

“When She Loved Me” sung by Jessie in Toy Story 2. This song gets me every time! Julie just snorts, so I guess not everyone feels the same way. I’m sure Julie has many other good qualities. Sniff!

On a side note, I’d like to thank the wonderful people of Rolfe who attended or participated in any way in the breakfast and bake sale auction benefit for Julie and Scott. BEST TOWN EVER. This is one of the many reasons I love Iowa, and Rolfe in particular!

FRANK & SPOT were adopted by…Adele M. of Castroville, Texas! They will be in good company as this is the fifth O.L.D. for Adele, including a previous Kewpie, Jude the Mail Carrier. Thank you, sweet girl!

And thank YOU. Aren’t I lucky to have so many Valentines in my life? Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart! You know you’re my favorite.