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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!

Forgotten No More!

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

vi·van·dière

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…Now YOU know about Vivandiere’s too!

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

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

 

Apocalyptic Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazel Twigg LIVE!

It’s a common household item you may already have on hand.

Coming to you this morning at 10:00 Central, ready or not! I’m going to go Live via Facebook, hopefully from the Hazel Twigg page. Whether 0 people watch or one (Hi Mom!), I have to start somewhere.

I’m going to reveal the first and best tip I ever received for vintage composition doll repair and introduce the next O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll), as well as reveal what’s to come in the future. ANYONE can restore these lovely old girls, you just have to be willing to try. As I am.

In my head, it always goes great. I shall evolve to make it come true in reality. Cheers!

Honeymoon in WHOville

You never forget that long poem or story you had to memorize for a recital in elementary school. Mine was, “The Owl and the Pussycat” (went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…).

So when I stumbled across this little old tea set I thought, “Hey! Why not?”

Thus begins the description for Kitty and Owl, O.L.D.’s (Once-Loved Dolls) No. 86 and 86 1/2. You can see their adoption page HERE. They are the Owl and the Kitty who went to TEA.

My sister will back me up on this: I have been a fan of owls since before they were cool again decades after being cool in the 70’s.

Here’s my largest concentration of owls. The turquoise one is my favorite, given to me by my dear friend Jennifer.

I’ve picked them up at garage sales, thrift stores, clearance aisles…some were given to me by dear friends. They’re sprinkled throughout my house. At last, here was a chance to MAKE an owl! I looked for ideas online, picked out some wools and tweeds, nine different fabrics in all! And made up a pattern.

Owl also comes with a green wool scarf for winter and a flowery hat for when he has tea. It’s not a tea party if there is no bonnet!

“Okay, I see the owl, which would account for the “Whoville” in this post’s title, but where does the “Honeymoon” part come in?” you might ask, for you are canny and wise, and notice such things.

The newly minted Dennis and Jane Agle.

I’ll tell you: My parents were married for 60 wonderful and fruitful years before my father’s passing in 2013. The year they were married (I’ll save you the math) was 1953. My mother’s mom, aka, “Grandma,” made a going away outfit, a Honeymoon outfit one might say.

It was an unusual, striking shade, neither blue nor gray. The fabric itself was something new, my mother recalls her mother saying. How she marveled as she worked on it, for it was said to be non-wrinkling, and was actually living up to its claims.

Not so easy to see the waistband here.

The outfit itself was a classic, exquisite style. The skirt was fitted, almost pencil-style in the front with deep pleats in the back. There was a matching bolero jacket with a large covered button. But my favorite feature of this most exquisite ensemble was the waist-line of the skirt. It was super, super high and the front of the waistband curved gently upward and back down, like the single hump of a camel. My mother has this outfit still.

This skirt is gathered, and this fabric is far from wrinkle-free, but there’s no mistaking that camel-hump, high waistband.

I wore it myself, many a time. I remember longingly looking forward to “Spirit Week” in high school. Longing even more for there to be a 50’s day so that I could proudly wear that flattering, stunning outfit with its glowing bluey-gray. Other’s would walk around in poodle skirts. Not me! I LOVED that thing, and am so grateful – and slightly shocked – that my mother let me borrow it.

So as I worked on Kitty’s skirt, I kept having flashbacks: “I’ve seen this before…” It only took a nano second. That skirt will never be forgot! Over the years in a person’s life they’ll have a favorite piece of clothing. Maybe two or three. One of my son’s, for example, was his Blue’s Clues green on green striped Rugby-style shirt. For me, surely one of them was my mother’s Honeymoon outfit. Hey! I bet it was one of her favorites as well! What do you think…?

Marie Antoinette was adopted by Megan P. of Myton, Utah! A new face! Thank you so much Megan, I hope you enjoy Marie!

I love my parents so very much. I’ve been thinking of them even more than usual this past week as I catch glimpses of the waistband and shade of this skirt that I know so well. For now my parents have had to say goodbye to each other and it hasn’t been easy. After 60 happy years, how could it possibly be? But I know that one day they’ll be together again. I know it with all my heart.

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

 

OFF WITH HER CAKE!!

“What should I do next??” I asked my sister The Mayor.

“Ooh, I know! I’ve been watching ‘Outlander,’ and there’s this really pretty dress…”

“But I’ve already DONE two ‘Outlander’ dolls!”

Then my eyes lit onto the remaining silvery fun fur I had left over from my last O.L.D., America. I knew JUST want to do….

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. No. 85, our very own Marie Antoinette. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I really, really wanted to make a cake for her as an accessory. I looked up how-to’s on Pinterest and everything. But things came down to the wire. I decided that “cake time” would be better spent on a second outfit of “street clothes” for her to wear, and a hat stand for her wig.

The “Outlander” orginal. Pretty hard to compete with that…

…I did my very best.

There would have been plenty of time for everything were this outfit not so labor intensive. I call this costume the “Bow” dress because of the series of bows that go down the front of the bodice.

My dear friend Janey had sent me some metallic trims from an old lamp factory. I spray painted different laces for the rest.

 

Here are some of the inspirations for the Outlander dress. And the beat goes on…

The swatch upholstery fabric I had on hand had the palest of slate blues in its pattern; I wanted to emphasis that. So I found some Wedgwood blue organdy and made a bunch of tiny little flowers, then beaded them with tiny gold glass beads.

One of the trims originally came with peach velvet ribbon. I exchanged it for blue to trim the sleeves, and wove blue silk ribbon for the trim for Marie’s skirt. And then all the trims had to be sewn on by hand. Not to mention the tiny slippers that most likely won’t be seen. But we can’t have our queen go barefoot!

It’s kind of hard to see, but there are hundreds and hundreds of hand stitches on this dress. That is NOT an exaggeration.

What a difference a wig makes! Here is Marie in the blonde mohair wig she arrived in, along with her “street wear” dress for when she’s not in the mood to prance around in her wig.

Speaking of her “powdered” wig, thank you Julie for giving me the fun fur! It was indeed fun.

Marie in her blonde mohair wig and street clothes.

So there you have it! Our Marie Antoinette in her “Bow” dress! And now I am off to my sewing room to pick my next victim…

Our previous “powdered wig drummer, America, was adopted by Kathleen Z. of Alameda, California! She also happens to have adopted Liberty, who was also a drummer. I daresay she must have a very noisy – and happy –  household. Thank you, Kathleen!

Until then, happy last days of February! You are very much my favorite.

Bang The Drum Slowly

I’m always happiest when I know what my next theme will be. So I was happy that Friday in my kitchen as I took a quick break for before returning to my sewing room to pick out fabrics. While I made myself a snack, I switched on my little TV. And was mesmerized.

It was Friday, January 20, 2017, aka our most recent Presidential Inauguration day. Right there before me was the niftiest band I’d ever seen! Next to Donny Osmond, of course. Although, he’s not really a band…but I digress. Anyway, there were men and women wearing powdered wigs and uniforms similar to the ones worn by Army musicians in the American Revolution. I learned that they were “The Old Guard Fife and Drums Corp.”

My mind squealed. “The OLD Guard!” I said out loud. “O.L.D.! As in Once-Loved Doll! PERFECT.”

The previous idea was going to have to wait…

Thus begins the adoption page for O.L.D. No. 84, America. You can see her adoption page HERE.

She was a Patsy type, so I thought she would be perfect for this role. A “Patsy type” is a doll with molded, painted hair rather than a wig. The easier to put a “powdered” wig upon! My generous sister had given me some fun fur for a previous doll, and I still had some left. Just enough for my drummer girl.

Antique “American Eagle” drum.

I decided the details on the drums on the Old Guard band uses would be too small to translate to a drum of the necessary size for this girl, so I based America’s drum on a simpler antique drum instead.

Side view of the wig. Heavily shellacked with Ye Olde Aqua Net.

On America’s adoption page, I did a teaser. Wanna hear it? Here it goes: What common household item was this drum made from?

I had been looking for something circular that would be just the right size. The drums the Old Guard uses aren’t just short drums like in my previous drummer girl. They’re a little longer. A cornmeal box was too big. A cut off toilet paper roll too small. Hmm…I was at my neighbors house, pondering this very thing, and she started rummaging through her cupboards. “How ’bout this?” she said, holding out a thing that was just the right size. And do you know what it was? Drum roll, please (<-comedy GOLD!)…it was a can of baking soda!

My neighbor insisted I take hers to use. However, when I discovered mine had a smooth bottom (I turned the can upside down. The bottom now becomes the drumming surface) AND it had expired – IN 2013! – I opted for mine instead. Apparently, I don’t make biscuits very often. I of course gave hers back to her. I mean I will. Soon. I promise…We always go back and forth, borrowing each other’s things. It’s good to have a neighbor like that.

The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is made up of full time, active service men and women in the United States Army. True heroes! You can see their official website HERE.

Note, I said “men AND women.” Turns out, when you put on a powdered wig and identical uniforms, it’s anybody’s guess. While I adore boys, I wanted America to be a girl, because I love making girls clothes best, and there are women a-plenty in this band.

After all, what’s the point in having a doll that can easily wear a powdered wig if she can’t take it off once in awhile? Otherwise, any old doll would have done! So I made a dress and hat for America to wear when she’s not on drummer duty, and a hat stand to hold her wig and tricorn hat when not in use.

Here are the drummers in action, sans the fifes. IMPRESSIVE:

 

Each O.L.D. gives me a chance to try something new. With America, it was the powdered wig. I have a feeling it will not be my last…and there will be CAKE.

Susanna was adopted by…Adele M. of Castroville, Texas! Adele also adopted the first of the three Schoenhuts (carved wooden dolls, older than compositions) that I’ve done. Thank you, Adele!

And with that, I leave you! BEST SUPER BOWL EVER, both teams were great, and you’re my favorite!

NOSEGATE.

Susanna’s current page with her new nose. My mother gave me a new camera that I hid for safekeeping. I have GOT to find it. These photos are awful, but you get the idea.

O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 83 is named Susanna. You can see her adoption page HERE.

To touch up, or not to touch up? That is hardly ever the question, especially when it comes to composition dolls. Of course I’m going to do something!

Schoenhuts, however, are an entirely different animal. Older, rarer, and more expensive, Schoenhut dolls attract a whole different breed of those who love them and are drawn to them.

I had one last Schoenhut, and this girl was more worn than the previous two I’d had in the past. Namely, the paint on her nose was gone, showing the wood beneath. I had joined a Schoenhut group on Facebook when I’d received my first doll of that type so that I could learn more about them. Who better to ask what should be done to this girl than those who adopt them in droves?

The consensus was that I should leave her alone. Some even sweetly provided photos of Schoenhuts with far worse wear. I secretly breathed a sigh of relief. Good! Because that would give me more time to focus on the clothes, which is my favorite thing to do.

So I got to work. I cut up an old mohair sweater of mine and sewed it into a doll-size sweater, embroidering it with flowers in vintage wool yarn. I made a coat and a hat and two dresses. Sewed little leather shoes with glass buttons, and two pairs of socks. After days of toil, she was ready. I took my pictures in dubious light, and finally put her up for adoption.

An hour into her offering, my phone rang.

“Now, don’t be mad,” a squeaky voice said.

“Whyever would I get mad?” I said in my musical lilt, recognizing my sister The Mayor on the other end of the line.

“That NOSE. You have GOT to do something about THAT NOSE!” I could practically see her jumping up and down and waving her tiny fists as she spoke.

GRRRR!!!

Susanna’s sailor dress is made from bonafide old ticking. I had to work around the worn spots.

No! My mind rebelled. The pictures are done! She already has a bid! And watchers! And she’s only just begun!

Still, my sister had given me a niggle of doubt. But she doesn’t even like dolls! I shouted back at that niggle. Hmmm…Better to ask for a third opinion from someone who actually does like dolls. I called my friend Brenda. She looked at Susanna’s link.

“I think your sister is right.”

HMPF.

“….you should touch up that nose. And the eyebrows. And the eyes. And the eyeliner. And the lips….”

I huffily took down Susanna’s adoption page, and got back to work. It wasn’t all bad. It gave me a chance to do other things I’d wanted to do but ran out of time for. I added a reversible belt to her brown dress, and turned the vintage half slip I’d found for her into a full slip, complete with tea-dye and a ribbon accent. When she was completed, I took a second round of pictures, not quite as good this time, but at least her nose and the rest of her face was DONE.

It’s a tricky thing, this touch up of these old dolls. Their skin is not all one color. There’s patina! I actually had to layer several different colors to make her nose repair unnoticeable, and I was as subtle with the rest of her features as I could be. I didn’t want to make her look like new, and I didn’t want to idealize her features. I wanted her new mother not to know that anything had been done – if she hadn’t been told first.

And THAT is the story of NOSEGATE.

Our darling Jefferson was adopted by…Cecilia S. of Foster, Ohio. Another new person! Thank you, Cecilia! And yes, that song was on my mind all morning as I packed little Jefferson for his trip. I HOPE you know which song I mean. Surely, it can’t be THAT old…

And with that, I leave you! Hunker down, Iowa! The ice storm’s a-coming! You’re my favorite.

P.S. If anyone gets the title image joke with the “Know when to Stop” written in it, I shall be tickled pink. Go, Packers!

The (almost) Hallmarkian (almost) Romance

Jefferson is the other half of the year-round holidays. The first doll was HERE.

It’s very rare that a boy doll walks into the Hideaway. This little fellow’s timing – and name – couldn’t be more fortuitous, as in my own personal life I too am bidding a fond farewell to a very rare man…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 82, Jefferson. You can see his adoption page HERE.

Now for the story of Jeff:

‘Tis the season for copious Hallmark romances. You know the kind: newly widowed or divorced single mother moves with her young son to a small town in the middle of nowhere, and there just so happens to be a handsome single cop, or a teacher, or some other perfectly-aged, oddly un-snatched up man just waiting in the wings. After a few stops and starts over the course of two hours (with commercials), he and the mysterious newcomer woman just so happen to fall in love. Amid Christmas lights and carols playing, their story ends with “…and they lived Happily Ever After.” Ah, if only real life could be like that!

This guy’s my favorite. Note the pointy leprechaun ears.

Well, it (almost) was.  First off, let me explain: in real life, most wonderful men are snatched up. Married. Happily so, with wonderful families. Or else the single men there are to be had are too young. Or too old. Or just plain not interested. In other words, very un-Hallmarkian.

Just over ten years ago, I moved to this little town right here in the middle of nowhere. Newly divorced, young son in tow. Wouldn’t you know it, there wasn’t a single, eligible man in sight. Fast forward a few years to Christmas time. Things were a little tight, and I was looking for ways to squeeze out a little extra money for a Christmas gift. I called my mortgage company to see if maybe they could tack a payment onto the end of my 30 year mortgage. After all, I’d been a very good customer…

“No.” the voice on the other end of the line said.

“Well, how about if you give me a little extra time and waive the late fee?” I persisted sweetly.

This 1924 Saturday Evening Post was the inspiration for yon horse.

“We really hate doing that. Perhaps if you produced an eye of newt, some lizard teeth…” the voice droned on.

Okay, the demands weren’t quite like that, but there were several hoops this fellow – Jeff, his name was – wanted me to jump through that I felt were unreasonable. A few back and forth phone calls later I finally shouted, “I’LL PAY THE @#&$! LATE FEE! NEVER MIND!” and I hung up. I swore and hung up on the man at the bank.

Until I met Jeff, this is how I thought of him. Alan Rickman plays a very good and very intriguing bad guy.

“Wet behind the ears short-timer young punk! Thinks he owns the place!” I muttered to myself afterwards. It felt good to press that “end” button really, really hard, and yet I felt kind of bad. Jeff at the bank was probably a very nice young – if staid and unyielding – man.

So imagine my dismay when a few years later, my son having since moved to Massachusetts, I suffered three operations a few months apart, two of them requiring week long stays in the hospital. Needless to say I fell behind on my mortgage. And needless to say when I had to call the bank to plead I was alarmed that the wet-behind the ears whippersnapper Jeff wasn’t a short-timer after all.

“Maybe he won’t remember,” I fretted to my brothers.

“Oh no, they ALWAYS remember,” said Kenny, who works with bankers a lot.

DANG.

“Just be nice,” my brothers counselled. So I was. Kinda. Mostly.

Valentine’s Day Cupid Jefferson

And what do you know? This Jeff banker guy was funny too, with a subtle and dry sense of humor. He was professional, but sympathetic and encouraging. He was charming. He was smart!

As any bonafide artist worth her salt will do, I continue to struggle paying my bills. I’ve therefore gotten to talk to Jeff a lot. We’ve become almost friend-like. So while the constant struggle has been just that, I confess I looked forward to the monthly back and forths with this mystery man on the other end of the line, the other side of those emails that danced *this close* to being flirtatious. Hmm…

But surely, he’s far too young.

“I’m slightly older than you,” he happened to drop in one of our conversations.

But surely, he’s married.

It’s been awhile, so I don’t remember exactly what he looks like, but it was something like a slightly older version of this.

Nope! He has a “significant other.” Hah! One of the milquetoastiest things to have. Does that even count?

He’s probably a toad! Not that I would care. I truly wouldn’t. But once when he was out and about, he came by my house for a visit. He ate the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that I baked for him, his favorites. He declared them delicious! Even though they were burnt. And he was NOT a toad. Quite the opposite. Tall and handsome. In other words, VERY Hallmarkian.

Not two hours, but years in the making. Still! Cue the music! Cue the Christmas lights and carols! This is IT, world! It’s happened! It’s REAL.

Easter Bunny Baby Jefferson

Alas, it was not to be. Turns out, our world views are vastly different. And his Significant Other is more significant than first thought. Ah well, at least I still had him to work with in my continued struggles, and to spar with given our different views. That would have to do.

Turns out, no. A month or two ago he told me he was retiring. And suddenly Friday December 30th is his very last day. Why so young?! My only logical thought is that the much ballyhooed “Banker’s Hours” must also translate to “Banker’s Years.” Shorter than regular peoples. And so I shall miss him as he starts this new chapter in his life.

Goodbye, Jeff! Thank you! Thank you for all! You’ve made one of the constant struggles in my life a joy, and I shall never, ever forget you, you darling, darling man.

And that is the true story behind No. 82, Jefferson.

O.L.D. No. 81 Guinevere was adopted by…Olga of Russia! Our first Hazel Twigg international! That’s a long journey for such a fragile girl. I hope she arrives safely! Thank you, Olga.

And with that, I leave you! HAPPY NEW YEAR, you’re my favorite.