Lost Dolls

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Always The Bride

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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.

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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.

One Fond *Yosuru

I confess, I’ve been wanting to do a Geisha for a long time. So when this girl arrived, and her name was Blossom, which is kind of Geisha-ish, and she didn’t mind removing her wig – as long as I sent it along with her (which I will) – then she was absolutely game… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 111, Blossom the Geisha. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I’ve had an affinity for all things Japanese since childhood. Growing up in Hawaii, there’s a huge oriental influence. Talking with my Mom last night, here are two stories in particular. They were such a part of our family history that Julie’s the one that mentioned them to me when I told her my next O.LD.’s theme – and she wasn’t even born when they occurred!

Left to Right, Dad, Kenny, Mom, Dennis, January, Me, and Carol.

They happened 50 odd years ago. We lived on the less inhabited north shore of Oahu, which back then was rather primitive. My parents had learned of a professional photographer who lived on our side of the island. Most things were in Honolulu, and it was hard to get all the way there for a more formal photo and still keep five kids looking fresh, what with the heat and winding roads and frequent barfing that would take place en route.

It looked a lot like this.

So my parents marked this much closer find on a trusty map, dressed us all in our Sunday best, and off we went.

“We kept driving and driving, farther into the jungle and I wondered, ‘How on earth can there be anything out here?'” my mother recounted. “Finally we came to this little shack in the middle of nowhere…”

The Foundling.

The photographer, a tiny man of Japanese descent, “didn’t even pose us, and I think he only took one shot. When we finally got the photo weeks later, he proudly announced that Kenny, currently the youngest, had his eyes closed, but not to worry! He, the photographer, had painted them in…”

Thus this picture became not only a piece of glossy card stock, one of many photographs dotting our scrapbooks over the years, but a memory that gave us laughs back then and still does to this day.

The family, sans their kids. They spoke little English, and we no Japanese, but somehow we communicated very well.

Another very strong memory from our childhood is when we sponsored a family from Japan. I remember them very well, and in talking to my mom was surprised to hear that they only came to our house two times for dinner on two separate visits from Japan with the meals very far apart, because they made such a very strong and warm impression on me. They were so kind and generous and I felt such an affinity for them and from them.

It was a doll similar to this. She made the clothes for her herself!

They wanted to experience an American meal, so my mother and Auntie Anne, who was also living in Hawaii at that time, set out to make the most American meal possible, which of course included Jello. Jello was hard to make in Hawaii, as it was “so darn hot” that it wouldn’t properly set.

They put out silverware, but the children from the family weren’t able to eat with forks and spoons. So my mother found some chopsticks, and they ate everything, including the unstable Jello, with ease.

We exchanged Christmas cards with this family for years to come, and the wife sent my mother and Auntie Anne Japanese dolls in full dress as a thank you gift, along with an assortment of seaweed wrapped crackers that I adored.

Kankashi flowers, made with an open flame, petal by petal.

We’ve always had oriental art and trinkets dotted throughout our house, as much a part of the decor as any throw pillow or bookend, even beyond the Hawaii years. And little Japanese lanterns were a family favorite tradition on our Christmas tree. So of course a Japanese doll was somewhere in my future!

It was finally the time. I learned a lot in my research, like how a kimono is always worn left over right unless you’re in mourning, as well as how to make Kansashi flowers in the traditional Japanese way. And that the wooden shoes are called “Geta” and the socks with the split toe are called “Tabi.”

I used balsa and wood with red velvet cording to make these Geta shoes.

Since we don’t have massive fabric stores, and for once I didn’t have on hand the kind of fabric I wanted, searched the fabric section at the craft store, worried I wouldn’t find anything that would work. Christmas to the rescue! Freshly arrived for the coming holiday this red with metallic gold was just the thing. I heaved a dainty sigh of relief when I found it.

Speaking of my mother and talking to her last night, guess who won the last doll, No. 110 Mona? My mother! When I see her occasionally bidding I say, “Aw, Mom!” beneath my breath and actually right to her. When she gets outbid I tell her, “OKAY MOM!! STAHHHP!!!” This woman has a MIND OF HER OWN. I think I come by my stubbornness honestly!

But she rarely bids, and only on dolls she likes. She knows me so well, and knows how hard that first doll back after a long period away was and how nervous making it was to get back in the saddle. Her reaction via email SAVED ME. She LOVED this girl and said I hadn’t lost my touch! PHEW. My mother is one to say what she thinks, so this meant a lot to me. And now she finally has an O.L.D.! Thanks Mom! YOU’RE MY FAVORITE MOM EVAH and one of the best human beings I know.

You know who else is my favorite human, as we get our first flurries of snow? YOU. You’re my favorite.

*Yosuru means “embrace” in Japanese.

Hey There, Georgy Girl (Scout)!

“A-HAH!” I said out loud, pleased with my own ingenuity and inventiveness. I was trying to come up with a theme for the next O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll). St. Patrick’s Day was coming, but for some reason I was in no mood for leprechauns.

I waited until I had my sister Julie’s full attention before continuing, “Who besides Leprechauns has a green theme and a shamrock logo?”

I’d like to thank my dear friend Jennifer T. for printing up the Girl Scout Promise and the cookie recipe. And for helping me out in so many ways! Jennifer’s the BEST.

Julie could not guess.

“GIRL SCOUTS!” I crowed. Yessirree, I really am quite the clever girl to come up with this idea clear out of the blue…Julie’s question interrupted my preening.

“Are you going to use that Girl Scout tin I found for you TWO MONTHS AGO?!”

Curses.

Anywho…

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg No. 104, Georgy the Girl Scout. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Girl Scout’s gotta have a canteen! I made mine from the lids of some salt and pepper shakers just like this. They had rusted and were unusable.

It was Julie who guessed her name first. I was having a hard time figuring it out. It’s winter, and sometimes my ears get a little stuffy.

“Georgie!” Julie cried. We were on the phone at the time, but even so I could practically see her waving her tiny fists in joy this time.

Here’s the tin that Julie found that led to her suggestion that I took…a few months later.

“You’re RIGHT. It’s GEORGY!” I crowed a little too loudly, my ears being stuffed and all. “And it’s PERFECT, because she’s a GIRL scout!”

There was silence on the other end of the line, so I continued, “You know, like that song! ‘Hey There, Georgy Girl!”

Martha Stewart had a very useful video on the history of G.S. uniforms.

STILL there was silence. Finally, Julie squeaked, “Huh?”

So I obligingly sang for her. I will obligingly sing at the drop of a hat. “Hey there, Georgy girl, swinging down the street so fancy free…” I then skipped to the chorus, “You’re always window shopping, but never stopping to buy…”

There was a pause. “Nope, never heard of it.”

IT HAS COME TO THIS. I knew I was getting older, but OY. No matter! I love the song, and the theme seemed to fit.

It’s all fun and games until you’re trying to embroider patches little bigger than a pencil eraser. Actually, it WAS pretty fun. These are based on actual patches.

I wanted this to be an early Girl Scout, so I did a lot of research and based mine on a combination of the 1920’s and 30’s era. The main difference I noticed was that patches were worn on their sleeves rather than on a sash. And the hats were so cute!

When I was describing the uniform I was going to make for Georgy to my mother, she protested.

“She should have a beret!” she cried, waving her tiny and also very lovely fists about (my sister Julie comes by it honestly).

My mother rarely gives me directives, so I had to oblige – in my own way, for I art stubborn.

I made an orangey-red beret to go with the olive green coat I made for Georgy for those meetings when the weather was cold. To tie the hat more to the coat, I also made mittens and then a coordinating scarf.

AND NOW! For the uninitiated. This is the 1967 (before my pesky sister was born) song, “Georgy Girl” from an Australian group called The Seekers:

GREAT SONG. The whippersnappers of today just don’t know good music!

Speaking of great, Presley was adopted by the Great Michelle E. of Hudson, Colorado! Michelle’s about like family. As are so many of you. I hope you all know how much I appreciate you.

And with that, I leave you! Swinging down the street so fancy free. As soon as this ice melts…You’re my favorite.

 

Love BURNS

“Dennis! Did you hear that?”

It was a Saturday in May of 2011 in California. My parents were out doing something they dearly loved to do: garage sale shopping. It’s not as if it were early morning. The sale had been going for hours. And yet there on a table in a box in a bag was a voice calling out that only my mother could hear…THANK GOODNESS.

Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 103, Presley, who was discovered by my very own parental Valentines. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I confess, even *I* sometimes fail. No, no, it’s true! HERE IS MY CONFESSION:

THE FABRIC

The reason that No. 103 was named Presley is because I had this unique fabric I’d purchased years ago because it was excruciatingly cute. However, while cute, it wasn’t really the kind of fabric I would normally use. Yes, it was a print of vintage Valentines, but the fact that vintage Valentines were printed on fabric was too much of an in-your-face manifestation that it wasn’t vintage, not one bit. They would never have done that back in the day!

But every Valentine’s day I would look at it, and I decided that this year it was finally time to use it. Only ONE DOLL could pull it off. A doll that is indeed vintage, but that has been reproduced in recent years so she could easily bridge both old and new: PATSY.

Here’s a nice example of a PATSY doll.

Effanbee Patsy dolls were extremely popular back in their day from 1928 to 1946. They are distinctive with their molded hair in a bobbed style, their painted, side-glancing eyes, and their crooked right arm, perfect for holding things. In recent decades, they were reproduced in vinyl, and are popular to this day.

Here’s a vinyl REPRODUCTION Patsy

I only had one Patsy, and she had a major issue: She had been in a fire, and had suffered smoke damage. Now, she didn’t smell! But parts of her were discolored and she had severe chipping and flaking.

“No matter!” I confidently said to myself. “I can do this! This is her year!” A theme even came to mind! BURNING for your LOVE. Perfect! I went to YouTube and typed in “Burning Love” for inspiration for a name for this girl. Of course, Elvis Presley’s song of the same name came up (“…a hunk a hunk of Burning Love….”). Presley! PERFECT.

Here’s my burnt Patsy. Soon after this picture was taken, her remaining painted eye crumbled into smithereens.

This, Reader, is part of the reason for the longer than normal gap between this doll and the last. My struggles with Patsy, the Super Bowl, and also, my dog got sick. I know, sounds fake, right? That’s what my mortgage guy thought when I told him that. But it’s true! Thankfully, he got better. My dog, not my mortgage guy. But that’s a story for another day…

Here’s my attempt. Her face paint is too flat and getting her entire body to look smooth without an airbrush just wasn’t gonna happen without a lot more time.

I digress! Anyway, it’s all fun and games to tap your way into smaller repairs with your fingertips rather than an airbrush. But to tap an entire doll? DIFFICULT. I tried, went to bed, tried again and again, but NOPE. This just wasn’t going to work! Did I have anybody else that would do?

Luckily, with great success comes great competition. This is true now, and it was true back in the day. Enter the Madame Hendren doll company and PEACHES. She also has the molded bobbed hairdo and the crooked arm.

As you can see, Presley (II) arrived in pretty good shape – which I needed after the trials with Patsy. Her foot was broken was the main thing. Not bad at all…

Now, don’t you worry about a thing! Patsy will get her turn some day, she will! For now, she’s happily content to at least have two eyes she can see her many friends with.

It turns out, Peaches – now PRESLEY – was meant to be. I LOVE that she was discovered by my parents. What a perfect girl for Valentines Day, a celebration of love! My parents were married for 60 years before my father passed away about a year and a half after this garage sale. I miss him so much.

You never saw such a grateful girl! Dancing as well as her broken foot (since rebuilt) would allow her, so excited to finally get her turn! She helped me with Teddy when he was sick (bad dog food! It took me some trial and error and a good scare or two to discover this) and has an absolute heart of gold.

So now you know. Because of the delays, Presley won’t actually end until AFTER Valentines day. But Valentine’s day will come again! There’s always next year…

JUDE was adopted by…Adele M. of Castroville, Texas! If my count is correct, this is O.L.D. number THREE for her. Thank you, Adele!

And with that, I leave you! YOU ARE MY VALENTINE and YOU are my FAVORITE.

 

 

The ESSENTIALS

It’s said that waitresses are the best tippers. Having been a waitress myself many moons ago, I can tell you this is true! You understand how frantic it is when you get swamped, or the delicate line you have to toe when you have a very picky customer and a very grumpy cook.

I guess it’s another way of saying, “Before you criticize, walk a mile in another man’s shoes.”

Mail carriers and the post office in general are easily maligned. I confess myself to laughingly snipping to my sister Julie, who besides being the mayor of this here small town also works at the post office in our sister town of Pokey, that my mail was wet one day. Well, with one carrier out for maternity leave, and another out for an operation, Julie had to fill in during the busiest month of the year, December, with record breaking cold…in IOWA…

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 102, Jude the Mail Carrier and his little friend Zippy. You can see their adoption page HERE.

I call this the “Cliff Claven” look.

Jude is a 13″ composition Kewpie doll. That must have been one happy factory. So many times as I was working on him, trying on his hats and coats as I adjusted and sized, I would catch a glimpse of his smiling face and it was impossible not to smile myself. What a worthy soldier for this trying job of his!

You might look outside on a beautiful spring or fall day, when the temperatures are perfect, not to hot or too cold, and there’s a slight breeze, and the sun is shining, and here comes your mail carrier outside when you’re stuck inside at an office or in your sewing room. “Lucky carrier!’ you might think to yourself. “I wish it were my job to simply walk about!”

Jude comes with warmer temp delivery clothes as well.

Oh sure, it’s all fun and games when the weather’s nice. But in the searing heat of summer! In the frigid cold of winter! Not so. Especially this last December when warnings would scroll along the bottom of the screen of your TV. “STAY INDOORS” the warning warns, “DANGER OF FROSTBITE AFTER 30 MINUTES TO EXPOSED SKIN.” And below that a flashing list of school and church closings.

It was on a day such as this, with the actual temperature at -10, with the wind chill making the “feels like” three plus times that, that Julie had to leave the office job for which she was hired and deliver mail herself.

Note the chain. This is for the “relay boxes” dotted throughout the town.

 

 

“I hope I don’t quit, I hope I don’t quit,” Julie muttered to herself as she tried to grasp little envelopes with gloved hands and avoid falling on ice while peering for obscure house numbers in a town with which she’s not familiar.

Hours later she was shouting to the heavens through frozen lips, ‘I HOPE THEY FIRE ME! I HOPE THEY FIRE ME!”

Jude’s bag is filled with Valentine’s things, but he carries the bag year round. Think Christmas trees and candy canes, or flags, or spring flowers…the possibilities are endless!

Well, she didn’t quit, and she wasn’t fired. She continued trudging on delivering mail into the dark hours, sometimes through occasional tears. This is not a job for sissies. THIS is why she’s my hero. As are ALL those who deliver mail. THANK YOU, brave carriers! Jude is a tribute to YOU.

The reason this post is called “The Essentials” is because of a comment our own local carrier here in this wee town made. Several roads and highways were closed, there were dire warnings for travel and a lot of cars going into ditches. “Only the essentials are supposed to be out,” he said. “So I’ll be there…”

Bless him. You need that kind of spirit to do what mail carriers do.

I called Jude “Jude” after the Beatles song, “Hey Jude” and my mangling of the lyrics: So letter out and letter in and Letter into your heart and so forth. It seemed a worthy name.

Speaking of worthy, Louella De Nice was adopted by the VERY worthy Hillary P. of New York, NY! This makes EIGHT O.L.D.’s (and their occasional companions) for Hillary, if my count is correct. THANK YOU, Hillary!

And with that, I leave you! Be kind to each other, and to your local mail carrier! I know you already are – and that’s why you’re my favorite.

What Do YOU Think Of When You Hear The Number 101..?

I confess, I have over 100 Once-Loved Dolls already at my house, just waiting their turn. In the lulls between when a fresh face comes to my door (which are frequent), I’ll peek inside the bins where they raucously play as they wait their turn.

This time there was an unusual hush when I lifted the lid. All the O.L.D.’s contained therein looked at me with shining eyes and pointed their fingers downward. Curious, I set them aside one by one to see what – or WHO – they were pointing to.

“Hello!” I said to the naked little girl. “I remember you! I repaired your lip! That was a long time ago…” I could feel the eyes of the rest of the girls upon me. I glanced around before I looked back at that naked little girl, to the cheers of all the other dolls. “Would you like to be next?”

Thus begins the description of Louella De NICE, also known as O.L.D. No. 101. You can see her adoption page HERE. Our Louella is SO nice, the other dolls – who just as desperately would like their turn – spoke up on her behalf. Or at the very least, pointed.

And lucky for Louella, every time I happen upon fabric that is mainly black and white, I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a doll entirely in black and white. And what better time to do it than on the number 101, as in “101 Dalmatians”?

And isn’t it lucky for me that just like black and white are opposites, Louella’s personality is the opposite of Cruella De Vil’s?

Not to mention how much I love these little 13″ composition dolls, and it’s been so long since I’ve had one. Why, in the first 20 dolls alone there were THREE of these girls!

O.L.D. No. 1 (ONE!). Carol Jane

O.L.D. No. 7. Harriet Peabody, dead ringer for Hazel Twigg.

O.L.D. No. 20 Annie Oakley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I’m glad that this sweet little girl is finally getting her turn.

GOOD…

…VS. EVIL.

I confess, I had to make the second outfit in secret, because JULIE.

It’s no secret that I’m very, very slow. And I have unrealistic expectations of what I can accomplish in any given time. Julie helps to keep me in line by trying to sprinkle reality into my world. But she gave me a bunch of vintage wool sweaters that she’d purchased at thrift stores over the years, and I desperately wanted to give Louella a second outfit with a vintage cream one, complete with a little embroidery! So I DID IT. Without telling Julie! But you know what? Julie likes the second outfit best!

I have a new plan of attack to try and battle my slowness. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I like to watch movies over and over as I sew, kind of a background music for me. I’ll watch the same movie for months on end. Well, now I have a unit of measure for the hours I work! I’m currently watching “Misery.”

No, no! I’m not some dark and evil person, who enjoys watching innocent authors hobbled in the middle of the night! I’m just a fan of dark humor and Kathy Bates excellent portrayal of this well written character.

Even Louella’s watering can is black and white.

Anyway, “Misery” is 1 hour and 47 minutes and 29 seconds long. So if I work four “Misery”s a day, that’s about eight hours! Another favorite, “Phantom of the Opera” with GERARD BUTLER is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Three Phantoms would about do it! So far so good. Not that I was slacking off before, but now I can think to myself, “I’d like to get these buttons sewn on before Annie Wilkes spills the soup and loses her cool for the first time.” GENIUS. Har.

Hey! Michelle also happens to have one of my 13’s! This little Viking was one of my favorites. They all are, really…

Three cheers for the alumni of the Rolfe Community School! They got together and almost, almost won Mary Lou the vintage Cheerleader. I imagine there will be another Rolfe-themed doll in the future.

However! The person who won her is a faithful Hazel Twigg-er that we haven’t seen in a little while…Michelle E. of Hudson, Colorado! THANK YOU, Michelle!

And with that, I leave you! Pick GOOD when you can – unless there’s a little dark humor involved….You’re my favorite!

It Had To Be EWE.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time working when there are repair guys at my house. So while Resolution patiently waited a week or so ago, instead of working on her, I sorted through jewelry. I also contemplated What To Do for our 100th doll. 100! That is nothing to sneeze at…

“Are they done yet?” I murmured as I sorted. 

“Doesn’t sound like it,” Resolution whispered.

Suddenly I came across something that WASN’T jewelry. “1963 Rolfe, Iowa Centennial” the wooden nickel, pin and token cried.

“Centennial! That’s 100 years! 100! I’ve always wanted to do something Rolfe related! Now, where did I put that charm bracelet…?” 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 100! Her name is Mary Lou, and you can see her adoption page HERE.

You may wonder why I was in possession of things from Rolfe, Iowa’s Centennial celebration back in 1963, when I’ve only lived here 11 or so years. The reason is the generosity of people. I use a lot of things for my creations, and when people have things they don’t need, they frequently think of me. Aren’t I lucky? But I don’t consider these things mine to keep; my intention is to use them in my quest to help these lost dolls find new homes and new loves.

One of the bags that appeared at my door contained an old charm bracelet in a tangle of chains. It was red and gold, and it spelled out the words, “ROLFE HIGH” – with the exception of a missing “R”. No matter, I loved it! I knew I would use it for some special doll some day.

Clara H. sent me some nifty images, like the Rs on the left. A-hah! Pretty much a rectangle with some angles cut away. I could do that. Score!

The Rolfe Community School has long been demolished. Only the gym remains, and I’ve spent many a good time there. I can only imagine what the school must have been like!

Once Resolution was ready to go, I knew one of the the first things I had to do was to find that bracelet. Reader, I spent a DAY hunting every single place I could think of two or three times. NO LUCK. I was still going to do a Rolfe school doll (“Make her a cheerleader!” my wee sister demanded), but it would have to be without that bracelet.

Clara H. also sent the image of the beanie on the left. I used it as inspiration for Mary Lou’s beanie.

The other thing I did – in between hunting – was I went to the Rolfe Community School Facebook page to find out particulars. “What were the school colors?” I ask. “Red and gold,” I got back. Hey! Same as my high school back in Cedar City, Utah! But there are different shades of red. “Maroon or rust or red red?” I asked. “RED-RED,” was the reply.

I thought the mascot was a Lion. Turns out it’s a Ram! “And the girl’s teams are called “The Rammettes,” I was helpfully told.

I learned so much! I also asked for good luck wishes in finding that lost bracelet. The following day I wrote that I’d failed in my search.

“How’d you get that action shot?” my wee sister Julie asked. I fooled even her for a moment with my mad photo-shopping skills.

“Do you mean the Rolfe Ram bracelet?” a kind woman asked. “Yep! No matter, I’m doing the doll anyway.”

They were raccoon coats, and they were all the rage in the 1910’s and 20’s mostly.

HERE’S WHAT SHE RESPONDED: “If you’ll pm me your address, I’ll mail (mine) to you. ” I told her I would be giving it away, and she said, “That’s great. If it would give a little joy to someone, I don’t need to have it lying around in a drawer here.” Isn’t that wonderful? This woman’s name was Mary Lou. How fortuitous that doll No. 100 should have THE VERY SAME NAME. What a koinkidink!

You can’t see them well in this picture, but the buttons on this coat were given to me from my sister in law’s mother from England. That’s right! IMPORTED.

That bracelet made all the difference. I mean, I still would have done my best by Mary Lou, and those perspective adopters out there wouldn’t have known, but it would have bothered me not to include it!

But how to actually use it with the doll? I was reminded of those large fur coats that used to be all the rage with college boys back in the day. YES. That would do it. That with the beanie, and the pennant and the megaphone I’d already planned on making. The coat would be large enough that the bracelet would fit nicely. I sewed hooks on either side, just beneath the large collar.

It was fun to see all the reminiscing my questions sparked, which in turn sparked some of my own memories. There’s nothing like high school! It’s something we all share. I’d like to thank all the former Rams and Rammettes who helped me in my quest to complete this very special girl. You do Iowa proud!

Resolution was adopted by…Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas! A new face! Thank you, Gwen.

And with that I leave you, oh wonderful people of the world! You’re my favorite.

P.S. A “ewe” is a female ram/sheep. See what I did there?

Here’s A Resolution You Can KEEP

She was already pretty when she arrived, just a little filthy. Heaven knows where she’s been! Her wig turned noticeably brighter after it was cleaned.

Once again we have that chance to start anew. To make goals, and do our very best to achieve them. Here is a girl to represent those lofty aspirations…

Thus begins the description of O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 99. Ninety-Nine! The LAST of the double digit O.L.D.s! Her name is RESOLUTION. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Several months ago my dear friend Brenda posted a picture on my Facebook page of some dolls she thought were cute. I LOVED them! One of them even had one of my favorite things: A pointy hat. YESS!

I kept trying to get a doll based on that image into the mix, but other things and themes came up. I’m kind of glad now. Being No. 99 seems a very good place for her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I of course have to work with the materials I have on hand, so it’s not an *exact* copy. “Do the dress from the one on the right, and the hat from the one on the left!” my little sister cried. I of course listened to her, as I always do.

Resolution, or “Lucy,” as she likes to be called, is a 21″ Arranbee Nanette. I think this particular mold is the prettiest of all the compositions. TELL NO ONE. I’ve used it previously, although these may look a little different to you. Sometimes the smaller sizes are slightly different, or it can be amazing what a difference hair and eye color can make:

No. 43 Claire from “Outlander.”

No. 80 Geena from “A League of Their Own.”

No. 70 Claire II from “Outlander” (Season 2).

 

And of course, our Resolution needed some “street clothes” as well.

The brooch on her coat was discovered tucked away in the treadle sewing machine found in the house behind me that I purchased. That house had all kinds of treasures in it!

You can’t really see them, but besides the brooch, the coat also sports Victorian-era jet black glass buttons. Here’s a better view;

There’s a larger, faceted jet button on Lucy’s hat.

These buttons are treasures in themselves. The back loops are brass. You can tell the buttons are glass by tapping them against your teeth. Always a good time…

It’s taken me nearly four years to get from 1 – 99. I need to work so much faster! I have so many ideas just brimming over in my brain. So many dolls clamoring for their turn.

Which brings us back to Clara, who was adopted by…Linda L. of Portola Valley. Thank you again, Linda! That’s number FIVE.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! There are SO MANY things I want to accomplish. I have a feeling, and I’ll say it now, 2018 is going to be my year! I shall share it with you.

Know why? Because you’re my favorite.