Lost Dolls

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The Royals

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The red-faced girl at the door with her arms full of clothes looked vaguely familiar. 

“Haven’t you already been through here?” I asked suspiciously as I relieved her of her burden and ushered her inside. I was secretly alarmed. Had she been rejected…?!

“I knew it!” she said triumphantly. “I KNEW you’d forgotten about us! I’m part of the Sewickley crew. You’ve kept us separate from the others, tucked away in a box in the shipping room…”

Reader, it was MY turn to be red-faced. I’d forgotten they were there…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 97, Heidi, who also happens to be part of the Sewickley crew. You can see her adoption page HERE.

That’s me on the left, Holly on the right.

My description for this particular girl is pretty lengthy.  I always figure if someone doesn’t want to read the flotsam and jetsam, they don’t have to as long as the pertinent points are easy to find.

Truthfully, I could have written pages and pages about this girl, and the memories she evokes! But here in this place, I’ll just write about one.

This memory has to do with my childhood and my best friend growing up, Holly. I’ve written about her here and there. She was my Julie before Julie was born.

Both Holly and my’s dads worked at the same place; The Church College of Hawaii, aka C.C.H., as it was known back then. It’s currently BYU, Hawaii. My father was in the college administration, her father was in maintenance. Both had perks to their positions: my dad would bring home reams of scratch paper. During church, I would kneel between the rows of pews, facing the back of the chapel, using the bench as my desk, and I would sketch the people behind me. At least I was quiet! Or Holly and I would make countless, countless paper dolls with an infinite number of outfits for each that we would design our very own selves.

The perks from Holly’s dad was movies. Laie, Hawaii where C.C.H. was located was a very small town on the north shore of Oahu. There were no movie theaters and this was long before the luxuries of Blockbuster (who?) and VHS. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to watch whatever was on the three whole channels of TV, and that was IT.

Enter Herb, Holly’s dad. The college would occasionally show movies in the auditorium. For .25 you could go see an old movie, like “The Wizard of Oz,” or “Pollyanna.” Besides being a character, Herb was a very resourceful fellow; he was able to get a projector and movies and bring them home for Holly and I to watch. Just we two! It’s hard to remember a time before instant streaming and downloads. Back then, getting to watch a movie at a time of your own choosing in the comfort of your own home was HUGE. HUGE.

 

One of my favorites was “Heidi” with Shirley Temple. For some reason, a scene stuck out in my mind that I’ve always been taken with: on her way to meet her mean old grandfather for the first time, Heidi doesn’t have a suitcase. So not only are her arms full of clothes, but she’s wearing lots of outfits layered one on top of the other. She gets hot and drops her pile in the middle of the street and starts pulling off sweaters and endless skirts. I just thought it was the niftiest thing.

Enter O.L.D. No. 97! When the Sewickley crew arrived, not only were there the nine dolls, there were tons of doll clothes and some fabric and trims. One wonderful Sunday I got to sit in bed surrounded by these recent arrivals and go through the clothes and see who fit what. Heidi made out like a bandit.

I made the coat, the hat and the carpet bag. Other than that…

A BANDIT.

Here I made the red velvet hat to go with the blue velvet outfit, as well as the robe and the bunny slippers.

I have a soft spot for the name “Heidi.” Not just because of the movie, but also because my best friend Holly has a sister named Heidi. Our O.L.D. Heidi has Holly’s unusual coloring of brown eyes and blonde hair. And she has a lot of clothes and a place to go and no suitcase to put them in.

It’s been a pleasure and a series of wonderful flashbacks working on this doll. Of two little girls who got to eat popcorn or homemade anise candy or lime slush in the formal living room and watch flickering scenes of magic whenever our hearts desired. Royalty couldn’t have had it better. Thank you, Heidi! Thank you, Holly! Thank you, Herb!

And thank you to a new face, Carmen Z. of Toledo, Ohio who gave Mary Ellen a home! Turns out, there’s a doll club in Toledo, and they recently had a Hazel Twigg program where those that had ’em, brought ’em for the others to see! How nifty is that? I tell you, it tickles me pink.

As do YOU. Know why? ‘Cause you’re my favorite!

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Forever M.E. With Love

We’ve got this whole “lost doll coming to the Hideaway” thing down pretty well!

“Name?” Hazel said with a friendly smile, getting ready to scribble down information in her notebook. 

“Mary Ellen,” the sweet new arrival replied.

I said, “Good night, Mary Ellen!” Only to find Hazel and the other dolls looking at me quizzically, which was understandable. It was full daylight outside. 

“It’s from an old TV show. Before your time, I guess” I said, looking at Hazel. I laughed as I looked at the dolls, “and AFTER yours…”

“You’re going to make her a nightgown for nighttime, and then a dress for day!” Hazel exclaimed. She likes to try to figure out what I’m going to do for each doll. Good night. Nightgown. And of course Mary Ellen would need something for daytime. I could see where Hazel was coming from. But I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to do a different sort of extreme…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 96, Mary Ellen. You can see her adoption page HERE.

This girl has so many levels! First of all, her initials are M.E., and as her clothing morphed, I realized I was making a summer outfit and a winter outfit! See where I’m going here? Yeah, Julie didn’t either. Well, a song from my favorite album of all time is “Summer Me, Winter Me”!

COCO CHANEL: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” ME: NO!

And with your kisses morning me,      evening me
And as the world sleeps far away, star away
Forever me with love…

I LOVE that song! I love that album! I guess at this point in time, it’s a little obscure…But come to think of it, I’m positive I would put this record on when Julie and I would bake cookies together growing up.

JULIE vs. RUTH. Creamy vs. Extra Crunchy. Colgate vs. Crest. Yet still, we get along…

The dress Mary Ellen’s wearing for summer was initially going to be the dress she wore with the gray coat, but it just wasn’t fitting in its style. So I decided to use it for a more summery look, and make a second dress to go with the winter coat.

As I worked on the winter outfit and kept adding and adding, it occurred to me that not only would Coco Chanel not approve of my styling’s for M.E.’s winter look, with her velvet muff hanging from a chain, the beaded necklace, the deep red stockings…but also that the contrast between summer and winter were a lot like my sister Julie – freshly minted third term mayor, thankyouverymuch – and myself.

That summer dress is absolutely Julie’s favorite colors, green and blue on a predominately white background. The outfit itself: simplicity.

M.E.’s summer hat is made from one of those straw placemats you occasionally see in thrift stores. Just cut a hole for the head, and another for the size brim you want, a few nail-biting moments while you sew trim around, and voila!

This hat was easy. A velvet circle, six even scallops on the gray, and some silk upholstery fabric remnant flowers. It’s lined, of course. Mustn’t muss the mussy hair!

Whereas the winter outfit is more like me: a somewhat gaudy, gypsy style. “Take one thing off,” Ms. Chanel? I THINK NOT. What can I add?

Not only that, but if I had to pick a single season, it would be winter. Julie likes summer best. Which is nice, because as long as one of us is happy, we’re both happy.

I often marvel at the way things work; the wonderful way the world functions.

Witness the seasons: Winter solstice takes place a few days before Christmas. That’s when it’s the shortest daylight of the year. After that, the days get longer and longer. This makes BOTH Julie and me happy: me because I know there’s still a lot of winter left and Christmas is almost here, Julie because the days are getting longer. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Also, Christmas is almost here.

You can read about M.E.’s finger fiasco HERE.

I don’t know what I’d do without Julie. She’s my brain and helps me keep track of the practical things when my mind is off on some odd tangent. She has troubles of her own, yet patiently helps me deal with mine. We’ve made a pact to give each other unconditional love, which we do. It’s good to have that in your life. Thank you, Julie! Summer, Winter, simple, gaudy, I’m glad you were born!

I’ll wrap you up and ribbon you, rainbow you
And shower you with shine…
…Always be mine

Flying Ace J.P. was adopted by…Martha B. of Chantilly, Virginia. A new face! J.P. arrived there safely after a long flight, and is happy in his new home. Thank you, Martha!

And with that, I leave you! Next to Julie, you’re my favorite. And THAT is saying something.

First, Do No – WHOOPS!

When you handle as many of these O.L.D.’s as I do, you’re bound to have a mishap now and then.

I have a doll up for adoption. This isn’t her “official” post, but if you like, you can see her page HERE.

When she arrived, it was only upon closer inspection while cleaning her that I discovered that some of her fingers had been broken and reglued, and others had been completely rebuilt! I’m happy to say it wasn’t a bad job, but the angle was slightly off on one, and another was a little too short…hmm….to fix or not to fix?

I had her two little arms in one hand and was taking pictures with the other to ask another Holder her opinion, when CRASH. I dropped her arms! Two of her little fingers broke off! “No problem,” I thought confidently. “This isn’t my first rodeo with DeWees Cochran hands,” I said snootily to myself, preening because I knew what these types of hands are called – even though there was no one around to witness my brilliance.

To rebuild fingers, it’s a good idea to insert a pin into the stub for strength. Have you ever tried to hang a picture in an old house, only to have the hammer practically bounce back into your face because the wall’s so hard? This Anne Shirley’s fingers are IMPENETRABLE. I was going to need a drill bit. A really, really small one.

Here is the story in picture and song. Also, I’m probably dancing…

Here are the hands BEFORE. See? Not a bad job! The pinky on the left hand was a little stubby, and the ring finger on the right was at a slightly off angle. But not a bad job at all…

AFTER THE WHOOPS. Dingity, dangity…And, to add insult to injury, I LOST THE RIGHT PINKY, which was original and reglued!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That pin just bent and scratched the heck outta me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I usually insert stronger-than-normal pins that I’m able to “drill” in by hand. But as small as this drill bit was, it required a thicker piece of wire. I used a lawn flag thingy…

While I was at it, I sanded the slightly stubby left pinky so I could adjust the angle. Note the inserted wires are curved, because Dewees Cochran fingers are curved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After rebuilding. I use an epoxy called Milliput. It’s from jolly old England.

HANDY TIP: Emery boards are AWESOME for rebuilding fingers. They’re thin to fit in between, and rigid for maneuverability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HANDY TIP: These types of hands have a clear-ish, orangey nail polish. To achieve this, just mix some orange paint in the right shade with a little craft varnish. Voila!

SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON:

So now the left pinky is a little longer and at a better angle than before.

The ring finger is slimmer and longer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was it worth the extra effort? I secretly don’t think so. If I could pull a Cher and turn back time, and NOT drop those poor little hands, I would do so. Glass half full, practice makes perfect. Yessirree, a few dozen more dropped hands, and I’ll have these hands down to a T.

You’re my favorite!

 

Let’s Hear It For The BOY!

We were playing in the attic, as we frequently do while waiting for the next Once-Loved Doll to appear. Out of nowhere, I heard a whirring noise. I looked up and saw something zooming around. Of course I assumed it was a bat. Hazel and her little friends were too engrossed with a trunk they were exploring to notice. I forced myself to remain calm as I calculated how long it would take us to get to the stairs if we crawled really, really fast. I steeled myself to look more closely at the flying creature and was relieved and surprised to see that it was actually an old metal plane come to life.

“What on earth?!” I exclaimed.

Just then, far below from the first floor, there was a loud and insistent banging at the door… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 95, J.P. the Flying Ace! You can see his adoption page HERE.

J.P. had a bit of a false start. After 94 dolls, NINETY-FOUR mind you! Ebay says I can’t put “HazelTwigg.com” on my pictures, or say, “Like Hazel Twigg on Facebook…” so after three days, they took my original adoption page down. HMPF. Well, I can understand why, I guess, but…HMPF!

So stinkin’ CUTE.

No matter! He’s back now. The ORIGINAL J.P. is my darling nephew, son of my brother Kenny. Ever since I saw him dressed as a flying ace in my other brother Dennis’s award-winning short film, “The Girl Who Wanted To Do Something Big,” I wanted to do a flying ace. I was just waiting for the right guy to come along…

He finally did. Our J.P. is a Schoenhut all wood doll. He arrived bald, with his eyes repainted, and some chipping and a big blob of hardened glue on his forehead, poor fellow! It was a daunting task, but I got the glue off, filled in his forehead, and repainted his eyes to look more like they originally would have. I was also lucky enough to find a really great wig for him in my stash.

While researching the flying aces of WWI and WWII, I learned so much, especially from this article. Namely, about the leather bomber jackets they wore. They were called A-2’s, and each airman personalized their own, painting images onto the back of the jacket, and adding painted leather patches to the fronts and sleeves.

More important was what was inside. No, not just then men themselves (that goes without saying), I’m talking about their Blood Chits. A Chit is a notice an airman would wear on the inside of his jacket. It would have the flag of the country they were in, with a notice written in the local language.  The Blood Chit states that the bearer of the Chit is American, requires assistance, and that those who help the soldier or pilot will be rewarded for their service.

Also, when the men discovered that having an American flag on the backs of their jackets made them easier targets, they started wearing them on the inside, near their hearts. It makes me so proud and grateful to think of their great spirit!

These are all based on actual patches. Note the “95” on the top center patch.

I now have a jar of capers in my fridge with a tinfoil lid.

 

Our J.P.’s jacket is made from a Wilson’s leather jacket, and I hand painted each of the patches as well as the image on the back and the blood chit and American flag with 48 stars, which was the number of stars at the time. The jacket alone took me four days! The helmet was made from the same Wilson jacket, dyed with a combination of Old English furniture oil, and craft paints in burnt umber with a touch of black because I didn’t want the jacket and hat to exactly match. For the ear inserts, I used two lids from jars of capers from our local grocery store. I love a good caper! I then sanded it for wear.

Here’s J.P. with his sister, sweet Sophie, aka the model for the Hazel Twigg logo.

J.P.’s cap is plaid wool.

As with all my O.L.D.’s, if I can, I like to give them an additional outfit. So…where to go for inspiration, I wonder? BACK TO NEPHEW J.P. There’s a photo of him I adore. It could have been from a different era! In it, he wore a cap. I remembered as I sewed that my dad used to wear one just like it. Imagine my pleasure when I discovered after talking to my mom, that the hat J.P. is wearing in the photo IS my father’s!

It’s called a “flat cap” or a “driving cap,” and I found a useful pattern and tutorial HERE.

I also cut up a sweater to make a sweater for our J.P. “Put leather patches on the elbows!” my wee little sister cried. So I did, although you can’t see them here.

Working on J.P. has been a labor of love and joy and tribute for not just my nephew, but for all who have served, and what better time than when Veteran’s day is almost upon us? Thank you, Veterans.

Meanwhile, O.L.D. No. 94 Aubrey the Autumn Fairy was adopted by Linda L. of Portola Valley, California. If memory (and my search engine) serves me correctly, this is Hazel Twigg doll number three for her. Thank you, Linda!

And with that, I leave you! Veteran’s Day is a November 11th. Thank a Veteran, if’n you get a chance, and HAPPY FRIDAY! You’re my FAVORITE.

My favorite veteran, and my favorite mom. Side by side for 60+ years.

If Ever I Would *LEAF You

I don’t see it, the scariness. Oh sure, her hair’s a little messy, but so’s mine, and I’M not a Halloween prop! Or am I? Oh dear…

A lot of dolls have come to my house over the years, to the point where I can tell a LOT about a doll simply by her knock. Most knocks express excitement by these little girls, knowing that they’ll soon have a chance to be loved again. 

This knock however was different. It was sad. I couldn’t get the door open fast enough. There stood this little doll, and she was weeping. I asked her what was wrong.

Nothing lifts a girls spirit more than some wings and a wand! And a few little curls.

“I found myself at a table surrounded by lots of other things, and I overheard an adult human talking…”

At this point, she stopped and blew her nose and bowed her head.

“What did the adult human say?” I asked, my heart breaking just a little bit for this little girl.

“They said I was creepy and scary, and that I’d be a good prop for Halloween!” 

WELL. There was certainly something I could do about THAT…

Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 94. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I had so much fun working on our Aubrey, because she was so grateful for each little thing! She didn’t need *too* much in the way of work. The toes on her right foot had been nibbled off by mice. Her arm had been exposed to water and had “melted” a little bit. That doesn’t make her a witch!

INSPIRATION PHOTO

I think the main reason she was perceived as scary was because of her hair the the dirt that had formed in her eyes. Her wig was so firmly glued on that it would have been nearly impossible to remove without destroying it. Turns out, it was filthy in addition to being messy, so I used the Windex method to clean it. Namely, you spritz a wig with Windex avoiding a doll’s skin, and you blot it with paper towels.

Sometimes you can’t tell how much dirt you’re getting off because the towel is wet with Windex so it doesn’t show. For my own satisfaction, I took that damp paper towel and IRONED it so I could better see the dirt. YESS. Satisfying.

I then curled her wig with Spoolies and a little small barrel curling iron touch up.

Aubrey has a crown and an acorn sceptre-wand for granting wishes, but my favorite thing that led me to wanting to make her into an Autumn Fairy was the idea of LEAFS as WINGS. How clever is that? Now the trick was to find some good leaves. My kind neighbor gave me some, but I needed a few more. What to do…?

I’ve asked if I could buy one of their baskets, which look very similar to this one with the fabric sides that collapse and the metal handle. Alas, no dice.

ENTER the V&S Variety Store. I LOVE that place! It’s in Humboldt, Iowa which has a population of about 4,800. So pretty big in comparison to Rolfe. It’s not too far away, about 30 minutes, and there you can find all sorts of things that you wouldn’t find anyplace else. It’s like stepping back in time! Possibly not on purpose, even. More like good old fashioned Iowa thriftiness. If it’s not worn out, why throw it away? Even the shopping baskets are treasures!

They have candies I haven’t seen in years, and little toys, and cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes, and fabrics! A very nice couple run it, and I get a lot of joy in my heart anytime I can sneak over to Humboldt and see what’s new there. Come to think of it, the fabric for Aubrey’s dress came from V&S!

There’s the coat from my YouTube video tutorial, there’s the dress with the fabric from V&S, and there’s a better view of the leaf wings.

So with a little vintage magic – and a little help from my friends, our girl Aubrey is ready to conquer the world. Perhaps more importantly, she’s ready to conquer HALLOWEEN. Not creepy, not scary, certainly not a prop! Just a little girl who wants to be loved…

Here’s a “living” before and “after.”

A hearty thank you to those who gave my three dolls last week good homes. Agnes A. of Carrollton, PA, Corinne S. of Lexington, MA, and Dennis Z. of Kirksville, MO. Much appreciated!

With that, I leaf you! And even if your hair is a fright, you’re STILL my favorite.

*The title of this blog post came to me as I was working on Aubrey. “If Ever I Would LEAF You” – get it? From that song in ‘Camelot’ with “leaf” instead of “leave”?! Comedy GOLD!

It takes very little to entertain me. I even called my beloved mother and cackled to her about it. Yep.

It Had To Be You. Her. IT.

DEJA VU:

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.”

Thus began the description for HazelTwigg No. 91. Sharp-eyed readers may notice that THIS particular girl is 93! When I did a bathing beauty two dolls and many moons ago, I picked one that I liked, but as my sister asked, “Why didn’t you just do your favorite?”

The ORIGINAL Marvel Rea. She looks a little wistful here, doesn’t she?

Well, it’s never too late, even as the Summer of 2017, around 100 years after the black and white photo you see was taken, has come to an end…

THUS begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. No. 93, Marvel Rea. You can see her adoption page HERE.

As mentioned in my previous post, a lot of these Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties were nameless. However! If you want to find anything, simply check out the internet. There’s even a Facebook page devoted to these particular beauties.

I learned that my particular girl has been identified. She’s Marvel Rae. I love the name Marvel!

Unfortunately, bathing beauty Marvel had a tragic life and died at a young age. I debated not making her and moving onto something else, but I’d been thinking about her all summer. IT HAD TO BE HER.

See those diamonds and circles? Figuring out how to do that was a time-consuming ponder.

To portray Marvel I needed a special doll. A unique mold I don’t think I’ve used before. One girl in the crowd kept calling out to me.

It may not look like much, but when you remove the rest of the lifted skin, the space you have to repair becomes that much larger.

But she had one of my least favorite things to fix: lifting and chipping around her eyes. In the past I’ve even started on a doll with this problem, gotten frustrated, and moved onto someone else with you being nary the wiser.

This took hours. The first time I did it, I was working on her and it kept bothering me because I wasn’t happy with the results. The second time? BETTER. I could focus on HER.

I looked and looked, but no other doll would do. She simply captured the uniqueness that was Marvel. IT HAD TO BE HER.

Our Marvel was a redhead, so I wanted something extra special for her alternative outfit because redheads are rare.

“The bathing suit’s enough!” my sister Julie cried, waving her tiny fists. She only wants what’s best for me. She knows how slow I am at sewing – and how productive I need to be. But I had some recently received fabric that came to me by way of angels including one piece of pink woven fabric. I love pink on redheads. IT HAD TO DO IT.

A few months ago my friend Cindy D.K. saw a post from a friend of hers who was clearing out her studio and generously put the word out on Facebook asking if anyone wanted some of the studio’s contents.

GUESS WHAT THAT STUDIO CONTAINED? Fabric. This woman’s name is Peggy Estridge Latta, and she creates the most exquisite and beautiful miniature gowns I have ever seen. You can see them at her site, Heirloom Textile Art.

Peggy had several people clamoring politely for different things, and bless friend Cindy’s heart, she kindly clamored on my behalf. When  Peggy asked, “What kind of fabric does she use?” Cindy directed her to this here site to see some of my work.

The beautiful velvet used for the hat and scarf were from Peggy too.

You can tell a lot about an artist’s talent by their instincts. Peggy got me to a T, as if she’d known me for years.

Peggy lives in Indiana. So does Cindy’s mom, Waneta. Peggy gave the fabric to Waneta who brought the fabric to Cindy who brought it to me. GORGEOUS silks and wools and velvets in all kinds of colors, including the pink weave I used for Marvel’s coat, which Peggy found it at a thrift store in the form of a jacket. She’s a kindred spirit!

I had been worried that I would have a hard time coming up with new themes each week. Now I have themes GALORE. I know what I’m doing for the next several dolls. THANK YOU, lovely ladies.

Speaking of the coat, I have a new video up on YouTube. It’s called, “Hazel Twigg Says Let’s Make a Vintage Doll Coat!” It’s been awhile since I’ve done one, as you can see…

And with that, I leave you! Happy Fall and new beginnings! You’re my favorite.

A Burgeoning Bevy of Bathing Beauties…

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!

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!