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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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
My heart went through a plethora of emotions upon seeing this little girl at my door. First, of course, was EXCITEMENT. I didn’t know if I’d ever see the day when an American Child would come strolling into my house! AT LAST!!
The next emotion was dismay. Honestly, 83% of the O.L.D.s (Once-Loved Dolls) that come here are naked and bald. But this one was different: Someone had loved this girl enough to remold nearly all her fingers, and then inexplicably put her away, most likely in an attic judging by the fly dirt. Without even a rag to protect her! All those years…
The final emotion was determination. To misquote Shakespeare, “If you prick me, am I not sawdust and glue?”
This girl, special and forlorn, deserved to be loved again no matter how daunting the task. So without further adieu…
Hazel Twigg No. 107 is an Effanbee American Child doll, and her name is Holly. You can see her adoption page HERE.
“American Child” dolls were manufactured in the 1930’s for about four years by the Effanbee doll company, who would later manufacture Anne Shirley dolls which were produced for 20 years, making the American Child doll’s much more rare.
There were six different face shapes in all. That combined with different hair and eye colors meant that little girls could have dolls that looked just like themselves!
They were also one of 17 dolls chosen for the “Classic American Dolls” postage stamps that came out in 1997. It had taken nearly 10 years to decide which dolls would make the cut, so you know they’re something special.
Segue alert! WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE.
As you may know, my sister Julie who is The Mayor also works at yon post office in Pokey, and I love old dolls! She tries to keep me realistic, bless her heart. I told her my plans for Holly.
“She does NOT need THREE DRESSES!”
This was the first time in months I had seen Julie for any length of time. Cold weather makes hermits of us all. I vaguely noted as I followed her tiny waving fists that her knuckles were almost as chappy as mine. It’s been a long winter here in Iowa.
Julie, sensing that my mind was elsewhere, jumped as high as she could, stretching her arms upwards as she tried to regain my attention. It worked.
“Huh,” I responded as I took in her rosy cheeks and snapping blue eyes. “I would’ve thought you’d be more upset by the two coats.”
“I AM!” This time she both waved her fists and stomped her feet. It was good to see her again. I’d forgotten how very cute and little she is.
She’s been right a lot in the past, but maybe this time she was wrong! I was determined to TRY. There was so much I wanted to do for this rare and unusual little girl.
Reader, I worked day and night. When I told Julie a few days before Holly’s adoption date what was left to be done, she said, “There will be other dolls!” (Meaning, “You can make those other things for THEM.”)
THE CURSE OF JULIE
It was 3:00 Easter Sunday afternoon and adoption time is 6:33. I’d been working since 5:00 in the morning, frantically finishing allll the little touches. I won’t tell you all the things I attempted and failed at, either due to lack of skill or time, but bless my heart, I tried! I touched base with Julie.
“I have to finish NOW. It’s not like taking pictures takes no time at all! All those outfits to change in and out of…”
“Another reason to whittle things down!” she replied.
I was giving the coat one last ironing. That lowest button would have to be lowered just a bit more – later. Where was that hat…?
Suddenly the smell of something burning accosted my nostrils. “Whatever could that be?” I wondered to myself. NoooOOooOOOoooo!!! IT WAS THE COAT. I had singed that beautiful wool! It wasn’t a mirage, it was there. PERMANENT. On the one panel that I’d done my first hand sewn buttonholes on!
“Plus, it matches the buttons!” kind Betty chimed in.
Well, there was nothing for it. I gathered the smoldering coat, found the hat that was laying nearby, as well as all of Holly’s clothes and my camera, and went into my photography/shipping room. I made that 6:33 adoption time by the skin of my teeth.
Maybe next time I’ll listen to Julie. Maybe…
Little Navy and smaller Bean were adopted by Gwen R. of Bedford, Texas! This is Gwen’s second O.L.D. Thank you so much, Gwen, it’s nice to see you again (POET)!
And with that, I leave you! Happy Wednesday, You’re my favorite.
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…
SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON:
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!
Ooh, it’s that time of year: Snow, snow, snow. And Christmas is coming! In strolled Victoria with her very pretty face and rosy cheeks. Why, she looked as if she’d been gallivanting in the meadow next door. And she had!
Meet Victoria! The Girl Who Built A Snowman In the Meadow. You can see her adoption page HERE.
Victoria is yet another Anne Shirley! I love this mold and have used it many times (do a search on this blog for “Anne Shirley” and you’ll see what I mean!). This particular girl – O.L.D. 60 – is of the 18″ variety.
Because it’s the Christmas season and perhaps triggered by Victoria’s name, I decided to create a Victorian-inspired outfit for her. And I wanted her to be doing something…wintery. Well, what’s more wintery than building a snowman? And guess what his name is? PARSON. See what I did there?
In the meadow we can build a snowman, then pretend that he is Parson Brown…
And thus begins The Snowman’s Tale: I didn’t want my snowman to be small. I wanted life-sized! Life-sized for an 18″ doll, that is. And I wanted his arms to be jointed, which meant he’d have to be fairly firmly stuffed. Readers, this portly fellow took every bit of batting I had in the house. Also, I ripped open a pillow. THAT kind of determination. I put some brown rice I had on hand at his base to keep him upright.
The snowman I’d chosen to model Parson was wearing a newspaper hat. Finding just the right newspaper was the very next step.
A friend, we shall call her Jennifer, for that is her name, saw that I’d used old newspapers in a previous O.L.D., and a few months ago she gave me a stack of newspapers from the now defunct Rolfe Arrow.
When I make a paper hat, I want it to be interesting. Plus, this is a happy time of year, so I want no depressing stories. I did several different tries, but you can’t always pick which headlines and articles will land where. Finally, I found the one that I wanted. It was from 1967. Here it is. I bet you can guess why someone saved it:
A happy story! I mean, it doesn’t seem like it at first, but it is in an unusual way! Plus, I love that it mentions Rolfe, which besides being my home is the town that Reliance in Hazel Twigg is based upon.
I was in a rush so didn’t read the article. I did happen to notice that on the inside of the hat there was a picture of the fortunate man’s unfortunate hat:
WHOA. And he LIVED.
Back to the snowman’s tale: the night before last I was at a friends barn with some other friends, including of course The Mayor. This is no ordinary barn. It’s filled with hunting trophies, memorabilia from old Rolfe, and all sorts of nifty things. Everywhere you look, there’s something to see! Except for its size, it’s very un-barnlike. It also had heat, and most importantly for that fine evening, a big screen TV. The Iowa Hawkeye game was on!
We were all talking, as people do, and my current doll came up in the conversation, along with her companion and his unusual hat. Well, guess what: IT WAS THE HOST’S OWN FATHER. Not only that, but framed up on the wall, surrounded by yellowed old newspaper clippings, was that very same hat. In the flesh – or the cloth, as it were.
So our little Parson – who is very big to Victoria – will be coming with a little bit of history of his own. And that is Parson’s Tale.
Raven, who was O.L.D. No. 59, never got her just dues! I had a post written in my head (Everybody Loves Raven) and everything! I just got too far behind to catch up. Luckily, she ended up in good hands: Michelle E. of Colorado! THANK YOU, Michelle!
And with that, I leave you! Happy Monday Eve, you’re my favorite.