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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.
So without further ado, meet Shirley Temple! O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 23. You can see her adoption page HERE.
I confess, I didn’t see this picture of Shirley Temple as Santa Claus until just last night, unfortunately. Do you see that fur around the bottoms of the real Shirley’s pants? Wish I’d thought of that! You’ll soon learn why.
Believe it or not, it takes me all week to do a doll. To clean her and do any repairs and then make two outfits plus accessories…Therefore I wanted one pair of shoes, which I also make using my stash of different colored leathers, that would work with both outfits. Black boots were required, because we decided Shirley should be dressed as Santa. It’s pretty hard to make boots that work with a dress!
Then I saw this picture of Shirley Temple from “Little Miss Marker.” It’s reportedly her favorite photo from her movie career. Yes, she’s wearing shoes and socks rather than boots, but the effect is the same and I liked it.
My plan in place, and with Shirley’s enthusiastic agreement, we went to work. The Santa pants would tuck into the boots and blouse over nicely and the boots would look good with this dress. Perfect!
But guess what? Turns out, if you make boots to fit snugly around a little girl’s ankles, they will NOT go around velvet pants! Oh sure, it seems obvious now…
If I have time, I’ll add some cuffs to the Santa pants, although I’m currently hard at work on the next O.L.D. She too will be adorable (I hope! I think!).
TRIXIE! Ah, Trixie. I was right, she was not everybody’s cup of tea and went for a song. The good news is that my sweet sister Carol, who lives in Arizona, was able to adopt her. Every now and then she bids when there’s an O.L.D. she likes. See? So there IS someone for everyone! And a bargain to boot! But JUST YOU WAIT:
And with that, I leave you. Merry Christmas! I’m going to be saying that as often as I can, because with the luck of the draw (and the calendar) this will be the second shortest Christmas season on record, darn the luck. Happy Wednesday! You’re my favorite!
I first posted Sophie’s tale a few weeks ago, but since it’s her turn to find a new home via ebay I thought I’d post it again for those who might come here to read more of her story. You can see her listing here:
Meet Sweet Sophie “The Faithful.” She was all set to leave me, and as with all of my dolls she was very excited to go to the place where she was needed most. Then, the night before she was supposed to go, we had a BAT ATTACK.
There I was, sleeping PEACEFULLY in my bed – or almost, when Ziiiipp!!! A dark shadow flittered past, breaking the constant stream of light between my eyelids and my Sponge Bob nightlight – er, the MOON. I knew instantly What It Was. And my heart started.
“Boom-BOOM Boom-BOOM Boom-BOOM Boom-BOOM!”…only, FASTER.
And I screamed. It sounded kind of funny though, because after a split second I was screaming through closed lips. The curse of a vivid imagination: Bats like caves. What if my mouth resembled a dark, cozy cave admidst my howling?
Read the rest of this page »
Now if you’re smart, and I think you are, you will notice there are four little maids in the picture. Ultimately, I will be dressing them all, but I’ll just do two – or three – at a time. Plus, I like “The Mikado” and was originally going to use three, but this last little girl snuck in at the last minute.
The reason I chose these four is because they’re each excellent examples of things I want to show during my first live broadcast this morning at noon eastern on Ustream. Yes! The thrill is undeniable!
The first girl is Effanbee’s Anne Shirley or Little Lady. Both dolls were from the same mold. Anne was named for the character in “Anne of Green Gables” and was made to resemble the young actress who played Anne in the movie series – and who I believe changed her name to Anne Shirley.
What makes this doll distinctive is that she has individual fingers rather than the usual cupped hands of most composition dolls. The problem with that is the fingers would frequently snapped off, as with this Anne. Either that or she really, really wants World Peace. I’m going to rebuild her fingers.
It won’t be the first time! I once had an Anne with her middle and ring fingers missing. I wrote in her description, “We think she’s trying to say, ‘I love you.’” Comedy GOLD!
The second girl is the one who snuck in, bald head and all. I love wig searches! I have a several shoe boxes full and it’s always fun to try different wigs on and see what would look best. She is no one special, just one of many of the unidentifiable dolls made by one of many doll manufacturers.
And on that note, we come to the third and largest. I believe she’s a “Special” doll by Madame Alexander. That’s her name! Her worst problem is terrible cracking and lifting on her shoulderplate, but I chose her because I’ve had another “Special” come through. See what difference a different wig and a slightly different paint job makes?
The fourth girl is exceptionally filthy. She is a Princess Elizabeth type. Back then, doll companies were swapping doll molds like little boys used to swap marbles!
If anyone out there has dirty composition dolls, I can show you an easy cleaning method using a common household item you may already have on hand, but that at the very least you can readily find. She also needs re-stringing, as her joints are a little loose. Good times.
So these are the victims! First the refurbishing, then the fabric choices and dress designs for each including coats, hats and shoes, and then I’ll be listing them on ebay so they can finally find good homes where they will be loved and enjoyed again! I’ll note their progress as I go here as well as on my show. Make-up! Wardrobe! Clapper! ACTION.
Fingers crossed that they turn out well. With a little magic and elbow grease, they will!