Effanbee Anne Shirley
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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.
“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”!
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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!”
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…
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.
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.
“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!