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“Dot, be nice to Shirley.”
Then I had to laugh too. Shirley was trying to see her own “hat,” which was an overly thick acrylic replacement wig. She was flipping her head heavenward and trying to catch a glimpse. Somehow, her eyes could just never get there in time. I lifted her to look at herself in the hall tree mirror.
Reader, my heart sank. I knew that there wasn’t a Shirley Temple wig in my stash, and heaven knows when I’d ever get one! But this Shirley – whose first little human had named Billie – was so eager to go. I would have to come up with something…
Thus begins the description for Hazel Twigg O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 108, our little Billie and her hobby horse Bingo. You can see their adoption page HERE.
I was so excited to get to work on a little cowgirl as soon as the idea came to me from a little voice with equally tiny fists. Especially when I saw images like these:
What great spirit! Ten gallon hats! Fur chaps! FRINGE! But then I remembered: in 1936, the Ideal Toy Company, manufacturers of Shirley Temple dolls, had come out with a Shirley Temple cowgirl for the Texas Centennial.
The more I looked at that picture of the original Shirley Temple cowgirl doll, the more intimidated I became. She had been so well done! Any idea of mine on how she would look paled in comparison.
“One word,” that helpful little voice said when I called her in despair.
“What word is that?” I asked.
Which, and I’m no mathematician, is actually THREE words, but no matter! PHEW. I was inspired! And SAVED. And about to get a lot of holes in my fingernails. Embroidering leather is NOT for sissies!
“Rockabilly” is hard to define, but when I looked up images for that three worded phrase, up popped a definite style. Lots of embroidered flowers and the exact kind of free spirit of those black and white cowgirl images above.
And it’s a good thing this Shirley is only 13″ tall! I of course didn’t have small leather fringe laying around, so I had to cut it all. It was a little bit nerve racking: one false move, and your fringe would be missing a “tooth”!
The non-Shirley wig I found for Billie in my stash is a vintage human hair wig in braids. It was a little large for her and had to be adjusted, but I liked what the warm tone of it did for her.
So there you have her! I’d like to thank my sister Julie for giving me that boost, and my mom for sending me a care package that contained those snippy scissors. I LOVE those things! Thank you, Mom! And thank you all for being here. Truly.
And with that, I leave you! Happy “Spring,” we’ve been recently clobbered by snow and ice!
Hot or cold, you’re my favorite!
“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…
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.
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 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!
You know how it is. You’re halfway through sewing together a quilt-like coat based on the recent “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” TV Movie because you thought it was so sweet, and you decide that your doll needs a little something more. So you ask your sister, who is also The Mayor.
“What do you think I should also make for Shirley, a hat, or a guitar?”
“A HAT,” she immediately responded. She knows me. She knows I’ll toil for hours and hours over something unfamiliar, like a guitar, and that lately I do not have hours to give.
Thus begins my description for Shirley Temple as little Dolly. She’s O.L.D. No. 62 and you can see her adoption page HERE.
I truly enjoyed “Coat of Many Colors.” It was such a sweet and wholesome movie, along the lines of Little House on the Prairie, and you just don’t see much of that kind of thing on TV nowadays. I wanted to pay tribute.
Making the guitar was tricky. I only had enough materials to make ONE. So flaws and all, there it is! Fortunately, the guitar in the movie’s a little beat up as well.
When I completed her guitar and put her up for adoption, do you know what that wee Mayor said upon seeing her?
“She needs a hat.”
“Also,” she continued in her tinkly, fairy-like voice, “the hat should be blue.”
You’re not the boss of me! I silently shouted inside my head (because Santa’s watching especially close this time of year).
But then, all I could think of as I tried to find just the right color for her hat was, Blue. Blue, blue, blue…
I meant to do that all along.
So it’s obvious who the first two of the three legends referenced in the title are: Dolly Parton and Shirley Temple! Who’s the third?
The third legend is more literal! It’s the legend created for the map I made to guide me when I sewed together that coat. All 60+ tiny pieces featuring 11 different colors of it! I had to go with the fabrics I have on hand (and lucky for me, I have a LOT (although I’m still always craving more)), and then I had to figure out how to piece it all together so it would be as close as possible to the one in the movie.
I made a map of that coat, numbered all the different sized squares, assigned letters to each color, and then I made a legend for that map. Then it was just a matter of keeping track of each piece and sewing them in order. Good thing I love puzzles!
If you missed Coat of Many Colors the first time, I think it’s showing again Christmas night on NBC. Give it a gander, if you’d like.
And with that, I leave you!
MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH LOVE! You’re my favorite!
Tis a season for miracles, and two Shirley Temples in a row is a small one. O.L.D. No. 00024 has arrived and her name is…Shirley! As all Shirley’s are. You can see her adoption page HERE. This time I let The Mayor take charge.
For weeks now, she’s been asking me to make a doll with a pretty and formal gown. “A fairy!” she cried. “Or an angel! For Christmas!” she hollered. The reason I didn’t oblige her right away, this actual Mayor for our town of *nearly* 600 souls, is because I didn’t know how to sew tulle.
Tulle is that frothy, netty stuff that bride’s veils are made of. It was a small act of courage to stick a piece into my sewing machine and give it a try. Whatever would I do if my little machine broke? But it worked! And a Shirley Temple Fairy Angel was born. And The Mayor was silenced! For a little bit.
Shirley’s crown is made from an earring and a bracelet. It pangs me to take these pretty pieces of jewelry apart, it does. But I’ve learned to live in the moment, and the end result was worth it. Plus, I couldn’t find the other earring anyway and the bracelet was missing a stone…
Anyone who knows me knows I love wire hangers! I horde them because I fear that they’ll stop being made. Alas! They are not perfect for everything. For Shirley’s wings I needed a less heavy, more bendable wire. Enter the orange lawn flags that polka-dotted the city a year or so ago during a large rewiring project. Turns out it was up to us citizens to remove these flags from our lawns once the project was over.
Turns out that was a good thing. I noted the nice weight of them, the sturdiness and flexibility, little knowing how handy they would come in one day to one who lives in the middle of nowhere on limited funds who can’t just run out for “wing wire,” as I call it. I spray painted them silver and voila! Wing frames!
Shirley is always a joy to work with no matter what her state. I came upon this Shirley and last week’s Shirley at the same time, took their “Before” pictures at the same time and accidentally deleted them at the same time. So this picture was taken when I’d already cleaned her very dirty face. You can see evidence of her arrival state by looking at her wig, pre-washing. Shampoo, cream rinse and rag curlers make all the difference.
Well, wouldn’t you know? I just happened to have some old green velvet that would be just the thing!
But what about the dress beneath? Orange? Red?
“No red!” The Mayor insisted. Orange seemed too loud, so I chose brown polka-dots. The same fabric that Dot’s dress has been made up of from the very beginning.
Speaking of Dot and my book Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway, which is how all this started in the first place, there are exciting things afoot! I’m taking the next few weeks off to complete a long overdue task. What could that be? I mean, besides finishing the sorting of my buttons? Or cleaning my sewing room? THINK BIGGER. More info coming soon! AT LONG LAST.
As for O.L.D. No. 00023, Santa Shirley, Michelle E. is back in action and Shirley will be making her way to Colorado.
Who will get this next Shirley? We shall see! You can never have too many Shirleys!
And you can never have too many friends. I hope your Christmas season is going well, even as it goes too fast.
Happy Tuesday! 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!
Yesterday an icon died, and I can’t let that pass without saying farewell. One of the most – quite possibly the most – enduring dolls of all time is the Shirley Temple doll and it tickled me pink that the person this old composition doll was based on was still alive and kicking.
The Shirley Temple doll was popular for decades in many forms besides composition; vinyl, plastic and even porcelain. Of course I prefer the composition ones the most! But the vinyl ones of the late 50’s, early 60’s are a close second.
Shirley Temple was even mentioned at my father’s recent memorial. From my brother Dennis’ blog:
I think I’m gaining a greater appreciation for how the stories from our lives constantly work to shape us. As I was doing the research to prepare my father’s eulogy, I came across a few small, but life-shaping stories like that, most of which I didn’t know until I started my research.
Close Encounter with Shirley Temple
Sometime when dad was around 7 or 8, he lived in Palm Springs, which was at the time a playground for Hollywood stars. Once, dad and his parents were stuck in traffic on the town’s main street, when a whole crowd of people rounded the corner and crossed the street.
Suddenly Dennis saw Shirley Temple emerge from the crowd, and she touched their car as she walked by. I picture it happening in slow motion. I suspect that moment may have contributed greatly to dad’s life-long love of movies, a love he passed along to his kids.
I finally found the image that inspired the outfit made for a 13″ composition Shirley Temple doll that I had. I should have known! It was in my folder of favorite things. Here it is: