W.C. Fields

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She Came In Like A Wrecking Ball

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Ivy’s helmet is made from half a Styrofoam ball hollowed out and reinforced with chipboard. It’s covered in green leather.

We were languishing in the living room doing nothing in particular, when we heard a low rumble in the distance. The skies were perfectly crystal clear! But that rumbling grew louder and louder. We got up from our various spots and wandered to the windows, curious as to what was making that sound. Suddenly, CRASH.

“That came from the front door!” Betty said.

We opened it just in time to see a strange little girl, breathless with laughter as she got to her feet and brushed herself off… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 120, Poison Ivy, the Roller Derby girl. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Our Ivy is an early composition doll measuring about 15 1/2″. She’s a less expensive doll of her day. Can you imagine a doll that doesn’t cost much nowadays with a human hair wig and green tin eyes? And separate little inserted teeth (that scare my wee sister so mightily)?

The stripes on her shirt are from a dress my sister January sent me. I don’t think I’ll wear it now, not with all those chunks cut out of it…Ivy’s shin-high “spats” snap on from the back. There’s a “P” on one side of her ankle, and an “I” on the other.

A few days before Ivy arrived my own wee sister Julie, with her snapping blue eyes and rosy red cheeks, suggested doing a roller derby girl.

You can see where I got the inspiration for the leather patches at Ivy’s knees, hips and elbows.

“Too modern!” I immediately nipped that idea in the bud. But then came that rumbling sound advancing to my door. Hmm…

Turns out, the roller derby as we know it today was started in Chicago in the 1930’s. Skating events first started as marathon races to see who could skate the longest, etc. Then Leo Seltzer and Damon Runyon added physical contact and teamwork and voila! A new sport was born.

Even here in our own little Rolfe we have roller derby events come into town. They are well attended and fun to see.

The real “Poison Ivy” with W.C. Fields, who was a roller derby fan.

“Poison Ivy?” my mother cried. “That doesn’t sound like a very appealing name. Are you sure?”

“SURE I’m sure!” I answered back assuredly. “It’s a real roller derby girl’s name!”

Surprisingly, Julie said that I would need (NEED!) to do a second outfit for this girl. Something girlish for when she wasn’t skating. I of course was planning on doing one anyway. I knew a regular coat, hat and dress wouldn’t do. Not with Ivy’s boisterous personality! So I decided to do something a little…loud.

The flower buttons on Ivy’s coat were sent to me by my sister-in-law Suzanne’s mum, all the way from England. Thank you, Rosemary!

Gretchen was adopted by sweet Janey J. of Oakland, California. This is her SEVENTH O.L.D.! She also solved a mystery for me: if you look at the Registry for O.L.D.’s 61-80, you’ll see that I thought I’d completely skipped No. 79. Not so! For some reason, sweet 79 never got a post or even a mention. I’ll be fixing that on the table in a bit. Thank you, Janey!

In the meantime, O.L.D.’s Nos. 81-100 has just been added. I’m almost up to date.

And with that, I leave you! Happy derby, you’re my favorite.

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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!