RESTORING ANA MCGUFFEY

I collected dolls for years. Collecting is easy. Restoring is more of a challenge. Before I gave up collecting, I learned to restore my old dolls.

Up front, let me say that I’m not crafty. I can’t sew, crochet, knit, or carve. I can’t change the cartridges in my printer. I can write and I can take pictures. I can draw a bit. And I can cook. Otherwise, I’m pretty much a washout as a craftsperson. But I collected dolls for years. If you collect, there are things you need to do yourself because even if you have lots of money, finding someone else to do them is difficult … maybe impossible. I learned because I had no choice.

This is the best work I did. After Ana McGuffey, I pretty much stopped collecting and promptly forgot everything I ever knew. Use it or lose it.


Composition was the material favored by quality dollmakers such as American Character and Madame Alexander before the 1940s when hard plastic became the material of choice. The changeover from composition to hard plastic was gradual. Some composition dolls were produced as late as the 1950s, though not many.

Composition is basically sawdust, glue, varnish and paint.  It is a very good molding material, but it disintegrates over time. Dampness rots it. Excessive heat will destroy it. Time will have its way with it. Many dolls I love are old composition dolls. Finding these dolls in pristine condition can be impossible. If available, they are costly. Lacking money, I decided to learn to fix them. Old composition dolls in a state of deterioration are not difficult to acquire. If you can repair them yourself, you can get rare dolls for short money … but you will invest many long hours of yourself.

Ana McGuffey 4

Ana McGuffey (of the reader of the same name) was one of Madame Alexander’s most popular character dolls for decades, from the 1910s through the 1940s. Although her face changed with the times, she always had her hair in braids. She wore a pinafore with a floral print dress. Stocking and buttoned shoes.

I finally got a 20″ Ana McGuffey. Half of each foot was rotted away. The paint on her face was chipped and faded and her wig and clothing were gone. She was in pieces and needed restringing.

I replaced her feet by modeling them using a clay-like epoxy material. This stuff is used for modeling all kinds of stuff. It’s difficult to use, but forms a very hard, resin-like substance when it dries.

I restrung her, repainted her face — many failed attempts before I got it sort of right. I found a wig that looked like her original, though not the same material.

Her original wig was made of mohair. While you can get mohair wigs for restoring dolls, they are frightfully expensive and not particularly durable. I also don’t like the way they look, so I went with modern polyurethane. I made the dress and the pinafore. This is not an area in which I excel, but no one was making clothing for this doll. It was me or no dress. I could easily get dresses that would fit her, but they wouldn’t look like her original clothing. I wanted Ana to look close to her original.

She also needed a flowery straw hat and I’d gotten pretty good at buying plain hats and decorating them. I found the stocking and shoes that sufficed, though they weren’t quite what I wanted. I haven’t mastered making shoes, but all things considered I’m proud of this piece of work.

This is Ana McGuffey, Madame Alexander, circa 1930 – 1940. Restored by me.

VIEWS OF HOME – CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE WEEK 7

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2015 Week #7

Odd Ball Photos are those great photos that you take which really don’t seem to fit into a common category. These are parts of the room where I spend most of my time, where I have my laptop, the television, the dogs, and the comfortable furniture. It’s a good room to hang out and  a lot of visual “stuff” going on.

Views of my favorite room.

Sui musicians, very old, but still surprisingly cheerful ... and "Lil" by Evil Squirrel (Bill Brown)

Sui musicians, very old, but still surprisingly cheerful … and “Lil” by Evil Squirrel (Bill Brown)

Ana McGuffey

Ana McGuffey, one of the earliest and most popular of Madame Alexander’s girl dolls. From the 1940s.

Toni by Ideal ... back to back with Ana McGuffey

Toni by Ideal … back to back with Ana McGuffey

A view of the fireplace and mantel in winter's light

A view of the fireplace and mantle in winter’s light

 

AS THE YEAR DRAWS TO AN END – SHARING MY WORLD, WEEK 49

tree and dolls

CEE’S SHARE YOUR WORLD WEEK 49 – CLOSING IN ON A NEW YEAR

What is your preferred hot drink: coffee, tea, water, hot chocolate, or other?

Coffee still gets the number one sport. I like everything else too. Hot chocolate, tea, mulled cider … but coffee is my jump-start on the day.

Without it, I feel like I’m pushing my car up a hill that never ends. Lately, it’s vanilla-flavored coffee, but it may be hazelnut next week. Or plain Columbian bean. As long as it’s hot and fresh, I want it.

What was your favorite toy as a child  . . .  and now?

Annabelle

Annabelle

I was passionate about dolls and oddly, I still am. I have nearly 300 of them. On shelves, in boxes, in display cabinets. Most of them hard plastic dolls of the 1940s,1950s, and early 1960s.

A few older ones made of composite — basically sawdust and glue, which is what they made dolls from before hard plastic injection molding came of age.

Candy factories of the entire world have become one and will now be making only one kind of candy.

Which kind, if you were calling the shots?

Only ONE? That’s rough. I need two … one for dark chocolate, the other for crystallized ginger.

ginger-1

if I had to give up one of the two, I’d go with ginger. But I’d miss the chocolate. A lot.

Would you want $100,000 right now or $120,000 in a year (tax Free)?

I’d take it now. Because I could pay off all the bills leaving just the mortgage. I’d make up the remaining money in no time flat just by not having all those bills to pay. Life would get considerably easier here given a sizable infusion of cash. Very much easier and a lot more fun. Could you toss in a new car, too? With 4-wheel drive please?

ANY DAY

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Week 40

Thought I’d just offer a few “around the house” pictures. We haven’t put up our holiday decorations yet. I’m waiting for some of them to arrive. They are, I am assured, on their way.

No big tree this year.

window early december

We are going to go with the miniature, baby live pines. In the end, I got two of them: one for the living room, the other for the dining room. They are small enough to look good on the tables, big enough and decorative enough to add a festive look. Especially when we add the wrapped gifts with their ribbons and tags and all.

dolls and clutter pre christmas

So this is the house just before the holidays, after the Thanksgiving snow has melted and before the next storms arrive. A peace mini-interval between periods of busy and hectic!

flowers bouquet and camera bags

Soulful Machines — Machines, appliances, and gadgets sometimes feel like they have their own personalities — from quirky cars to dignified food processors. What’s the most “human” machine you own?


I’m looking around me house at the many machines that keep our life running more or less smoothly. I like some better than others. Use some more than others. Some are quirkier, require more coddling and even an occasional good talking to. But soulful?

72-two-girls

Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in this morning … but nothing seems to quite fit the bill. It all seems like plastic and metal and wires today. Except the dolls. They aren’t machines. They are toys, representation of people, mostly young girls. Dressed in pretty outfits. They are souls, I think, in a plastic smiley sort of way. Each a little different from the other.

Dolls and dulcimer

The dolls are everywhere in this house. In every room but the bathrooms and the kitchen. They line shelves, bookcases, any place a dolls might stand and they watch, their sweet faces forever set in a glassy-eyes look of happiness.

BEDROOM SOUTH 10

Not glee. I wouldn’t stand for a gleeful doll. Too “Bride of Chucky” for me. No, my girls — and some Action Figure Guys — are pleased with themselves, but nothing morbid. Nothing frightening. They are my plastic pals. I talk to them and at night, they whisper amongst themselves, making plans for their future.

I can hear them.

BEDROOM SOUTH 14

 

THE DOLLS HAVE IT

AT HOME – INWARD AND INSIDE

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girls in my office

It gets dark so early this time of year. After the ubiquitous “they” take away Daylight Savings Time, it’s dark by 4:30. Dawn is late too as the days shorten. I don’t understand the time change. I don’t see a purpose. Pick a time. Stay with it. I prefer DST because 5 o’clock is much too early for night. Makes us feel like mole people.

My office is dark much of the time anyway. It faces northwest, so it’s dark in the morning, bright for a few  afternoon hours, then dark again. Even in summertime, it’s shadowy.  I like it that way. Using a big monitor is difficult in sunlight. Too much reflection, eyestrain city. My world, my office — junk,  cameras, dolls, books, pens, papers and software — is dim and dusty. Full of lounging dogs hanging around in case I need to pet someone. Or just happen to drop a piece of food. Ever ready they are to make sure nothing edible escapes notice.

Garry’s office is next door. Brighter. He has two windows and the room is bigger — but there’s more in it. Huge bookcases and the futon for guests we never seem to have any more. Messy, like mine, though less of a paper storm. I do the bills, so a lot of rubble lands on my desk. Good it’s such a big desk.

Our offices are the most personal spaces in the house. Garry’s office is his turf. Occasionally we have a guest or two, then he has to clear the futon. But it’s rare. Still, having the bed there is important. I need to know we can welcome friends, that we have a special space for them. The welcome mat is still there, if infrequently used.

It’s a small world getting smaller with each added paper, camera, book and whatnot. Oddly, I don’t mind. It fits us. Eventually I’ll reorganize, put things in different places so it will seem less crowded, but really it’s life surrounding us. Papers you never need until you really need them. Papers you have to keep but don’t know why. Books you can’t bear to be without though you’ll never read them again.

We are surrounded by our memories. The lives we’ve lived, people we’ve known, places we’ve seen, work we’ve done. Photos and paintings and all the stuff over in the corner. I’m not sure what it is. It’s buried.

I’ll get to it. No, really. I will. Just not today.

Garry in his office

SMALL WORLDS