I have no fashion worth discussing — but my dolls are well-dressed! I need to take better pictures, but there are so many. I get discouraged looking at all of them.
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 injected 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 (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.
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 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.
By the time you hit your retirement years, “play with” can take on an alarming tone. The problem is that our taste in fun has not changed, but we have. So even though we used to love formula racing, our aging bodies might not be up to the split-second timing required to handle them.
Some of us collect miniatures or just plain collect. Others of us see for a less perilous path to entertainment, foregoing mountain climbing, NASCAR racing, and deep-sea diving.
Then there are the rest of us who never did that in the first place. We have to give up other things, like powerful hallucinogenic drugs which don’t work well with pacemakers.
Fortunately, there’s a whole world of other stuff to try.
We have tons of art in the house. I like to think we also have a fair bit of truth, but if no one seems able to define truth, how in the world do you define “art?”
I collected dolls for years and antique Chinese porcelain … and for a long time, teapots and other oddities. Some people find the dolls creepy. I love them. We have paintings and photographic prints and small items that really are pretty, but currently (in this world) useless.
Pink is such a favored color by little girls, it’s no wonder that many of the dresses for dolls were in pink — or the second favorite — purple.
Each time I get one of these “Vintage” things, I think I should post pictures of Garry and I. We are definitely vintage, though today has been a yeoman’s effort at house cleaning — or at least cleaning the kitchen, living room, stairs, and foyer.
It would have been less strenuous if Gibbs has not thought this was a great time to go swimming in the water bowl. Each time I cleaned up the gallon or two of water all over the floor, I’d turn around and there was another gallon there. And of course, the water bowl was all full of mud and the VERY clean kitchen floor had his muddy footprints on them. So you could say we have a thrice cleaned kitchen and hallway floor.
This was the day I moved cabinets to get behind them (ew!) and under the feet (double ew!). Next time I have the courage of my convictions, I’ll move the piece in the middle where I store the pots and pans, as well as the dog, treats et al. It doesn’t get moved because it’s heavy. There’s a lot unloading of other things before we even think about moving it. Not an easy job for a couple younger than we and a huge job for us.
There are an awful lot of vintage things around this place, even discounting Garry and me as the primary vintage couple.
See the pictures for other vintage items and wave to us as the vintage couple who seem to collect stuff even older than we are. Old, older oldest?
What would be your ideal fantasy way to spend Monday?
You know, I’m retired so everyday is pretty much like every other day. If no one reminds me of what’s on TV, I don’t know what day it is. The only reason I know the date is because I schedule posts in advance.
Bringing me, briefly, to the subject of scheduling. Except for the little Daily Post in the morning, I schedule everything. Why? Because I am the typo queen and therefore, a ceaseless editor. There is a 50-50 chance that if I have enough time, I’ll find most of the typos and get rid of them before publication.
Reality? I miss at least half of the half and there are always typos or other errors at publication, no matter how much time I’ve left myself to edit. I don’t seem to be getting better, either. Worse, if anything. I forget to complete words, sometimes leaving out the final letter … or syllable. Most annoying, while my brain is thinking “write” my fingers are typing “right.”
How does that happen? Occasionally, what my fingers type has absolutely nothing to do with what I was thinking. I find that odd to say the least and if anyone has a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, I’d really like to hear it.
What one person that you are out of contact with would you like to say thank you to?
My fourth grade teacher who told me to write more and then, when I thought I’d written enough, encouraged me to write even more than that! She seemed to think I had a bit of talent, the dear.
List your favorite toys or games as a kid?
Dolls were my personal favorite and remarkably, still are. But games to be played with others? Monopoly was the first big one. but most card games were a hot second. By the time we (my little friends and I) were ten, we were playing bridge. Not well and with a lot of cheating — we showed our partner our cards. But we learned to play and eventually, we also learned to bid and in the end, I was a not-too-bad bridge player.
I played lots of board games over the years, from Parcheesi to Sorry. Clue was not a big one, maybe because it was a bit slow and I never enjoyed chess. I got so involved in planning future moves, I was usually dead be the third real move.
What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
We had a great time visiting Tom and Ellin.