Monday, August 2, 2010

Tenth Anniversary: Just About Dolls Club Birthday Party Gifts

I've been in the land of dolly overload this past week and it's been wonderful.  Our doll club passed the tenth year anniversary in June, and this demanded a momentous celebration.  So on Wednesday, our members and a few guests gathered in my home for a special celebration, including a luncheon and a huge doll and doll accessory give-a-way.  It was a great big happy-birthday-to-us, including a birthday cake with ten candles. 

One of the give-a-way choices: Amanda, a bisque doll  (c. 1988 - 1990) designed by Yolanda Bello and made by the Edwin Knowles company and sold by Ashton Drake.  Amanda is missing her small red blanket and alphabet blocks, and came to us in need of basic cleanup.  (Click on the photo for a larger image.)  Her garments were washed and pressed, elastic replaced in her underpants, and the bisque was cleaned.  Amanda is one of the dolls in the "Picture Perfect Babies" series designed by Yolanda Bello, and many of the babies in this series are quite popular with collectors of modern porcelain dolls.  If you like them, you can find them for sale on eBay, including dolls that have never been displayed.

We also had lots of used vinyl play dolls as give-a-way choices, and it is amazing how attractive such dolls can be if they are rescued from their forlorn tatters and brought back to something that resembles their original cuteness.  Big Baby Betsy Wetsy by Ideal (c. 1959-1960) and Baby Squeezums by Horsman (c. 1978 - 1979), are two such dolls.  Betsy Wetsy is dressed in a very well made two piece garment that was made by one of our club members, and is wearing a vintage baby bonnet.  Baby Squeezums had no clothing, and after trying out several different outfits, it was decided that she would look best in this dress but we had to modify the sleeves to fit her properly.  Restoration Tip: The better the clothing fits the doll, the more desirable it will look.

Both dolls needed extensive cleaning and new clothing, and although we were not able to restore their wigs to look like they did when they were new, we did achieve an acceptable condition that was enhanced by the use of baby hats.

Doll Restoraion Tip: We use Formula 911 made by Twin Pines to clean vinyl dolls because it works so well, but other cleaners are acceptable as long as they don't contain chlorine bleach or abrasive compounds.  Avoid getting water inside of dolls that cannot be adequately ventilated for complete drying.  Vinyl dolls can often be taken apart, making through cleaning an easier task.

You can find a photo and information about Baby Squeezums in the book shown on the left, page 66.  She is 15 inches tall, and squeeks when her arm or leg is squeezed, forcing air through a groment in an upper leg.  She was originally dressed in a very cute red and ecru dress, with a red, brimmed hat, and it would be lovely to find this dress and hat somewhere out in the secondary resell market, but probably an impossible task.

We also had a Bradley Doll - take a look at the eye painting close-up by clicking on the photo.  You can read more about these dolls at this link:

Bradley dolls are designed to be the kind of doll a girl puts in her room and admires.  They appear to be formed from a light weight plastic foam, covered with a net material that resembles nylon stockings.  A base is included, and the doll feet fit onto the base to support the doll.  The petticoat includes a hoop, and the overall impression is one of a doll that is assembled in an inexpensive way, but the fancy dresses and hats, the unusual painting style, and the general presentation seems to wow people who like these dolls.  It is interesting to note that each finger is separate, and they are somewhat pliable and can be molded around an item, such as a bunch of flowers.  This doll came to us in good but very dusty condition.  She was vacuumed using a pressure reducing mini-tool set, and her dress was lightly wiped with a damp microfiber cloth.  Her face and shoulders were also blotted with a damp microfiber cloth wrapped around an index finger, and it was rewarding to see the ground- in dirt being transferred to the cloth and the doll become cleaner and cleaner.

Other dolls included a small "Good Luck" doll from Japan in her original dress with added strawberry patch, a Horsman Ruthie from 1967, and an unmarked vinyl child doll that we dressed in casual summer clothing.  All three of these dolls are vinyl.  Ruthie is also in her original dress.

This doll turned out much prettier then we had hoped when we first saw her.  My mother-in-law found her in a thrift shop, without any clothing, and she has a beautiful head with a full wig of cascading curls but a skinny, ugly cloth body that looked even more ridiculous with the large head perched upon it.  I redressed her in an outfit that I removed from an all bisque doll because the outfit needed adjustments and did not suit the bisque doll.  After cleaning, altering and correcting some mistakes in the garment construction, and placing it upon this doll's body, I though she looked quite charming.  The doll is marked "Collector's Choice" and was originally an inexpensive doll.  With dolls like this, there is nothing to lose when one tries to improve them, and in this case, the altered doll had many admirers at our party, even though almost everyone realized it was an inexpensive doll when new and I told them about the ugly body underneath the clothing.
I bought these two cute cloth dolls online at the Goodwill  website.  They came to me in almost perfect condition, just needing a little cleaning.  I greatly admire the handwork that someone has lovingly expended upon these dolls, and wonder how they ended up in a thrift shop sale.  The shoes have been cleverly made of plastic canvas, with wool yarn stitched over the canvas threads to create the fabric and pattern of the shoes.  They make an adorable twin set, and although several people called them Raggedy Ann and Andy, they are not.  They appear to be safe for a child under three years old, and lend a whimsical, colorful aesthetic to a display of dolls.  All of our dolls included the doll stands, since we wanted everyone to be able to display the dolls safely and easily. 
We also had a vintage carnival monkey, made from real fur and felt on a wire armature, a redressed Ideal Velvet grow-hair doll, and a sweet vinyl Horsman unidentified baby doll with uplifted hands and cloth body.  Velvet is dressed in a granny-style dress that was popular in the 1970s, and the Horsman baby doll was also redressed.  These are some of the dolls that our party celebrants took home with them, along with paper dolls and doll books.  I think we turned our birthday party into Christmas in July for doll collectors.

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