Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chasing the Lonely Doll

Edith & Little Bear read The Lonely Doll

Edith & Little Bear garden.

Edith & Little Bear bake cookies.

My initials and the number 1 to show this is the only doll made from this mold.

Edith prepares to bathe, so you can see her jointing.
The new obsession? The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright! Actually, this is a very old obsession. When I was 10 years old we moved to the South from the Midwest. I felt very out of place and lonely and turned to books to replace the friends and family we left behind. I came to know the library in our new town better than any other place. It was in the new library that I discovered The Lonely Doll books. I don't think they had the original book; the ones I remember are The Gift from the Lonely Doll and Edith and Midnight. I had them checked out so often I doubt anyone else near my age ever got to read them. Then I forgot all about them!

About a year ago I happened upon a copy of The Gift from the Lonely Doll at a consignment sale and memories of the book came flooding back! I bought it for my daughter, who wanted a doll like Edith, just as I did as a girl. I got on eBay where I discovered there were many Lonely Doll books and also discovered Lenci dolls (and their high price tags!) Much careful searching yielded a very moth-eaten and abused Rothschild felt Edith from 1985. If only my parents had known about that doll at the time--I was the perfect age for it! I was able to purchase and restore the doll for my daughter. She was as thrilled as I hoped! In a stunned voice she said, "A real Edith doll!" Now we have several of the books and my daughter has named all her dolls Edith!

I can't get those fantastic Lenci dolls out of my mind, though! How did Elena Scavini create dolls, who look so alive, out of felt? A long-ago ambition of becoming a doll artist resurfaced and I had to try to make my own Edith. I spent many hours studying the Lenci doll photos and acquired a pattern book. I sculpted my first head and pressed the felt...

The result? A cute little Edith! She's not perfect because the mold actually broke while the felt was baking. The side of the face on the unbroken side was pressed more than the other side, so she has a tilted-head look now. I am also not thrilled with the body pattern; the arms and legs seem too small to me for the body, so I am revamping it. I am pretty impressed with my first effort, though. The disk-jointing went well, so the arms, legs and head are articulated and pose able, just like the original Lencis, and the face I sculpted and painted is really cute. I had a fantastic time posing and photographing Edith and a purchased Little Bear. Edith and Little Bear read their favorite book (of course you know which one it had to be!), cook, garden, and Edith gets ready for her bath. I can see why Wright had to be a professional photographer to capture that life; it's really hard! If only I had done better in photography in school. But I had such a blast I already have more dolls in the works. Keep looking for updates on  the new ones!

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