Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Classic Baby: Repainting a Rubber Doll

Effanbee Twinkie from 1968 with new paint and clothing.



In my last post about restoring the Gotz toddler doll I mentioned I was also working on a classic Effanbee baby. This, finally, is the finished doll. It took a little longer than I anticipated, because for one thing, it needed a repaint. The doll was actually in very good condition, so much so that it caught my eye on a table full of dolls from across the room. I picked up this doll, the Gotz toddler, and a Teen Trends fashion doll off the one table. I could see right away this was a really nice doll. The matte rubber is very even, not yellow or orange-tinged like you sometimes see. The doll is a drink and wet doll with sleep eyes. She is 16 inches and can wear the Bitty Baby clothes. You can see her "before" picture in my previous Gotz Cutie post.

My research led me to believe this is "Twinkie" from 1968 by Effanbee. Her lips had a paint rub and her sculpted hair  was scratched and mostly flesh-colored. Her cheek paint was scratched. I could see from my research that she had originally had hair painted reddish-brown. The original doll had matte-finish paint, but I was influenced by a mint Effanbee baby doll called "Sweetie Pie" for this repaint. That Effanbee baby was produced around 1940. It was a composition baby doll with a sweet face and glossy paint. I saw a listing for a near-mint Sweetie Pie who was dressed in a gorgeous yellow outfit and had a satin ribbon tied around her hair.

She was just so adorable I decided to use a gloss finish for my Twinkie. I think also that the gloss finish will be more durable for her new mommy. I used artist's acrylics, which are certified non-toxic. I thinned them with slow-dry blending medium and applied the paint to the hair with a make-up sponge. This gave the paint an air-brushed look. I don't have an air-brush or a spray booth, so I have to replicate the look using brushes and sponges. Once the paint dried (which took about a week because of the slow-dry medium) I sealed it with acrylic gloss varnish.

After the paint was dry and sealed I started on a wardrobe for Twinkie. The original doll may have come wearing a white knitted jumpsuit and bonnet. I couldn't find a photo of the doll in mint condition. I decided to use eyelet in a shade of nearly-white whisper pink. I trimmed it with light fuchsia ribbon and glass beads. I also made a sweet old-fashioned nightgown, a diaper, and got her a new nurser bottle, since this is a drink and wet doll. I tested her drink and wet ability and it was a drippy business. A lot of the water came out of her neck! But I think it worked as well as these dolls ever do. A few years ago my daughter just LOVED drink and wet dolls. I got her some vintage ones. So I made sure to include a diaper for the new mother!

Another reason this project took so long is that I got a little side-tracked. A couple weeks ago I ordered a bunch of vintage Revlon and Sweet Sue dolls. I don't know what came over me, because I don't know much about these dolls ("doll madness?" my husband offers), but I placed a bunch of bids and won most of them, probably because it was Super-Bowl Sunday and no one else was on eBay. Usually I get outbid on Revlon dolls! I was so excited to get those I have spent a few weeks lost in the world of repairing vintage walker mechanisms, sleep eyes, mohair wigs, etc. It is a whole different world, but I have really enjoyed learning to repair these older dolls. So keep watching for lots of posts about repairing the 50s dolls!

1 comment:

  1. She looks lovely! I think you made the right choice with the glossy finish and I love the hair.

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