Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Tale Of Three Betsys

Over the past few weeks I have been working on completing my Betsy McCall dolls before we move. We are looking to close on the house near Charlotte by November 15th so I don't have a lot of time. My sister has had some good luck; a couple told them yesterday they'll be making an offer Monday and another couple told them this morning that they will offer by the end of the day. They are also having an open house right now and already had one showing the minute it started. I am sure all this traffic is due to me linking the listing to my blog and Pinterest page! I think this big increase in real estate (the house we are buying also got multiple offers after being listed for years) is a great sign for the economy! I hope it continues!
Betsy McCall doll wearing the Holiday dress and tights from 1959.
I have seven tiny Betsy McCall dolls, both modern and vintage, to finish. I finished two of each and have them listed, so now I just need to buckle down and work on the others. The first Betsy I got had the almost ubiquitous crotch split and some tiny cracks around her knee. Her wig was also in need of re-styling and re-gluing. I cleaned her up and got to work.
Betsy and her shoes get a good scrubbing.
Betsy's wig before repair.
To clean Betsy's hair I used diluted fabric softener as a shampoo and leave-in conditioner. Then I glued the wig back down. This type of Betsy has hair rooted into a rubber skull cap. This one showed a bit of deterioration but re-gluing it hid that and the glue should help stabilize it. No hair was falling out, which is good. This Betsy is called the "blonde" one, although I would call her hair more of a light ash brown. Her hair is unusually long and is styled in a flip.
Betsy with her face re-painted
Betsy also had a rather pale face, so I re-blushed her cheeks using the acrylic color mixed with iridescent medium. I think it turned out well and looks a lot like the original blush. To fix the crotch split I rebuilt the entire crotch using Kwik Plastik epoxy. This adds extra room for the hips to move, allowing the doll to sit again. The knee crack I just patched with epoxy.
The doll during repairs.
The repaired crotch and knee
This Betsy doll came with several vintage outfits, most from American Character. I came up with the theme for this set when I found a plastic bristle that had fallen out of my daughter's hairbrush. I thought it looked just like a tiny thermometer! Then I saw the Pajama Party outfit that came with the doll and the wheels began to turn! I am really proud of the thermometer! I decided to style this as Get Better, Betsy.
Betsy in her pajamas, holding her thermometer.

I got Betsy some ice cream and made an ice pack for her to share with Nosy. The Pajama Party outfit also came with a robe. Poor Betsy and Nosy just don't feel well at all!
Poor Betsy and Nosy feel sick.
When Betsy and Nosy feel better you can dress Betsy in the "Recess" dress and panties from American Character and put Nosy's leash and collar on.
Betsy McCall wearing the Recess outfit.
Besides this doll, I have two other vintage Betsys. One had a wonderful wig and very nice face. The other had a great body and face paint with a terrible wig. They both needed restringing, so I removed the head with the good wig and put it on the better body.
A Betsy doll with a terrible wig and in need of restringing.
Brunette Betsy with a near-perfect wig and re-painted face.
The brunette Betsy head is very unusual. I haven't ever seen this variation before. She has a side-part short bubble bob with just one barrette and hazel eyes, rather than the usual gray. I really love this hairdo: it looks JUST LIKE the 50s Betsy paper doll! I wonder why they didn't do this hairstyle on the first ones.
This doll's face had faded to a greenish yellow color and her cheek paint was gone. I tinted her face to warm up the color and re-blushed her cheeks. It is a huge improvement! With this head and the better body I was able to create a near-perfect doll! All I needed to do besides re-stringing was to fix the knee crack with epoxy. The knee has a bit of a flare that creates a shadow in the photo and makes it seem like the knee is still  cracked but it has been fixed!
The brunette doll with repaired knee crack.
For the theme of this Betsy I selected the Holiday dress by American Character from 1959. I have never seen this with the original tights! These had a small run but I repaired it. Digging around upstairs I came across some old Christmas boxes and stuff and procured a tiny stocking and gift box. I noticed the stocking was just the right size to hold one of my exclusive Nosy dogs! So I came up with a Merry Christmas Betsy set!
Betsy finds her Christmas gifts.
Betsy runs downstairs on Christmas morning to find a new dog in a giant stocking and a huge present! Betsy names her new dachshund Nosy! When Betsy and Nosey open the gift they find a new camera for Betsy and a juicy bone for Nosy.
Betsy and Nosy open their present.
Nosy gets tired from all the excitement, so Betsy puts her to bed. Betsy takes a photo of Nosy with her new camera.
Betsy takes a picture of Nosy.
Of course now that I acted this all out in photos I have one child begging for a tiny doll camera and another who wants his own Nosy in a basket bed! So I will have to work on those gifts for the birthdays and holidays coming up soon!
Now I just have to try to do something with the third Betsy's wig and get her all ready to go. So I guess this entry is really a tale of two Betsys. Stay tuned to find out what happens with Betsy #3!
Betsy doll with wonderful paint but a terrible wig.


  1. You always do a lovely job of doll restoration and it's clear that you really like the dolls.


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