Friday, March 22, 2013

So Many Dolls...So Little Time!

Today I'm just going to write a little about all the projects I'm working on at the moment, since I haven't managed to finish any of them this week. It's frustrating! But, I've had a sick husband home with me and the usual stuff to do. Besides that, it seems like we just have one thing after another popping up in the house.

A Cissy doll from 1960 or 1961 in need of repair.
We didn't notice at first when it was still pretty warm but as soon as the real cold of January and February crept in it became obvious that the house is infested with ants. We've sprayed and put out traps and sprayed again and we just can't get rid of them. The weird thing is, they are all in our shower and tub and some of the sinks. A neighbor was telling me they are probably something called "Acrobat Ants" that burrow into wood and that we'll probably have to gut the bathroom. This is a different bathroom than the one with the new water spot on the ceiling! I am really missing the brand new, $30,000 cheaper, 1100 sq. ft. larger house we were building in Raleigh! This house has the potential to be lovely if we can ever get ahead of all its issues and fix it up, but it just seems like something else goes wrong every other day.

Besides the house, we found out another teen at our 8th grader's school has been really mean to him and he's been very upset about it. The kids are homesick. Our 4-year-old kept asking to go to "regular" church, and we were confused because we've been trying lots of different churches around here, but I finally figured out he wants to go back to our church at home. I guess I'm homesick too. I miss my friends a lot. I also still have the rash I got back in December almost as soon as we moved here. It's worst on my face but I have it all over now and it's very itchy. It's clearly an allergic reaction to something, because it goes away when we go home to visit, even just for a day or two, but I can't figure out what's causing it.

Cissy's face has yellowed over time.

I guess it just goes to show you can't avoid some troubles even when you see them coming (I am referencing my last post about ring around the moon). I also have to remind myself I am the cause of so much of my trouble simply because of my attitude. If you've been reading this blog for a while you might remember me talking the work accident that disabled Jerry years ago. Besides the adjustment required to Jerry becoming disabled when we were only 24, our financial situation was grim. We had just purchased our first home and had a baby on the way when we took a huge hit to our income. I still don't really know how we got through it all. I do remember, though, when things seemed hopeless something would always come along to tide us over. The Rolling Stones were right, I suppose. You almost always get what you need to get by, even if it's not what you'd want. And sometimes, no matter how much you want something, you just can't have it.

This 15-inch Revlon doll's eye is stuck.

The trick I learned back then is to count my blessings every day. No matter how bad things seem, you're always blessed in so many ways if you just open your eyes to them. Lately, I've been feeling sorry for myself and I've been ungrateful for the many good things I do have. Jerry got a little raise and bonus, and I just had the best sales week ever for my eBay store. I inherited a little money as well. I was going to use it to buy a new sewing machine, but I guess now I'll just save it for the house. So, even if it seems like all we've been doing lately is sitting around watching money drain out of our account, we should be able to make up for it. As for our friends, we will just have to make new ones.

Someone also gave poor Revlon a mullet!

We haven't been to church for nearly all of Lent, with everyone being sick and going out of town. We will have to get back into it when everyone recovers. I haven't been doing well on my Lenten resolution anyway. I've been starting to sneeze again, so I hope I haven't caught Jerry's cold. I have decided to just ignore it and go about my business as usual. Last night, though, after I finished my 5-mile run, absolutely everything was hurting!

This Cissy's walker mechanism isn't working and someone chewed up her breast and face paint.

I have a type-A personality. I like to be in control of everything and accomplish projects quickly and perfectly all on my own, and when I can't I get frustrated. I get mad when things go wrong, and that makes me want to smash stuff up or hit people or something. It must be my Viking side coming out! Instead, I have found running helps a lot, and it's also helpful for me to repair things. You wouldn't think putting dolls back together would ease the urge to destroy things, but it does! So, I have amassed quite a bit of work for myself, as you can see from these photos.
 

This Margot doll by Madame Alexander from 1950 or so has multiple issues.

Every one of these dolls would be worth upwards of $100 once repaired. The Cissy dolls are actually worth about $150 in their current state! I need to get more dolls in my shop, as well. I've sold out nearly all my vintage doll stock and only have a couple left. We always call my store "the doll shop", even though right now I have more boy's clothing than anything else listed. Our teenager is outgrowing his clothes in a way that reminds me of David Banner transforming into the Incredible Hulk...I just try to snatch them away and list them before they get torn up! If you are in need of boy's clothing in size 14 to 16 you really need to visit my store: http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline!

The doll shop is supposed to do well enough to buy us a boat eventually, and a beach trailer. I told Jerry I want a Viking ship, though...I bet it'd be a tourist attraction! I want to go back to Northport, where there is a boat building camp. You spend two weeks there and they teach you to build boats and you build your own while you're there!

Someone tried to fix Margot's arm with a Popsicle stick and masking tape.


Her eyes are stuck and set incorrectly.


Her ballet costume is nearly perfect, though, and just needs cleaning.
I replaced the 15 inch Revlon's missing fingers by sculpting new ones. Her one eye still sticks a bit, but I have loosened it a lot. I don't want to replace her eyes because she has the rarer green eyes. That, along with her unusual size, makes her valuable. As soon as I give her a reroot and amass a wardrobe for her she'll be ready to list.

This tagged Cissy skirt needs a careful cleaning.
I've also been working on cleaning the dolls' clothing. The original outfits make the dolls much more valuable, but some collectors don't want them cleaned and others don't want them to have spots. You also have to clean them some just to preserve them from mold or insect damage. With the clothing I've shown I have "dry-cleaned" them with Dryel fluid and now I am setting the Cissy dress in the bright sun for short periods of time to help bleach out the yellowed areas and stains.

Cissy still has original pins in her hair, but they are rusted and her hair has discolored from dirt.

The dark strawberry blond Cissy was probably originally a bridesmaid with the gathered tulle hat fastened above each ear with flowers, because I have pulled several rusted original hairpins and straight pins from her wig. I hate to wash a wig in its original set, but it is discolored because it's so dirty, so I will have to wash it and reset it.

The Margot doll was one I purchased just for her original outfit, which is quite rare and valuable, but I hope to get the doll working again. Her walker mechanism had an old spring that was so seized up it was pushing all her joints apart, so her whole body was splitting along the seams. Jerry helped me take her body apart along the side seams and remove the offending spring. Now I have to decide whether to try to keep her a walker or just restring her with cord. Cord would actually be more flexible for ballerina poses and kinder to the joints, but I hate to give up on her walker. The real problem with her is her eyes. I haven't ever seen rocker eyes set this way, and they're so tight they're stuck and scraping her eyelid paint off. Jerry is trying to help me figure out how to remove them but even he is at a loss. The good thing about Margot is her hair is just perfect and in its original set. I always wonder how kids so destroy a doll's face or eyes or something but keep the hair intact!

Along with all the dolls, we are getting ready for a trip home over Easter, and I still need to organize my office so it doesn't resemble a demilitarized zone. The mess is creeping back into the dining room. I hope I won't drive Jerry crazy with my messy work. Sometime soon he will start working from home for 8-10 weeks while his office is renovated. We aren't used to being together much, because so far in our married life he has traveled and been away from home a lot. This will be an adjustment for us. So, I have a lot going on to keep me and my mind occupied, and I am just trying to trust that this place is where I'm supposed to be. Things work out as they're meant to, I hope, and I'm trying to believe in that.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Garden Grows


Our kids help rake up pine straw.

This weekend was devoted almost entirely to yardwork around here. We finally had a couple warm, sunny days. It's a good thing we got it done, because today is cold and rainy again! I have been wanting to get my garden started for months, but the yard is so wooded it took a while to prepare. We went to buy a pole saw Friday so Jerry could take down some of the saplings growing all over the place. Then we had to rake up tons of pine straw so we could start digging.

The soil was so full of roots it proved impossible to dig, so our 14 year old loosened it up with a pickax and I followed with our hand tiller (not motorized!). So now I am sore and blistered, but I have a garden! It took about 6 hours total to clear and prepare the soil, install the fence, and plant the underground plants.

Jerry put the fence up for me. First, he trenched out a path for the wire with the pickax around about half the garden and then he started putting up the fencing.  I trenched out the other half with the pick axe. Jerry says I look nice wielding a pickax and tiller! I wish I'd done more upper-body exercise over the winter!

The garden with fencing installed.
The fence is necessary to keep rabbits and our dogs out of the garden. I also plan to grow cucumbers, peas, and other climbing plants on the wire to save space. I am still mourning the giant garden I had planned out at the Raleigh house we were building. There's not enough flat, treeless land here for a really big garden. Eventually we hope to be able to afford to take more trees down and then maybe we can grow more. The soil here is very good, though. I checked when we were house-hunting! I went ahead and put in underground plants and seeds for now. I planted two kinds of potatoes, a ton of garlic, scallions, rhubarb (though that takes two years to produce), and cucumber and tomato seeds. I hate that rhubarb takes so long. It is a staple food for me, and I guess for most Scandinavians. In Ohio where I grew up there is a regional side dish called "Spring Tonic" that's made from rhubarb and strawberries. It always was my favorite vegetable when I was growing up! I was going to put in peas but found I was out of seeds, so I will have to go buy some. Jerry said, "Oh NO...you have to shop for seeds? What a tragedy! I know you hate that!" I tend to get a little carried away in the seed department! Well, some girls buy shoes...I buy seeds!


After we got the main garden done I used the axe and tiller to loosen up the path to the garden. I planted 30 strawberry plants along each side of the path. I like to use strawberries as edging and ground cover with stepping stones in between. They jump out of the beds and grow all over anyway. They make a pretty edging and if you use stepping stones in between them they are good ground cover. And they produce edible fruit, so you get more bang for your buck, landscape-wise!

At our old house I had a big, three-tiered strawberry bed and then ground cover berries all around it. We had hundreds of plants and got tons of berries. I would usually pick a large colander full every other day in the early summer. We still have berries frozen from last year, luckily, because it will take at least a year for these new ones to really start producing. Eventually I hope to put another large raised bed in for berries, but for now I will grow them on the path.

I made a path with my "Famous Star Bricks" from Nelsonville, Ohio. The streets and sidewalks of the town where I lived were once all paved with these star bricks. When my mother was in high school the town tore them up and put in cement and they threw the old bricks in the lake to prevent erosion! "They tore up your high heels", my grandmother said, whenever I would mourn the old brick walks. A few sidewalks of brick remain and they're so pretty! Now that town has paid all kinds of money to rejuvenate their downtown by restoring the streets and sidewalks with sections of...guess what? Brick! Not these cool star bricks, though. Whenever we go home in the summer I climb around the lake banks and pick up star bricks, and last summer my teenager and two of my teenage nephews got me a bunch more. As soon as the plants emerge (I planted bare roots) I will pack them with straw and put pine straw around the bricks to level them with the ground. After 6 hours of digging and chopping, I was too tired to dig these in too!

Saturday night after all that work I decided to go running: not my best idea ever! My foot is really hurting today! But my fitbit doesn't count anything but steps, so I hardly get any points for just digging. When I was out running I saw a ring around the moon, always a bad omen and a sign of trouble coming. When you see it, be careful how you drive and where you step and be extra-alert for a while!

Sure enough, Saturday night Jerry was up all night coughing. He slept in until 10 yesterday, which I don't think he's ever done in the nearly 16 years we've been married. Then, yesterday we found a water spot on the bathroom ceiling. We also discovered someone who came to stay with us (probably my parents) brought a bag of dog food and left it, unbeknownst to us, on a shelf in the garage behind some stuff. Well, we didn't see it, but a mouse did! We found the mouse has been taking food from the bag and depositing it all over the place in the garage, in boxes, on shelves, even in the lining of my exercise trampoline! So we had to spend hours and hours yesterday unpacking boxes and shelves cleaning up dog food and mouse poop and wiping down everything with Clorox wipes. Our youngest son's palate appears to have opened up again as well. His cleft was so wide the surgeon couldn't close it all the way, but he hoped it would collapse (fuse together) on its own. It appeared it had, but yesterday our son was squirting milk and stuff out of his nose and he had a nosebleed on that side as well. So, it looks like we will be heading back to see the surgeon! We put out a trap overnight and the mouse has now passed away...I hope our trouble was just confined to yesterday and that we don't have any more heading our way!

The garden is finished except for mulching the path.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Toto: A Tiny Felted Yorkie


"Toto"; Yorkshire Terrier made from wool felt with needle felted fur.
I have been so blessed recently to acquire a new client who asked me to make three Barbie-sized animals; the two vintage Barbie replicas I wrote about in my last two posts and now this tiny Yorkie. I named it "Toto" because the customer wanted a Yorkie or a dog like Toto. I picked up some gray alpaca yarn at Time to Unwind to add some Toto-like dark fur to the mix.


I was a bit worried about making such a tiny dog. This little one is only a couple inches long. I am fairly new to needle felting as well. I've used it in a more utilitarian manner in the past, like to mend holes in wool felt dolls or re-root doll hair. These animals I've been making recently have given me more practice. I still didn't feel confident enough to make the dog entirely as a needle felted piece, though.


Instead, I made a wool felt body and stuffed it with bamboo rayon stuffing. Then I felted a mohair/alpaca mix of fur into the felt body. This structure gives the dog a retro feel, with the very hard, firm body underneath the fuzzy fur. It also allows me to sew in the bead eyes and nose. I feel better about that than gluing them, as I would have to do if the whole dog was felted.


I do know gluing them will work, because a long, long time ago (in college) I made a felt Puchinello Venetian Carnival mask. This was long before needle felting. I actually dyed, carded, and then felted the wool by sewing the wool I had sculpted into the basic shapes into fabric window screening and washing it in hot in the washer. The wool comes out felted into shapes, but it's not easy! But anyway, that mask has glued on embellishment and they're still on after about 16 years! I also learned to spin yarn from dog and cat hair in that class, and to weave cloth from grass and reeds and stuff, so if society ever collapses, I'm good, at least as far as clothing!

The dog displayed with Barbie.


The dog with tiny Betsy McCall.

This little dog is a great size to display with Barbie, or tiny Betsy McCall. It would work well with Ginny too. To thank my customer for all the business I threw in a free basket bed. It was in my doll accessory "stash" and it's the perfect size! I whipped up a tiny cushion for the basket in no time.

A bed for the Yorkie.
One of my favorite things about dolls has always been the accessories some dolls have. This is surely due in part to the influence of a favorite childhood book, A is for Annabelle by Tasha Tudor (see the D is for Dollikin post for more on this!). This is the best part of restoring dolls, for me. I love designing their clothes and accessories. Whenever I'm at thrift stores or flea markets I'm on the hunt for tiny things to pick up and use for a doll someday. The result of this is a lot of boxes cluttering up my office!
 
My office smells like sheep--wool and lanolin--right now because of all the felting I've been doing. I love it! It brings back memories of my aunt and uncle's farm in Indiana. I used to spend a lot of time there before they had children of their own and it remains a favorite place of mine. I spent the bulk of my time with my uncle. He owns an oil company as well as the farm and I would go with him to check on the cows and sheep and ride in his old blue pickup truck (with a tweedy blue bench seat) to the oil company to see about things. We would usually listen to Elvis. It seems in my memory like You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog was playing perpetually. He must have had it on 8-track! I was scandalized by the oil company because the men had a pin-up calendar on the wall. Then we would go to check all the fences and gates and make sure they were closed and feed the sheep and cows and bring them in at night and stuff like that. 
 
Once our work was done my uncle would let me ride Ginger, our Tennessee Walker who had formerly belonged to my step-sister, around like a bicycle. I would ride her back and forth between their house and another aunt's house and roam around in the woods and pick up feathers from the peacock flock and play with the kittens in the hay loft. My uncle would also let me hold on to the giant hook in the hay loft and swing out and drop down into a wagon full of hay! When I was climbing up to play in the hay loft he would say stuff like, "Watch out for the rotten parts of the floor and don't fall through!", but he would let me go anyway! Paradise!
 
Their farm is from the 19th century. They restored the brick farmhouse, which is gorgeous. I used to go back in the apple orchard and look at the cemetery housing the graves of the previous family. It was sad. The mother and most of her children all died around the same time, of some illness I guess. In the fall our entire family would travel to the farm to help pick the apples. We would have a hay ride back to the orchard. My aunt acquired a hand-powered antique cider press somewhere and my uncles would take turns pushing the crank wheel to work it. We kids would all take turns holding a little juice glass under the spout to get a first taste of the cider.
 
One year, one of the ewes was pregnant with quadruplets and died giving birth. One of the lambs died too. So, then we had the three remaining lambs to hand-raise. We fed them with a giant baby bottle and kept them in a cardboard box in the kitchen. I was in charge of naming them and I gave them ridiculous names because I'd been watching Peter Pan. I remember I named one of them "Tinkerbell" and another was "Stardust". Within days they could jump out of the box and there were lambs jumping all over the kitchen. A kitchen never seems as small as when it's full of leaping lambs! And you never realize how much lambs like to jump until you have them in the house! Even as big old dirty grownup sheep those former lambs of mine would come running across the fields when they saw me. The smell of wool always brings it back!
 
I'm kind of sore today because I'm back into running again, trying to lose the 5 pounds I gained being sick. I'm not a very disciplined runner. I listen to certain favorite songs (lately, since October, it's been a few particular songs by Taylor Swift) and run as fast as I can and then I walk during the slow parts or uphill. I make deals with myself. I tell myself if I just run to a certain lamppost I will let myself walk for a while. That lamppost shines like the one in the Narnia wood! I'm sure the neighbors think I'm nuts!
 
Now that the Barbie animals are all done I have to clean my office. It resembles a war zone at the moment! Then I guess I'll be back to dolls. I am just about done with the Cissy I've been working on and have two Revlons in progress, so stay tuned. My mother has been all over me to come visit the last weekend in March but we were just home and I have so much to do, so I don't know.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kitty Kapers


"Kitty": my replica of the Barbie Put Ons & Pets Kitty Kapers pet cat from 1972.
If you've been reading my blog regularly, you might remember last week I completed a replica of the Barbie 1972 Put Ons & Pets Hot Togs Afghan Hound. My client was impressed enough to order two more animals and also took the dog to a doll club meeting! I am so happy when someone really appreciates my work, and you all know how I love solving a "problem", as we used to say in art school. I had fun looking at the original cat and figuring out how to draw the pattern for the replica.


For my version, I sewed a wool felt body and stuffed it with bamboo rayon and polyester fiber fill. The rayon blend stuffing gets really hard, so the dolls and animals you stuff with it are firm enough to stand and feel almost like they have a plastic interior, but they are still very lightweight. The only problem is that the rayon has a tendency to bunch up into little balls so that sometimes you can't push it back to the place you want it and you have to pull it out and start over. To avoid this I add really small amounts of stuffing at a time.


When the body was finished I needle-felted yarn onto the felt body to get the fuzzy look of the original. I was very happy to see we have a local yarn shop, Time To Unwind, here in town. I was able to pick up the yarn I needed without having to order it and wait for shipping or drive a long way. The owner is also a CPA so you can go in and have your taxes done while you shop! She will wind the skeins into balls for you when you purchase. The store hosts Yarn and Wine Thursdays from 5-8PM, so you can drink and socialize while you work. I was happy to find this place! I used Peruvian Merino/ Polyamide blend yarn called Ushya (meaning "soft") by Mirasol. It is already woven into fat tubes, so you can cover a lot of ground with only a little yarn and get a big, furry look. Here is the original outfit and cat I was copying: http://www.fashion-doll-guide.com/Vintage-Barbie-Kitty-Kapers.html. Just the outfit without the cat or food is rare enough to sell in the $100 range.


I couldn't resist making my cat a little poseable, so before I felted on the fur I string-jointed the legs, avoiding felting under the limb.The back are more jointed than the front, and they all move slightly so the cat and be set in different positions. This also helps the cat have a more 3-dimensional look. The original is pretty flat and looks a little like roadkill to me!



The cat is sized for 11 1/2 inch Barbie or other fashion dolls.


The cat also fits 8 inch dolls like tiny Betsy or Ginny.
 
I posed the cat with one of my daughter's Disney Barbie-sized dolls and a vintage tiny Betsy McCall. The Betsy can be purchased from me in my store: http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline. Next up for this client is a Barbie-sized Yorkie. That's going to be a challenge! I was feeling pretty confident until I saw this Yorkie by Gourmet Felted: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/gourmet_felted/4482399441/.
 
Amazing! My dog will have to be about a fourth of the size, however, so it will be really hard to get that much detail. I hope to get that dog going today, but I don't know. I have both the Elders and the Sister Missionaries coming tonight. They were supposed to come last week but we had to cancel due to Jerry and I being sick. It seemed like everyone was better until this morning, when our youngest woke up coughing and saying his throat hurts and in an awful mood. He's upstairs lying in bed just screaming right now for no apparent reason other than that he isn't feeling well. I have a ton of laundry to wash as well.
 
I should have worked on the laundry pile over the weekend, but we had really pretty weather so I didn't want to. Our daughter had a play date at a friend's house yesterday afternoon, so we took the boys to The Savory Plum, our town's new bakery and coffee shop. I highly recommend the Coconut Boston Cream cupcakes! The doughnut muffins are supposed to be good too, as is the chili and sandwiches, according to the other patrons. We shopped at a thrift store and then walked to the woods to look at the "shelter" our 14 year old is building. It's actually pretty impressive. He's not using any nails or anything, just stacking fallen logs and stuff in a ravine. It even has a thatched pine straw roof!
 
I'm happy he's found a wild place where he can be alone to do his thing. Since we moved to N.C. when I was 10 our house had a large woods behind it where I would ramble all the time on my own or with our dog. When I was around my son's age the town built a sewer line into the woods and it created a clear path for walking. I used to walk through the woods to Buffaloe Road and then down to Vandora and on to our house in a big circle almost every day throughout high school. Now those roads are too busy to walk on safely; the intersection just had a round-a-bout installed! At that time no one was ever in the woods or on the roads much. I would walk and walk every day and think, almost always alone. I can remember wishing my life would start, my real life, and it seemed like it would take forever! I think teenagers need time alone to just try to figure out the person they're going to become. I don't remember ever taking anyone else on my walk with me except one time. I didn't want to share it with anyone.
 
I'm glad we got out yesterday while the sun was shining because today's another rainy, cloudy day. It's amazing how it affects the mood! I will post more on the Yorkie project when I finish it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hot Togs Hound


Replica of Barbie's Tan Afghan Dog from #1063 Hot Togs (1972)
A couple weeks ago I received a commission from a fellow eBay member to try to recreate a very hard-to-find vintage Barbie Put Ons 'N Pets dog, the Afghan hound from the Hot Togs outfit. I love this sort of assignment that involves research and design, so I got right into it. At first I worried about whether I'd be able to make one, because I immediately pictured Beauty, the Barbie Afghan hound I can remember lusting after during my own childhood. That one was plastic and jointed with applied fur. 1979 was the year those came out, and yet I can remember like it was yesterday standing in the Lazarus toy section at the Lima mall just wishing for that dog! I don't think I ever got it though. Oh well! Fortunately, this client wanted the 1972 version, which was all cloth and much easier to create for me.

"Togs", my version of the vintage Barbie pet dog.
The Barbie designers don't appear to have actually looked at any real Afghan hounds when designing this toy! Its body is made of some kind of boucle or shearling or something, so it has short hair. Luckily for me, I had an old collar from a coat with the right size and color faux shearling on one side. That was my oldest son's Mickey Mouse bomber jacket. It was adorable! Of course, when my son outgrew it (it was only a 2T or 3T size) he'd taken off the buttoned-on the collar and lost it, so I passed the coat on to my cousin's boy without the collar. Years later the orphan collar surfaced and I saved it because it was faux leather on one side and faux shearling on the other. I thought maybe one day I'd need those fabrics and I was right! So the inner hoarder is vindicated!

The dog is string-jointed to allow for poseability.

Locating the collar was a challenge, but I found it. I meant to re-draw my dachshund pattern again for this, but I can't find it! I've looked and looked and it's not surfacing. I also couldn't find my gray felt. I knew I had some, but I looked for a week and had to give up. Jerry and I stopped at Hobby Lobby in Rocky Mount on the way back from a furniture warehouse sale and I picked up some light gray felt (the only gray they had) there, and dyed it the darker charcoal I needed. Well, the minute (practically) it was dry I was complaining to Jerry about how there must still be a box or two we'd missed unpacking because I had a big list of things I couldn't find. He went into the attic and walked out with a box we'd put away in the wrong place, and naturally the charcoal felt was in there! So now I have extra! No dog pattern, though. So, the little Nosys I have listed now may be a retired style if I have to draw a new pattern!


Around this time (last Monday or so) I started feeling sick. Like an idiot, I went home to visit and didn't take my cod liver oil with me. Cod liver oil really helps the immune system. I take a 2500 mg  Swanson's double potency capsule every day and since I started that I very rarely get sick. The kids take Twin Lab emulsified Norwegian cold liver oil in the orange flavor (which they say tastes like drinking a smoothie) every day. So, my niece was sick and I caught it and it really knocked me off my feet for over a week. I have done almost nothing but sleep for days. On Saturday I didn't get up until after 10! Today is the first day I've been well enough to really get around and I'm still a little achy. Now Jerry has it, so I am making some chicken bone broth as I write. A good bone broth that's cooked for at least 6 hours really can't be beat for nutrients and flavor. I made some back before Christmas but we've used it all now. Every few months I make a bunch of broth and freeze it in 2-4 cup containers. I hope this will get me all the way well so I can step up the exercise. I skipped several walks and haven't run at all for over a week and I've been eating way too much so I can really feel my clothes getting tighter!

Afghan hound with Betsy McCall.

I knew I had to finish this dog, so on Monday I dragged myself out of bed and sewed it up. I have only seen the original dog in a couple of online photos. This toy and outfit are so rare I've seen the complete set with a period doll sell for close to $900. It looked like the dog's legs might be jointed, but I couldn't be sure, because it was always in the same position in photos. I only found a couple photos, because unfortunately when you search the web using Barbie, Hot Togs, and Hound you get to some pretty questionable web sites! Here's a reputable site with a photo of the original dog: http://www.myvintagebarbies.com/pets.htm. I decided to string joint the legs. I sewed each leg, fashioned in the round from two pieces, through the center of the dog and through the other side and back and then attached them at the top of the leg with sturdy stitches. This allows the legs to move and pose a bit: not as much as a button joint would, but enough to let the dog sit, "walk", or bend over in play position. The hair on top of the dog's head is mohair, which I stitched down the center in a part and then hand-stitched to the head. I used the faux leather side of the coat collar to make the dog's snap-on collar with attached leash. The leash reportedly had "pinky-orange" stitching that matched the outfit, so I used salmon pink and cherry red thread mixed to stitch the accents.


The client loved the dog in the photos (I hope it's still a hit when it arrives in person!) and I had a really good time making it. It's a true one-of-a-kind piece, since I used every bit of fabric in the collar! I may try to find some more suitable fabrics to make a couple more of these. It is a great fit for display with many vintage 8-11 inch dolls, as you can see from my photos of the dog with everyone from tiny Betsy McCall to Little Miss Revlon to one of my daughter's modern-day Barbies. I think it would probably be a good seller!

This has been a great week, sales-wise, in the eBay store, so I put some profit into new projects to fix and sell. Today I'm working on a Madame Alexander Cissy, the later "no neck" straight arm version with the classic face, who has a big crack in one leg, and a 15 inch Revlon who needed some new fingers. Those still have a way to go in terms of painting and body work and I haven't even started on clothing yet, so expect to see them in a couple weeks. I do still have many completed vintage dolls for sale in my store at http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline.

The hound with Little Miss Revlon.