Monday, August 19, 2013

Babies, Ballerinas, and Other Stories


One big box of dolls I've been working on.
The past week or so has been devoted mostly to shopping in order to replenish my store stock. My Polly Pigtails doll sold and traveled to her new home in California, leaving my cabinet almost bare and my store too! I was down to just four vintage dolls.

I certainly don't mind shopping! It's a lot of fun. Now that the purchasing is mostly over, however, I've had to get down to work so I could start listing! I started with a large box lot of dolls, clothes, and various odds and ends. I found a Ginny Baby, I think from around 1968, in the box, as well as an earlier 1950s ballerina, probably by Valentine Doll Co. Most of the stuff in the box was 1940s or 50s, so I could be mistaken about Ginny Baby's age; she might be older than I realize.

The vintage Ginny Baby after restoration.

The Ginny Baby had her original outfit in very good shape, but she herself had been played nearly to death. Her hair had become matted and woolly. I thought at first it had been cut, but after I washed it and combed it out I realized it was just all squashed to her head and had a bit of breakage. Ginny had lost most of her eyelashes as well, and had various rubs and scrapes to her body. Over the weekend I set her hair in Shirley Temple ringlets, replaced her eyelashes with long blond ones (a better match), and refreshed her cheek paint. She turned out very cute and is ready for lots more play.

Two Valentine ballerina dolls
I had a large Valentine Ballerina doll from a different box lot purchased a few months ago. She was mostly just dirty. Someone had applied lipstick to her lips back in the 1950s, so that had to be scrubbed off. When I cleaned the lipstick away I could see why it had been applied; her lip paint was rubbed off. She also had the dreaded sticky vinyl face and darkening of the vinyl.

The larger ballerina after restoration.

I gave her a good cleaning, set her hair, refreshed her lip paint, and treated her face. This is an easy fix; just apply a thin coating of baby powder to the vinyl and gently rub it in. Then wipe away any excess with a tissue. The vinyl will lose its sticky texture and will also lighten some. The vinyl ballet shoes the doll wore were also sticky so I treated them as well.

I was low on the vintage-style flowers I use to embellish doll costumes and hair, as well as some other supplies, so Jerry suffered through the clearance aisles at Michael's on our way home from a party on the other side of the lake. I found just what I needed, however, and have already put them to good use!

The Valentine ballerinas have thinner hair on the back of their heads.
Today I finished the smaller ballerina doll, also probably by Valentine, from the Ginny Baby box lot. Her hair looks to have been cut, but it's really hard to tell. Many of the dolls from this period had their hair cut into style, so if the hair was to be styled in an updo the company would just cut away any excess. Sometimes only the necessary parts are rooted, leaving a great bald spot if you take the hair out of its original style! You can see both dolls have the short layer of hair in the center back of their heads.

Upswept hair helps hide the thin spots.
The small one's hair is definitely thinner, though, so it was probably helped along. I cleaned this doll and styled her hair in an updo to hide her thin spots in back. Her original dress needed some repair, and she had lost her shoes. I tried on various shoes from my stash of doll clothing and found she can wear a pair of ice skates I've had forever. These have never fit any other doll I've tried them on, so I decided it was Fate: she was meant to be an ice skater! This doll has the jointed ankles like Madame Alexander's Elise or the Dollikin dolls and so she can wear either heels or flats, ballet slippers or ice skates.

I transformed this doll to an ice skater!

Looking around in my office I discovered a Tonner Tiny Betsy doll I'd forgotten about. Of course, she's a ballerina too!  She was perfect except that the original owner had replaced her hair ornaments with ribbon from a different outfit. I made her new hair ornaments to match her ballet costume and she's good as new!

Twinkle Toes Tiny Betsy by Tonner
I have one more ballerina in the works, a Cissette pink ballerina. This Cissette has just stunning high-color paint and a lovely, new-looking wig. She had lost her clothing when I got her and had a crotch split that needed repair. I got her all repaired and found a Madame Alexander ballet dress for her and now she's just waiting on shoes and a crown of flowers to be listed.

This Cissette ballerina doll is nearly finished.

I have gotten sick, over the past few rainy months, of waiting for paint to dry, so I ordered some heat-set oil paints and a heat gun to dry them. This is the best invention ever, in my opinion! The paint stays wet until you cure it with the heat gun, and then it dries immediately. The Cissette had been sticky for a week with paint that wasn't drying on her epoxy repairs, so I dried it with the heat gun in minutes!

Another rain-washed day on the lake.
Besides all the doll repair, I have been working in the garden. This week we decided to tie up all the plants, because they keep getting knocked over in storms. I read that if you use old nylon stockings tied to metal you can actually increase your yields. This is because static electricity created by the nylon and the metal transfers to the plants and gives them extra "shock therapy" to help them grow. So I went to Walmart and found a bunch of discounted pairs of knee highs for 33 cents a pair. We cut them up and used them as ties. We will see if there's any great jump in our yields. I will keep you posted on that!

Nylon ties attached to metal are supposed to increase yields.
I've been listing the dolls as I finish them, and I have more to list, as well as Betsy McCall and Ginny clothes to fit the small 8 inch dolls, so please keep checking my store: http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline.

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