Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Evening Star

Evening Star Margaret

Have you been following the news about the "comet of the century" set to arrive on Thanksgiving day? ISON, containing debris leftover from the formation of the solar system, hasn't been back here since, for 4.5 billion years. I wish we had room to cart the telescope back home with us for Thanksgiving, because it would be cool to see it before it passes through the sun's atmosphere. It may or may not burn up at that time. If it doesn't, astronomers believe it may be visible throughout December. It's nice to think of stars today, with all the rain we're having. It started sleeting during my walk last night and we've been having precipitation ever since. Someone put signs advertising their "Black Friday Yard Sale" all over town and I noticed the ink has completely washed off all of them today!

Anyway, in light of this story, I felt my newest creation was appropriate: "Evening Star" Margaret by Madame Alexander. I may have been just a bit inspired by the celestial happenings!

Margaret before repair

I acquired Margaret, a head-turning walker doll from the 1940s or 50s, a couple months ago in a distressed dolls lot. She was filthy and had blue ink transferred to her arm and leg. Her wig cap was in bad shape and the top layer of her hair had frizzing, breakage, and hair loss.

Her wig had hair loss and breakage and needed re-gluing.
Once I got her all cleaned up, though, I could see there isn't really much wrong with her. Her bands are tight and her walker works well. The lower layers of her hair retained the original set and even the metal barrettes, which I've never even seen before on a Margaret. I didn't even have to set her hair; I just washed it with fabric softener and styled it back into its original set, arranging the hair to cover the thin spots as best I could. I sewed the hair into place with thread, the way Madame did originally, and pinned the curls into place with doll bobby pins. I glued the wig cap back down around the edges with water-soluble glue to stabilize it.

Margaret had ink transfer marks on her body.

Her face was dirty but the paint was fine.

I painted over the blue spots and any other flaws on the doll's body with oil-based paint . Her face looked great and didn't need any paint work. Margaret's lashes are nice and full. I love her unusual golden hazel eyes. The tawny color really shines in contrast with her dark brunette hair. Her hair color is unusual as well: very dark brown with golden-brown highlights. I haven't seen this wig on a Madame before.

Margaret's hip had a tiny split, which I repaired.

Margaret's body retains some vintage "charm", such as discoloration inside the hip and arm sockets and faint marks here and there. These are not serious, so I didn't bother repairing them. I always just want to fix only the necessary flaws and leave the doll as original as possible. When I had the legs extended for painting I saw a tiny split starting inside one hip socket so I fixed it with epoxy.

Margaret after repairs

The band carpool sometimes proves useful, as I can shop on eBay while I'm sitting in the parking lot waiting for the boys and I snag some good deals. One was this exquisite Madame Alexander gown, tagged "Evening Star".

The Evening Star gown

This gown is from the 1990s and looks new.

Evidently, the Alexander company made porcelain reproductions of some of the 1940s and 50s dolls in the 1990s. This dress belonged to one of those Margaret dolls. It is a stunning column of pink satin with black lace and net overlay cascading down, lavishly encrusted with sequins, rhinestones, and beads. I bet there's a full yard of material just in this skirt! It's really amazing, and looks brand new. I ordered it hoping it would fit this Margaret and it does, just barely. It's very tight. Margaret must stand while wearing it because the skirt is too snug to allow her to sit. Back in my youth I had some dresses like this myself. The things we suffer for beauty!

My handmade "starlight" headpiece.

Margaret's dress and hairstyle reminded me of the golden age of cinema, the gorgeous gowns worn by Ginger Rogers and Greta Garbo. I decided to make a headdress in a similar style, with black organza ribbon and a silver and rhinestone ornament a bit like a star. Besides adding to the period feel, this serves to hide the remaining thin spots and breaks in Margaret's wig.

The re-styled wig
I had some vintage accessories in my stash, so I gave Margaret back-seam stockings, white satin panties, a "pearl" necklace, and side-Velcro black shoes. The shoes are a little clunky looking, but they were the best fitting I have. The panties have tiny red marks on the rear, but the stockings and necklace are perfect.

Margaret's undergarments

Unused vintage Madame curlers and comb

The Madame Alexander comb and curlers box came in a lot with a pair of majorette boots from the 1940s or 50s, probably originally belonging to Kathy or one of those characters. They are clearly unused, but the box has wear from age.

The Madame Alexander mark

I'm very proud of Margaret's restoration. I think she displays all the lavish glory of Madame Alexander's 1940s and 50s creations, widely regarded as the peak of Madame Alexander's efforts. Margaret's dark beauty and shimmering gown really do bring evening stars to mind. She looks absolutely glorious in my case, at least until she moves on to a new owner. You can find her and many other dolls in my store: http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline.

Margaret's lavish costume

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