Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Magical Maggie

Madame Alexander's Maggie restored as a Good Fairy.

Many months ago I purchased a Maggie face hard plastic doll. Maggie face dolls aren't ever marked, as far as I'm aware, but they are easily recognizable. They were only produced by Madame Alexander, at least to my knowledge, so you don't run into the identification issues you have with the Margaret or Wendy Ann face molds, which were sold to other companies. This Maggie came wearing a lace-trimmed muslin petticoat with attached pantaloons. It's very well made and obviously old, and I believe it is original to her. It looks like the undergarments used for the Little Women series of dolls which used the Maggie face.

I think this is the doll's original petticoat.

Unfortunately, Maggie lost the rest of her original clothing and was the victim of a terrible haircut somewhere along the way. She was unstrung because her rubber bands rotted. Most dismaying to me, however, was her smell. Despite having been listed as a doll with "no stinkies," it was apparent when I opened the box that she did, in fact, stink.

Maggie before restoration.

As hard plastic ages it sometimes acquires an odor. This smell can range from a mild, sweet-sour odor to a foul vomit stench. This Maggie fell somewhere in the middle. I've read different theories of what causes the smell. I think it's most likely produced by mold in and on the body or the decay of the fabric wig cap. I once had a Sweet Sue whose bad scent turned out to be due entirely to her rotten wig cap. Once I sewed her hair onto a new cap the smell was gone.

Maggie's wig didn't smell any worse than the rest of her and didn't seem to be rotten, so I got to work on her plastic body. I started by washing the body inside and out very thoroughly in a solution of about 70% white vinegar with 30% water and placed her outside in the sun to dry. When she was dry I sealed her in a plastic bag with strong-scented dryer sheets for a few days. I could still smell an odor after the allotted time, although it was much more faint.

Treating dolls with hard plastic odor

About this time I acquired a Barry Baby doll for parts who also had a bad smell. I decided to treat them both with odor-absorbing kitty litter. I placed the doll bodies in plastic Ziploc bags and filled each hollow arm and leg and the torso with litter. I did not fill the heads because I didn't want litter getting into the eyes and ruining them. I just set the heads on top of the bodies. Then I sealed the bodies in the bags with the litter and left them for over six months. Then I took them out, cleaned them with doll cleaner and Voila! No more "stinkies"! The vinegar and sunlight treatment killed any mold in or on the plastic, then the odor-absorbing cat litter absorbed the odor from the plastic.

Maggie with her new wig.

Once Maggie was sweet-smelling again I re-strung her and removed her cropped wig. I have a few wigs in my stash, and I've been going back and forth as to which I should use. Red braids for a Polly Pigtails look? Long brown curls, rather like her original 'do? In the end, I was inspired by a search through my vintage doll clothes stash. I found a period fancy gown that came in a lot of 1950s doll clothes. It's the right size to fit 14-inch Maggie and really resembles the Madame Alexander Good Fairy doll dress from the 1950s. The Good Fairy, which I've also seen called Fairy Princess or Fairy Queen, used the Margaret face with a platinum blond wig and wore a white or cream gown with metallic gold rickrack trim. My gown is most likely not by Madame Alexander, but it sure looks like her gown. I decided to go with a platinum blond mohair wig.

I made a magic wand and caplet for her.

The wig looks new and unused, but I bought it untagged and without packaging, so I don't know its age. It's the same style as the Good Fairy wig, though. I like the contrast of the pale blond hair with Maggie's big brown eyes. That's the coloring I and my sisters had when we were little girls!

Maggie restored.

My dress needed a lot of work. It's seams had largely pulled out and had to be re-sewn. There were dark stains all over which I was unable to remove. I solved that the best I could by hand-embroidering circles of iridescent glass beads over the stains and randomly around the gown. The beads are handmade in China and each one is slightly different, so they have an old-fashioned look. Now the dress still shows its age without showing its stains. It's a really nice dress now. It's obviously factory-sewn and has an attached slip. I added a handmade ruffled tulle caplet with gold trim and beads that has a kind of Snow White, princessy feel and also resembles wings, a braided golden circlet for Maggie's hair, and a magic wand made of bamboo, tulle, and glass beads, topped with a plastic "crystal" star. At first I gave Maggie unused vintage faux leather shoes, but they were a bit too large, so now I bought her a new pair of Tonner shoes designed for the 14 inch Betsy McCall. These are a pearl color and really go with the beading on her dress and they fit perfectly.

Another 1950s doll came to me wearing a strange glass bead necklace. It was very well made of clear glass beads strung on gray thread. The necklace had no closure; I only could take it off when I cut the doll's stretched-out bands to re-string her. I don't think it was factory-made, but then again, the doll seemed to have its original bands, so I don't know. The necklace is definitely old; the beads are marked where the dye rubbed off the thread onto them. The doll in question is supposed to wear a rhinestone necklace and I have the proper one for her, so I re-strung the beads into elastic beading thread and added a clasp to make a necklace for Maggie. It matches her dress and looks like it's the same age.

I covered stains with beaded medallions.

The dress has an attached slip.

Maggie can stand alone and poses well with her new stringing. She's not too tight, which could stress her old plastic seams. Her paint is fabulous. I didn't touch her with a paintbrush at all. She retains the sweet blush on her knees, chest, and cheeks. Her lips are bright. Her eyelashes are thick and full. She does have some rubs and scratches here and there in her paint. Most of these are in the joints, hidden when she's dressed. She does have a couple tiny, less than pencil eraser sized, orange rubs on her back and rear, one small scratch in her shoulder paint, and a very slight scratch on one side of her face. This is a light indention; it doesn't go through the paint or change color, so I just left it alone.

Maggie's paint is all original.

Maggie truly is magical now. I don't think any Good Fairy doll was ever made with this face mold, so she's totally unique, a one-of-a kind masterpiece. She will be for sale in my store as soon as I can stand to part with her, so please check:


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