Friday, April 18, 2014

Wendy Ann, Fairy Princess

As many of you know, the Wendy Ann composition dolls of the 1930s and early 40s are among my favorites. I love the Wendy Ann face mold, with its sweet, pensive expression and pointed little chin. The earliest painted-eye Wendy Anns have a dimple on one cheek and tilt their heads to the side, which gives them an impish, mischievous look. Many of the Wendy Ann dolls were dressed as fairy tale characters, as well, like "Fairy Princess" and "Snow White" so it's fun to dress them. I love designing really over the top costumes and that's exactly what I did here.

I just had to have this Wendy Ann when I saw her, and I spent a lot more than I can hope to recover once I factor in my time working on her. Even in pretty poor condition you can expect to pay over $70 for an 18 inch Wendy Ann. I didn't care, though; I just really felt like I needed to restore this doll.

Wendy Ann came to me wearing a 1950s ensemble, probably originally belonging to Winnie or Binnie Walker or some other little girl doll. I know for a fact the pink rickrack trimmed crinoline is a Madame Alexander because it's so easily recognizable. The Wendy Ann little girl dolls wear very short organdy dresses, usually with net gloves, and tie front shoes with rayon socks. At first I thought I had a little girl Wendy Ann because of her bangs, but when she arrived I could see from the original hair pins still in place that her bangs had once been pinned back and she had a braided crown on the top of her head. The only other Wendy Ann I've seen with hair similar to this is a Fairy Princess from 1942. That lovely doll is pinned several times to my Doll Ideas board on Pinterest, so you can look at that if you want to see the inspiration I used for the costume.

The doll with shattered eyes and cracked face.

Wendy Ann needed cleaning and repair, especially to her eyes. Her eyes were shattered, or "blown" and the eye sockets had long cracks beneath them. To repair the cracks I used hard plastic epoxy. Then I painted the repairs and repaired all over crazing to her body.

The doll after repair.

You can see a step by step tutorial on crazing repair in my Wishing Wendy Well post: After the repair to the crazing I painted deep rubs in her paint where a doll stand once encircled her waist.

Materials for repairing shattered glass eyes.

To repair shattered eyes, first evaluate the color. If the color is very uneven you will want to paint over the entire eye using glass paints. These are designed for painting faux stained glass and are available at craft stores. They are transparent, so they will allow light to go through and restore the original look of the glass eye. Once the iris is painted and dry, use a black Sharpie or similar permanent marker to make a new pupil in the center of the eye. In the case of this doll, the brown irises were very even. She didn't have much of that "blind" look, so all I had to do was add a pupil to each eye.

Adding the pupils.

I needed to repaint Wendy's eyelashes, as some of them were rubbed away during the repair to the  cracks. I tried tracing over them with fine brown permanent marker, but they looked too dark, so I painted over them and painted them with a brush. They still came out really dark. I'm used to painting light Cissy and Elise lashes, and these seemed to gaudy. However, reviewing mint Wendy Anns I realized most of them did have much darker, heavier eyelashes than the 50s dolls. I guess Wendy was just showing me how her lashes were supposed to look! I do find that happens a lot; I will work and work to get a doll's paint of hair to look a certain way and it just will not come out as I intended. I think the dolls sometimes assert themselves to show me how they want to look!

The doll's repaired eyes.

Since Wendy's hair had its original barrettes and set I just cleaned it very carefully. The old human hair wigs tend to get rather dry and brittle. Then I pinned the bangs back as they would have been when first styled and curled the ends with rollers.

I dressed Wendy in a Madame Alexander nightgown from the Little Women Diaries series of the 1990s. Then I found a fabulous remnant at Mary Jo's for the over-dress. It's kind of like cross-woven linen in iridescent grays and blues and greens with a lot of brown as well. It's stiff and rather sheer. It looks just like something a Fairy Princess  would wear! I made up the pattern, fitting it by draping it on the doll right over the nightgown. I wanted a medieval, magical sort of style. The side panels of the skirt are bias cut to help the dress really stand out in the back. I hand beaded the back and front panels all over with glass beads and faux pearls. Then I added faux pearl and crystal drop trim to the open front of the gown. I made a crown out of metallic trim and added a veil made from a wonderful vintage scarf. I guess it's a scarf anyway. It came in a box of old doll clothes. The top had been hand rolled and hemmed with a circle opening just the right size for a doll head and the lower edges were rolled and trimmed all the way around with glass beads. It may have once been a doll wedding veil. I can't tell if it's a factory piece or not, but it's all hand-sewn with exquisite technique.

I made Wendy Ann a necklace with a cool vintage pendant I found. This came sewn to a pillow in a Little Mommy's 1950s doll sewing box. She'd been making her own doll blankets and stuff. I poached the pendant and made a necklace of glass beads. Then I made a "crystal ball" out of a floral glass weight and jewelry wire.

I had such a great time working on this doll. I think the result is every little girl's dream. My daughter was hopefully asking if I was making the doll "for someone"! She's a beautiful, mythical princess with an amazing costume. It's an appropriate subject for the things I've been thinking about lately. I've been helping my son write reviews of Romeo and Juliet. His class is comparing Franco Zeffirelli's and Baz Luhrmann's movie adaptations. I love both, but personally I thought Luhrmann's was pure genius. The part played by the Luhrmann landscape... the trailer park in the desert, with the heat and dust rising in waves: what could better portray exile? My son disagrees with me and prefers the Zeffirelli traditional movie, but at least I think I got him thinking about it more than he was. Anyway, I've had Juliet and her costumes in my mind.

Then last night I was heart-broken to hear Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died. He is a favorite author of mine. Such a literary light we've lost! Magical Realism is my favorite genre. Marquez paved the way for more of my beloved authors, such as Isabel Allende and Alice Hoffman. He taught us to notice the extraordinary mystery unfolding all around us every day in the midst of the ordinary, mundane grind.

So, this Wendy Ann is dedicated to Marquez. She could have stepped from the pages of one of his wonderful stories. You can find her and many other dolls in my store:

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