Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wendy Ann's Tara Dreams

Several months ago I picked up this composition Wendy Ann doll by Madame Alexander. I don't know who Wendy Ann was meant to represent when she was made. By the time I got her she'd lost all her original clothing and wig. The composition 12-23 inch Wendy Ann is by far my favorite Alexander face sculpt. She was made through the 1930s into the early 40s. Someone re-strung this doll and gave her a dark curly wig before she came to me. We are here in the South as well, so I decided she just had to be Scarlett O'Hara, despite the fact that I ordered a tagged Wendy Ann dress before she arrived.

The doll's eyes were shattered.

Wendy Ann's partial restoration included re-stringing, a new wig, and rather unfortunate epoxy repair to her feet, but she still had shattered eyes with cracks underneath and all over crazing and paint wear. Other than the epoxy repair the earlier restorations were skillful, so I re-worked the feet. The wig is really lovely. It has lots of color variation like real human hair wigs. It feels like synthetic hair, though, so I'm not sure. If it's a synthetic it's a very high quality wig. It didn't need any re-styling.

She had crazing and cracks under her eyes.
Wendy had crazing and writing on her body.

Her feet had a very amateur repair.

I first gave Wendy a good cleaning. Then I sanded down the epoxy on her toes and also sanded it off her arms and leg, where the restorer had smeared it mistakenly and let it dry. I repaired her crazing according to the method shown in my earlier post: Then I repainted any areas that needed new paint.

Wendy Ann after restoration.

There is still slight scraping to the paint in the joints.

I tackled the shattered eyes next. I decided to make her eyes green since I had to repaint them anyway. They turned out beautifully in my opinion, and I wrote a step by step tutorial so you can see exactly how to do it. I use sun catcher paint and Sharpie-type markers for these glass eye repairs as shown here:

Wendy's re-painted eyes, cheek blush, and lips

One eye has shortened eyelashes.

I already had a jacket and bonnet from the Jacqueline-face 1960s or 70s Portrette Scarlett doll by Madame Alexander. This set had been in a storm or damp basement or something and had gotten wet. You might remember I altered the dress for my Cissy with Scarlet Roses doll a while back. The other pieces are slightly loose on Wendy Ann but do fit so I decided to save my Wendy Ann dress for another doll and use them.

I had a slip from another Portrette doll, and I made a dress and pantaloons of vintage fabrics cut from an old wedding gown. I got some vintage replacement shoes in the style of the original Wendy Ann dolls.

Handmade pantaloons

A Madame Alexander Portrette slip

I've gotten a lot of mileage from the wedding gown I bought many months ago at Goodwill. It was about $25, a great deal, considering the amount of lace and fabric I've used. I still have a good bit of the dress left. This time I used it to make the pantaloons and the dress. The pattern for the dress is a vintage Revlon doll formal dress pattern. It's slightly shorter than the slip so the lace and ribbon trim peek out from underneath the dress.

I like the dress pattern because it can be worn alone and it looks very 1930s. When you add the slip and jacket is transforms into an antebellum over-dress. Madame Alexander always put enormous detail into the Gone With The Wind costumes, just like they had in the movie, and I wanted to do the same. I beaded the lace hem all around with varied green glass beads and beaded the front of the neckline to match.

The vintage Alexander bonnet had one ribbon faded to turquoise, and it had lost all but one original flower. I added vintage flowers with new beads and guinea feathers. I'm happy with the result. I think the costume has all the glamour of the original Scarlett dolls, and the doll herself turned out very well. I'll be happy to display Scarlett in my cabinet until she sells! You can find her and many other dolls in my store, so please check:

I have been glad to have a project the last couple days. Between something that's happened and my bee sting I've been very agitated and have had trouble sleeping lately. It's been good to have consuming work. I will say, every so often I have a premonition or a dream that turns out to be a bit prophetic. I think this happens to many of us. If only we understood the brain a bit better, so we could tell how much of these things are true.

Scarlett can sit and stand alone.
As it happens, late last year my husband suddenly announced he wants to adopt another child. This was a shock because I'd been trying for years to convince him to adopt another and he wasn't interested.  By the time he decided he was ready, I wasn't sure I was anymore. Our youngest will start Kindergarten in a couple weeks and I'll be freed, for the first time in nine years, from a routine of taking a child nearly every day to therapy. We've been kicking the idea around, discussing whether or not to add another child to the family, whether to pursue domestic or international adoption, with no firm agreement on any part of it.

The strange thing is, a few months ago our youngest, a naturally sensitive and spiritual child, began telling me we were going to have a baby soon. He and his sister even got all the baby toys we have in the attic out and piled them on the floor a couple weeks ago. He told me they were for the baby who was coming. I informed him we weren't getting a baby any time soon so we could put those toys away!

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A couple nights ago, however, I had a dream my husband walked in the door, home from work, carrying a baby boy. He handed him to me and said, "Here. His name is Sammy." I remember holding him and looking at him and thinking, "Sammy. It's not really the name I'd probably have chosen", before I woke up.

Yesterday afternoon, as I sat working on my eBay store my husband walked in the door, just as in the dream, and told me a family member had a baby boy in prison. She didn't tell anyone she was pregnant, so the baby was exposed to the methadone she's been taking as treatment for a drug addiction. Her parents don't want the baby and none of us knew he was on the way, so he's been placed in foster care. My husband said, "I told them we would take him."

The Alexander mark

Totally true story! Spooky, right? Now, we are certainly no strangers to taking special needs children. We're old hands by now at adoption and doctor visits and therapy. This particular relative has other children we've been trying to help as much as we can over the years, buying clothes and Christmas presents, sending money. I wanted them the minute they were born, the first when the mother was still in high school, but she wasn't willing to give them up.

I sat there trying to remember if I gave my co-sleeper to one of my sisters, because I know another sister has my bassinet, and wondering if I still have a bottle warmer somewhere, and somehow totally forgot all the apprehension I'd been feeling about starting over again with a new baby and how I'd felt like I really preferred a girl. As events unfold, however, it turns out there's another family member who wants the baby and my husband would prefer she take him, despite the fact she's never had a baby, much less one needing special care. She's always wanted to be a mother, though, and has already thought up a name for him. Then, a little later it turned out the mother, who initially told the state to put him up for adoption, has also named him and is apparently not terminating her rights. Neither one named him Sammy.

Oh universe, why do have to be so cruel? Why must these hints never tell the entire story? Why must we have something we never knew we wanted dangled in front of us, only to be snatched away? It's just really not what I needed right now. There's no telling how things will unfold, so I guess we will just wait and see. As Scarlett so famously said, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

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