Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jo's Catharsis

Things have been running less than smoothly around here, I'm afraid to say. I agreed to host a party tomorrow for my sister, who is selling Jamberry nail wraps, so I've been trying to cajole, bribe, beg, and otherwise entice some people to attend. I actually have high hopes for the nail wraps. They're supposed to last for two weeks. The removal is easier too; you just soak them in water and peel them off so the process doesn't ruin your natural nails like acrylic and gel polishes. Before children and when I worked as a graphic designer in an office I had gorgeous nails. I would spend every Saturday morning manicuring them for the week ahead. I'm hopeful the Jamberry wraps will stand up to doll repair so I can have pretty hands again. You can order Jamberry wraps from my sister's Facebook page: Specify you're ordering from Amanda's party if you want my party to get the credit.

Lissy is the only doll I've restored this week.

Naturally, since I'm planning a rare event, the dishwasher decided to die, and now the kitchen sink is also leaking into the cabinet below. I used to have a Bosch dishwasher and I absolutely loved it. You couldn't even tell it was running. However, I have a long-term plan for the kitchen that includes an induction cook top and oven from Ikea. That doesn't come in white. The Bosch dishwasher I want is only available locally in white and has to be special ordered in the stainless steel to match the Ikea oven, so the Bosch wouldn't arrive for a couple weeks. Luckily my daughter loves to hand wash dishes!

I replaced the elastic in Lissy's underclothes.

Even though I have the whole house to clean and lots of cooking to do, I spent the week attending meetings and breakfasts every morning but one. Then last night I tried to write my eBay store newsletter, but the Web site wasn't working and I ended up messing with it fruitlessly until 1 AM. So if you're anticipating the store news, I'm sorry. I'll get it out as soon as I can.

Lissy's costume is complete and original.

I repaired the lace on the pantaloons.

Not that there's too much store news to report. The rare Baby Button Nose I told you about sold before I ever got her listed and is already in the possession of her new owner. I spent several days trying to identify another Effanbee baby and finally figured out she's Sugar Plum. I'll write more on her when I get her finished. She's waiting for a new Mama cryer box to arrive. I cleaned my office, a massive undertaking of a couple days, listed some Barbie, Kelly, Krissy and other fashion dolls clothing and accessories lots, and finished one doll: Madame Alexander's Jo from Little Women.

This costume variation is rarer.

A few weeks ago I got a lot of dolls which included this doll. This Lissy is the straight arm and leg version from the late 1950s to around 1960. Right after this they discontinued Lissy and replaced her with the 12 inch Nancy Drew dolls. Lissy wears a less-common variation of the Jo costume and it's totally complete. Her hair is still in its original set with the hair pins in place.

Lissy has her original hair pins and ribbon.

Lissy's problem was that she was grimy and stank of cigarette smoke. Her face was yellowed from the smoke as well. The original owner had cinched her petticoat and pantaloons around her waist with a rubber band and it had rotted into her waist. I cleaned her with a Mr. Clean Eraser and then with white vinegar and set her in the sun to bleach the darkening. I scraped the rubber band off her waist. Her eyes were sticking so I cleaned them with a toothbrush and window cleaner. They're working well now. I scraped glue residue off her face around the edges of her wig, and then I cleaned her all over with special doll cleaner.

Lissy's dress is tagged.

Lissy turned out really well. The darkening came totally off her face, leaving her with a clear peaches and cream complexion. Her big green sleep eyes work perfectly. I dabbed her hair clean with fabric softener and water so I wouldn't mess up the set. When it was dry I sprayed it with Febreze to eradicate any lingering smoke odor. I can't smell it at all now, and I'm really sensitive to cigarette smoke. When that was dry I sprayed her hair with hair spray to keep the set in place.

Lissy after cleaning

The only flaws I was not able to completely repair are two extremely faint and tiny brown pin marks on Lissy's face and a bit of glue residue around her hair line. I scraped the glue off as much as possible but the old dark glue seems to have stained the plastic in this spot. It's not a really large spot, however. I thought about blushing Lissy's face to help hide these issues, but I decided in the end that they aren't large enough flaws to detract from the value of Lissy having all original paint, hair, and costume.

Glue residue stained the face in one spot.
I couldn't fully remove two tiny spots.

All in all, Lissy turned out well. If you search for the Lissy Jo doll online you will see she's not terribly common, and even less so wearing this costume variation. She's a fantastic doll to add to your collection. Beatrice Alexander loved Little Women so much she made a set of the dolls either every year or nearly every year, depending on which expert you believe, the company has been in business. I'm planning a custom set of Wendy-Kins as the four girls and Marme, and I guess I'll finish it if things stop breaking around here. In the meantime you can purchase this doll and many more in my store, so please check:

My Effanbee baby research turned up an unexpected bonus: a love story! I ordered a large lot of Patricia Smith Modern Collector's Dolls, volumes 1-4, published in the 1970s. The baby in question isn't pictured (in FOUR books!) but there is a list of every doll released each year by each company and I was able to figure out who she is. Some of the books contained inscriptions, to Meriel from Fred. In 1977 Fred gave Meriel a Madame Alexander Collector's Dolls book for Christmas. In 1979 he gave Meriel another collector doll book for her birthday. A photo of a doll collection, dated May, 1977, was stuck in one of the volumes. I assume this is Meriel's collection, proudly displayed on the mantle at Christmas time. They had a son named John, it appears from the stocking hanging on the chimney. I noticed the homemade aluminum foil shelves adding extra display space, presumably by Fred. My husband noted Fred should have put some extra supports in as the shelves are sagging. Several places in the books contain notations about "our" dolls, which ones they owned and the worth at the time according to the Kovels. It seems Fred was a good man, willing to display dolls in his living room, avidly seeking new ones for Meriel. It's a sweet story! Innocent voyeurism such as this is so entertaining!

Fred and Meriel's doll collection in 1977

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