Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Boudoir, Back In Time

Recently I restored a 1920s boudoir doll from my personal collection into a custom doll for a client. The same client wanted another doll to wear an outfit she already purchased. In this case she wanted a more childlike doll. The outfit's dimensions require the long, slender physique of a quite large porcelain or boudoir doll, however, and most of those depict adults. I searched and searched, driving to thrift stores up to an hour away, pouring over online listings, for a doll to fit the dress. In the end I wasn't able to afford a child doll. The doll needed to be 24 inches tall. Truly vintage or antique porcelain dolls of the French bebe type, such as those by Bru or Jumeau, are enormously expensive and I wasn't able to find a cheaper reproduction tall enough.

In the end I got a 1940s boudoir doll and restored her as a younger-looking doll. The doll originally had a short, curly mohair wig and dramatic eyeshadow and long lashes painted straight up to her eyebrows. The brows were high and arched like wings. Unfortunately, my "before" photo file has corrupted and won't display, so you're only going to see the "after" photos. This doll was a perfect candidate for restoration because, although she was all original, one eye had discolored so one was brown and the other green. Her hard plastic face had black spots all over it. This is a common problem with the 1940s plastics. The spots can't be cleaned but hard plastic can be painted, so I painted over the spots with oil paint, removing her makeup in the process so she looks more like a girl. After the face re-paint I also painted her eyes so they matched. My client requested brown eyes, so that's what I did.

The doll originally had high heel feet.

Padding alters the body's shape.

Since my customer wanted a younger girl doll I covered up the doll's original high heeled feet with quilt batting sewn around the shoes. Then I covered those with socks and sewed them to the legs. The doll is now able to wear girl's Mary Jane style shoes, reproductions of the 1920s and 30s originals. The dress required the doll to be a bit fatter (why can't that ever happen to me?) so I wrapped her waist with quilt batting to make it about two inches smaller than the finished waist measurement of the dress. She should now fit the dress without it being too tight.

The head was originally stapled on.
This doll's head was originally stapled to the cloth torso. Her staples were missing on the front, however, and someone tried to glue the head back on without success. There was padding glued to her cloth chest to make a larger false bust. I removed the bust padding before sewing the waist padding in place. Then I glued the chest place back down and also dipped a pin in glue and pinned the chest in place. When I was finished I made a sort of shirt out of lace ribbon to hide the old staple holes and pin and to cover the quilt batting so it won't catch on stuff. The client requested leggings, so I made some out of wool felt. All the clothes are sewn on, as a boudoir doll's traditionally is, but the shoes can be removed.

The doll with shirt, shoes, and leggings

My client wanted a long curly wig on the doll because her outfit has a bonnet and the long hair peeking out will look cute. I took photos of several wigs and glued on the one my customer chose. It really is perfectly shaped to show under the bonnet!

The finished doll

So, now our boudoir lady has been returned to youth, probably about a pre-teen age on the brink of womanhood. If only I could make myself look like I've gone back in time so easily! As always, please contact me to order your own custom doll or creation and check out all my finished pieces in my store: http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline.

The doll can stand if propped up now that she has stiff felt leggings and flat shoes.

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