Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sherri, Baby

I feel like I've done nothing but work for months, and without a commensurate return for my efforts financially, or in the case of child-rearing, behavioral re-payment.  I'm just exhausted, I guess, and that makes me get sad. I need to go lie on a beach somewhere. Since that's not possible, I am happy to report I really enjoyed my most recent project: a restoration of Madame Alexander's 1965 Pussy Cat baby doll. This is the hard to find 22 inch version.

The doll had a botched eyelash replacement.

Her body had come unsewn and was inexpertly repaired.

Her hair was cut and fuzzy.

Pussy Cat was somebody's much-loved and played with baby. I love to see that, even though it means a lot more work for me. I always think it's so sad to see a doll in perfect shape, never loved or bathed or confided in, just set on a shelf or kept in a box forever. Dolls, especially baby dolls, are meant for play! This baby was done, though; just played out. She lost her eyelashes and someone tried to replace them but botched the process so she had white glue all over her eyes and still was missing lashes. Her body came unsewn and an unskilled seamstress tried to fix it (probably her little mommy). Her body and limbs needed cleaning. Her crier didn't work. Her hair was matted and had either broken off in sections at the front or had been cut.

I sewed the body less visibly.

I started by giving the doll a good cleaning. I initially hoped to save her hair with a conditioning treatment and new set but it was too far gone, so I shaved it off. I selected a red curly wig that's an absolutely perfect fit. This inspired me to re-name her "Sherri" after my big sister. My Sherri is most fortunate in her gene pool allotment of coloring, unlike myself. She has eyes so dark brown they're almost black and appear pupil-less, but then she has a gorgeous fair peaches and cream complexion sprinkled with cute freckles, and red hair that's dark like this doll's now but was the copper color of a new penny when we were young. I'm all brown. Brown skin, brown hair, brown eyes. When I was young my mother would tell me I looked like a "little dirtball". Ah... Norwegian parenting! Anyway, this baby with her red curls and big dark eyes reminds me so much of Sherri I named her after my sister!

The repaired seam

After I placed the new wig (which I glued with water-soluble glue so it can easily be soaked off and replaced if desired) I removed the head and set it aside. Since I had to remove it to replace the crier box I decided to go ahead and remove all the stuffing and re-sew the repaired seam with matching thread so it looks more professional. Then I re-stuffed the body halfway, replaced the crier box, and finished stuffing it. Then I replaced the head. That process is shown in a different post:

The doll after restoration.

I couldn't remove some spots from her cloth body.

The mark from the old crier box

The Alexander mark

After fixing her body I colored in two tiny cheek rubs and then painted over some pink spots on her face to lighten them. I replaced her eyelashes with new brown ones. I haven't used these doll lashes before. Usually I use vintage doll lashes, which are like miniature false eyelashes, or human false eyelashes rather than these sheet lashes. They are HARD to place! They aren't curved and don't have adhesive to help keep them where you want while you glue them on. It took a long time and I wasted a lot of lashes, but I finally got them looking good.

The doll with replaced lashes.

I dressed Sherri Baby in her original Pussy Cat dress, bloomers, and booties. The dress needed a little bit of the seam re-sewn inside the armhole but otherwise looks pretty good. It had been washed so much over the years the writing washed off the tag, but I've seen this dress on other Pussy Cat dolls. I don't see it too often, though, so it's not one of the more common versions. I washed the dress but couldn't remove a couple small black marks here and there. Luckily these are mostly in the back and side and don't show too much.

The doll's original dress

The printing washed off the tag.
The dress has a couple black marks.

This doll just turned out so well, I think! She's a wonderful, heavy doll to hold and feels like a real baby. Her beautiful face is so sweet. It's a wonderful sculpt. I really like her with the curly hair as well. This is a lovely display doll but would also be suitable for play. You can purchase her, and many other dolls in my store: Atelier Mandaline. I'm going to add a video to this post so you can hear the baby's cry; she sounds like a little lamb!

Besides feeling tired and kind of depressed right now, I'm really grieving for a friend of mine. A few years ago his life wasn't really heading in the direction he wanted so he packed everything up and moved to the beach. He recently started a new relationship and I was really happy for him, but now the woman died and he's devastated. I'm just so sorry and angry on his behalf. It's a reminder to love those who are special in our lives with the utmost fullness every day, and to tell them often what they mean to us. It's a difficult thing, to see the wonder in each day, and to cherish our everyday lives. Things become mundane. We get complacent. The only permanence in life, however, is change. I hope I can make the most of new opportunities and relish new adventure without losing my sense of the present, and I hope for that in your lives as well. The people we love are never really gone, whether they're far away from us or gone on ahead of us, we can conjure them in our hearts.

Pussy Cat, restored as "Sherri Baby"

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