Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's Raining Discounts!

It's been too long since I posted! Believe me, I KNOW! The past few weeks have just been ridiculous. My youngest got sick with a painful, swollen face. We had X-Rays and a dental exam, visited the pediatrician three times, did a round of antibiotics, tried home remedies like tea bags placed inside his mouth, visited the orthodontist and had panoramic images taken, then went back to the dentist and had another set of X-Rays and finally, an abscessed tooth was discovered. My son had that tooth pulled yesterday morning and is now on another round of antibiotics. Next week he has to go back in for a follow-up. Naturally we have a high-deductible insurance plan and we are now pushing $500 for this issue, NOT what I need this time of year when we are awash with birthdays and Christmas spending. Luckily, about a week ago I set up discount offers for October and November. I hope you will take advantage of them! 

In my eBay store I have vintage dolls 20% off. Then I'm offering several multi-buy discounts, which allow you to save more as you spend more. Kids' and babies' clothing and gear is Save $5 for every $50 you spend. Doll making and repair supplies are Buy 1, Get 1 20% off. That sale is mix and match, so you can buy supplies for different types of repairs and still get the deal. To see all my multi-buy discounts at any time you can visit I still haven't figured out how to get regular sales to show up there, however, despite watching two webinars and emailing with customer service reps all week, so it's safest to visit my Atelier Mandaline store to see all my sales! Maybe someday I'll figure it out!

Etsy coupon code

You can take 15% off any order from my Etsy shop through 10/31 when you use the coupon code: SPOOKTACULAR at checkout. My newest listings in that shop have been primarily doll clothing and shoes for Ginny, Alexander-Kins, and Betsy McCall and Penny Brite dolls. I have tons and tons of dolls and trunk sets and gift sets and doll and book gift sets partly finished and flung here and there throughout the house. The barrage of doctor visits, band events, and school projects, along with preparations for visitors tomorrow and a birthday party on Saturday, has put me way behind. I really hope after all our guests leave I can get back to work.


I have had trouble working this week partly because I am literally exhausted. We have a situation in our extended family which started two years ago and has just been getting worse and worse. No one else is very worried about this, and the people around me are sick of hearing about it, so I just feel friendless and alone and so upset I haven't been able to sleep. I've slept fewer than 7 hours over the past two nights. In some part my sleeplessness is due to the fact that Friday is Senior Night, so I have to walk out on the football field in front of the entire town with my son, and I've been trying to lose weight on this protein shake diet for three weeks and have been waking up about 3:30 AM starving and too hungry to go back to sleep.

Mostly, however, I am upset because of a situation which has placed children, babies, actually, in a wildly inappropriate environment (which, as a biological and adoptive mother with many years of experience dealing with child development, is almost unbearable to me) and I am not being allowed to do anything about it. Most of the adults involved are acting extremely selfishly instead of putting the best interest of the children first, and a couple actually tricked me into vouching for them in a letter to a court of law by flat-out lying to me repeatedly. My husband has been entirely unsympathetic and unsupportive as well so the whole thing has really done a number on our marriage. It has me so incensed and anxious I just lie awake all night grinding my teeth and stewing about it and when I do fall asleep I have nightmares. So, my little PSA for today is, if you really care about the direction in which our country and society is heading please worry less when you're voting about ideological issues and more about the wreck that is our foster care system. Tiny children are on the front lines and their parents, no matter how drugged out, how many years incarcerated, how often they abandon their children, hold all the rights. The children have none, and they are the future of our country. Oh, and our tax dollars are paying to support all this!

My biggest wholesale order

Another worrying thing that creeps into my mind in the night is the amount of money I have been spending on inventory and supplies for my shops. I've been fielding requests for various items for months and my BOGO 20% off sale on doll supplies has worked so well I was almost cleaned out of eyes and crier boxes the very first day! So I held my breath and placed the largest wholesale supply order in my history. That's the printout above: two whole pages! The photo was taken in the wee hours when I decided to go ahead and get my shipping done instead of lying awake biting my nails. I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise!

A vintage doll school textbook

Fortunately I'm not really friendless. Through my shops and blog I've "met" so many wonderful people and I've had the really good fortune recently to strike up a fast friendship with Lyn, a woman I've never met in person, but who is always willing to listen to me vent and to give me great advice. Last night she told me to just focus on the things I can control. This morning as I reflected on that I realized how achy my shoulders have been. It's like I have a heavy load on my back. And I have had; I've been carrying a burden that isn't even mine and the fact that it's psychological doesn't make it any lighter. I hope my little venting post helps me release it. I have to just come to terms with the fact that I can't save every child. I can't control other people's actions. I can only make sure I'm doing my best and what I know is right.

Anyway, Lyn sent me a wonderful ticket to a more graceful age in the form of a vintage correspondence course textbook called Dolls. It appears in 1961 one could graduate with a doll making and repair degree from the Lifetime Career Schools and go one to run a successful shop. I sure wish this course had been around these past 15 years while I've been teaching myself through trial and error! Be on the lookout for many more doll-specific repair kits as I teach myself using this course. Some things are a little obsolete, obviously. Have a moldy Tiny Tears? I do, upstairs, so I looked up the fix. Why, you just order a new head from a "doll supply shop" and you can pop it on in seconds while your client waits! I wish! And broken walker doll legs aren't really fixable, so just order a new body from the same doll supply shop! I could certainly use that for a Muffie I have in my studio right now! I love the little dolly doctor shown in the book!

Maybe next week I will be able to get more projects finished for my shops. I'm really praying for sleep. Most of the last few days I've felt like I could pass out any second. Another thing on the way to the eBay and Poshmark shops, hopefully soon, which I forgot to mention, is an entire size wardrobe in boys' sizes 4-5. Among everything else I fit in this week was a day at the mall in Hickory to purchase my youngest all new clothes after he had to wear tight pants unbuttoned under his shirt to school two days in a row. Somehow he outgrew all his pants overnight! I have piles of girls' sizes 8-12 lying around waiting to be listed, too, and shoes, since my daughter jumped up another two sizes and is now in women's shoes. Surely she was an infant only yesterday! I hope to have those clothes listed by the end of next week, so please be on the lookout!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tutorial: How To Make a Mohair Doll Wig

Recently I got several dolls in stock whose wigs were either missing or damaged. Tiny wigs made to fit the 8 inch Ginny and similar dolls are hard to find and quite expensive when you do come across them. Wigs made from mohair, like the early Ginny dolls', are even more rare. I have a big box of various types of hair so I decided to have a big wig-making day and finish several dolls.

Sew the hair to a wig strip.

Since I had so many wigs to make I didn't bother with wig caps. Instead I went with the technique used by most of the Ginny knock-off dolls of the time, where the hair is sewn to a strip of fabric. I used tulle net and just sewed the mohair to it so the stitches are almost like a part. I did not put the line right in the center but a little to one side, because later I moved the hair to the side to cover the stitching line.

The finished stitching

To cover the stitching line begin lifting thin strands of hair with a bamboo skewer from the longer side of the hair. Move each one over the stitches to the other side.

Move some hair over the stitches.
The stitches are covered.

Once you've covered the stitches you will need to comb out the mohair using the skewer. Just pull the point of the skewer from the part outward until the hair is smooth and looks like real hair. As you are combing out the mohair you will pull lots of hair from the wig. That's all right. Save these pieces for later use.

Comb out the hair.

Save the combings for later use.

The wig after combing

When the wigs were combed out I used a bald Ginny doll to shape them. It's really necessary to have a head to mold the hair onto. I borrowed a Barbie hair salon chair from my daughter to keep the doll still. You could use a doll stand as well, but I like the taller chair to keep the head where it's easier to work on.

Use a bald doll to shape the wig.
If you want to make a wig with braids or pigtails you can use the combings to make hair ties that match. Take a piece of mohair and twist it into yarn with your fingers. Then thread the yarn on a tapestry needle and use it to tie the braids or any other part of the wig that needs to be sewn in place.

Use the combings to make ties.

Twist the combing into yarn.

Thread on a needle.

Use the yarn to tie the hair in place.

The tied braids
For other hair styles like flips, I roll the hair into the style I want and pin it with small hair pins or even straight pins. Pipe cleaners can also work for this. After the style looks as I want I spray the heck out of it with Mink hairspray. I use Mink because it gives the hair, especially mohair, a shimmery finish. Mink holds almost like shellac, as well. Just spray it, or any aerosal hairspray, on until you see little droplets and then let it dry without touching it.

I prefer Mink hair spray for mohair.

Spray until droplets form.

I can hardly ever find small doll sized bobby pins and even the miniature ones you can find are too big for 8 inch dolls. With mohair you also need sharper pins, rather than blunt pins. When you find old dolls with their original pins you can see they used wire pins with sharper tips than the ones we have today. I make my own  pins out of florist's bright wire. I just cut a bit of wire and bend it into shape with pliers.

My custom hair pins

For the Ginny doll shown at the top of the post I tied her hair into pigtails and then rolled them into little buns and pinned them with my hair pins. For the Lucy Lollipop shown below I rolled the hair into a flip and sprayed and then pinned it into place.

To attach the wig, either glue it on with a water soluble glue like Aleene's Tacky Glue or use Velcro. If using glue trace the hairline with a line of glue and fill in the scalp, then turn the wig inside out, place the center strip in the glue, and fold the wig down over the head. Tie a ribbon or rubber band around the wig to hold it in place until dry. For composition dolls do NOT use glue. Instead use mucilage or rubber cement. The reason for this is you can't soak composition heads in water to remove a wig, but mucilage can be poked with a knife or skewer once it's dry and crumbled away so the wig can be taken off. If you want to change wigs often glue a piece of Velcro on the doll's scalp and glue the corresponding piece inside the wig. You can make several wigs this way and substitute them whenever you want.

Lucy Lollipop's flip

Both the Ginny and Lucy dolls shown in this post are for sale, along with many other dolls, in my eBay and Etsy shops. The braided wig will be used for a future doll. I am thinking of making these wigs for sale, so keep watching my stores for those.

June Bride, Ginny

Last night I really pushed myself to finish the first trunk set of the holiday season, a Ginny Bridal Trousseau. I've had this idea in the works forever. Last year I completed a June Bride Ginger set and still have a June Bride Jill to do. It's just like me to finally finish these in October, rather than June! Oh, well. I know you longtime readers know of my love for trunk sets, despite that I can make much more money selling the dolls and outfits individually. It's not a financial pursuit as much as a creative one. I so love imagining all the scenarios and setting up each little vignette of a doll's "life." It's a gift to the childhood me; I desperately wanted a doll with a trunk full of clothes like the one in a favorite book, A Is For Annabelle by Tasha Tudor, but I never got one. I hope my trunk sets go to little (or not so little) girls who will love them as I would have and as much as I love making them!

Ginny arrived filthy but otherwise in good shape, except for her wig. "Wig" is really an overstatement; it was more like a few strands of hair clinging to her head! I made her a new wig from strawberry blond mohair. The original wig looked like it was lemony-blond, but the color I chose matches her eyebrows almost perfectly. After cleaning and re-wigging Ginny looks close to mint. Her sapphire blue eyes stick open but they are easily opened and closed manually. Her head-turning walker mechanism works perfectly.

Ginny's handmade flannel robe

Her pajamas are handsewn from seersucker.

The elastic has a spot.

Ginny gets ready for the day in her handmade seersucker pajamas and flannel robe. These are actually sewn by hand, not machine-sewn, and the technique is exquisite. I got these in a big lot of beautifully handmade Ginny clothes. The pajamas' elastic has age spots I couldn't remove.

Ginny's veil is handmade.

The dress is tagged.

Dress #64 of 1955

Ginny is all ready for her big day in her gorgeous bridal gown, #64, of 1955. This is satin with lace overlay. I made her a lace and tulle veil and bouquet from vintage velvet flowers and gave her new gold satin ballet flats to complete the ensemble. The dress is just pristine and it is tagged with  crisp tag. It does not look as if it were ever used. I added a pink modern plastic wedding cake to her wedding set.

Coat #6180 of 1956

Ginny stays cozy through winter fun in her knitted wool skater dress with matching panties and beret topped off with coat #6180 from 1956. I'm not sure if the skater dress is handmade or factory made. It's very well done, in any case. The coat is another pristine piece, tagged, and made of twill collar and cuffs trimmed with tatted heart-shaped lace. Ginny's shoes are side-closure blue squishy plastic without heels or maker's marks.

Tagged summer set, unknown number and year

Ginny's summer set is the outfit she came wearing, so it's the one I know was used. The tag has a little fraying on the edges and the ribbon ties of the horsehair hat are faded and frayed. The set is still adorable, however. I added a new paper parasol, socks, and new pink satin ballet flats.

The monogrammed brooch

A while back I got a doll lot of Ginny and competitor's clothing and it contained this metal bow with a heart charm monogrammed "G". I can't find anything about this piece, but it certainly looks like the vintage Vogue Ginny and Jill jewelry, except larger. I wonder if it broke off a metal trunk or piece of furniture or something. One side has deep scratches and corrosion. Some rhinestone sets are missing. I glued a pin back to the piece to make it into a brooch. I thought it would be fun to add a brooch which either Ginny or her owner could wear.

The trunk has some wear.

Ginny's trunk set
Ginny's trunk has expected wear; nothing too bad. It fits all her clothing and is complete with its drawer to hold small items. I think this would be a wonderful set for play or display. It certainly has several outfits which could be used to outfit a Ginny collection. Besides this set I have several Ginny tagged and untagged and even some boxed outfits in my shops. I hope you will check Atelier Mandaline on Etsy and eBay.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Savings Spooktacular

October has already begun. Where has the time gone? This year is just flying by. I don't know about you, but I've already started my Christmas and birthday shopping (naturally all our kids have birthdays in the months right around Christmas, so all our spending is at one time). I assume many people are already picking up gifts and holiday clothing so I'm loading up the discounts in my eBay and Etsy stores.  I haven't quite figured out how to do sales on Poshmark yet, and actually, even though I was truly enjoying my cover photo shoots, the week was eaten up by illness.

My youngest woke up Saturday with his face terrifyingly swollen and painful. He had dental X-rays and a cleaning on Thursday, so we were pretty confident it wasn't related to his teeth. The doctor eventually decided he had infected lymph nodes. At any rate, the illness required three trips to the doctor and two and a half days home from school. So Poshmark was put aside for a time. Now, of course, we are battening down the hatches in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. We are praying for our vacation place on Hilton Head Island; a tornado was spotted right next door earlier this afternoon. and I've already been down once to bail out our elderly pontoon boat's cover. I didn't do too much photography today because the light wasn't great, but I did list a rare Shirley Temple dress in the Etsy shop. The Etsy sale is simple: through October 31st save 15% off any order when you use the code SPOOKTACULAR at checkout.

Lissy as Meg
Even with my little sick baby I did accomplish a lot this week. I am feeling proud. I restored and listed a huge Madame Alexander collection dating from the 1950s to the 1990s in both the eBay and Etsy shops. I have different dolls in each shop so you'll want to check both. Many of the dolls in the collection are super rare and they are just absolutely pristine. One, Lissy as Meg from Little Women, still had a piece of wrapping paper stuck to her box!

Wrapping paper still on the box

I finished a really exciting one of a kind project this week as well. I designed my own line of bags and greeting cards featuring my photo of my ultra-rare Lenci doll. The Lenci doll costs (and is worth) a fortune because she's such a historic doll and in amazing condition, so I thought Lenci lovers such as myself might want a more affordable way to get a Lenci fix. First I had a tote bag printed with the doll. This bag is gorgeous and useful. It's a generous size when unfurled but it folds up as small as a smart phone for portability. The bag is made of polyester faux silk, which is shimmery and sheer but strong and water resistant at the same time, and the back is printed in a blue, gray, and red medallion pattern. The bag is perfect as a gift bag, since it's an extra gift in itself, and would work for library books or doll making, felting, or knitting supplies as well.

My exclusive Lenci tote bag

The bag folds up for portability.

The idea of using the bag as a gift bag made me think of designing a matching greeting card, so I had one printed up. It's a blank card so it can be used for any occasion. The card is professionally printed on signature cardstock, so it can framed as art. It's another gift within a gift! It's a throwback to Madame Lenci herself, who used to release collections of postcards featuring each new series of dolls as the dolls became available. Those postcards are rare and expensive now, so I thought collectors might enjoy a modern version. This is an experiment I'm running to see if there's any demand for these types of products, so I have just one card and only two bags. If they do well I'll have more printed up.

My exclusive blank Lenci greeting card
My eBay store's Auction Event was a fantastic success so this month I'm trying another sale: my Shop More, Save More Sale. For each $50 you spend you get $5 to $10 off, depending on the category. Dolls and tons of kids' clothes and gear are included in this sale, which is running through October 21st. To get the discounts you add all the items you want to your cart and then check out. The sale cannot be combined with the "Make Offer" option or auction bids. The last sale cleared out so much inventory I was able to rearrange and consolidate my doll, baby, and kids' clothing and I ended up with three huge empty tubs. I guess it's time to shop for more!

Rearranging my inventory, with help from the kitten