Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tutorial: How to Replace American Girl Doll Eyes

First untie the drawstring.
I finally got around to ordering a broken American Girl doll so I can make some tutorials on how to restore them. I thought it wasn't worthwhile to learn this doll because, after all, you can send your doll to American Girl's own hospitals and you can order customized dolls. However, the number of inquiries I am getting tells me there's a lot of interest so I decided to learn. Today I replaced an American Girl doll's eyes.

American Girl dolls are like Chatty Cathy and some other dolls whose eyes are specially made just for them. The Margon and other sleep eye brands can be used but they aren't a perfect fit. They are more round than the original oval-shaped eyes. If possible you will want to find original American Girl eyes. These are quite expensive, however, so many people like to order replacements. In the eyes I carry, the Margon brand, the 13mm size fits the 18 inch American Girl. When you measure the eye it looks like it takes a 14 or 15mm eye but the case on those sizes is too large and round to fit. You can buy Margon 13mm eyes from the eBay link on my website and you can custom-order them painted as you want from the Etsy link.

Once you have your replacement eyes go ahead and start by removing the head. To do this you untie the drawstring at the neck, loosen the neck opening, and remove the head. You will remove the eyes by popping them out of the socket and to do so you need to get the vinyl soft. You can heat the head with a blow dryer but it is faster to boil the head. If you need to remove the doll's wig boiling the head will help with that as well. It's important to note that boiling can remove the doll's original hairstyle and can possibly damage the face paint or bring out old stains in the vinyl. Therefore, you will want to consider whether you want to risk damage to a doll by boiling it just to change the eyes. If nothing else is wrong with your doll you will want to consider the hair dryer rather than boiling to heat the vinyl.

Boil the head until the vinyl is soft.

It only takes a few minutes to soften the vinyl. You don't want to melt the doll, so check it after 3-5 minutes to see if it is soft. If not boil it a few minutes more and check again. When the vinyl is easily pliable when you squeeze the face it is ready. Don't get burned! Use a heat resistant glove or pot holder until the vinyl cools enough to touch. Squeeze the face around the eye until the eye pops out of the head.

Squeeze the face and pull on the eye.

The eye will pop out.
Dry your doll's eye sockets with a towel. When the sockets are dry but the face is still warm and pliable insert the new eyes. To insert the eyes you first squeeze the face around the eye socket as you did to remove the eyes. Squeeze the socket open wide and press the new eyes into place. It takes strong hands and patience, but the eyes will pop back into the socket. Try to press most on the frame around the eye rather than the iris or the eyelid to make sure the eyes will still function once you get them in.

Squeeze the eye socket open.

Press the eye in place.

The eye will probably be a little wonky when it goes in, so straighten it out by pressing gently against the frame with a bamboo skewer or similar tool.

Straighten out the eye with a skewer.
When the eyes are straight and you confirm they are opening and closing properly you can replace the head on the body. You just insert the head back into the neck hole and re-tie the drawstring. Sometimes the metal frame around the eye is still slightly visible when you insert the eyes. You can paint the silver frame to match the skin either before or after insertion with artist's oil or acrylic paints. It's probably most durable to paint the frames after insertion. The particular doll needs wig replacement, re-painting, re-stringing: the whole nine yards, so I will make tutorials all along the way. Check back for those. When the doll is finished she will be for sale, so make sure to check my stores for her.

The finished eyes

Monday, October 9, 2017

Flash Sale!

Through tomorrow (10/10) only, head to eBay and Etsy to save during the Atelier Mandaline Flash Sale. I refuse to call this a "Columbus Day" sale, since it's now clear Columbus didn't even come to America first and wasn't the sort of person we ought to celebrate anyway. Whatever you call it, the sale has been popular and things are flying out of the shops. If you have a specific item in mind you should jump on it before someone else! Most of my items are unique, vintage or handmade, or both, so I typically one have one of each.  Speaking of one of each, I have only two LulaRoe pieces left! These are a Nicole dress and a pair of leggings in the Tall & Curvy size. Each one of these is new with tags and I have only one of each. Make an offer on Poshmark or place a bid on eBay for those (there's only one of each piece; I just sometimes run items in more than one channel at a time to maximize views. I remove it from the duplicate channel if it gets a bid or offer). You can link to all my shops from the home page of my website. But hurry; since I started writing this post three more things have sold!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

An Unusual Eye Repair

Amy, Before and After
Yesterday I got a big box of dolls to repair. These came from a grandmother who hired me to restore her daughter's old dolls so she can give them to her granddaughters. I am honored to be chosen for such a task! I love the idea of passing down a doll collection. Over the years they become heirlooms!

The entire collection
Most of the dolls in this lot just needed restringing and minor cleaning up and hair styling. Amy, from the the Little Women series, had a bad eye, however. Her eye was all milky from soap scum. Evidently in the past someone gave her a bath and got soap in her eyes. Amy is a vinyl doll with pocket eyes, so there is usually no way to clean the eyes out. The moving eye is encased in a metal closed case and that is contained inside a vinyl pocket. I thought I would have to remove the eyes and replace them.

The bad eye
Eye removal is always a pain when you have one of the dolls with a wooden or metal neck plate inside the head. These disks, meant to stabilize the neck, are extremely difficult to remove. You have to heat the vinyl, either with a hair dryer or with boiling water, to soften it so you can pull the disk out of the neck. Then you have to heat the head again to re-insert it.

The stabilizer disk

Normally I remove the eyes by opening the eye socket and removing and inserting eyes from the inside of the head. In this case, however, I decided since I had to heat the head already I would use the boil method of eye removal and insertion. The boil method is where you place part or all of the head in boiling water until the vinyl is soft. Then you squeeze the head to pop the eyes out and pop new ones in from the front. I placed just the doll's face in the water because I didn't want to wet the hair. This type of synthetic hair will not be harmed by water but it is set with heat, so the style would come out. Please note, the boiling water can sometimes remove the doll's face paint and ruin the eyes, so only try this if you are already sure you need to replace the eyes and feel like you can repaint the eyelashes and lips and stuff if necessary.

Softening the face using the boil method.

In this case, I was stunned when I pulled the head out of the water to remove the eyes to see that the eye was all clear! Many times putting the eyes in water can make them cloudy, but in the case of soap scum it appears the boiling water scrubs all the soap from the eye! The eyes are still rather "sticky", that is slow to open and close or sticking open or closed. That is a particular issue with this face mold, called the "Nancy Drew" or "Pamela" face. The wide, round eyes, which are so indicative of their 1960s and 1970s origin when the "Big Eyes" paintings and dolls were popular, tend to stick for some reason. Dolls are always worth more when they are entirely original and these are collector dolls, clearly never play dolls, so I decided it is better to leave the original eyes. These are the type of dolls that mostly sit on a shelf, so their eyes are almost always open anyway. And, I can save my client the cost of replacing the eyes with new ones.

So this is a new, super-easy method of repair you can try if you think you are going to have to replace a doll's eyes. You can try this method and possibly save yourself a lot of time and money! I offer doll repairs in my doll hospital and also sell doll repair kits with tutorials to teach you to repair your dolls yourself. You can request a repair estimate or link to my shops to order repair kits and supplies from www.ateliermandaline.com

The repaired eye

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Today's the Day!

As promised, free returns begin today from Atelier Mandaline eBay! When you order from me I will pay for the shipping both ways. Today I also added a new option for exchanges. You may exchange an item for that of your choice, as long as the exchange is the same or lower price. Please review the return rules. Your item will arrive with either a manufacturer's tag or a pink tag attached. The tag must still be attached in order for the a refund to be issued if the item is returned. I hope to see you on eBay!

Friday, September 29, 2017

LulaRoe & Loss

This week has been chaotic as usual. Those of you who are longtime blog readers know I consider my youngest a little prophet. Despite our lack of regular church attendance he often tells me about things Jesus has told him. He can "hear church" in his head, he says. The other morning while getting ready for school he randomly informed me that when we are in Heaven before we are born we get to decide how difficult our lives here on Earth will be. I was like, "Um, can I revise that decision?" Evidently I was an overachiever in Heaven!

Anyway, over the weekend we were visiting our son at college to see how he is doing. If you've been wondering, he's okay. He finally got to see a doctor after nearly a week and got on daytime insulin, so we don't have to worry so much about him having a reaction from very high or low sugar. He also saw an endocrinologist at last and is on a different insulin that seems to be working a little better. We are going to stay home this weekend to give him a little freedom now that he's more stable but last weekend while I was in Asheville I picked up a huge lot of LulaRoe clothes to sell for a consignor who has lost too much weight to wear them anymore. (If only that would happen to me! Maybe it will... you can follow along with my diabetic awareness/weight loss journey on my Instagram or Naturally Amanda Facebook pages.)

I have LulaRoe Perfect Tees, Classic Tees, and Nicole dresses in sizes L-2X in my eBay and Poshmark shops. These are selling extremely fast, so I recommend you head to the shops to bid or buy if you see some you like. I have only one of each in stock, so you will want to hurry to get your favorite.

Once we arrived home we could see it was time to "make a decision", as the vet said a few weeks ago, about our 15 year old Eskimo Spitz, Eli. Around April, Eli started dragging one foot and the vet thought it was a loose kneecap. We got him a very expensive leg brace, which he promptly lost or hid. The paralysis spread to his other leg and then to his back. He was too old for surgery. Up until this week he was still his happy go-lucky self. My husband built him a wheelchair and ramp and he used it some although the ramp scared him. However, the pet sitter said he had a "rough" night while we were away and when we got home we could see he had become completely incontinent. He also seemed to be in pain, groaning when we would carry him in and out. I have been holding on to him selfishly, I realized. We got Eli a few months before my oldest started preschool when I was grieving because we had just been informed we wouldn't be able to have any more biological children. My husband got me a "baby", Eli, to make me feel better. Eli represented a time when we were all young, when my son was still healthy, and I didn't want to let go, but I finally understood I was hurting him keeping him here. I couldn't take him to the vet; my husband had to do it. We said goodbye to Eli on Wednesday. I am devastated but my youngest son informs me Eli is running in Heaven and might have already been reincarnated as a new puppy, so that is a comfort.

Because we are insane and this wasn't unexpected I have had my eye on a few litters. I saw a shelter dog I wanted but he was snapped up immediately and all the others I looked at said they couldn't be around kids or cats, so they were a no-go. We are going to view the most promising litter tomorrow and I'm getting a little excited about it. Luna, our 1.5 year old Aussie has been extremely clingy and sad lately and I think she will love a new puppy to play with since Eli has been too feeble recently. My husband asked, "HOW long was it before Luna slept through the night?" So, I may be rather incoherent for the next few months from lack of sleep if all goes well tomorrow! Sometimes I think I should breed dogs and cats. I do enjoy them!

Another exciting event for me is half my orders today came from my website or my Atelier Mandaline Facebook page. I worried my website wouldn't be worth the cost, so if it's going to start paying off for me that's huge. I would so love to have my own freestanding store surpass my shops hosted by other sites! Fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Free Returns Are Coming!

Yesterday eBay released their most recent Seller Report and announced a change I've  suspected was on the way. Sellers who offer free 30 day returns will receive "increased visibility" for their listings. Those of us who have been on eBay for a long time, 16 years in my case, recognize this for what it is: a mandate. When eBay says sellers who do what they want will have increased visibility, what they are really saying is if you don't follow their preferred action they will hide your listings so  no one can see them.  Is this legal, when people are paying already to sell on their site? Apparently so.

The way eBay comes up with their preferred policies is by interviewing potential buyers about what they would like. Inevitably, the consensus is buyers would like all the newest tech, like phones and tablets, for at least 50% off. Oh, and high-end fashion and handbags, they want that too, starting at like $9.99, and they want it to be authenticated. And they want free shipping, and also free returns for at least 30 days.

You know, I would love to get everything for free myself, but it's pretty unrealistic to expect businesses to remain viable if they're giving stuff away all the time. I also wonder how exactly eBay expects sellers to provide these discounts without resorting to outright theft. Sustainable profitability seems to be a completely foreign concept to The Powers That Be at eBay, however. So, I'm trying to be positive about it; what my customers want, they shall get. Starting October 1st return shipping will be free for orders from my Atelier Mandaline eBay store.

"Free" postage has to be paid somehow, though. I run my business all by myself. I don't take any regular salary; I just use any extra money I happen to make to help out with our household expenses and the rest goes right back onto the business for things like seller fees and inventory. In the past month our broken air conditioner and children's surgeries brought us bills of $10,000. We haven't even received the bill for our Type 1 diabetic son's overnight stay in the ICU or any of his diabetic supplies or doctor visits yet. It was already a challenge for me to provide 30 day returns when eBay mandated that last year. It basically means I can't touch my money for 30 days, even though I have to pay my consignors' shares each month. Now I will have to factor in return shipping. Shipping often costs as much or more than the actual item I am selling and eBay taxes shipping, including it in sellers' "income" when they calculate our fees.

​I was able to avoid raising prices last year by tacking on a 10% restocking fee to returns, but eBay also announced they will no longer allow restocking fees in 2018, so I can't use that option anymore. Therefore, my prices on eBay will be going up at least 10% starting October 1st. If that increase isn't cutting it they could possibly rise even higher. Therefore, if you have your eye on something in my eBay store I encourage you to buy it before October 1st.

In other news, there are changes on the dietary front. My husband and I decided to eat the way our diabetic son must eat in order to fully understand his new lifestyle and help him adjust. I am taking it a step further and using diabetic keto test strips and following the original Atkins' protocol, where you start at zero carbs and add until the strips show your blood sugar has risen and you are no longer throwing off ketones. This is not a healthy or safe diet for a Type 1 diabetic, but for me it is a way to understand what my son is going through having to literally measure and test everything he eats. I would also love to lose a significant amount of weight and hope this will help. Today is Day 2 and I feel like total crud. You might remember I was following a 90% vegan diet and the change has torn up my stomach. I've had a constant headache for about two weeks as well, but I think that is more due to stress and insomnia than the diet. I am sharing my journey on Instagram and my Naturally Amanda Facebook page, so if you also follow a ketogenic diet, deal with Type 1 diabetes, or are interested in low-carb dieting for weight loss, please follow me. We can cheer each other on, because y'all, it's HARD. I can't even have wine right now!

Change can be difficult, but here's hoping it will be positive in the long run.

Friday, September 15, 2017

New Poshmark Discount Code

Since I JUST shared my Poshmark discount code yesterday, today they changed it! Now get a $5 Poshmark credit when you sign up with code STUDIOMANDALINE, which just happens to be my user name on Poshmark. If you haven't tried it, prepare to get hooked! Poshmark makes it easy to share, style, and save on fashion. Check out Studio Mandaline for kids' clothes, women's fashions, and Jamberry nail wraps!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jamberry Event Happening Now!

Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter will finally be getting a new edition today! I'm sorry for the vast delay. If you've been following the blog you know we have been caught up in our children's medical issues recently.  It's too bad, because I have a lot of exciting things going on in the shops. The newest is my huge Jamberry Auction Event, happening now in the eBay store.

I have partnered with a Jamberry consultant to help  liquidate her overstocked inventory. Jamberry Nail Wraps allow you to apply nail art at home, no matter your level of artistic ability.  I have an incredible number of these listed on eBay as well as Poshmark.  The collage above shows only a portion of what's available. These are getting bid up fast and the first set of auctions ends tomorrow (Friday) afternoon, so hurry to eBay to snag your favorites. We have a bunch of Halloween-themed wraps and wraps for other holidays, and some even glow in the dark! Many of the wraps are Host Exclusives or Stylebox Exclusives not available to the general public and quite hard to find.

Sign up for Poshmark using the code NLBOW for a $5 credit. You can make an offer on Poshmark or bundle three or more of my listings and get a discount.

Happy Jamberry-ing!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Whirlwind & A Hurricane

Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook are no doubt aware of my absence from the shop this weekend. I am sorry I was unable to write a blog post as well. On Friday afternoon I was working as always: listing on eBay, shipping orders, talking to clients. I was feeling optimistic because I set up a meeting with a new essential oils customer. I had plans to clean the house and harvest some herbs and vegetables before Hurricane Irma's expected arrival. Then I got a text message from my son telling me he was going to the doctor on his college campus due to a long list of symptoms he was experiencing. After that our whole lives were sucked into a whirlwind. 

Almost immediately my son sent another text to tell me the campus doctor told him to go to the ER. He drove himself, against my wishes. I got in touch with my sister in Asheville, about an hour away from my son but still two and a half hours closer than here. Then I called the pet sitter and found out she was out of town. I got in touch with a friend who agreed to watch our animals. She came by to see where the pet food is kept and find out the routine. My husband arrived home and tried to book a hotel room. My husband and kids threw clothes into suitcases while I rushed to package and ship orders. I threw my clothes into a suitcase. Later I would find I forgot to pack my shoes, my allergy oils, and my Thyromin.

We heated some leftovers for the kids, grabbed a couple sandwiches and jumped in the car, leaving a whole sink full of dirty dishes, which was almost painful to me. My sister sent me a text at that point explaining she was with our son and that he was being moved to the Intensive Care Unit. I was in such a state then I doubt I could have recited the alphabet, so it's a good thing my husband was driving. We dropped the younger kids off with my brother-in-law and finally made it to the hospital. Our son was awake and stable, so we were relieved, but shattered to find out he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Finally, close to midnight, we left the hospital. The hotels were full of hurricane evacuees so we were only able to stay one night near my son and had to crash at my sister's the next night.  Our son was discharged from the hospital Saturday morning when they had his blood sugar under control.

Because all this happened over the weekend, we were released from the hospital with very little information. The Walmart pharmacist in Sylva was incredible and gave us a demonstration of all my son's new equipment. We spent Saturday in Walmart and a series of pharmacies and diabetic food aisles, our lot cast with the hurricane refugees loading up on air mattresses and ibuprofen and bottled water.  I felt a kinship with them, all of us cast like flotsam into the unknown, victims of one kind of storm or another.

 My sister's family took us in Saturday night and fed us, despite a rather terrifying grill fire. Time for me, since Friday, has just been a blur of sugar counts and carbohydrate counts and doctors and insurance claims and a constant aching worry that my son's insulin levels will spike in his sleep, and make him fall into a coma, that we won't be able to find the money to pay all the hospital bills which have yet to arrive. We arrived home to a kitchen reeking from the unwashed dishes and the unemptied trash can, the stench of life interrupted. Hurricane Irma arrived here just after us, luckily downgraded to a tropical storm, although our neighborhood pool is now closed after a tree fell on it and I spent a sleepless night listening to the wind howl around our walls.

I am just going to go ahead and apologize in advance, because I am going to miss some things, I know it. I will be late to reply to messages or ship packages or "like" your Instagram pictures and Facebook posts or share your Poshmark listings. We will be spending most weekends for the foreseeable future in Asheville to be nearer our son. I was already struggling to keep up with our youngest son's medical schedule and now I have another chronic condition to deal with, this one three and a half hours away. Please be patient with me while I navigate my storm-torn life and learn to transform this terrifying unknown world into my new normal.

I want to thank all of you who reached out to us on social media, in texts and messages and phone calls. It was overwhelming and means more than I can say. My son is touched to find so many people all over the world, many of whom we've never even met, praying for him and wishing him well. We send all that love back to you a thousand fold. We wish you well, with all our hearts.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Reckstedable Things

My father liked to make up words. He once had a rabbit named "Razbucknick" and a cat named "Kyteen", a play on the words "rabbit" and "kitten", and when he was young he christened my grandparents' bathroom cabinet "The Cabinet Of Reckstedable Needs".  If you ever had seen this cabinet you would understand how appropriate the name was. My grandmother was a genius at organization and she got involved with their house before it was entirely finished and directed some brilliant changes in the design. Instead of a soffit over the kitchen cabinets she added smaller cabinets. A pony wall by the front door became a planter/cupboard. The coat closet was expanded to the entire length of the central hallway, and in the bathroom was added the Reckstedable Needs cabinet. I would love to have such a cabinet in my house! It was floor-to-ceiling blond wood with shelving inside to keep everything organized and one side of it was open on the inside to the basement laundry room, so it acted as a laundry chute as well as storage for almost all the linens, towels, medicines, and toiletries used by the household, all in an extremely compact area. I suppose "Reckstedable" is a combination of "wreck" and "indispensable", not that any of my grandmother's cupboards were wrecks when I knew her. I always think of her when I visit IKEA. I suppose when her children were young it was a different story. At any rate, I think reckstedable is a good word to describe a great number of unrelated but necessary items, and this post will cover a great many of such reckstedable things.

First, and most importantly, I implore you to join me on the Poshmark app tonight, 8/31, at 10PM Eastern Standard Time for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Party. Poshmark will donate $1 for each listing shared during the party. All you have to do is share to help the victims of Harvey via United Way! Since you will probably find a great deal on fashion, sign up using the code NLBOW when you download the app and you will get a $5 credit. I would like to direct you also to eBay and the Young Living Foundation because both are matching donations made to specific organizations for Harvey relief.  

I was able, thanks to my customers, to make a donation already and since I did it through eBay my contribution has twice the impact. So, thank you very much for allowing me to donate! I hope you are able to take advantage of these donation-matching programs. There, but for the grace of God, go we.

Second, I wanted to share a recent success in the essential oils department which you might find helpful. My youngest son was scheduled for a routine oral surgery in order to remove a couple baby teeth which are preventing permanent teeth from dropping down as they should. The next big part of the treatment for his congenital cleft lip and palate will be a bone graft in the area of his cleft, to provide a dental arch to anchor his permanent teeth and those teeth are delaying the essential surgery. He has had teeth pulled before while under nitrous oxide with no issues, so I wasn't worried about the procedure. However, as soon as the technician began lowering the chair, he completely flipped out. His anxiety was so intense the surgery had to be postponed. We had to go to a different surgeon, drive an hour each way, and use an anesthesiologist to put him under. This made the surgery cost $1000 instead of the $250 it would have originally.

I wanted him to have the procedure before school started so I was determined he should not freak out before the second surgery. I read a magazine article a few months ago about the results of a study using tangerine essential oil. Children facing anxiety-inducing dental procedures were given tangerine oil to smell before the procedure. The oil lowered the children's heart rates an average of six beats per minute when they inhaled it. On the way to the surgeon's I had my son inhale tangerine, Stress Away, and Valor oils in turn and think calming thoughts. He went into the surgery with no anxiety and everything went smoothly, a huge difference from our first attempt! I wish I had realized the first time how worried he was; I could have treated him with oils and avoided all the extra bother and expense. I use and sell Young Living essential oils and Stress Away and Valor are Young Living proprietary blends. If you have anxiety or are about to be in a stressful situation I highly recommend these oils!

Third, and finally, I have some new arrivals in the doll department of my shops. I have been working hard to get the stores stocked for the holidays, when dolls and toys are big sellers for me. The most recent additions are my Raving Beauty and Lonely Doll trunk set. I wrote blog posts on each of these restorations so you can read all about them. You can purchase them from Etsy and eBay using the links on the Atelier Mandaline website. Etsy is having their first-ever sale and my Atelier Mandaline shop is participating, so you will want to check that out! Look for extra discounts on eBay over Labor Day too.

Raving Beauty

Raving Beauty by Artisan
From the 1930s to the 1950s, which many refer to as the "Golden Age" of dolls, new, sturdier materials allowed girls to play with dolls much more safely and actively than the bisque and porcelain dolls of the previous generation. Doll and toy makers utilized composition and the new hard plastics to create large dolls sculpted to look like children. Little girls could be either a mother or a friend to their new doll, who looked and dressed just like them. When synthetic hair fibers were invented dolls could also have their hair "permed" and styled just like their little mommy's. Just after this era, miniature dolls and then adult-figure fashion dolls took over the market. Ordinary girl dolls were not to come back into fashion in any great way until the American Girl doll made her debut. This doll, Raving Beauty by Artisan, is typical of the original "American girl" doll type. This one dates to the early 1950s.

Raving Beauty is what is often referred to as a "grocery store" doll. Grocery Store dolls were made in smaller quantities by lesser-known manufacturers and sold for an economical price at grocery stores or local department stores. They were not quite as cheap as gas station or dime store dolls; these were middle-of-the-road dolls most girls ended up owning. Artisan released Raving Beauty as a more affordable option to compete with Ideal's Posie, Toni, and Betsy McCall; American Character's Sweet Sue; and Madame Alexander's Maggie and Margaret dolls. Raving Beauty does have a lovely face, almost identical to the Barry Baby doll face, but Beauty is unmarked and Barry Baby is marked with a number.

The doll before restoration

Her face needed paint.

Beauty arrived at my house needing the typical repairs: stringing, hair styling, cleaning, and paint touch-ups. I made all the necessary repairs and found a dress for her similar to what she would have worn. I painted over some chips on her face and re-blushed her cheeks and eyeshadow, but otherwise she is all original, with her factory painted and "real" lashes, eyes, and wig.

The face after re-painting.
I haven't worked on this doll before and I discovered she's rather hard to string. Something about the way her leg bars are attached doesn't let them get really tight. I am stringing just as her original bands were done and her legs were loose then too. I re-strung her twice using two different width elastics. She is able to pose and stand now but still she's more loose than I would prefer. I have learned over the years, however, that working against the doll's anatomy in stringing only leads to splits in the plastic, so I forced myself to declare her finished.

The restored doll

Like the Toni doll I restored a few months back, this doll had a lot of frizz and breakage to the ends of her hair. Most Raving Beauty dolls had really elaborate hairstyles, with Victory Rolls and a thousand hair pins. I could see this one was similar because her hair was oddly cut. It is really long on the sides, then short, then longer again in the back. I am fairly certain the long sides were pulled up on top of her head so that's what I did. I pinned the curls short to hide the fuzzy ends. When the doll first arrived and I washed her hair I was really impressed to see the true color. It's an unusual strawberry blond, or what you might call a true ginger, very light red. My cousins have four little boys who all have this color hair, but it's rare to see it on humans or dolls!

The styled ginger hair

I decided Beauty needed a really full crinoline so she would epitomize the fifties fashion, so I made one. It is white tulle trimmed with red middy braid, meant to peek out from under her skirt. Square dancing is a really big deal in Ohio, where I spent my elementary school years. Every country wedding has, or used to have, a big square dance afterward and on the weekends there are always big dances at the Legion or the Rural Hall. I desperately wanted one of the square dance dresses with the big fancy crinoline like this underneath! I am living vicariously through my dolls!

The crinoline

Raving Beauty turned out to be a very lovely girl, you might even say a "raving beauty"! She is a perfect addition to a Midcentury doll collection and a wonderful gift to show a child what an "American girl" doll was to begin with.

The finished doll

Speaking of American Girl dolls, I recently learned of a new charity called Madison's Hope intent on restoring and gifting those dolls to underprivileged or otherwise challenged girls. If you know of a child who would love but can't afford an American Girl doll please visit http://madisonshopeinc.org/
As always, to buy Raving Beauty or any of my dolls please link to my shops from the Atelier Mandaline website.

Kid At Heart

Edith and Little Bear
Many of you know of my obsession with The Lonely Doll and other books about Edith and the bears by Dare Wright. The very first post on this blog was about an Edith replica I created! As a child of ten, having moved to the South from the Midwest, finding myself completely out of my element and alone, I sought refuge in the library. The library just happened to have a book called Edith and Midnight. The book is about a doll and her horse. Horses were already a major obsession of mine and one of the greatest sorrows of my young life was leaving our horse, Ginger, in Indiana with my aunt while we moved to North Carolina. My mother doesn't like horses or farms or anything of that nature, so she had no interest in allowing us to keep our horse (or my rabbit, Fluffy, who I was also forced to give to neighbors. My parents really knew how to make a move agreeable to a child!). Ginger was an incredibly gorgeous Tennessee Walker, chestnut with a white blaze on her forehead and a lot of attitude.

So, when I found a book illustrated with photos of a doll taking care of a horse, I was hooked. Dare Wright was an incredible photographer, and she makes Edith and the bears look alive. I had never seen another doll like Edith. She was Wright's childhood Lenci doll, one of the big 20 inch ones, made of pressed and jointed felt. The bears in the book are antique Steiff bears, also jointed. I quickly located and read as many of the books as I could find.

The trunk set

Sad to say, in the bustle of life, I forgot all about Edith until one day I found a re-printed copy of The Lonely Doll at a consignment sale. I snapped it up for my daughter. I went on to collect all the books, except Big Bad Bill, even the newest one by Dare Wright's niece or somebody, although that one has none of the magic of the originals. I also bought my daughter the large Edith felt doll by Rothschild and the Edith trunk set by Kids At Heart. The trunk set features a 10 inch Edith doll sculpted by Martha Haut Melton. Melton made a larger replica felt doll, but that one sells for about $1000, so it is out of my price range, especially for a play doll! I read all the books to my daughter and collected and sewed clothing for Edith and Little Bear... and she could quite frankly not care less! Now she has outgrown dolls. With our recent spate of air conditioner and surgery woes I decided we need the money and that I could stand to let this set go. It's not easy, I admit, but I comfort myself I can find another if we ever want to replace it; that's the great thing about the Internet! Nothing is ever lost!

Edith is jointed vinyl and Little Bear is jointed plush.

Edith's mark

The trunk with the original paperwork

The storybook is one side, the catalogue the other side.

The trunk has minor marks from play.

It's not to say my daughter never, ever played with this set; she did some. She especially loved puzzle erasers, and they are the perfect size to use as accessories for this doll. Edith and Little Bear have rubber ice cream cones and a soccer ball.

Edith's original dress

The Playtime skirt with a handmade bodysuit.

Handmade and vintage winter gear.

The Tuck Me In pajamas and a possibly handmade vintage sleeper.
The expressive nature of the Melton sculpt allows you to imagine Edith in all sorts of situations. She's a comfortable size for children and her large feet make her easy to balance. She was made in 1997, so she probably still meets standards for play, but it is worth mentioning this is a fairly rare doll, and some of the pieces, like the trunk, are extremely hard to find. This set should only increase in value as the years go on, but I have to stop writing about it or I will talk myself out of selling it! You can find Edith and many other dolls and trunk sets in my shops when you link from ateliermandaline.com.

Original, vintage and handmade clothes with extra shoes.