Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tutorial: How to Be Mom's Favorite

Mother's Day is coming soon! Are you ready? I have the stores stocked with gifts for Mom. You might remember last year I worked hard setting up photo shoots with some rare vintage dolls. I used the resulting images to create exclusive cards, art prints, and tote bags which are perfect as gift bags so you can give a gift within a gift!

If you have a larger budget you can give Mom one of my restored vintage dolls. I have gorgeous and rare dolls from the 1930s through today. Each one is a unique collectible, perfect for your special doll-loving mother!

My "Notorious M.O.M." wine-themed bottles, tumblers, and "momogrammed" shirts take a few days to create so hurry to order those from Etsy in time. I can ship those in time for Mother's Day if you order by May 7th.

My Poshmark and eBay shops feature lots of new and vintage fashions, including some really hard-to-find pieces, like a vintage Tori Amos concert tee and an absolutely gorgeous 1960s necklace and earrings set. Mom will look so mod in those!

The best part is, all my stuff for Mom is on sale! You can make offers for my Poshmark pieces. The eBay shop has sales storewide, with an extra 10% off Mom-loved categories. Use code: MAMALOVE for 15% off any order from my Etsy shop. Link to all my shops from my website. You'll be the best kid for sure when you give Mom a one-of-a-kind piece!

If you're a mom worried you might get a sweet but not-so-sexy macaroni necklace for your day you can shop these sales for yourself. I won't tell anyone! Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Terrific Toni

Toni by Ideal
Some months back I got a big lot of dolls needing restoration. Then, my kids outgrew all their clothes and some of my sisters dropped off huge lots of baby clothes of their own to sell on consignment and my special needs son had a medical crisis that lasted for a few months, and the doll lot was thrown in my office. I didn't forget the dolls; I just didn't have time to restore them. Well, today the kids went back to school after Spring Break and I got to work on a Toni doll from the lot.

Toni's face was faded.
Actually, I got to work over Spring Break. Toni had her hair done at some point, but she needed re-stringing and her hair smelled musty and felt frizzy. Her face was really faded as well, much lighter than her body, and she had a big chunk out of the paint on her neck. I restrung her with new cord, washed her and washed and set her hair. Then I painted her face. I just did a wash of oil paint to brighten her complexion and blushed her cheeks. Her eyebrows were faded and one was almost gone, so I traced over those. Then I washed over a few uneven spots and scuffs on her neck and body. And... then it started to rain. And rain and rain and rain and rain. Over the whole week of Spring Break we have had two sunny days while we were home (we visited my parents for Easter) and we made good use of those kayaking and swimming and gardening. In fact, I even worked in the yard for two hours in the pouring rain because I wanted to move some plants and didn't want them to get shocked like they do in the heat. We went from temperatures near 90 over the weekend to cold, wet 50s and low 60s this week. We actually have our fire on! And it's still raining.

Toni has unfortunately not enjoyed the weather. It took forever for her paint to dry and a couple spots in her joints and on her legs where she sits down already scraped off again. Her face is still perfect, however, as are all the parts of her body that show when she is dressed. Her eyeshadow, painted lashes and real lashes are all original.

Toni has her hair set.

Touching up her paint

The finished face

The finished doll

There is typical scraping to her joints and the backs of her legs.

Today after the kids got on the bus I looked in my stash for clothes to fit her. I have quite a few pieces but decided on one red and gold dress. The red dress originally belonged to a Barry Baby doll, a very rare doll meant to compete with Toni and similar dolls.

I sold Barry Baby a few years ago without her red dress (she came with a huge trunk of clothes) because the red dress had side panels that either were cut or had disintegrated. I don't have an exact match for the fabric so I made large darts on either side to repair the panels. That made the dress too small for Barry Baby. It's snug, but it does fit Toni well.

Toni in her outfit

I added the buttons and chain.

The shoes are by Fairyland.
I added a flower button and brass buttons and chain to the dress to hide repairs. The buttons are from the same era as the dress and doll so they are a good fit. Toni also wears the undies and socks she arrived in as well as red plastic Fairyland shoes and a flocked hair ribbon. The dress is the same style as those worn by many Toni dolls, as are the shoes, so she looks entirely authentic.

The hair is really pretty long.

Toni's honey blond nylon wig saw a lot of styling. This is to be expected, as Toni dolls were named for the home perm kits and came with a "perm" solution of sugar water and curlers in miniature. This doll looks like someone might have curled her hair on a curling iron instead of waiting patiently for the perm to take. Toni has a frizzy ends and lots of breakage. I gave her a hot water set and then pinned her curls up to hide the fuzzy ends. Her hair is still quite long if you take it out of the pins. The pinned style lends a lot of body and volume to the wig, and I love the vintage look.

Toni's hairstyle

Toni turned out beautifully. She poses well, her hair is still easy to style, and her ice blue eyes work perfectly. Toni dolls have such lovely faces and they aren't really easy to come across for a reasonable price, especially if they are dressed and have been restored. My Toni is up for auction with a very fair starting bid in my eBay store. Link to that store and all my shops from the website for a huge selection of restored dolls, blank dolls, doll clothes, and repair parts and kits.

After just one day back at school both my boys suddenly fell ill with a stomach bug around 7:30 tonight, so there's no telling if I will get a chance to finish the other dolls from the box anytime soon. My immune system is apparently on the fritz (and no wonder with our insane weather lately) and I caught the last two stomach viruses they had. I am just praying I will weather this one without getting sick again. To that end, I am planning on heading to bed momentarily. If I and the boys wake up well I plan to make a big push to finish listing all the dolls and kids' clothes I have piled all over the house so I can get things back to normal. Pray for us. please!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Little Lady, Redux

Little Lady Doll

I can't believe Spring Break is already more than halfway over! The break has just flown by. Of course, so much of it is eaten up by the pets' and kids' appointments. I try to get the kids in while they are out of school and it's easier for me to handle the dogs at the vet's when I have some help. Tomorrow we will have our fourth orthodontist appointment in three weeks, with one kid about to go into braces and another having his taken off, and our youngest having to check in as his bone graft surgery draws closer. The dogs' appointment revealed the puppy has a double ear infection and a staph infection and the 15 year old Spitz has a loose knee cap, so both are on medication.

Besides all the doctor's appointments, we fit in a trip home over Easter, and I got a large part of the garden planted with transplants. I still need to put out the summer seeds and pick up some plants I was unable to find. No one had the eggplant varieties I prefer, and I want to get some more tarragon. Today I finished a custom piece made with one of my vinyl decals, started a Toni doll restoration, and finished the rare Little Lady Doll I'm featuring in this post.

The costume and hair are almost all original.

The dress is tagged.

The slip and pantaloons are replacements from Madame Alexander.

The pinafore has some yellowing.

I gave the doll a mirror and perfume.

Her hair is perfect and original.

The doll can sit, stand, and walk.

You might recognize this doll's face. This is the Maggie face for the 8 inch dolls, beloved for its "watermelon" smile, so named because her mouth is shaped like a slice of watermelon. Maggie-faced dolls are rare enough, but this particular doll was made for one year only, in 1960, so she's especially hard to find. I got her with her hair in perfect condition, so that is how I recognized her. She arrived with her original hair ribbon, socks, and flocked side-snap shoes. I originally had her dressed in a different Madame Alexander dress. Then, over the Easter holiday I was amazed to find her original dress and pinafore. As hard as this doll is to find, her dress is even harder to find if it isn't on the doll, so I snapped it right up! Except for some yellowing to the pinafore from age both pieces are in really great condition. So, Little Lady Doll is now almost completely original. I replaced her slip and pantaloons with other Alexander pieces from the same era. Her shoe gaiters are missing. The gaiters would have made the shoes look like high-button boots. Little Lady came in a picture frame box filled with toiletries. The box is missing but I gave her a miniature mirror and perfume to hold as a nod to her origins.

Little Lady Doll is a wonderful addition to your collection. She can "walk", stand, and sit, and her knees bend. When on display she looks unused. I'm so happy I was able to find her original dress! You can find Little Lady and many other dolls in my eBay, Facebook, and Etsy shops. Link from my website to all my shops.

I started one more project over the break: another shop. I have a friend who has been encouraging me for some time to open a Ruby Lane shop. I set it up a few days ago, but I don't have anything listed yet. It's rather exhausting to deal with all these different storefronts. I know, however, I am not well-known enough to reach all the shoppers I need without several selling sites. Keep watch on my website and Facebook page and I will make sure to announce when the newest store opens!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Doll Detective, April

At long last, here is a new Doll Detective post! I decided to give up on the goal of posting every week or two. Who am I kidding? I have a new goal of posting picks monthly. I wanted to finish this last week but life intervened as usual. On Wednesday night my husband came home feeling sick and he actually took a sick day Thursday, which he almost never does, and went to the doctor. He was diagnosed with a sinus infection and throat infection and given antibiotics. He came home and took the medicine and it made him feel sick. He went into the bathroom and after a little bit I heard a huge thump. I called him and he didn't answer and when I went in he had collapsed on the floor! So, terrifying to say the least. I tried to get him to return to the doctor and get a different medicine but he wouldn't do it. He's fine now, luckily.

The same day our youngest came home with his mouth full of sores and looking peaked. He got out of bed around 10, saying his stomach hurt. I gave him some oils and held him on my lap for a while until he was able to go to sleep. And... two hours later I was vomiting. Our middle child is coughing and looking peaked too, so I've been making her go to bed early and kept her home from church youth group.

I just do not know what on earth is going on around here! I have done everything I can think of. I've washed everything I can wash, I'm diffusing all kinds of oils, I am making everyone take vitamins, I opened all the windows to air out the house. I was cooking really healthy foods but on Thursday afternoon I went to our favorite Chinese place and got quarts and quarts of won ton soup and fried rice and that's about all we've eaten since then. I finished the last of it off today. My stomach is still a little off, so I may have to go pick up some more tomorrow! I am completely off the whole keto thing, but it doesn't matter because I hardly lost any weight and I've been sick the whole time I've been on it. It seems to have annihilated my immune system!

So, anyway, I'm sorry about the delay. Tomorrow I will be out of the shop for an epic round of kids' doctors appointments but after that I HOPE things can get back to normal and I will start feeling better.

To begin, I found this new-in-the-box Madame Alexander Sweet Tears. This is a classic play doll with lots of clothes for little mommies, so it's incredibly unusual to find her unplayed with.

Another great play doll is Marybel Gets Well, also by Madame Alexander (actually, all my picks this week are Madame Alexander). Marybel uses the Kelly face. She comes with a couple casts and a bunch of bandages and some crutches and also a pair of skates. So, she can get injured and would-be doctors can set her bones and help her get well. The Alexander marketing said you can be "just like Mommy" and help Marybel get well. I'm glad I didn't have to be a mom back then if you had to know how to set broken bones! Given my track record lately, we would probably all be dead! Beatrice Alexander had a lot of strong ideas and my guess is she wanted to encourage female doctors with a doll disguised as a child needing mothering. Motherhood would have been a much more proper career for a girl's aspiration.

Besides Marybel, the Kelly doll used the Kelly face, as did the Elise dolls for a very short period. Kelly is a typical little girl doll. She is kind of unusual because instead of the common hard plastic of the time she is made of an early vinyl. This vinyl is extremely heavy and thick. Her jointed waist makes her extra-poseable. Kelly isn't an easy doll to find under any name, so if you see one for a good price you will want to snap her up! Kelly is prone to discoloration due to her experimental material, so you want to try to find one who hasn't turned orange or yellow. A Mr. Clean Eraser, doll cleaners, and acne cream can help if your doll did turn.

"So Big" is a large baby doll from the late 1960s with a cute cartoon-like face. This face was also used for a doll named Punkin. I'm not sure but I've always supposed this doll was made to compete with Vogue's Baby Dear and Too Dear dolls inspired by Eloise Wilkin's books and illustrations. They are the same type of dolls and one of the books has a similar title. This doll is hard to find. I don't believe this doll is wearing her original clothes.

The Sonja Henie is a doll dear to my heart. I have one of these with a trunk full of clothes in my studio but I haven't ever restored her, partly because I will want to keep her! We Norwegians don't have many sports heroines and Sonja was a film star as well. What I love about this doll is how faithful to the portrait and individual she is. She's not just a celebrity doll dressed in clothing and tagged as a celebrity. She has Sonja's big dimples and her signature dark eyes and fair hair. Although Scandinavians are always portrayed as blond and blue-eyed, most of my family are blond with dark brown or green-hazel eyes. This doll is just so typically Norwegian; I love her!

This little Disney Snow White is another composition doll and one I've never seen before. She's clearly influenced by the animated film, rather than the original story. Of course, the original stories all featured Snow White's sister, Rose Red, as I remember. We seem to have completely forgotten poor Rose Red. Rose Red is a clear throwback to the old Norse folk tales, who very often feature princesses with blood-red hair. Many people don't realize the prejudice against red-haired people that still persists in some places comes from the stigma of red-haired babies who were born as a result of Viking raids in populations where red hair did not previously exist.

I am including a Wendy Ann composition doll who has been completely re-done as  a Madame Pompadour type. I just think this is a beautiful restoration, and very true to many of the Alexander early portrait dolls of the period. You have to use your gut when you buy a doll with this level of customization. Just like classic cars with very individualized restorations, old dolls can lose value when they are made into one of a kind pieces. Most doll artists won't make big changes unless the doll has already lost all her original clothing and needs extensive repair. If you find an artist's doll you really love, buy her, but be wary of buying one just to resell.

My final pick is another Mary Ellen life-sized (about 31 inches tall) doll. This one looks to be terrific shape. I use my Mary Ellen (well, actually she is supposed to be my daughter's Mary Ellen!) as a mannequin for the clothing I sell on eBay and Poshmark. She can wear 12-24 months size baby clothes and can be used as a model for some pieces up to size 5 or so. People on my Instagram ask about her all the time, so I thought I would show her again. I really hope no one else finds one, I have to admit. Recently a seller who seems to me to be way more successful than I showed their new photo space on Instagram and they bought the exact same dress form I have AND got a photographic backdrop of a room that looks almost exactly like my dining room where I shoot my photos! I guess I must seem really successful to other people who don't know me really well, too. It's flattering when I find people copying me. The other day I found a listing with a description just totally lifted from my own past listing. Luckily my item already sold! I do want people to be able to tell when I am the seller, however. I am such a perfectionist I don't trust anyone else to do as thorough a job as I and I don't want to get confused with someone who pays less attention to detail. Not that I know any of these people well enough to tell how detail-oriented they are; I just know from a lifetime of experience that most people aren't as obsessed with perfection as I!

Just a reminder, unless I am showing my own doll I do not know these sellers and how well they represent the condition of their items and I have not seen these dolls in person. My goal is just to share dolls you might not know about or that you might be trying to find. I get questions all the time from people all over the world wanting to know where and how to find a rare doll for their collection or wanting me to identify a doll they found or tell them how to clean or repair a doll and affiliate links like the ones in this post help pay me back a tiny bit for the time I spend researching dolls for others.

I am truly hoping for a less eventful week! I hope you have a terrific Easter and Spring Break and I hope you will stop my my new website and check out the Spring sales and offers in all my shops.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Easter's On Its Way!

A few of the dressy fashions listed in my eBay and Poshmark shops

Easter is coming soon! To help you dress your kids and home for the holiday I have sales going on in my eBay and Etsy shops. Take an extra 10% off all categories on eBay. On Etsy, use code BUNNYHOP for 15% off any order. Link to all my shops from my website, I hope you will find all kinds of basket stuffers when you hippity hoppity to Atelier Mandaline!

Vintage egg cups in my Etsy shop

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Notorious Mandaline

Electrical Engineer Career Tumbler
All the excitement about my new website has distracted me from writing about another exciting development: a whole new product line! Those of you who have been following my adventures with my new heat press and Cameo machine have seen my custom fashion designs. Now I have a line of tumbler and mug designs using my "Notorious" monogram.

This design can be altered for different careers.

My husband's birthday is coming up and he requested a monogram for his insulated tumbler. He uses this to take his coffee to work with him so he wanted a design to represent his career. I altered the design from my monogrammed t-shirt to use hip hop inspired Gothic lettering. The shirt can be made with the Gothic lettering as well. Anyway, I changed the arrows to electrical cords and placed a lightening bolt at my husband's request. He and I are both pleased with the end result. Pressing the tumbler in the heat press makes the decal much more durable. I hear from other designers that heat pressed decals are dishwasher safe, although the insulated tumblers are not so we can't test that.

Notorious D.A.D.

Next, I purchased some new tumblers to make designs for Father's Day and Mother's Day. Old school hip hop and rap are pretty much ingrained in the brains of most of my peers, so I kept that theme going. My Notorious D.A.D. pre-made tumbler features a bottle of beer, but that could be changed to make it more personal for dad who's not into beer. You could do a roll of duct tape for DIY dads, or whatever. This is the only product I have already made and ready to ship. It is a 30 ounce stainless steel Ozark Trail tumbler shaped to fit in a cup holder. You can purchase it from my Etsy shop.

The Notorious M.O.M. wine bottle

My Mother's Day design says "Notorious M.O.M." and features a wine glass, which can of course be customized. I wanted to offer this one for sale because I was so excited to find a Vogue Manna "Zaza" bottle. This insulated bottle is 24 ounces and holds an entire bottle of wine! It keeps liquids cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. The wine bottle shape goes perfectly with my design. Unfortunately I decided to use hot pink heat transfer vinyl and the brand I chose doesn't seem to work well on the tumblers. Big strings of glue came out and went all over the design and when I tried to clean them off the decal lifted and I had to re-press it. I tried again on the other side of the bottle, peeling the design cold instead of hot, but the same issue occurred, only not as bad. So, I can't sell this bottle because it just doesn't meet my standard of quality. I will keep it for myself and take it to swim meets. I bet all the moms are going to want to sit next to me! I am ordering a different brand of vinyl to see if I can get a hot pink that works on the tumblers. You can custom order a Zaza bottle from my Etsy shop, but until I find a better vinyl I am only offering the design in black. This design, and the others, can be applied to white ceramic mugs as well, perfect for moms who drink wine from a mug. I know a few of those!

The mugs have been a nice break from the doll world, which has been full of unpleasant drama lately. I had no idea the passions that ran through the doll shop atmosphere before I got into it! My husband is always talking about the reality T.V. show he's going to produce and call "Doll Wars". I have made incredible friends through my doll work. Some of my closest friends, in fact, are people I've never met in person. To grow your business you really have to have a social media presence and that online persona can inspire incredible love. Unfortunately, there are other people who hate you just as fervently, despite having never met you. It gets exhausting and overwhelming, and I like to retreat to Etsy, which doesn't have the same degree of nastiness in the general atmosphere, or the fashion world, where people are extremely supportive of one another for the most part. So for the time being I am probably going to have more fashion listings. I know I'm way behind on the Doll Detective posts, though, so I promise to catch back up.

In other news, I am in the process of adding a Paypal button to my new website: so the purchase process is a little easier. Right now you can see products in my web store but you can't purchase them through the web site. I will have to upgrade the site for that feature and I don't currently have the funds. You can link from the site to all my shops, however, or you can email me and place your order that way.

I am way behind this week due to the doll drama issue, which has had me negotiating with USPS and eBay and a buyer for three straight days. On top of that our 15 year old Eskimo Spitz has something wrong with his foot and is really limping. His legs have been giving out recently and he stands around just randomly barking at nothing. I'm getting worried he's having mini strokes or something. But now he got what looks like warts all over his toes on one foot. I can't get him to the vet for several days because the kids already have so many doctor, dentist, and orthodontic appointments scheduled. Unless the foot turns into a real emergency I am treating it at home with ointment and pain reliever and I'm trying to keep a sock on the foot so he won't chew on it. So I have to follow him around all day replacing his sock! Fun times. I promise to post a new Doll Detective soon, and in the mean time, please visit my shop and enjoy my new tumblers!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Mandaline Online!

I'm so happy to announce the debut of my new web site! I know I've been promising this forever, and I am proud to have finally gotten it done. I hope you will visit to bookmark the page and sign up for my newsletter.

The web site is a wonderful all-in-one solution for me. You will find links to all my shops, even my essential oils store! View a slideshow of products and services, email me, and link to the blog. The site does have a blog function, so I may start posting there. I don't want to move unless my followers move over, so this blog will stay up for the foreseeable future. Now that I have an all-in-one hub I will be re-designing the blog. Look for a much cleaner, more modern site, coming soon!

You can also go to my web site to view custom fashions for special order. I haven't upgraded the site to a working store, so although you can view products and pricing, you can't actually order directly from the site. You can order direct from Etsy or just use the contact form to tell me what you want. It's a little homemade looking still. I am working on getting the site as professional as possible with my teen's help, and if I see enough traffic I will upgrade to a functional storefront.

I truly hope you enjoy my new web site! It's am important step for me to becoming a "real" business. Thank you so much for following and sticking with me through this journey!