Chatty Cathy Arrives

Chatty Cathy arrived yesterday and I was appalled.  Although the seller had the word dolls in her user name, she apparently didn’t think to use a box to send a vintage doll in.

She arrived like this:

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I am sure I am being over sensitive, but this mummification of a beloved childhood doll disturbed me.  My thoughts about her instantly were negative.  Not only were there issues of possible damage, the very sight of her like this made me think she was dead.

I couldn’t open the package for about an hour.  I felt that if she was damaged, it would be another Chatty Cathy trauma.  Way too much emotion wrapped up like a mummy.

Finally, I took a deep breath and approached the brown thing.  A pupa?  A mummy?  I felt like I was about to dissect something gory.  No doll could have survived this treatment.

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This was this was the only outward damage I found, a rip and black scuff make on her white shoe.  I still wasn’t sure about the inward damage.  She has a hard plastic body, which is known to crack and split.  Tossed about in postal handling, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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It was a challenge to find a cutting place and I worried about cutting into hair or clothing.  But I managed to free her.

SAM_4246 Her first photo….I think I was stunned.  There she was, this icon of my childhood, this first love of mine.  Memories came rushing back in full force and my heart did do a couple of flip flops.  My curiosity kept needling me, just what was it about her?  Was it the looks?  The size? The demise that kept this doll so embedded in my psyche?  As an adult, I look at her and this she is not particularly attractive.  She’s cute in a vintage doll sort of way.  I always liked her knobby knees and sweet hands, even as a child.  She was the first doll I received that was not a baby with bent arms and legs, and I remember how thrilled I was about her being able to stand like a real person.  I remember her talking, but I don’t remember that being anything important at the time.  I seem to remember that her being more like a little girl than a baby and therefor a companion to me as an only child was probably the depth of it.  I was about 6-7 years old I think when I got her, so my reasoning at the time was not analysed.  lol.

My initial expectations were none.  Really.  I thought, I would buy her and get it out of my system.  Put it to rest, so to speak.  I stood her next to my computer and periodically looked at her.  Sometimes I reached out and grabbed her very solid leg or squished her soft face, as the bridge of the nose was a bit pushed in.  I honestly didn’t know what to think at first, something was so odd about having her here, present in front of me and something sort of kept pulling at me.  It was like I could not leave her alone but I didn’t want to touch her either.

I kept asking myself, what am I going to do with her?  This started all the fault finding I could.  Well, I had to admit she survived the mummification and she was in remarkable condition for being nearly as old as I am.  I checked her hair, she had no odours at all.  As I checked, I pulled out some of the flattened curls thinking, wow, these curls look original.  No cut marks, no empty plugs.

SAM_4252 I think it was this moment that I first warmed to her.  It was the look of a small child and the hair being more rounded suddenly tugged at me.

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She looked so expectant, so hopeful that I would like her.  I melted a bit.  Then I heard a small voice say “don’t you recognise me?”  Did I?  I wasn’t sure.  Was I blocking it?  I kept telling myself I could not step back into the past, but I think the past was stepping up to me.

Each glance at her now was becoming more affectionate.  I admired her sweetness, her proportions, her overall child like qualities.   I kept seeing a smile, a coaxing on her part, like a small child who can make the grumpiest man smile.  I caught myself smiling.  I think this might be something here I thought.  She hasn’t the face of a magnificent Zwergnase, she is not at all pose-able like a Schoenhut, she is not in the slightest my ideal of a doll, but here she was smiling at me and needing me.  That’s it!  I was struck by the doll’s need of me rather my selfish needs of it. 

This morning, I introduced Rosey to her.  I have nagging experiences of my old Evie hating every doll I brought into the house.  Rosey didn’t mind at all.  She didn’t feel the slightest hesitation to make friends even though Chatty Cathy towered over her.

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How remarkable….blue eyes, teeth…..I see a trend here.  lol.  All in all, I think I like this new situation and I am curious as to how it will all be.  I am already thinking of stuffing her head to push her eyes into alignment and a nice hair wash and conditioning might be in order.  Oh, I forgot to mention that her ring and talking string is missing, which is odd, because I don’t think she was played with much.  Perhaps it snapped off and the child who had her wanted another one or grew bored of her.  It’s not of any consequence to me, I hear her just fine without it.

And just for fun…a couple of photo’s my mother sent me of an early doll…..about 1958 I think:

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My mother, me and the doll I played a lot with but I do not remember her name.  I kept her and another similar one, my daughter played with them too.  But they were eventually tossed in a clear out for a move.  How sad is that now?  Sigh.

Who is This?

A nearly forgotten purchase came in the mail today, one that was a late night bid and went to bed to find the next day I won her.  I rarely win bids anymore because I can’t put the money into it.  It wasn’t a dream doll I was lusting after, so I promptly forgot about her and then she arrived!

This little one is 7 inches, listed as having a china head, arms, legs and wooden body.  She was only £5 and so I bid.  The seller only had one photo of her and it wasn’t very clear.  When she arrived, I thought what fun it will be to see if she is an antique or a reproduction of some sort.  She was merely wrapped in bubble wrap and put in an envelope.  Seems they don’t use boxes on fragile items here.  Out of the wrapper:

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My first impression…she looks dead! So pale, mottled and the black lips didn’t help.

Her hair is coarse and stiff.  She has some staining and dirt on her face.  Her gown is completely hand sewn.  The gown is silk and has holes and disintegration.  There is discolouration on the gown that is yellowish-olive, much like the stain on her face.  It was a lovely lilac colour at one time.  I believe the dress was made in the 1920’s.  Undressed, I was very surprised to find out she has a bust and waist!  My guess is she was made between 1890 and 1920.  She may have had previous clothing.  There weren’t any undergarments.

2012-09-22 011 Her arms and legs are painted wood, not china.  Large spoon hands and tiny booted (with heels) feet.  One foot has been mended.  Whenever I see a mend on an old doll, it makes me think someone cared enough about the doll not to throw it out.  These type of dolls were not meant to be fine or lovely, just cheap playthings.  Her china head is not even glazed, and is strangely painted, such as the lips and nose holes are black, not red or coral.  The eyebrows are brown, so it would seem odd not to have the nose and lips another colour.  Her arms are limited in motion, the upper arm can only move forward or backward, the lower arms move only in towards the body.  She is well painted on the body, not just dipped.  Her head is immobile and probably glued into the body. There is always a possibility this is a replacement head, but I have no indication it is, it seems to be the same wear/dirtiness of the limbs.    The body is better quality than the head.  Wood peg joinings, no nails or wire.

I gently washed her hair with conditioner and gave her body a bees waxing.  I used a cotton swab to clean her face, but very little of the discolouration came away, she seems to be stained with an olive coloured something and I am hesitant to try and get it out.

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Her hair may have been in pigtails at one time, but with a woman’s body, I decided to roll the hair and sew it up.  It was too stiff to let hang.  My best guess is that it is horsehair.

Sigh.  Not sure why I bought her.  I am still unsure of my dolly direction these days.  I am definitely more interested in antique dolls than ever before.  I am fascinated by the history and life they may have once had.  I am excited to be able to make her some clothes and revitalise her, but what then?  I guess just wait and see.

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Certainly not a beauty.  She looks pretty rough.  I may dress her in a peasant costume, or a maids.

No Name Yet

I still have not found the right name for the little one.  I can tell she is going to require a very special name.  After searching through hundreds, she is still not satisfied.

2012-05-11 009 I gently washed her hair, which is hair that is glued on, I see a seam down the centre part, but other than that, it is glued to the scalp.  I washed the ends to take away the frizz and dust, and it falls in lovely curls now.

2012-05-11 012 I wish I could capture her on film.  She is not very photogenic, but in person, she is marvellous in her colouring and in her face and eyes.

2012-05-11 007 I wish I knew who she was.  I wish she would say her name!

The boys….well they are being boys.

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2012-05-10 020They spend a lot of time in the window and plotting something.  I hope the window washer didn’t give them any ideas.

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Odd Sweetness

I still working on a name for the new little girl.  I am partial at this moment to Deirdre or Elspeth, seems she needs a specially odd name.  I spent all of last evening with her, astonished at her fabulous face and shape of her legs and feet.  For all of 12 inches, she is so unusual and I just love that.  I can’t stop looking at her face, the way her smallish eyes are, the shape of her nose and mouth.  The crazy hair, the heaviness of her body.

image She is not a great poser, but a wonderful floppy, cuddly type.  She is a sitter, but every since my Zwergnase experience, I have found a love of floppy sitters, they give a different feel from the perfect posers with multiple joints.

image If her head tilts down, she is cranky looking, if up, inquisitiveness takes over.  I marvel at the shape of her perfect head, so realistic.  There is something about her legs, so beautiful and soft.

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She has a shoulder plate and a strung head.  I have not fully investigated her whole body yet, I will add more photo’s when I do.  I haven’t figure out how the shoulder head plate is attached to her body as there aren’t holes and it is not glued to the fabric.  Another thing I noticed, is that when holding her, the bisque warms up from my hands.  I like that too.

A New Little Girl Arrived

I picked up the little girl I bought while still in America, but asked the seller to wait to mail her until I was in the UK.  Our post office is only open from 9-12 week days, and 8-11 on Saturday, so I’ll have to be quick to get packages!  At least it is just down the street.  She is coming from Canada.

2012-05-05 New Doll 001Box opening picture.

2012-05-05 New Doll 002 Here she is, so sweet and what an unusual face!  She doesn’t have any markings on her head, shoulder plate or body, only on the foot:

2012-05-05 New Doll 007I have no clue who made her.  She is well done, blushing is perfect and although I am not much for porcelain type dolls, there is something about her that I like.  I also like the smallness, the well shaped feet are adorable.  She is 12 inches.

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She came with a fabulous beaded Victorian purse and hat and a strand of pearls, but I think I will save those for Evie. The shoes are too large for her, but they will fit my Schoenhut and perhaps Sasha.

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Now I have a little girl to fuss over until all the others arrive mid summer.  Oh, and we stopped at a charity shop for a book, and while I was looking at some yarn they had for £1.95 each (I was actually just noting in my mind that I could have a quick source of dolly yarn if needed right around the corner from where I live) and the clerk said he had something just for me!  He brought out a large boxed filled with gorgeous yarns, all quality and plenty for wool and mohair, enough in the same colours for a couple of adult sweaters and tons of dolly ones and he looked at me and said…it just came in, you can have it for 5 quid.  YES!!!!  Husband shook his head, but paid for it and carried it home too.  Happiness!  I’ll take a photo later, I already put it away for now.

We took a long walk this morning, we have Robertson Park just down the street.  We walked through it and I saw a pond.  As we approached I told my husband that for this place to be perfect, there should be a swan.  As we got closer, there was one, NESTING in a tiny island in the middle of the pond!  I nearly fainted from happiness!  I will definitely take a photo tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see the babies!  It is a lovely park too, a perfect place to come to relax, have a lunch and knit or read.  I can’t get over how perfect this place is for us.  We are already hoping to stay longer than 6 months, husband said he will soon start looking for a job and see if it is possible.  It is my turn to take a break from working, so it is up to him to carry the load for awhile.  If we stay, it will mean penny pinching and I am okay with that.   I am happy just knowing my sewing machine is eventually going to be here and I have a big box of yarn to play with.  I should be content for a long while yet.

Finally in Scotland

We are finally settled in our new flat in Scotland.  Wow, what a journey that has been.  I won’t write about it here, if you are interested, the on-going saga, it is all here with lots of photo’s.  http://thepotatowife.wordpress.com/

But for this blog, I will show my UK dolly experiences.

The first experience was on Portobello Road in Earls Court, London.  This is an antique market that is filled with shops and stalls.  There was one lady in particular I wanted to meet, she has all antique dolls and when we found her, I was in seventh heaven, as I got to personally handle the most exquisite dolls on earth.  Bru’s, Juneau’s, a darling automaton, and many more.  I about fainted from the delight of it.  None were under £4000 and so there was no hope I would ever have one.  Two I handled were all originals, at £6000 each.  Sigh.  She is here:

http://heatherbond.co.uk/items-for-sale/

Reluctantly we moved on and I of course had my eye peeked for a doll, but none were found.  I saw a few tinies, all over priced and not in good enough condition.  One ultra tiny china head caught my eye and the seller let me have her for £4. 

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2012-04-28 015 She is dug up girl, but I liked her features and she had so much personality for such a tiny head.  Someday I will carve a body for her.  I marvelled thinking about who once played with her and how she ended up buried.  The seller was overly eager to tell me the name of the dump site and that it was closed in 1892, which led me to think it was all talk and really of no consequence.  She was not an investment by any means and china heads were as common as pennies.  Still, I love her face and someday I will make her live again.

The next experience was at Harrods in London.  I was dismally annoyed that the huge toy department had NOTHING exquisite as they do in most of their departments.  Where were all the fine dolls from all over the world?  I was so annoyed I swore I would never set foot in Harrods again.  Even Dayton’s in Minneapolis had a doll section back in the 1980’s that had dolls I had to save all year for to buy my daughter for Christmas.  Anyway, the only doll I did see and was very taken by was a boy Kids n Kats.

2012-04-28 005 He was delicate in face features, I loved the posability (they had one in a glass case and I asked to handle it, so I got a chance to test all the joints).  These dolls are much smaller and more petite than American Girl and the face on the boy was so delicate and fine.  I really wanted him, but at Harrod’s prices, I could not.  We are not in the doll buying mode, husband gently reminded me.  Sigh.  I really wanted him.  I did not care as much for the girls for some reason.

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So I left, feeling sorry for myself.  No more dolls?  I guess we made the decision to move here and that means being very thrifty until we know what the end result will be. 

While we were in Weston Super Mare, we had finished dinner in a pub and walking back to the car.  We walked passed a game shop that had both new and used character toys.  I found Indiana Jones, by only seeing his feet on a bottom shelf.  I had to have him.  He is much larger than a GI Joe, fully dressed, but missing his rope, hat and pistol.  I don’t know what else came with him.

2012-04-29 068 he talks, says three things, one of which is ‘’SNAKES, WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SNAKES?’’

I though at first he may be almost the same size as Yorik, but he is smaller.

2012-04-29 070 Not that it matters.  I found myself enjoying Indiana Jones, he poses quite well, had double joints in his knees and enough personality in his face to amuse me.  I am thinking of making him a leather hat when I get my supplies.

The last experience came with staying at a wonderful inn, in Carlton.  Here, I was inspired to take Yorik out back and just photograph him.

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I didn’t have anything in mind, other than to just spend some one on one time with him.  He needed to get out anyways, he has spent too much time tucked in a travel bag anyways.

2012-04-30 049 I then took a couple of the dolls I have right now, each giving me a unique thing that only they can give. 

2012-04-30 060In the bedroom window sill of the Inn.

2012-04-30 057 What a goofy face.  Love it.

Once we moved into the flat, I put the boys on top of my wardrobe until I have time to play.  The vinyl china head girl I have by my bed.  I have been looking at her as I fall asleep at night.

2012-05-03 016  In a few days, after the craziness of all the things we are trying to get done settles down, I will start playing again.  I want to name the lady doll and I think Indiana Jones may have either a new nickname or perhaps another name so I am not obligated to a certain personality.  But who knows where that will go….I think he is just glad to get out from under all the aliens and the Star Wars fleet.

Word is that our boxes (all my dollies and sewing machine and TOYS) will arrive in Glasgow on June 30th and be de
livered about 2 weeks after that.  I am practically frothing at the mouth to get my hands on my sewing machine.  Over a year now since I have sewn on it….I am having withdrawals!  Oh, and there was a shop that had hundreds of antique sewing machines….I was really delirious with happiness seeing them all.  Husband had to drag me away.

My Zwergnase Arrived!

She did arrive today!  It was really breathtaking to see her for the first time, I couldn’t believe it.  That face, it is so incredible!

 

2011-05-27 002This was my first sight of her.  She was so small, I could see immediately that she was more than I expected.  Heavy in weight, so full of personality.

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Her hands were nicely detailed, and so small!  Her hands are not in proportion to her head, they are more like toddler hands. 

 

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Her face is spectacular, even sweeter than I imagined. So full of life right out of the box! 

 

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Her body is weighted with pellets, thighs and upper arms have stuffing.  The pellets along with the very heavy dense vinyl give her the most wonderful weight, which is important to me.  For her size, she is heavier than you imagine.

 

 

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I had asked the seller to measure her foot for me, which was 2X1 inches, but I had to say how shocked I was to take off her leather boot to see such tiny feet!  Wow.

 

2011-05-27 0132011-05-27 0142011-05-27 015 Her feet are sweet and realistic, better than I expected.  But they are toddler feet and it feels a bit off in the scale.  I realize that I am so use to the extreme long legs of BJD’s, so this is just a perception that I need to adjust to. 

 

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Her over dress had no buttons or openings other than the neck, so it was a bit difficult to remove.  I will fix that before putting it back on.  She wears a blue blouse underneath with a shell button.  Her bloomers are thin gauze like cotton with flower lace along the bottom.  The tightness of the elastic waist band has indented her waist, but the elastic is strong for being from 1998.

 

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Her body is very soft and pliable.  I expected stiff and hard.  Her sitting legs are not as severe as I first imagined, she can definitely stand naturally, with the help of a stand.  I absolutely HATE that on artist dolls, the signature thing, It irritated me that the whole stomach is ruined from this.  I love the fabric of her cloth skin, so I am in no hurry to change her now, but someday, I will replace her skin with NO signature.  Her head and all limbs have her name engraved, so this overkill on signatures does not lend itself well to those who play with their dolls.  I would have liked to have let her wear shorty tops.

 

She has a solid feeling shoulder plate, strung head.  She poses very nicely.  However, I have to say that I am so impressed with how she melts into my hands, I just cannot stop holding her.  There is such a different feel to holding her compared to any of my companions.  Yielding, heavy, all limbs firm and heavy.  Her wig is thick and soft, smells so sweet and nice.

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Her face makes up for everything.  I smile each time I look into her eyes.  The eyes are gorgeous have such a depth to them.  Her smile is delightfully uneven, so are the teeth, just so real looking.  Note how the right tooth is inset deeper….like a real child.

 

2011-05-27 030 I will be taking her braids down later this evening.  I need to get a feel for her hair and whether I can do anything with it besides braids.

 

I almost sure of her name, I just want to try it when her hair is down so I can see it is not influenced by her hair style…lol.  She will be easy to sew for, I think she is about 6 years old, and I have to say, that I am still holding her in amazement…..