Saturday, March 28, 2009

Specializing in Antique and Collectible Doll Restoration

Welcome to my doll restoration blog!


I am an historic interpreter, artist, author and doll restoration artist. My mother has sewn all of her life, as well as working in music. We have been repairing dolls for two decades. Our business is located on the Public Square, in the beautiful historic Ohio town of Troy, OH. Due to busy schedules, visits to our doll 'hospital' are by appointment only. Please feel free to call at 937.338.9869 or email me at with questions. I find email is a great tool. I do a lot of my work late at night, so I can respond much more quickly via email. I do return phone calls, but you can be guaranteed it will take longer to get back to you.


Most often it is the doll belonging to someone's mother or grandmother, or maybe even great-grandmother that is brought to us to be lovingly restored. Often her hair is missing, she has scuffs on her nose, her toenails are painted, and at least one toe or finger is gone. Fortunately sentiment makes some of us hang on to these little misfits. Many, however, are abandoned and thrown away unnecessarily. Most can be saved. To me, these dolls are more precious than any 'perfect' example, as they have known love and been played with. In restoring these precious treasures of childhood, it is my policy to do as little as possible, and what I do can be undone by those who know how. I want the doll to look fresh and lovely, not garish and bright as if it had been made only yesterday.


Most dolls fall into one of threee categories: Antique, Collectible or Modern. Our business specializes in the first two, though we also repair Modern dolls when possible. We offer services such as stringing & cleaning, rewigging, etc. for plastics and vinyls. Unfortunately, due to the fact that most Moderns are machine-made, there are things that are nearly impossible to restore by 'hand'. Modern dolls are evaluated case by case and accepted when we think we can make a repair that will work and last.

Antique Dolls: Antique dolls now pre-date 1910. Materials include china, bisque, composition, wood & papier mache. Most dolls have a china or bisque head and a composition body, usually jointed. Others have leather bodies with china hands and cloth feet. All of these items can be repaired and restored.

Collectible Dolls: These dolls pre-date 1960, and for the purposes of this blog and our business, do not include the vinyls of the late 1950s. They are often made of composition, which is a wood pulp and glue mixture. The head and limb halves were made in molds and then sealed with Plaster of Paris. After this, the parts were dipped in paint and decorated. First billed as 'washable', many little mommies in the early part of the 19th century gave their 'babies' baths. This is often the reason for the cracking and crazing seen on these dolls as the water seeped into the Plaster of Paris and wood pulp and caused both to erupt. Composition can be restored, but cannot be completely guaranteed never to crack or craze again. We guarantee our composition work for two years. After that, there is a flat fee of $30 for babies who need to return to the doctor for 'cosmetic surgery'.

I also repair and restore antique china and other items. Pieces are accepted on an individual basis according to damage and type of material to be repaired.


Jo Ann repairs and restores antique and contemporary clothing, as well as making new costumes by hand.


Doll repair:

* Base fee doll repair (which includes ID on the doll): $30
* Restringing: $30 for up to a moderate size doll (app. 20"). Inquire for pricing on larger dolls.
* Resetting of stationary eyes: $30
* Resetting of sleep eyes (on a rocker) $35 and up
* Composition repair starts at $30. After that it will be determined on the basis of hours needed for the completion of the project at the cost of $15 per hour. An estimate will be given.
* Porcelain repair: $30 base fee. Same fee scale applies as for composition. Estimates given.
* Wigs, wig caps, criers and any other new parts are in addition to the charges for services.
* Identification of doll without repair: $20 (This includes value and several references from accepted doll value books that will be sent to the doll owner.)

* Costume repair and costumes: There is a base fee of $30 for any work done. After that cost is determined by the time taken to complete the outifit, and the complexity of the pattern. Estimates will be given. Shoes, stockings and other such items are an additional charge.

* China repair: There is a base fee of $30. After that, cost is determined on an hourly basis. Estimates are given.


Marla Fair is available to lecture at clubs, meetings, etc. for a fee of $50. Her lecture centers on 100 years of dolls, which she illustrates with her own collection of over 50 dolls spanning the years of 1840 to 1940. The talk centers on the changing role in history of children and their playthings. Marla will make herself available for identifying dolls brought by the lecture's attendees. For more information call 937.339.9869 or email at