Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mind of metal

I have several 'patients' in the clinic right now.  Unlike their human counterparts, they don't mind if I share their defects and cure with the world - or if they do, they don't say anything about it!  Today I am going to walk through the restoration of a metal head. This job is a little different in that the doll is being given to a small child to play with, so no restoraton of the body has been done.  A brand new body has been added to the restored head.  The old body will be preserved and can be replaced with the original when the child has moved past the stage where she wants to play with it, and it becomes a collectible or cherished item. 
Metal heads were the 'solution' to the same problem for Victorian mothers in the 19th century, only their concern was the bisque head of the doll that so often ended up smashed on a tile or wood floor.  In the late 19th century a myriad of substitutes appeared including tin and other metals and celluloid.  None, though, had the same realistic look of flesh and most were not embraced by their little mommies.
Here's my patient as she looked when she arrived.

I removed the head from the body, as I was not going to deal with it during this repair/restoration.  As I did, the paint flaked off and it became apparent that I would have to remove all of the paint.  The one exception was the eyes.  They were intact and I like to leave as much original as I can, so I protected them and worked the new paint up and into the old.  I also left as much of the original hair as I could, though in the end I had to repaint it entirely.

Once the paint was removed I cleaned and fixed the metal (as shown above).  Also shown above is a the filler I used on the hair to level out the areas where paint had chipped off.  This was sanded and sealed before any new paint was applied. 

Above you can see the doll with the new paint applied.  I did the skin and hair colors first and then startred in on the detailing.  As mentioned before I left the original eyes and worked the new paint around her.  In this photo I have added color to the lid lines, eyes lining, and lips.  Nothing has been done with the cheeks.  The hair has been painted but no shading has been applied to imitate the look of the original hair.

Metal heads were shiny to begin with so I used a semi-gloss fixative (mom-aerosol).  The flash makes it appear to be gloss, but it was not.  In the above photo the hair has been 'stained' to imitate the look of the original and all detailing, including eyebrows completed. 
Here she is finished and on the new body, which was taken intact from a newer Danbarry Mint doll purchased on EBay.

And here she is complete and ready to be sent home to her new owner. 
Next week I am giving a talk at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center in Troy, OH.  You can find information regarding the presentation here:  Since January about 30 of my dolls have been on display there, and they will continue to be through March.  Once they are back home, I will show the end results of the restoration on the wax fashion I detailed some months back along with others I mentioned. I haven't forgotten!  They have been on tour! 
Look for another post soon regarding some of my current patients and their treatments.  In my home right now I am 'caring for' several, including a near 40" tall Bisque doll and her little friend who is less than 4" high.  Talk about contrast....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Even the doll doctor can learn a thing or two

Wow.  I can't believe it has been over 5 months since I posted!  As I have grown older, the reality of the expression 'time flies' has grown increasingly - and uncomfortably - present.  It just amazes me.  I get up each day thinking, 'I should post to my blogs', and then the day rushes by and - ZAP! half a year is gone.

Anyhow, this is not an update on past projects, but just a moment to share something fun from the doll world.  My husband has a consignment shop and I do the online listing for EBay, Etsy, etc.  Every so many weeks or months I get a batch of dolls to list.  This time there were several composition mama dolls, a good many foreign souvenier dolls, a few Duchess and Hollywood - and this pair. 

Whenever my husband hands me a vintage cloth doll, I know I am in for an interesting time.  My speciality is antique and vintage bisque dolls.  Along the way, over twenty plus years of restoring dolls - and reading about them - I have picked up information about vintage composition and plastic as well.  I have Lencis, so I know about them, and I have several reference books on cloth dolls. but - and it is a BIG but - I do not know enough to distinguish between a well-made homemade set of Raggedys and original hand manufactured ones.  So, when I go this pair, I put them up on EBay at a reasonable price and waited....

And boy, was I surprised!  Apparently this pair consist of an original Volland Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I talked with bidders from around the world about them, and it is odd that Ann does not have a little wooden heart in her chest.  Still, all seemed to believe the pair original.  According to Gayle Garbarino whose blog can be found at   the P.F. Volland company created and published greeting cards and children's books including Johnny Gruelle's books featuring Raggedy Ann and Andy.  In August 1915 Gruelle signed a contract with Volland for his book Raggedy Ann Stories.  In September of the same year Gruelle received the patent for the dolls.  I have looked at the blogs and books and am still scratching my head.  I can't seem to tell the homemade from the handmade from the early manufactured Raggedys.

Just goes to show you there is always something new you can learn!

Anyhow, I thought I would share some photos of these two who went to very nice bidder in Wisconsin for a tidy little sum.  She has them now and is enjoying their company. 


I do have a few repair projects going on  right now including two very large BJB bisque head dolls, a tin head, a newer china, and a BJB baby.  I will share photos and some info on them ASAP.  I also have a display of my dolls at a local cultural center and will be giving a talk on antique dolls there at the end of this month.  Information and photos will follow - soon, I promise!  For the moment, you can look at the Hayner's website and read a bit about it.

Would love to see some of you there!