Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hanging Out With the Dolls

I've had an interesting journey with dolls. I have more now than I had when I was a child!  (I think...) Definitely more fashion dolls. When I was a girl, I had baby dolls and girl dolls and a few of the requisite Barbies. My favoite was a tall, skinny, redhead who wore glasses, saddle shoes, and talked incessently. That would be Mattel's Charmin' Chatty. But when I grew up and gave away my dolls, the only girl doll I kept for my own daughter was one of the last dolls I received as a child, Baby First Step, not Charmin'.

By a long road that started when my grandmother died and I inherited the cedar chest containing my mother's favorite doll, I've learned about doll restoration, costuming and collecting. It's been an interesting road that's led me to collecting fashion dolls. Although I love the stage and love to act, I think I may have missed my calling as a costumer designer. I'm not the best seamstress in the world, but I love to design. I haven't yet had the courage to take needle in hand and design for my dolls, but I'm feeling the urge coming.

In the meantime, I'm learning to photograph my dolls, which is an adventure in itself. I've taken three photos this week that I think might do. The first photo is of my new-to-me Superfrock Sanctuary doll in a gorgeous black dress.

She almost looks real, doesn't she? The second photo is of a resin fashion doll with interchangable eyes. (This may be why my daughter says my dolls are "creepy!") This is Jamie, an Angelic Dreamz JamieShow doll wearing a gorgeous blue outfit.

The last of the three is more than a photograph. I saw the pattern for the dress in a doll magazine last fall. The article dealt with using vintage fashion photographs as inspiration for doll clothes. I decided this week to make the dress up to see if I could. There are things I'd change next time I make it, and I'd have to redraft it for a certain doll I have in mind, but yes, I can do it. The doll is a Glowing Muse doll from Robert Tonner.

So why do we collect? And why do we play with dolls? I may be answering that question for quite some time. One of my doll friends likes to collect extreme fashion dolls because the dolls can let her enjoy daring fashions she wouldn't / couldn't wear herself. Dolls let me enjoy (or get frustrated with, depending) creating fashions in rich fabrics that I couldn't afford if I were making full-size clothes. The seams are still too darn small, but I'm getting the hang of it. They let us escape for a little while into fantasy worlds. They let us try out things we couldn't do in real life.

And yes, I found a red-headed Charmin' Chatty on eBay. She lives with me now. I've collected records for her - she can still talk. I've made replacment clothes for her wardrobe and designed her a few things myself. After the 16" fashion dolls (bigger than Barbie, at least), sewing for a 22" doll is a joy! I found her an original pair of glasses. She sits on a dresser in a display of family dolls. Baby First Step is there - my daughter never did play with her. My mother's doll is there. My daughter's favorite doll is there.