Thursday, April 17, 2014

Church Crowns

Under the brim of a purple hat-shaped hair clip

In some instances of organized worship females are required to cover their heads as a symbol of modesty.  The only time I cover my head is at nighttime with silk scarves, to protect it from cold or rainy weather, or on "bad hair days," with scarves that I tie on it as fashionably as possible.

I do admire those who wear fancy hats whether for modesty or to compliment the rest of their attire.  My mother is one of these women, but she does not crown her head with fancy hats  "religiously."   My mother-in-law, on the other hand, did.  Hats, in her mind, completed her look.  When attending church, she did not feel completely dressed without a hat.   I suppose you would have to be from their generation to relate. 

My mother informed me of a new beauty supply store that opened recently.  She and other residents of her senior living complex went to Jenny's on one of their weekly outings.  From her description of its approximate location and massive size, I felt it must be located where an old Target store used to be.  I couldn't imagine a beauty supply store that large so I had to go see it myself.  I took Mr. G. along because we were going somewhere else afterward. 

After locating and grabbing three bottles of a hair lotion that my mother and I both use that we had not been able to find in over two years, Mr. G. and I browsed the store.  I stumbled upon a brown hat-shaped hair clip that I knew would be perfect for a playscale doll.  It was derby style with feathers and other embellishments.  "One of your dolls can wear it,"  Mr. G. said.  The hat hair clip had obviously been left where I found it by a customer who probably walked around with it and later decided against purchasing as there were no others like it in that area.  I knew there had to be more.  We walked up and down several aisles in the hair accessories section before finding the several others that were available.  There were several racks full.  Between the two of us picking and choosing which ones I should buy, I came home with the ones shown below after deciding against the brown one.

Shimmery silver hat-shaped hair clip (in front) , white, purple and black ones (back row) -- adorned with feathers, ribbons, faux gems, or flowers were 99 cents each.

Not that this is something I would ever wear, before removing all clips, I tried the purple one on as seen next:

Purple hair clip.  "Yeah, that's how it's supposed to be worn," Mr. G. said.  (I won't be wearing it, I thought.)
To prepare these for my dolls, I had to first remove the metal clips which had been applied with hot glue.  This was difficult, but finally done.  Some glue residue remains under the brims, but I left it there since it is not visible when the hats are worn. 

Chandra, who was already wearing a So In Style Fan Club-exclusive purple, two-piece suit, was my choice for the purple hat, or so I thought.  I discovered that it, like the white one, is too large for playscale dolls.  After Chandra modeled three of the four hats, I was able to adjust the fit of the purple one for her by stuffing the inside with tissue.   Below she models two of the others:

In the above two photos, Chandra models the black hat that has black lace trim, black and white polka dot bow, and black feather.
Next she tries on the shimmery silver hat.  Like the one above, it fits well and matches her silver shoes.

The purple hat, although too big for her head, is the one she settled on. 

Chandra is joined on "her" right by Kara whose white dress and mock black and white belt coordinate well with the black and white polka dot ribbon on the black hat.  Model 4 chose the shimmery silver hat that matches her shoes.  The white hat was temporarily worn by Glam 'N Groom Christie.  "We" (Christie and I) weren't in love with the way the hat looked on her, however.  Mr. G. even said, "That one is just too big.  Maybe one of your other dolls can wear it."

The larger purple and white hats fit 16-inch dolls like Paris Williams and Esme, who were kind enough to model them before returning to their separate display areas crown-free.

Colin Dehan eventually claimed the white hat and looks stunning wearing it.

These three chose to wear the other three hats.  See them better in the next close-up photo.

I thought my fun with dolls and hats had ended until I discovered an additional hat hair clip that was still in the bag with other items I purchased from Jenny's. 

This black straw hat has gold-trimmed black satin bow and gold etched netting.

Soon I will redress a playscale female and allow her to crown her head with the extra black hat shown above.  She can decide if wearing it will be for modesty purposes or just to compliment her fashion.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Are Our Doll's Killing Us?

My Chatty Cathy Family:  Chatty Cathy (Ashton Drake), Tiny Chatty Baby, Tiny Chatty Brother,Tiny Chatty Baby, 1960s Chatty Cathy, 1960s formerly white-now-dyed-brown Chatty Cathy

After posting the above photograph of most of my Chatty Cathy doll family, leaving them untouched on the shelf where they are permanently displayed, I realized that I forgot to photograph one additional member of the family.

I snapped the above separate photograph of Chatty Baby, then took a height comparison photograph of the doll alongside Tiny Chatty Baby and Chatty Cathy, the tallest of the three (next picture).

Chatty Baby (my almost forgotten Chatty family member) poses for a size comparison photo with one of my Tiny Chatty Baby dolls and Ashton-Drake's reproduction Chatty Cathy.
After touching one of my Tiny Chatty Babies, I noticed her face felt sticky.  Her body and arms, made of  different vinyl materials did not have this sticky film covering it.  I checked the other Chatty family members and found that only the Tiny Chatty Babies were affected.

After using a lens wipe on the above doll's face, I posted the following message in one of my Facebook doll groups:

...How can I remove the tacky/sticky feeling from my Tiny Chatty Baby dolls' faces. I noticed this earlier today when I took their photograph. It only affects the face. I think a chemical Mattel used in the vinyl is breaking down. It feels greasy/sticky. I used a lens cleaner to wipe one doll's face. It reduced it some, but it still feels tacky. I know corn starch has been suggested for white dolls, but I don't think that will work too well with brown dolls. Any suggestions?

One member suggested using a degreaser.  Another member suggested Dawn dishwashing detergent.

I tried Dawn first. Diluted in warm water, it seemed to remove approximately 75% of the stickiness, but I wanted it all gone. 

Tiny Chatties have had undiluted Dawn dishwashing liquid rubbed over all visible vinyl areas of their heads.

Going a step further, I rubbed undiluted Dawn all over the dolls' faces, ears, and napes of necks and allowed it to remain before washing it off the next day.   This worked well, but the face of one doll still felt a bit tacky.  I sprayed some undiluted Totally Awesome all-purpose cleaner and degreaser on that doll's face and washed off the residue.  Now all three have squeaky clean faces... at least for now.

Later in the day, another Facebook member added the following alarming comment:
OH! such a shame! It's called sticky doll disease and caused by a break down in the chemical make up. As far as I know, any cleaning will only be temporary and it will take over again. It usually gives a vinegary smell and eventually looks like it's covered in a fine powder. Make sure any diseased dolls are stored well away from your other dolls. If you have dolls made of the same chemical make up, it will spread!

So I googled "sticky doll disease" and found the following article, a portion of which I have shared here:

Vintage Barbie Dolls Can Be Dangerous to Your Health!
...Researchers in Europe reported this week at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society  that when the plastic used in vintage Barbie® dolls and other dolls made in the 1950s and 1960s disintegrates, that the plastic can emit a chemical that can disrupt hormone development in young children.

What happens is that in certain (not all) formulations of the plastic used to make these old dolls and toys, the plasticizer has separated from the plastic mix and has begun to ooze out of the toy...  These dolls were manufactured with a type of plastic called polyvinyl chloride.  Not all plastic dolls and toys from this era suffer from this "doll disease"--in fact, many, like the Barbie pictured at left, show no signs of this disintegration.  The ones that do, however, feel "sticky."

The researchers have just stumbled on this phenomena, which has been familiar to vintage Barbie collectors for years!  So far, only certain #4 and #5 dolls have suffered from this "sticky" disease.  It is not known if eventually all Barbie and similar vinyl dolls from this era will suffer from this problem, and the researchers were silent on this point...

Early 1960s blonde ponytail Barbie has weeping legs

The mention of #4 and #5 Barbie's led me to retrieve my early 1960s Barbie that I already knew suffered from "greasy" legs.  I have repeatedly wiped the substance that oozes from her legs away only to have it return.  This time when I examined her, there was no ooze, but her face and legs still looked shiny.  I decided to remove her clothing, give her an undiluted Dawn rub down, and allow the Dawn to remain on overnight before washing off.  I also hand washed her clothes.

Early 1960s Barbie with Dawn applied all over her body in hopes of eliminating or stalling any further vinyl ooze.

The above mentioned article warned that children should not be allowed to play with dolls with this condition because "the plasticizer can mimic estrogen and disrupt development in the very young."  The writer indicates the type of plastic used on modern Barbies does not contain the chemicals used on dolls from the 1960s.  But my question is:  Are there other chemicals being used in today's dolls that we should be worried about?

I know for certain that this breakdown in materials in not isolated to dolls from the 1950s and 1960s. 
In 2004 when doll manufacturers combined vinyl and silicone in an attempt to create the feeling of human skin for artist baby dolls, they had no idea this material would also decompose resulting in an unsightly lumpy texture.  While not all silicone-vinyl dolls have begun this process of deterioration, I have at least three that developed this unnamed doll disease.  "Now" and "prior" photos of the one most afflicted are shown below:
Be Still My Heart by Sheila Michael made of a silicone-vinyl mix will do more than make a heart standstill with the indentations across her forehead that extend down to her nose.   The doll was made in 2004.  I first noticed the lumpiness about three years ago, which has progressively gotten worse.  The next picture is how she looked before this decomposition began.

Be Still My Heart before the silicone-vinyl deterioration -- she looks totally different now.

I have an additional question:  What are we exposing ourselves to when we surround ourselves with dolls -- both old and new -- for extended periods of time?  Mattel's dolls have been produced offshore since the 1960s and now with most toy manufacturers and doll artists who mass produce dolls using labor from China and other offshore locations, how can we feel confident that chemicals being used in dollmaking are safe for human exposure?  The answer is:  We cannot.    

Please share your thoughts. 



Friday, April 11, 2014

Keepsake Doll Club Luncheon

The Keepsake Doll Club of New Jersey 
A Day at the Jersey Shore 2015 Luncheon
When:  April 18, 2015
Time:   10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Where: The Westwood
            438 North Avenue
            Garwood, NJ 07027
            (908) 789-0808
Call for directions or visit:

I received the following note along with the above flyer from paper doll and doll artist, Diana Vining.  I am sharing the information here about her club's luncheon because of the special souvenir doll that guests and Absentee registrants will receive.  The doll will be designed by Denis Bastian, the "father" of Leeann and her friends:

I belong to the Keepsake Doll Club of New Jersey, and we are planning a wonderful luncheon for next year (April 2015).  This luncheon will make history for our club, because even though the club has been around for 50+ years, for the first time ever, our guests will be going home with a Black souvenir doll.  The details of the doll are a surprise, but she is going to be beautiful!

If you reside in the Philadelphia/New Jersey/New York area, you might be interested in attending or registering as an Absentee to receive the souvenir doll and table favors.  Note that only a few Absentee registrations are available.

For additional details or for a full version of the registration form, please contact Diana Vining directly at:

This information will be posted under the Doll Events tab of this blog.