Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why I No Longer Collect Porcelain Dolls

If you've been following this blog, you know I am in the process of finding new homes for some of my larger dolls through eBay.  I have not shared the reason, but it may be obvious.

Over the past 20 years, my doll collection has grown by leaps and bounds.  My doll enthusiasm has shifted from artist to manufactured play line dolls, to vintage, back to artist, back to play line, to fashion, to a combination of all genres that pull at my heartstrings at any given time.  I am admittedly an unfocused, incurable black-doll collector

In the process of creating space in my doll room using strategically placed book shelves in the center of the 18 x 20 feet space, my "helpful" husband removed doll beds (still occupied by dolls) from the doll room into the adjacent room.  He then brought in three book shelves he constructed and placed them in the center of the room with enough space left for me to navigate around the shelves.  Next, in his "helpful" manner, he retrieved the first of the four doll beds from the den to return them to the doll room.  Just as he was about to retrieve the final bed, a double-decker (that still contained dolls), I shouted, "The doll on the lower bed is porcelain!"  Too late, the big 22-inch baby that I named Precious fell to the floor and I heard the unpleasant sound of shattering porcelain! 

I was too outdone.  To prevent myself from going straight off like an extremely agitated, black-female doll collector whose doll had just been broken due to the carelessness of another (okay, I'm counting to 10 and taking deep breaths as I type this), I didn't say anything... then.  In his way of never admitting to a mistake, he tried to make excuses for his blunder, the weakest of which was, "I see why people don't buy porcelain dolls."  (I won't write what I was thinking.)  But just picture Florida Evans (played by the late actress, Esther Rolle) preparing to drop that crystal punch bowl  in the episode of Good Times after the loss of her beloved husband, James Evans (John Amos) finally sets in.  

Instead, I'll just write, "Man!" 

I couldn't even bring myself to look at Precious... made from the Dianna Effner "Sleepy Head" mold by a then-novice doll artist who did a fabulous job creating her first African American doll at my request in 1998. Here's a scan of Precious from my first black-doll reference, which may be the only picture I have of her in her original state.

Scan from page 106, The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls (Hobby House Press, 2003)

For countless years and particularly when I was heavily into baby dolls, Precious was one of my favorites.

"Helpful" swiftly picked up the pieces, removed Precious from the doorway, and I vacuumed the spot of what I considered her demise.  (She's useless now, I thought... I'll just throw her away.)  He returned to the room and said, "It was just her hand.  I can fix it." 

Silence from me. 

Finally after a couple of hours, I built up enough courage to examine the damage.  I gently lifted her other extremities and was happy to discover they are indeed okay.  Her body is cloth, so no damage there.  Gingerly,  I lifted up her beautiful head and heard rattling underneath her wig.  In addition to the lower arm and hand fractures, her head is fractured, too.  Big sigh.  I wrapped her arms and legs with wash cloths and secured those with rubber bands to protect the porcelain from banging together when "helpful" husband decides to repair Precious. 

Damage proof:
Precious with fractured arm and cloth-wrapped extremities

Remaining pieces of fractured forearm and hand

I know it was an accident, but I'm still grieving her loss. 


PS  When I photographed Precious for this blog, which was written prior to taking the photographs, I was happy to discover that the repair process has already begun.  As I photographed her, Helpful asked, then cautioned, "What are you doing???  Be careful; don't you see I've already started repairing her arm?"  Upon closer inspection, I noticed he has glued a portion of her forearm back and you can barely see the break.   He has already begun the repair on her head, too.  

Precious, still sleeping peacefully throughout this traumatic event.

After taking the pictures, I said, "Look at her, she doesn't even know what's going on."  He replied, "She's under anesthesia."

Can I tell you my disappointment has lifted by 1000%?   Well it has.