Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dolls That Arrived For and Near Christmas and Some That Almost Didn't

I participated in two Christmas doll exchanges.  Through my online Yahoo Group, WeLoveBlackDolls, I received Fashion Madness Dwayne, TJ, and Mini Kenya Music Girl. We were to exchange small dolls with the dolls being 12 inches or under.  When asked what I desired, I replied (paraphrased), "Fashion Madness TJ and Dewayne; and if you can find her, Keyshia."  These big headed guys, which have been elusive in my area, were readily available in the sender's area.  I am so glad she asked what I wanted.  Thanks again VW!

In another doll exchange, I received So in Style Kara and Kianna.  I just love Kianna's Santa fashion.   These two dolls were immediately incorporated into my Christmas doll decor.   

Totally Coolness Lizette, featured in yesterday's post, was my Christmas doll from me to me.

Doll gifts from Debra R:  Circa 1950s Stockinette Doll by Martha Chase; Guys and Dolls Club-exclusive Celebrate America Ginny from 2009 is redressed for Christmas; her original stars and stripes fashion and shoes were included in the box.  Debra also sent a red Christmas dress for Tonner's 14-inch Dru.
 The above doll-related items in addition to several others that were non-doll related gifts from my "bestest" doll friend were contained in a package that I almost did not receive due to UPS negligence. 

Upon discovery of the missing package, my friend Debra and I were both heartbroken, thinking that the package and its contents would be lost forever.  Expecting the package to be delivered between UPS's estimated delivery window of 3:00 and 7:00 p.m., around 6:30 p.m. on 12/20/2014, I decided to check the UPS website to track the package and was shocked to read their information that it had been left at my front door at 12:48 p.m!  I immediately called UPS to report it as missing.  A nonchalant customer service woman proceeded to tell me what I had just read at the UPS website:  that "the package was left at your front door at 12:48..."  I interrupted her and in a louder-than-normal voice said, "Lady, stop reading off to me what your system shows you.  I know that it says the package was left at my doorstep at 12:48, but I have been here all day.  No one has been on my front porch; and if a package was delivered, and I doubt that it was, your driver did not bother to ring the doorbell as instructed to alert me that he was leaving a package!"  Without an apology or an inkling that she cared, she went on about what steps I and the shipper needed to take to file a claim.

The next afternoon the doorbell rang.  I waited in the bedroom while my husband answered it (hoping it was my package).  I could tell he was speaking to another male.  Finally, he returned to the bedroom holding my package from Debra.   UPS had delivered the package to the wrong address!  Our neighbor, whom we had not met previously, lives three doors down.  Because of the size of the package, he drove it to our house and explained that he received several packages the day before and assumed my package was his, too, until he looked at the label.  Thank God for honest neighbors!  In addition to the dolls shown, there were several other very nice gifts from Debra.  Thank you again and again, Debra R.!

Not a Christmas doll or Christmas present, but Glam Convertible So In Style Trichelle arrived during Christmas week.  She is an appreciation gift for my sending an elusive-to-the-sender, S.I.S. Baby Phat Kara doll.  One act of kindness that did not expect anything in return, did, in fact, generated another.  Thank you again SS!

I hope your Christmas was doll-lightful and uneventful (with reference to gifts that almost did not arrive).


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Monday, December 30, 2013

Totally Coolness Flat Ironing -- Image Intense

My last doll purchase for 2013 was Totally Coolness Lizette.  I had been salivating over this doll since November when Wilde Imagination began sending emails of special sales, discounts, and free shipping.  I finally gave in and purchased Lizette during the Wilde Imagination Black Friday Redux when all items, including sale items, were discounted 20% with free shipping.  Lizette's price was already reduced from original retail, so I felt great about the purchase.  Free shipping is always an added plus.

Lizette's delivery was initially scheduled for December 24th (Christmas Eve), but due to UPS's delivery backlog, she did not arrive until the 26th.  I still consider her my Christmas present from me to me.

After removing her from the box, the state of her hair, with its uneven ends and bumpiness in the midsection of her head, was very disappointing.  Sale price or not, I was not a happy camper.  I expected her straight hair to be straight with even ends, so I contacted the Wilde Imagination folks.

I was asked a series of irritating questions (could it be the way she was tied down in the box?), which I answered.  This person requested photos of the hair, which I took and sent by email (see the actual email and photos below).  During our conversation and prior to my sending the photos, I was told that Lizette was still in stock and they would work with me to be certain I was happy.  I was also referred to someone at the Wilde Imagination store to compare the condition of my doll's hair with remaining stock.

I phoned the store.  The person there informed me that Lizette was sold out but she had four remaining heads that she kindly examined and described the condition of the hair.  They all sounded in worse condition than my doll's hair.   After asking ways to straight out the bumpiness, the store woman suggested that I wet the hair with warm-to-touch water (not boiled because it might melt the fibers); then smooth the hair as much as possible and place a towel between the hair and clothing and lie the doll flat to dry.  (Had I done this, I would have removed the doll's clothing.) 

Below is the email I sent to the first person with whom I spoke along with the requested photos:

Hi _____,

Per our phone conversation about the Totally Cool[ness] Lizette I received and your need to see photos, I took several from different angles to illustrate the uneven ends and puffiness of the back midsection of Totally Cool[ness] Lizette's hair.  I spoke with ___ who did check the hair of four Totally Cool[ness] Lizette Dionne heads and said all ends were jagged but not in any particular pattern.  One was longer on the right, one longer on the left, one was longer on both sides (shorter in the middle), etc. 

I am surprised no one else noticed/complained about this.  From the picture and description at the Wilde Imagination web site, I was expecting the doll to have straight (smooth) evenly cut ends.  Since all remaining heads are different, it appears that the rooting process was done haphazardly without regard to achieving even ends and an overall sleek look. 

According to your web site, the doll is still available.  According to ___, the doll is sold out. 

These are the photos that were attached to the email:
Note the bumpiness in the top midsection and the jagged ends

More of the bumpiness is illustrated in this photo.

Bumpiness and angled-edge ends

One last photo of the back -- very unsightly! 

She replied as follows:

Hi Debbie,

Thanks for your pics, yes, well when we have our samples our hair stylist goes over the hair, you know, she uses gels, and sprays and redoes a bit or touches them, brush, you know, so that when they do go to photography they look their best, dolls should be beautiful out of the box, but hair can be a bit tricky sometimes you do have to play with it a bit.

She mentioned you would try to warm it or see if you could get the bump out by using the warm water, so do let me know how it goes, we can replace if necessary...

Even though ___ could be sold out at the store, we do have her online so it's not a problem should it not work out...



Instead of using the suggested warm water method to relax the fibers of Lizette's hair, I opted to actually flat iron it with an iron on the lowest setting, which had to be turned up a few notches in order to achieve the desired effect.  See photos below:

Lizette was very compliant, but became a little apprehensive when she saw the actual iron.

With Lizette lying on a T-shirt on the kitchen counter, several passes of the iron were made in a top-to-bottom motion on the lowest setting.

I turned the heat setting up a few notches to warm the iron more and continued with the top-to-bottom motion ironing, getting as close to the top of Lizette's head as possible.  The bump in the midsection of her head was still noticeable.
I passed the tip of the warmer iron directly across the midsection of Lizette's head to smooth out the hair bumpiness.  This worked well.

After flat ironing, the bumpiness is barely visible and what initially appeared to be jagged ends are now even.  It was the midsection bumpiness that caused the appearance of uneven ends!

Side view after flat ironing
View of the opposite side, post-flat ironing

Close-up of lovely face post flat ironing

Lizette strikes a final pose wearing her totally cool hat.

While the use of a clothing iron worked in the case of Lizette's hair, fibers used for dolls vary.  Please do not try flat ironing your doll's hair unless you test a few strands using the lowest setting of your iron.  The test strands should also be hair that is in a concealed area, such as at the nape of the neck.


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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mo' Better Makes it Mo' Better

Initially I was uncertain if the title of this post is an actual line from the 1990 Spike Lee joint, Mo' Better Blues, starring Denzel Washington.  The line came to mind after I dressed the above shown "Denzel Washington" lookalike action figure as his Mo' Better Blues character, Bleek Gilliam.

Denzel Washington, born this day in 1954, is by far one of my favorite actors.  I-love-me-some-Denzel.  Have you seen his air of confidence strut?  No one, but no one can walk like Denzel.  Lord-give-me-some-mercy, please, right now!  I need a hand fan.  The man is not only extremely handsome with an unmatchable stride, but his acting is impeccable as is his real-life character.  He is a family man first and has not allowed his celebrity to interfere with his morals and beliefs.  As an actor, he becomes the characters he portrays.  I especially enjoyed his role as Malcolm X in the movie by the same name.  He was Malcolm X!

After a Google search for "mo' better makes it mo' better," I discovered I had the line partially right.  Clarke, one of the love interests of Denzel Washington's character, Bleek, spoke the line as, "Cause mo' better, makes it mo' better."   Mo' better, was Bleek's reference to making love and he does this with two women in the movie.

Mo' Better Blues characters, Indigo Downes, Bleek Gilliam, and Clarke Betancourt, played by actors, Joie Lee, Denzel Washington, and Cynda Williams, are shown in this Internet-captured photograph.

The playscale Denzel figure was purchased nude through an eBay auction win.  I was disappointed upon its arrival because there was heavy facial shading chiefly along the sides of the face.  I was unhappy mostly because it was to be a gift for someone who collects celebrity dolls.  Because I would never give someone something I would not be happy with myself, I was forced to paint the head.  I didn't take before pictures... that's how disgusted I was with the shading, and I actually didn't know if I could achieve the desired effect.

Painting the head of a playscale doll or action figure was something I had not attempted before, but I was pleased with the end result of an even skin tone.  I used acrylic paint and sealed it with matte varnish.  Both the paint and the varnish were applied with a makeup wedge.

Playscale Denzel wears part of his tan suit and holds his brass trumpet.

Because of the figure's 1990s high-top fade hairstyle, I chose to transform it into Denzel Washington as Bleek Gilliam.   Bleek has been dressed in a brown (more tan in appearance) suit that included a tan/peach shirt; brown belt, socks, and shoes.  This ensemble was also found on eBay.

His brass trumpet is actually an ornament that is the perfect scale for him.

Denzel action figure as Bleek Gilliam from the 1990 movie, Mo' Better Blues

Denzel is looking good and has long since arrived to his new home.  I miss him, but I have a real-live Denzel, and that's a mo' better that truly makes it mo' better. (I also have my own playscale Denzel, first seen here with a followup appearance here.)

To the real Denzel Washington:  Happy Birthday may you have many, many mo' (more)!


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Friday, December 27, 2013

Repurposed Coach Duffle Key Fob

Shaped like a mini duffle bag, this Coach duffle key fob can be used as a shoulder bag for playscale to 16-inch dolls as illustrated by my two models, Janay and Lizette.

Janay chose to model the duffel bag first in this close-up image.

Here, Janay is shown in full view modeling the Coach duffle. 
Lizette Dionne likes it as well.  It coordinates nicely with her newest fashion.

I did not buy this for myself or for either of these dolls, but I may eventually purchase another.  I did want to share the repurposing possibilities here with those of you who might have salivated over but missed purchasing the now sold-out Coach Barbie that came with her own mini Coach duffle bag.

The key fob can also be used for its intended purpose, if found reasonably priced like I did.   Take a better look at it, detailing the keyring, in this Amazon.com image.


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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Kwanzaa Redux

KWANZAA is derived from the Swahili word, Kwanza (note the original spelling contains only one "a"), which means first fruits.  The African American holiday, Kwanzaa (with two A's) is a celebration of family, community, and culture.  It begins on December 26 and ends  January 1 each year. 

This blog focuses on images and links to Kwanzaa dolls and additional Kwanzaa information. 

Festivals of the World Kwanzaa Barbie with Kwanzaa Keeya

Festivals of the World Kwanzaa Barbie - closeup

Kwanzaa Keeya - closer view

 Possible Dreams Kwanza Santa (includes dashiki and kufi-clad lad who lights a kinara candle)

Nomsa Celebrates Kwanzaa by Madame Alexander looks quite elegant in gold lamΓ© gown with earth tone coat and head wrap.

One of my favorite Mahogany holiday greeting cards features a trio of angels wearing Kente cloth-trimmed gowns.  One angel has a crooked halo.

Not in my original 2010 post, this Kwanzaa nutcracker was a gift from a dear doll friend a few years ago.  It remains the favorite of my three holiday-themed African American nutcrackers.  Thanks again VW!

Kwanzaa Links:
Doll Shopping for Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa Paper Dolls
The Official Kwanzaa Website
Robert Tonner's 15-inch vinyl Kwanza doll from 1997


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Throwback Thursday: This Was Not for My Husband!

He rarely orders things, so I should have known this package was not for my husband.  I had placed an online order for him and incorrectly assumed the above package contained the games my husband ordered for our grandsons.

After he brought it in and handed it to me saying, "It's for you."  I placed it on the coffee table in the den, thinking that he was mistaken because what I ordered for him for the grandsons was ordered in my name; so my name would be on the address label and I was not expecting a package.

I woke up around midnight the next day and noticed the unopened package still in the den.  I decided to check the shipping label.  I did and noticed it was from GOLDIE WILSON!  With excitement and giddiness like a child on Christmas morning, I thought:  Oh, no this certainly isn't for him; it's for me!  I retrieved a knife from the kitchen, opened the package, and discovered the most thoughtful and generous contents -- a Columbian-style doll made by Goldie Wilson's talented hands along with a handwritten personal note with a wish for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  The doll's certificate of authenticity was also included.

Columbian style doll by Goldie Wilson

Columbian dolls originated in 1891, according to information gleaned here, where the writer states:
Columbian dolls began with two sisters living in Oswego NY in 1891. Emma Adams set to making a sturdy doll with a soft durable body. The dolls were made of muslin and stuffed with cotton and excelsior. Emma who had studied art and was known for her portraits skillfully painted their hands, feet, and heads in oils. Her sister Marietta soon joined Emma in the now prospering doll making business. She skillfully dressed the dolls in beautiful sewn outfits.  

The dolls were exhibited in 1893 at the Chicago Worlds Fair Columbian Exhibition and received a Diploma of Merit. After receiving that award the dolls then became known as The Columbian Dolls. 

The United States Postal Service issued a Columbian doll stamp in 1997 as part of their Classic American Dolls stamps.  It is the second doll to the left on the first row of the sheet of stamps.

While not from the 1890s, Goldie's doll is inspired by the original Columbian dolls, more of which along with replicas can be seen on a Columbian dolls Pinterest page. The originals most probably lacked dark skinned versions, but one doll artist that I know has rectified that by making at least two -- Goldie Wilson.

My lovely doll is 27 inches tall with painted facial features and hair.  The cloth used for her face and body appears to be black silk.  Her ecru colored dress, bonnet, and undergarments are made from antique fabric with lace embellishment.

Made in an edition of only two dolls, she is signed on the palm of her right hand:
Dolls by Goldie

On her signed certificate, Goldie wrote:
This doll will not be produced again.  Only 2 dolls made.  Antique clothing.  Oil painted face by artist.

Of course after viewing the contents of the package, I became emotion filled with feelings of blessings and  high favor that still consume me.  I will remain forever grateful for Goldie's kind gesture and thoughts of me and will cherish this doll forever!

Thank you again, Goldie!  I love her!

Each time I gaze upon her face, I say to myself, "She is so pretty... she-is-so-pretty!"
Goldie Wilson has been on Etsy since January 2013.  At this time her story is empty, but I wanted to share a link to it for future reference.


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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Thank You Redux

Before we close out 2013 and enter into a new year, I want to take the time to thank all the followers/readers of this blog.  Thank you for your eyes, your thoughts, your bearing with my ramblings, reflections, and occasional rants about the dolls I love.  I appreciate your past and future comments.  They confirm the relevance of this blog. Thank you for listening.

May the gifts of peace, joy,
love, and friendship be yours



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

1960s Sears Wish Books

My memories of thumbing through the toy section of the Sears Wish Books published during the 1960s, specifically from 1963 through approximately 1969, are still quite vivid.  By 1969, my interest in dolls had faded, but in the years prior, I enjoyed circling the dolls and toys I wanted, hoping that these things would be under the Christmas tree.

Prior to age 10, Christmas Eve would find me full of anticipation.  I would always stay up until after the local weatherman, Dale Milford, had provided the forecast and used his primitive animated graphics to illustrate Santa's exact location.  I always wanted to be asleep before Santa arrived to our house, because although he would bear toys and gifts, I was terrified of him!

In later years, after discovering what Santa really was, I still continued to circle desired stuff in the Sears Wish Books.  I had also discovered my mother's toy-hiding places and would peek at some of my toys as soon as she began hiding them and when the "coast was clear" for me to invade these places.  My invasions were done with precision, often alone, but sometimes with my brother as my accomplice.  Except for once, I made certain I  left everything exactly the way she had it because I did not want to suffer her wrath.  After one invasion, she angrily asked, "Who's been in my closet?"  My answer was silence.  If I didn't say anything, she couldn't prove it was me and I wouldn't have to lie.  After I became older, I discontinued this behavior to eliminate the need to pretend to be surprised on Christmas morning as well as to rid myself of the guilt of having done this.  

Because my mother is a fashionista, I believe she wanted Barbie for me more than I wanted the doll for myself.  I was between the ages 9 and 10 when I received my first round of Barbie, Midge, and Ken dolls and extra clothing packs.   I honestly do not remember circling Barbie in any Sears Christmas Wish Book, but in separate years I did circle Ideal's Tammy and Pepper, and Barbie's little sister Skipper.

This book is a compilation of doll and bear pages from Sears Wish Books from 1950 through 1969.

 The doll pages of the 1950-1969 Sears catalog are compiled in their entirety in the book, The Doll & Teddy Bear Department, edited by Thomas W. Holland, published by Windmill Press in 1997. 

In this book, the introduction to the 1963 Sears Wish Book reads:
The Barbie explosion hit the Christmas Wish Book big in 1963.  The headline reads, "Sears puts at your fingertips more of what America's children want most:  Barbie and her friends with 4 pages of wardrobes and accessories."  The buying public had made the shapely doll a huge success and now there were costumes and accessories galore.  Barbie now had bedroom suites, sports cars, authorized carrying cases and more.  She even had a beau, Ken, and a best friend named Midge.

She also had competition.  Sears aggressively marketed Ideal's Tammy, a teenager not as busty or thin as Barbie, along with her Mom, Dad and siblings Pepper and Ted.  Tammy was a wholesome family girl... not a flighty high-fashion model!  But the public spoke again and Tammy never came near Barbie's popularity...

Published in black and white, flipping through specific catalog years of The Doll & Teddy Bear Department can still conjure up fond memories.  I can easily visualize my young self thumbing through the actual pages of the 1960s Sears Wish Books in hopes that those circled items would appear under the Christmas tree or be found, pre-Christmas, in Mama's hiding places.    

Today is Christmas Eve.  I now get to enjoy the anticipation of Christmas Day through the emotions displayed by my grandsons.  While they have never viewed a Sears Wish Book or invaded any hiding places, they have either circled the Toys R Us Toy Book, prepared handwritten lists, stated their desires vocally, or used some other form to communicate their Christmas wishes.


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Friday, December 20, 2013

Inspired by and Dressed for Christmas

In the above image, So in Style Kara and Darren and a West Germany-made baby represent Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  Luke 2:11 KJV.  This is the true meaning of Christmas.  


Christmas Cheer Dru and Gingerbread Dru are joined by a basketful of Ginny girls and one Ginny boy dressed in Christmas clothes.  They are on display on my dining room table.

So in Style Marisa, Grace, and Princess of South Africa Barbie have gone gold for the Christmas holiday.
Another SIS Kara and her mentee, Kianna, are in holiday dress.  Doesn't Kianna look adorable?

Smiling Debbie, by Wolfert Puppen, navigated from the doll room to take a picture that shows off her red polka dot dress.  She holds the 1998 Holiday Teddy by Ty.
To create a shawl that ties in the back, First Lady Michelle Obama added a poinsettia patterned ribbon to her red gown.  She is back where she is usually displayed, on my work desk.

These adorable doll ornaments by Shades so Sweet can be used for Christmas, Kwanzaa, or anytime of the year.
Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy, Prosperous 2014!

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Throwback Thursday: This Little Girl Needed Extremities

First seen here, my souvenir doll from the West Indies, circa 1960s, arrived without arms and legs.  I decided to fashion some for her.  Here's what I did:

I connected the mid sections of two pipe cleaners to create an armature.

The armature was inserted through the leg area with the legs exiting the leg holes and the arms guided up and pushed out the arm holes.
She looks like an insect here but her arms and legs will look better soon.  There was no particular reason for my use of red and green pipe cleaners except these were the first two I found in my doll repair materials box (even though I do have brown ones).

I stuffed the body with polyester fiberfill with particular attention at the leg and arm holes to hold the armature in place.
Additional stuffing with poly-fil was done with my handy tool -- a No. 2 pencil.

To create the "skin," I wrapped each extremity several times with self-adherent wrap, creating the shape of arms and legs as I applied the additional layers.

A couple of layers of Mod Podge sealed the wrap in place with the first layer allowed to dry before applying the second.  I mixed black and brown acrylic paint to closely match the doll's complexion.
The arms and legs were painted and allowed to dry.
She's been redressed in her original clothes, which were washed and air dried the day she arrived.
She looks so much better and probably feels much better, too. 

Thanks again, Ellen!


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