Monday, July 29, 2013

A Couple Bild Lilli Questions

Custom Black Bild Lilli Photograph courtesy of T. Fisher

I received an email and photographs from a collector who has acquired a beautiful brown-painted version of Bild Lilli, the doll that inspired the creation of the original Barbie.  Tonya asked:

Were black versions of these dolls created along with the white ones in the 60's, or are the dolls we are seeing painted or OOAK dolls?  

...  I know that [my doll] was custom made, but I am curious about whether there are any older, original models out there.

I replied:

Without conducting any extensive research on the existence of an authentic black Bild Lilli, my answer would be, no, since the doll was originally manufactured in Germany as a man’s gag toy.  It has been written that [Bild Lilli] originally represented a prostitute.  Because of its German origin and the fact that it was [originally] designed for men, I doubt that a dark-skinned Bild Lilli was made.  Many companies used the same mold to create clones and of course dark-skinned clones have been produced, but they were never given the name Bild Lilli.
After my reply to Tonya, I conducted a  brief online search to enhance my Bild Lilli knowledge. What I found is the doll was developed from a comic strip character published in the German tabloid, Bild.  The character's appearance and demeanor mimicked that of a sexy, blonde pin-up girl.  In Bild Lilli a History Catches Up, Anne Zielinski-Old interviews "Germany’s premiere collector of the Lilli doll," Inge Astor-Kaiser for Fashion Doll Quarterly, wherein Barbie's predecessor is described as "the mother of the modern fashion doll."  According to IAK,

Her personality was naive, sexy but at the same time clever, she was easily able to wrap men around her little finger, yet she was still youthfully innocent. A doll that had an expression between a teenager and a woman. Lilli was a beauty and she was a lady of fashion. Lilli was a symbol of the new femininity, a symbol of liberation and the satisfaction of women's pent-up demand for consumer goods. Her perfect body, her high heels, red lips and fingernails, her ponytail and the wisp of hair curling over her forehead, her made-up eyebrows and her cheeky expression exuded sex appeal, confidence and independence. She wore the outfits of dream careers like stewardess and ballerina, or a sporty look for tennis or ice skating. She turned heads in ball gowns, furs, haute couture, lingerie, and American style casual clothes.

Other websites of note that focus on Bild Lilly's history include:
Bild Lilli Doll History 1952-1964
Bild Lilli Clones and Competitors (mentions Eegee's rare black Babette)
Bild Lilli doll (on Wikipedia)

I also found a blog that defends Bild Lilli's honor, Barbie's Predecessor Was a Businesswoman not a Prostitute.  

None of the online information answers Tonya's question.  So the purpose of this blog is to ask readers who happen by:  Do you have additional Bild Lilli knowledge to share beyond what I have provided Tonya regarding the manufacture of dark-skinned Bild Lilli?

Custom Bild Lilli holds a mini replica of Bild - Photo courtesy of T. Fisher

Question 2:  Was Bild Lilli a businesswoman with standards, as the blogger feels, and not the gold digger or worse that some have labeled her?

Thanks in advance!


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Gratitude Beyond Despair

This is a personal thank you to Beverly Flowers for creating a page dedicated to my blog on her Dolls From the Past website.  I have to thank her for something else as well.  For something she doesn't realize she did.

As I wrote when I shared Bev's new website in my blog post of Saturday, July 13, 2013, Bev has been a member of my WeLoveBlackDolls Yahoo group (WLBD) since December 2008.  Most of her WLBD membership had been spent "lurking" until recent months when she became more active and shared images of her beautiful antique Black-doll gems.  I was so impressed with a composition and paper mache article she shared back in January of this year, that I sent her an email request to allow me to share it with the readers of this blog. That email went unanswered.  Since I didn't receive a reply, I assumed she did not want to openly share.  

A few weeks ago Bev informed the WLBD group of her plan to create a website in preparation for the  National Antique Doll Show and beyond.  She solicited web host suggestions from group members.  I offered a few suggestions.  Obviously, a woman with a mission, within days, her website was up and running.  She contacted me personally about linking my blog to her website and I agreed.  More exposure is always good.  At the same time, I asked her if I could feature her here.  This time she heard me and granted permission. 

So we have effectively linked sites.  Her link to my blog is actually an article about it, which has been published for several days now.  It can be viewed/read here.  And to refresh your memory, my post about Bev can be viewed here

I want to openly thank Bev for her kind words within and outside the article, which helped lift the bit of despair I began experiencing the day after publishing the post about her website.  This despair resulted from events beyond my control that I almost allowed to rob me of any pleasure, and blogging about the dolls I love is one of my greatest.  One of the things Bev wrote as an extension to the article, which opened my eyes and helped lift my gloom is the following passage:

I wish you would really take in what my article says about you. Over the years you have tried to correct [disparities in Black-doll world] by fighting for the positive portrayal of Black Dolls, not the Aunt Jemima or the silly stuff.   That is the thing God gave you.  Your part. Truly, I have followed your progress over the years. I represent hundreds maybe even thousands, who have lurked your words. You have not been radical but radical does not speak to the heart.

After I dried my tears, I decided to come back.  At that time, I didn't know when I would publish my next post, but I knew I had to come back.  I cannot allow the ills of the world to steal my joy, but if I can do something to eradicate them, I will.

So here I am.  Thank you again, Bev for sending me "flowers" while I can still smell them and for helping me retrieve my blogging "mojo."


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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Goldie Wilson @ National Doll Festival, Saturday, July 27, 2013

Doll artist, Goldie Wilson, has permitted me to share her doll image and information about her upcoming appearance at the National Doll Festival in Georgetown, Washington, DC on Saturday, July 27, 2013:

Goldie writes:

A Columbian style doll, painted in oil, OOAK, approx. 25"  tall, dress [is] designed and made by me from my collection of vintage petticoats. This doll will be on my table at the NDF along with other cloth and porcelain dolls.  Remember the show starts this Sat., [July] 27, 2013, at 3pm til 9pm...

As posted previously, Beverly Flowers of Dolls From the Past at, will also be a vendor in Georgetown, Washington, DC in the National Antique Doll Show Exhibit of the NDF

Best wishes to you both for fruitful doll sales!

Additional information about the National Doll Show is included on the Doll Events tab of this blog, which can be access by clicking here.


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

New Website Devoted to Black Dolls From the Past

Beverly and Bill Flowers participated in the 2012 National Black Memorabilia Art, Doll, and Collectible Show in Gaithersburg, Maryland where the above photograph was taken.
A member of my WeLoveBlackDolls Yahoo Group, Beverly Flowers, has recently launched a new website devoted to her love for antique Black dolls.  Flowers is known for selling affordable antique and vintage Black dolls and participates in several doll shows annually. Her website, appropriately named, Black Dolls From the Past is described as follows:

Black Dolls from the Past is a doll hobby that is dedicated to the preservation of Black doll history and research.  We are focused on antique and vintage dolls that represent people of colors throughout the world. Ultimately we would like to form an on line Antique and Vintage Black Doll Club...
Several fine examples of antique Black dolls are showcased at Black Dolls From the Past where Bev shares her enthusiasm for this doll genre.  Information about the web owner's presence at the July 27-31st, 2013 National Antique Doll Show in Georgetown, Washington, DC, is also available there (the link to the website is shared below).

These antique black dolls by a variety of manufacturers are the types of dolls that will be available for sale by Bev at the National Antique Doll Show (NADS).
Bev will have this lovely pair of German-made twins available for sale at the National Antique Doll Show

The 26th Annual National Doll Festival, featuring the National Antique Doll Show will be held in Georgetown, Washington, DC from July 27, 2013 through July 31, 2013.  This traveling doll show is strategically held during the time and in the same vicinity as of the annual UFDC Convention.  Additional information about the National Antique Doll Show, where Bev will feature her dolls, can be found on the newly created Doll Events tab on the home page of this blog, and as mentioned, on Bev's website.

Please visit and bookmark Black Dolls From the Past to learn more about Bev's passion for the hunt and chase of antique Black dolls and her interest in documenting and preserving their history. 


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More Wigging Out

The serious business of doll play (as Limbe Dolls so perfectly describes it) sometimes requires hands on creativity to achieve a desired end result.

I wanted dreadlocks for Jon and briefly considered having a wig made, but this shouldn't be too difficult to accomplish, I thought.  I have made wigs and wig caps before, but I knew a dreadlocks wig would require more time and effort than the others I have made.

During the long Fourth of July weekend I took a trip to the local beauty supply store to purchase the hair.  After browsing what was available:  a package of locked strands versus a package of short "lock twist" hair for braiding, I opted for the latter because of the kinky texture and because it can be twisted to the desired size.  The texture of the pre-locked hair is not coarse and the locs are too large for a doll.  I was also afraid that twisting would disturb the prefabricated locs.

At the store I also purchased a mesh wig cap with a plan to scale it to size, pull the hair through, and glue it to the inside of the cap.  At checkout, I was asked by the clerk if I needed needle and thread.  I'm not sure, I said, and then explained my plan to create a dreadlocks wig for one of my dolls.  This led to a series of questions from her.

How many do you have? (Several.) Do you have any pictures?  (No.) What started your collection? (....)  Oh I remember you told me you collected another time... (This was when I was there looking for toe rings to use as a playscale doll necklace; she suggested adjustable rings and asked some of the same questions about my doll collecting).  She continued,  Everyone has something they like... at least you're not spending your money on something foolishI know a girl who "collects" make-up.  (Raised brows from me.)  Yes, I went in her bathroom and she had all kinds and about 1000 bottles of nail polish, and a lot of it was the same color!  (She went on.)

(Everyone needs a passion, I told her, as I exited with my locking materials including the weaving needle and thread she suggested.)

As it turns out, I didn't need the weaving needle and thread, or the mesh cap I purchased because I made a wig cap instead.  After the wig cap was made, I twisted the strands of "lock twist" hair and dipped each into a cup of boiled water to maintain the smaller twisted size.  I twisted then dipped four braids at a time until all hair was twisted and dipped.  The dipped braids were allowed to hang dry on the shower curtain rod before attaching them to the wig cap.

Here's what I did (mostly) in pictures.

A plastic food storage bag is doubled, placed snugly over Jon's head, and held securely with a rubber band at her neck.

Jon is shown with most of the items used to create her locs:  plastic bag (on head already), scissors, brown scarf, Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue, rubber bands (two).  Not shown:  hair, marking pen, regular sewing needle and thread.
A piece of fabric (brown scarf) is placed snugly over the plastic bag that is already on Jon's head.  The fabric is held with a rubber band at the neck.  The hairline is outlined with a white ink pen.  Aleene's Clear Gel Tacky Glue is placed over the entire area that will become the wig cap.  (Some people use "flesh" colored fabric for the wig cap to give the appearance of a scalp.  I like to use fabric that matches the hair color.)
Another view of the fabric on top of the plastic bag, secured with a rubber band at neck with Aleene's glue applied to the wig cap area   
Jon stands in front of an oscillating fan to expedite the glue drying process (this step is optional).
The glue has dried.  The excess fabric has been trimmed away using the premarked outline as the cutting guide.

Jon, standing alongside the bag of #30 short Lock Twist hair, holds a twisted strand of it.

What I did not photograph is the process of adding the twisted strands to the wig cap.  Instead of gluing each in place, I tacked them with brown thread using a regular sewing needle.  Each strand was folded in half to create two adjacent strands.  Beginning at the nape of the neck area of the wig cap, the folded area of each strand was tacked to the center of the wig cap.  This process was continued upward toward the crown of the wig cap.  Finally, the crown hair, which consists of four locs that I had sewn together to create a side part, was stitched to the top of the wig cap.  After all twisted locs were sewn to the wig cap, a few were tacked together to close in any gaps where the wig cap was exposed.   Below are images of the end result:

Jon wears dreadlocks wig that matches her "natural" hair color.

Why are they so long? My husband wondered after showing him Jon in her new wig.
They had to be long enough to cover her hair because I do-not-want-to-cut-it, was my answer.

Jon models a back view of her locs, which were created in various sizes because real locs are never uniform in size.  I placed the loosely twisted ones in the back. 
Another back view with the locs pulled to the sides illustrates what I have done to better conceal Jon's original hair -- it is banded with clear rubber bands.
Is she Jamaican? my daughter asked after seeing Jon wearing her new wig? 
No, she's just Jon wearing a wig that I made.   


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Monday, July 8, 2013

Russell Shares With Rho

Russell Williams and Rho exchange glances

I wanted to see how my recently acquired Tonner Jac, (now named Rho) would look with dreadlocks.  Ultra Basic Russell was willing to share his wig with her.

Rho tried it on.  She and I were quite pleased with how she looks.  I like Russell in it better, so Rho only wore the wig temporarily.  Her pictures are below:

Rho, looking even more stunning in the dark brown dreadlocks wig by Umoja Dolls.

The wig will remain Russell's, but is an option for Rho because Russell never minds sharing.

We do appreciate Russell's cooperativeness and his usual good-nature.


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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Steffi Love

Steffi Love has a very pretty face.

I stopped by the thrift store yesterday and found this circa 1990s doll, Steffi Love.  She was only $2.99 and within her baggie, appeared to be in decent condition with articulation.  So I purchased her.

Before now I was not familiar with this 11-inch line of fashion dolls, made by Simba.  I did a quick Internet search and found several white versions with the same face.    The newer versions have a different head sculpt and also do not appear articulated.  A male counterpart, Kevin, is shown at the Steffi Love website.  I did not see any dark skinned dolls there. 
My doll, as mentioned is 11-inches tall.  She is articulated at the elbows, waist, knees, ankles, and the usual areas:  neck, upper arms-to-shoulders, upper legs-to-hips.  Wrist articulation is absent.  Her head is marked:  SIMBA-TOYS

Her back is marked:
SIMBA (with a rearing up elephant alongside)

Her black hair is rooted in approximately four layers.  The eyes are painted brown.   Her feet are flat.  The dress she wore when found appears original. 

Steffi Love in what appears to be her original dress (looking a little stiff in this pose).

Made in China, the quality is decent, above that of dollar store dolls, but not as high as a Mattel-made doll.  Her arms and lower legs are a lighter brown than the rest of her body. 

Steffi shows off her articulation.

Because of her flat feet, I thought about LIV shoes and clothing.  Her feet are smaller than LIV feet, but the outfit I chose for her includes boots, which fit without obvious slack.  Her shoulder/breast areas are broader than LIV dolls making it difficult to close the upper back of the LIV blouse completely and the denim vest will not close in front.  Fortunately, the fashion looks good with or without the vest.
Steffi wears the LIV for Hair! fashion, Country Fair with denim vest which will not close in front.

Steffi has removed the vest and feels and looks more comfortable without it.

She's all set and for $2.99, I am glad I did not leave Steffi Love behind.  


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Monday, July 1, 2013

Google Reader Alternative: Bloglovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you use Google Reader to read the blogs you follow and have not yet selected an alternate reader, consider Bloglovin' as Google Reader is scheduled to go away today, July 1, 2013.

Bloglovin' is the reader I currently use to read the blogs I follow.  Click the above "Follow my blog with Bloglovin" link or the Bloglovin' button on the left-hand side of my blog to follow this blog using Bloglovin'.

If you visit my blog using its URL, you can continue to do that as well.  The URL/clickable link to my blog is:   Please bookmark this link for quick access.  

Other Google Reader alternatives are discussed in this USA Today article.


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Tonner Girls Rock 'N Roll

It was 2010 when I first saw Twoonia Syke’s Jac as Lisa Bonet repaint.  I developed a longing for a Tonner Jac/Jon sculpt with thoughts of having Twoonia repaint and loc the doll in Lisa Bonet style.  Backing up a bit, I admired from afar Tonner’s dark-skinned beauty, Sterling Kagiso, when introduced in 2008 (same head sculpt).  At the time, I was not very much interested in 16-inch fashion dolls.   I owned a few, but my doll focus was elsewhere. 

Tonner's Perfect Morning Basic Jon and dark-skinned Jac sculpt repaint by Twoonia Sykes

As fate would have it, recently I saw a dark-skinned Jac repaint by Twoonia for a price I could not refuse.  On the same day, I discovered Tonner’s reduced price Perfect Morning Jon Basic, which included an additional 15% off and free shipping with the use of a coupon at checkout.  Man, two dolls for less than the price of one with a head sculpt that I’ve wanted for years, in two complexions… I had to buy both… just had to and I did.
Dark-skinned Jac sculpt wears part of the Rock 'N Roll Somers and Field fashion (midriff top, hot pants with gold chain belt, neon green fringed vest and matching headband).  The boots are borrowed.
Tamatchria (the name Twoonia selected) for the repaint, arrived first as a nudie that I dressed in part of a mix ‘n match Rock ‘N Roll Somers and Field fashion, introduced in 1999.  The fashion was made for the 15-inch 1960s-inspired "British Mod Birds," Daisy Field and Willow Somers, also from 1999.  The Daisy and Willow dolls were designed by Doug James and the late Laura Meisner around the time the 15- and 16-inch fashion doll craze erupted.  In 2000, I purchased three Daisy dolls and later several boxed fashions that had been drastically reduced by the Doll Market, the Rock ‘N Roll fashion being one.

Along with the hot-pants and midriff top, Tamatchria (now renamed Rhoenia because she reminds me of a friend of my daughter’s) wears replacement ankle boots borrowed from Wigged Out Lizette.   The wet-look (PVC) material used for the neon orange ankle boots and the over-the-knee boots that came with the Rock ‘N Roll fashion has weakened, literally melted in some areas after years of being enclosed.  I tried my best to salvage the boots with orange paint and sealer.  The attempt was admirable.  It is possible, however, that the boots will further deteriorate and stain the dolls' legs.  So I opted for safety over sorrow and gave those boots the boot.

A day or so after Rho arrived, UPS delivered Jon dressed in her basic black teddy and black high heels with elasticized straps.  I am convinced that black does nothing for her cafΓ© au lait complexion; a swift redress, even before photographing her in her manufactured state, was in order.  I was not overly enthused with her eye color.  Fortunately, in person her eyes appear more like Rho’s, green, instead of the blue color described on the Tonner website.   

Jon is redressed in the tunic, bell bottoms, head scarf, and light blue faux fur handbag with gold strap of the Rock 'N Roll Somers and Field fashion.  She borrowed lavender heels from another doll to complete her mod-inspired look.

I immediately dressed Jon in the remaining pieces of the Rock ‘N Roll fashion.  She had to wear the bell-bottom pants because her Antoinette body is slightly fuller than Rho’s Tyler Wentworth body.  Jon also has a longer torso and a more exposed hip/thigh joint, which would show if she wore the hot pants. 

Chicklet-looking earrings purchased at a beauty supply store for Jon and Rho

I purchased and modified two pairs of brightly colored Chicklet-looking earrings (shown above).  Two thin metal connectors were snipped to remove the lower two "chicklets."

Below are several pictures to illustrate additional ways the Rock ‘N Roll fashion can be mixed and matched along with a back pose and individual head shots (click any photo to enlarge).

Jon has borrowed Rho's vest while Rho carries the handbag.

Jon removed the bell-bottoms and retrieved the handbag while Rho remains vestless.  Not illustrated, but the bell-bottoms can also be worn with the midriff top. 
Hair color and length are illustrated in this shot.

The lovely Jon takes one final head shot.

One word describes Rho's beauty:  Stunning!

After some 13 years of wanting a doll or dolls (other than Daisy) to wear the Rock 'N Roll fashion, now I have two with a head sculpt I have also longed for.  Next up, maybe someone will get Lisa Bonet locs.

More Information on Somers and Field dolls, Daisy and Willow
Daisy and Willow Outfits


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