Saturday, September 27, 2014

Theriault's Upcoming October Doll Auctions

An American Childhood, upcoming Theriault's doll auctions:  At Play in a Field of Dolls and The Blackler Collection

I received auction catalogs for two upcoming Theriault's auctions:  At Play in a Field of Dolls, and The Blackler Collection. Combined, the catalogs total 324 pages of early American dolls.  The following letter accompanied the catalogs:


We are gearing up for our wonderful fall auction event "An American Childhood" in Los Angeles, California... which will take place October 4-5-6th.  The collection is one of the finest offerings of early American cloth and folk art dolls ever to come to market, including an astounding collection of black cloth dolls, as well as dozens of fine teddy bears, Raggedy Ann, and early studio dolls from such iconic firms as Ella Smith, Emma Adams, and Martha Chase.  The collection seamlessly mixes with early wooden toy horses as well as early Mickey Mouse and Disneyana.

The entire auction will be streaming online and bidding will be available onsite, by absentee, live by telephone, and online.  We would love it if you would help us spread the word about this momentous event and also consider joining us for the auction.  
Warm regards,

Kristin McWharter
At Play in a Field of Dolls takes place on October 4, 2014, 9 a.m. (preview of auction), 11 a.m. (auction begins) and will feature "the fine Lois Cohorst antique doll collection of the Marysville Doll Museum on the Pony Express Trail of Kansas, as well as private estate dolls from important French and German collections."

The Blackler Collection takes place from October 5 - 6, 2014, 9 a.m. (preview of auction), 11 a.m. (auction begins both days).  "The private collection of  [twin sisters] Diane and Valerie Blackler of Naples, California offers the most exceptional collection of American cloth dolls ever presented, highlighted by folk art dolls, 19th century studio dolls, and black folk dolls."

Both auctions can be viewed now by visiting and clicking on the button for Proxibid.

I previewed the catalogs for both auctions online prior to receipt of the hard copies and remain fascinated by the offerings, most of which are one of a kind and very rare pieces of early American doll play, history, and appreciation. 

Both catalogs can be viewed online here.

Both auctions include black dolls with the Blacker Collection containing the most.  In the following video, Florence Theriault shows a few of her favorite dolls from The Blackler Collection.

As mentioned in the letter, there are several ways to bid:
  • Onsite at the Universal City Hilton in Los Angeles, California
  • Absentee Bidding (by absentee bidding form)
  • Online bidding via
  • Telephone bidding at the time of the auction is also available.  Call 800-638-0422 for information or to schedule your bidding calls.
For additional information, also call 800-638-0422.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Buttercup Trixie Post Inspires Two New F&B Purchases

Black Grumpy is shown on the far left in the red floral-print dress with Effanbee (F&B) Patsy family dolls (Photo courtesy of CLF Doll Collection).

The photo shared by CLF Doll Collection, shown above of Patsy family members, which was originally included in my ButtercupTrixie post, led to my discovery of other black Grumpy dolls beyond the one I purchased over a decade ago.

Snowball by Effanbee circa 1913
I purchased Snowball (a.k.a. black Grumpy) in the early 2000s. This 12-inch doll dates back to 1913 and has a composition head and lower arms.  The pink cloth body feels straw stuffed.  Red, white, and blue striped fabric covers the legs, which I have elected to keep covered with the romper the previous owner had the doll dressed in.  Snowball wears white socks and baby style shoes.  Typical of Grumpy dolls, Snowball has black molded curls and a facial expression that clearly indicates her displeasure.  Here is a link to another Snowball that was offered at auction in 2009.

My initial search for a version like the CLF Grumpy led to an auction for an identical doll that was in need of restoration to her partially missing forefoot.
Black Grumpy by Effanbee, circa 1922 with damaged foot as shown better in the next image (taken with iPad since digital camera was not accessible).
Black Baby Grumpy's damaged foot allowed me to snatch her in an eBay auction for $50 plus shipping (another iPad photo).

From the seller's cell phone-looking photos, the doll appeared to also need even more attention.  This is probably the reason no one except me was interested.  While other Black Baby Grumpy dolls in better  condition have sold on auction for three digits, I paid no where near that amount for my doll. 

Grumpy's damaged foot has been sealed.
Other than the foot, the doll's condition was much better than expected.  My initial plan had been to rebuild the forefoot with Elmer's Wood Filler, as I have done in the past for composition dolls, but I decided to use an easier method of getting her ready for display.  To prevent additional chipping away of the composition, I sealed the damaged area including all edges with Mod Podge and allowed it to dry.

The Mod Podge dries clear.

I hand washed Grumpy's dress, added a bow to the collar, found shoes and socks that fit, and tied white ribbons to each of her three tufts of Topsy-style hair to make her as presentable as any other inanimate 92-year-old.  

Grumpy is so fresh and so clean now.
This Grumpy has a composition head and shoulder plate, composition arms and legs, and brown cloth body.   The back of the shoulder plate is marked:  Effanbee Dolls Walk*Talk*Sleep (the doll does none of these; this was the mark used on Grumpy and other Effanbee dolls beginning in 1922).

Another recent eBay steal, Baby Grumpy by Effanbee circa 1922, as she appeared upon arrival.

Before Grumpy's auction ended, I was excited to find an eBay listing for 12-inch Baby Grumpy (shown above).   The baby has chunkier legs and molded hair without braids.   She bears the same shoulder plate marks as the previous doll and again cannot walk, talk, or sleep.  I was the only bidder of this auction that had a low beginning bid.  Don't you love it when things happen like this in your favor?

Just as I expected before the doll arrived, what appears to be her original outfit would need a good hand washing.   I also knew from the auction pictures that her face would need some cosmetic touching up.   Her shoes were in  grave disrepair.  With the shoes on, the poor baby's toes were touching the surface on which she stood. I had more work cut out for me with this one.
Baby Grumpy's shoes as they were upon arrival (top photo) and after the holes were filled with tissue paper.  A few final steps were required to make them wearable. 

Baby's soaking clothes, socks, and shoe ribbons

Determined to make her presentable, I did just that after soaking Baby Grumpy's clothes in a mixture of laundry detergent, baking powder, hydrogen peroxide and hot water.  They were left to soak in this solution overnight. 

Flori Roberts cream makeup was applied to the paint-chipped areas of the face.  I did not cover the chips on other areas of her body, maybe later.  This is just a temporary fix because the makeup will rub off, which is the reason I chose not to use makeup on the body.  I used black acrylic paint to cover a few paint chipped areas on Baby Grumpy's head.  This was sealed with matte varnish.  (I did the same to the head of Grumpy with braids, after I took her so-fresh and so-clean photo.)

Back to the baby, I made new soles for her shoes and glued small pieces of tissue paper to the inside of the shoes to cover the holes (as shown in the second photo immediately above).  Finally, I painted the shoes with acrylic paint mixed to match the original color of the shoes and sealed the paint with varnish.

Baby Grumpy's shoes look much better now.

Baby Grumpy, looks much better now, too.  If she had feelings, she'd feel better and turn that pout into a smile.  I know I am smiling because I paid far less than one like her seen recently for an asking price of $425.

In 1988, Effanbee reproduced a vinyl and cloth Baby Grumpy as a store exclusive for Shirley's Dollhouse of Wheeling, Illinois.  I purchased the repro doll from the shop shortly after I began collecting in the early 1990s.  The reproduced doll wears a yellow and white romper with matching bonnet, and off-white high-top shoes.  In the next image, she joins the extended Black Grumpy family for a portrait.

Left to right, front:  Original Black Grumpy (Snowball) from 1913 poses alongside Shirley's Dollhouse-exclusive Black Grumpy from 1988.  Back Row:  Grumpy and Baby Grumpy circa 1922 frown and pout together.

I am not sure how many black versions of Grumpy were made by Effanbee, but I am happy with the examples I currently own. 


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heads Up on Those Nude Dasias!

IMPORTANT:  If you purchased one of the nude Big Beautiful Dasia dolls that I posted about here, be careful in choosing the color and type fabric used for your clothing selection for your doll. The doll's vinyl is extremely porous and will absorb dyes used in some fabrics. 

Last week I replaced my doll's original red shrug (made from the same material as her dress) with a shrug made from a black synthetic headband.  I noticed some black areas on her arm this morning, so I removed the shrug.  Almost everywhere the shrug touched her arms and back is now stained black.  I didn't take a photo of the stains before I applied 10% benzoyl peroxide to these areas.  I did take the following photo after the acne cream was applied before taking her outside to sun bathe.  Hopefully within a day or two the stains will fade.  The sun helps speed up the process.

My Dasia-turned-Maya has had a heavy application of 10% benzoyl peroxide applied to her stains.  The black headband underneath her caused the staining.
The red cotton crew sock dress did not stain her.  I saw a few dark areas on her feet from the black paint used for the elastic of her shoes that I made, but very minor.  The combination of synthetic materials and black dye used for the headband caused the majority of the staining.

Be careful!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Dottie "Doc" McStuffins Cure

Doc McStuffins 9-1/2-inch vinyl doll with teen-type body
The black-doll enthusiast in me needed a Doc McStuffins doll inspired by the first animated series to feature an African American girl who aspires to be a professional*.  In this case, Dottie "Doc" McStuffins wants to be a doctor like her mother.

Prior to finding the doll featured in this post, there had been only two Doc McStuffins dolls under consideration for purchasing and both are talkers.  One was offered through the Disney Store online.  The other, that talks and sings, was seen at (currently out of stock at the time of this writing).   Of these two, the one at would have been my choice.  That purchase was delayed and finally ruled out after I located the Doc McStuffins teen-type doll on eBay for $12.99 with free ePacket shipping from China. The box was a little banged up as a result of her economy flight.

This doll has a super thin body and pencil thin legs.

Doc McStuffins dolls usually have a chocolate brown complexion with brown hair.  This doll's complexion is light caramel and her hair is red, perhaps to make her more appealing in other markets.  Her plastic accessories, shown better in the above image, include:  an otoscope, medicine bottle, baby bottle, cup, bandage container, stethoscope,  thermometer, syringe, clip board, and first aid kit. 

Obviously manufactured for non-American markets, the text on the box is written in English with Arabic text on the back.  Other undetermined languages on the front and back.  I could not locate a manufacturer's name or year of manufacture.  The graphics on the box almost look bootlegged.

Back of box

Size-wise, this doll is a better fit for my collection than the other Doc McStuffins dolls I had considered.  The cost was much less as well.  Whether she is properly credentialed or a quack as in authentic or a knockoff doll, now that this doc is in, the "I need a Doc McStuffins doll" is out of my system.

About the Animated Series
*Doc McStuffins in the News, Dec. 2013 (This is what really incited my desire to own at least one doll.)


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Doll by Kor January Spoken Into Existence

Doll by Kor January, photograph courtesy of Kor January

It was either at the 2004 or 2005 International Philadelphia Black Doll Show when I first saw up close and personal hand-carved dolls by doll artist, Kor January.  Before that time, I had only seen photographs of his dolls.  At the doll show, even though I admired and coveted ownership of one, I passed on purchasing due to cost.  Throughout the years, I regretted that decision.

Recently, a member of my Facebook group shared a photograph of one of her doll groupings.  One of the dolls in the group was by Kor January, which reminded me that my collection would not be complete without one of his hand-carved, one of a kind dolls.  As a comment to the posted photo, I wrote:  A Kor January doll is at the top of my wish list. I wish I knew how to contact him.

Several other group members mentioned their desire to own a Kor January doll as well.  Another collector located the artist's telephone number and contacted him.  During their conversation, January shared several photographs of available dolls.  The shared photos and his telephone number were posted to the group.  Of the dolls shown, two tugged at my heart strings, one more than the other.

After a lengthy conversation with the artist, I purchased the doll that is partially shown above.  This 14-inch doll that is constructed of poplar wood for body, lower arms/hands, and lower legs/feet with oak used for upper arms and legs, can be seen in full in the next photos that Kor shared with me after our several-minute conversation concluded.

This delightful little one has hand-carved features and carved strands of hair on her head that are painted black.  Four separate yarn twists create her ponytail strands.

I love her little pouty mouth and downward arched feet!

So pensive.

Her joints are steel with articulation at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.

Look at her with her "hand on her imagination." (As a young girl, did your mother or other female elder ever tell you to "Get your hands off your imagination" when you placed them your hips?)

Be careful, don't fall.  You've got some traveling to do!

My adorable OOAK hand-carved wood doll by Kor January prior to traveling to Texas in photographs courtesy of the artist.

In the photographs, Kor illustrates the doll's multiple poses, which he said is not a feature he adds to all dolls.   He felt the need to apologize for getting carried away with photographing my little girl and sending as many of the photographs to me.  I reassured him that an apology was not necessary.  The photos just made me more eager for her to arrive.

Because he was not pleased with the pants she was wearing originally, before sending my doll, Kor made another pair of pants using the same vintage striped mattress ticking fabric she wore originally with her original off-white ivory blouse. 

After she arrived, I bonded with her immediately and took a few additional photographs, but as I suspected, mine are not as great as Kor's.  

(Over enhanced color)

Home at last...

Kor said he will leave the naming up to me.  I haven't decided firmly on what her name will be, but until I do, I think I will call her Libbie.  

A native of Monrovia, Liberia, who now resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kor January's artist profile is included in Black Dolls Proud, Bold & Beautiful by Nayda Rondon (Reverie Publishing Company, 2004).  About his dolls, ninety percent of which are children, January shared with Rondon:

...With my art I escape into fantasy to create glimpses of dreams, visions of what I'd like life to be, or something that captures a moment or feeling in time that I want to re-create.  I want my work to take you to a better place.

In an online search for images of his dolls, I only found blog-post coverage of a 2011 Columbus, Ohio doll show here.   Kor also has an Etsy shop that opened in 2012, but it is currently empty.  At the time of this writing, he plans to exhibit his dolls at the 2014 Detroit Doll Show on November 1, 2014.


I believe there is power in the tongue (in the words we speak) and that we can speak things into existence, both positive and negative.  For this reason, I also believe, it is very important to be mindful of the things we say as well as the thoughts we think.  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fashion Madness Denise x2 More

Summer Sleek and Super Cool Fashion Madness Denise

My first Fashion Madness Denise, Shimmer Fun, arrived a year ago, in September 2013 and readily underwent a lip enhancement procedure that went wrong.  I was a little too zealous in my attempt to enlarge Denise's lips and change her too pale lip color.

Recently, I decided to purchase another Denise and leave well enough alone.  That purchase resulted in buying the two dolls shown above, which for now will remain in their never removed from box state.  The dolls were offered in a buy it now auction for $14.99 or best offer.  I offered $10 which was countered at $12 for one doll and $10 for a second.  I accepted the counter offer.

As I indicated in my Excel entry to document the purchase, I wanted to have at least one Fashion Madness Denise that maintains the manufactured appearance.  Now I have two with that look.

Kenya's World, LLC, 2013 Fashion Madness Denise, Summer Sleek Friend of FM Kenya, Denise is 11-1/2 inches, articulated at elbows, wrists, and knees with black rooted hair, painted brown eyes, smile with appearance of teeth, pale lip color; wears brown/tan animal print dress, black and gold shoulder bag, gold high-heel shoes, silver and faux diamond earrings; purchased to have a doll with the manufactured appearance since I over-enhanced the lips of the one purchased last year.
Kenya's World, LLC, 2013 Fashion Madness Denise, Super Cool Same doll as above with different outfit that consists of lime green tank, black faux leather jacket, blue/yellow/pink ruched skirt, black calf-high boots, pink shoulder bag, silver and faux diamond earrings and matching necklace.
Summer Sleek Denise shows off her black patent-leather shoulder bag that has a gold tone chain strap and several rows of pyramid-shaped studs that line the bottom. 
Shimmer Fun Denise has articulated knees only and now even darker lip color.  She poses with the two new girls. 


Monday, September 15, 2014

Wigged Out Before and After

Manufactured and handmade wigs

The dolls in this post were manufactured with molded hair and came with an extra wig or two, or I elected to add a wig to change the doll's appearance.  In some cases, I made the wigs or purchased them from others. Before and after photos illustrate the different looks that can be achieved by changing a doll's hairstyle using wigs. 

Soldier Story action figure and Barbie Basics Denim Model 8 (before)

Above dolls, after being wigged
The Soldier Story guy wears a wig made by Paulette of Limbe Dolls.  Barbie wears a custom wig by Tabloach Productions.  The Tabloach wig* is designed to be worn over cut hair; however, my doll maintains her original short blonde hair underneath.  This is not the first time Model 8 had her look changed through the use of a wig.  The first time was in June 2011.  That transformation was illustrated here.

I have yet to debox Jazz Diva Barbie, another doll whose look can be transformed using the wigs Mattel included in her packaging.  She comes with a total of three, the one she wears over molded hair, and two extras.

Wooden dolls by Floyd Bell with carved and painted hair (before)

Dolls by Floyd Bell (after)
Floyd Bell utilized several tiny surface holes in the heads of the two dolls above along with black paint to create an illusion of hair.  For the doll in yellow, I made a skull cap and applied synthetic hair fibers to fashion the short curly wig she wears.  The wig the doll in plaid wears was purchased online.

Adele Makeda
Adele Makeda has molded hair and came with a black Afro wig.  Using the skull cap wig-making method, I made a salt and pepper (more salt than pepper) ponytail wig with bangs for her. Braiding hair was used to create the gray wig. 

So In Style Rocawear Darren and Glam Barbie (before)

Darren and Glam Barbie (after)
Over their original hair styles (molded and rooted, respectively) S.I.S. Darren and Glam Barbie wear wigs courtesy of Paulette of Limbe Dolls.  Darren's wig is black yarn twists; Barbie's is curly braids of yarn. 

Franklin Mint's Official White House Portrait Doll of Michelle Obama (before and after)
FLOTUS by Franklin mint now wears a black wig with bangs (which is worn over her original black bang-less wig -- of course I didn't cut her hair or any of the other dolls' hair shown thus far).

Robert Tonner's Jon (before and after)

Jon achieved her new look with a dreadlocks wig I made for her using the skull cap method** and application of individual dreadlocks that I made using Lock Twist braiding hair.   Her original hair is in a low-lying ponytail underneath the wig which completely overs the original hair.

1990s Teresa did experience a big chop before the braided wig was added.
Teresa's original brown rooted hair was quite tangled when the doll was found in my daughter's former bedroom among several of her other childhood dolls that I rescued.  I was forced to cut the hair before giving her a complete makeover using a Limbe Dolls braided wig. 

Basic Russell by Robert Tonner (before and after)
Basic Russell's original rooted hair is styled in a ponytail.  He still maintains the ponytail, but it is now underneath dreadlocks, a wig purchased online from another collector. 

All-Natural Lizette Spice by Wilde Imagination (before and after)

Underneath her original manufactured Afro wig, Lizette is bald.  She arrived with the Afro wig and a long straight wig.  In her "after" look, Lizette wears an Afro puff purchased from a local beauty supply store.  The Afro puff has a drawstring underneath which allows adjusting for a secure fit.  It now serves as her new and improved Afro. 

Have you rewigged any of your dolls or have you future plans to do so?


*See the Tabloach wig (in black) being styled on a doll's head here.
**Jon's wig-making process using the skull cap method seen here.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Need a Dasia?

Big Beautiful Doll Dasia

Many have expressed interest in owning a Big Beautiful Doll Dasia.  I asked Georgette Taylor, one of the creators of the doll line, if additional dolls were available.  She only has nude dolls like the one I purchased from her in July for my Maya Angelou doll project and as seen on the left.  

Georgette invited me to have those interested in purchasing one of the nude dolls to contact her directly.  Her email address is:

She only has the nude dolls, no clothing or shoes.  The cost is $25 + $8 shipping to anyone in the US.  International shipping is higher based on location.   


Monday, September 8, 2014

How Dasia Becomes My Maya

Internet-captured photo of Dr. Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014

After the death of author, poet, actress, dancer, and singer Maya Angelou on May 28, 2014, who was also one of my favorite African American female personalities and writers of works I enjoyed reading, I wanted to capture her likeness in doll form.  I decided Big Beautiful Dolls, Dasia, would be the perfect doll for this creative undertaking. 

I contacted Georgette Taylor, one of the creators of the Big Beautiful Dolls line to inquire about the nude Dasia's she mentioned having when we communicated about her guest post here.  She still had some!

Big Beautiful Doll Dasia in all her full-figured nude glory!
Within a week after ordering her in July, Dasia arrived and lay nude on a credenza adjacent to my personal desk, where I usually place to-do or unfinished doll projects.  As long as these things remain in sight, whatever intentions I have for them eventually get accomplished.

Selected face image of Maya Angelou with brown border added; I printed two in case a mishap occurred with the first.

I gathered several headshot images of my favorite writer and later selected the one I felt would be most appropriate in doll form.  I definitely wanted one that captured the dazzling smile that was unmistakeably hers.  I measured Dasia's facial dimensions before inserting the image into a WORD document.  Resizing and printing were followed by using Microsoft Paint and GIMP to create a border that would extend to the doll's ears and neckline.  The goal was to cover the entire facial area once the image was transferred to the doll's face.

The image was ironed onto the sleeve of a white T-shirt (purchased for 99 cents at a beauty supply store specifically for this purpose).

The image was flipped horizontally before printing on T-shirt transfer paper and ironing it onto a sleeve of a white T-shirt (as shown above).  Trimming was next.

Initially I had planned to glue the transfer directly onto Dasia's beautiful face, but decided to try another method that would preserve the doll's face and still achieve the desired effect.  (As much as I wanted a Maya doll and even though I have two other Dasias, I just could not handle permanently changing any one of my Dasia's faces.)

I created a mold of Dasia's face, similar to the wig cap molds I have created in the past:

A plastic baggie was wrapped around Dasia's head and secured with a rubber band at the neck.

A piece of the white T-shirt was placed over the plastic-wrapped head and also secured with a rubber band.  Layers of Aleene's Tacky Glue were applied over the fabric and allowed to dry for 24 hours.  This created a head mold.

After removing the mold, enough of the facial portion that would extend to the doll's ears was cut away.  The transferred image of Angelou's face was glued to the mold and allowed to dry.  Next, thumbtacks were inserted into the mold in the earlobe area and directly into Dasia's pierced earlobes.  The thumbtacks remained in place until the mold fully captured the shape of the doll's face.  In the next image, the thumbtacks have been replaced with earrings, which serve to hold the face over of Dasia's face without the use of glue or other adhesive.

The doll's hair was fluffed into a curly Afro allowing the front and sides to cover the edges of the new face. Since edges of the neck area remain a little crimped and jagged, I fashioned a neck scarf (seen in the next image.)

Clothing and shoes posed a problem initially due to the doll's fuller figure and width of her barely arched feet.

Illustrated above is the shape of the doll's feet along with the neck scarf and shoes I made.

I fashioned a red dress from a toddler crew sock (already on hand in my grandsons' sock and underwear drawer).  Shoes were made using other materials on hand (black leather for the sole, black foam for the innersole, and white elastic painted black for the two straps on the forefoot and the strap that extends around the sides of the doll's foot.  The shoes are shown two photos above.  The dress is shown next:

Red knit dress made from a toddler's crew sock

The toe portion that I cut away from the sock served as a temporary cap to give the hair the desired shape and length appearance.  (I did not want to cut Dasia's hair, which is now Maya's!). 

Sock cap used temporarily to shape the doll's hair.

To cover her exposed shoulders, I cut the end away from the sock material that had been used as a cap.  This created a loop of fabric which I turned inside out so the rolled edges would not be exposed.  The doll's arms were taken through each end of the loop to create a shrug.  Her back is exposed, but I am sure Maya does not mind.

My Maya doll poses with an autographed copy of one of the real Maya's last written works, Mom & Me & Mom.  I won the book in a contest conducted by author, Jo Maeder, shortly after Dr. Angelou passed.  Entrants of the contest had to post on Maeder's Facebook timeline her favorite Maya Angelou quote (shown below).  After several tries, I posted the correct quote and won the book, which is autographed to Jo, whose autograph and inscription to me appear below Angelou's.

I will eventually find a better fashion and shoes but for now, thanks to Dasia and my heavy dose of determination, my Maya doll-creating mission has been accomplished.


When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. ― Maya Angelou