Monday, November 30, 2015

More Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Themes of these Christmas sweater ornaments from Michaels are: wreath, noel, reindeer, wrapped package, joy, and two tan bells.

For a couple of years, I have wanted to get my hands on the Christmas sweater ornaments sold at Michaels.  After reading Ms. Leo's Christmas Sweaters post, I asked my daughter to check the store near her the next time she was in the vicinity.  It only took a few days for that to happen (the woman is a shopaholic).

At Michaels, she asked me to FaceTime (FT) her so she could show me what they had.  I really wanted at least two with fur collars, but none were available.  The FT video reception was poor, so I asked her to choose five different ones for me.  "Five is an odd number," she said.  "Well buy six then, and make sure at least one is blue," I instructed.

At the Michaels where Ms. Leo shopped, the sweater ornaments were 40% off [the regular price of $5.99].  Here they were 50% off.  My daughter paid $2.99 for each.

The real miniature wire hangers are stitched to the neck of these excellent quality sweaters.  Just a snip with scissors allowed easy removal.

Since she wears "red bottom" shoes, I chose I.T.B.E. Luscious to model one, as shown above.  This is when I discovered the perfect arm length but wide waist and hemline.  In the above photo the  knit fabric is pulled together in the back to minimize the waist.

With the fabric in back relaxed, Luscious illustrates how wide the fit of the sweater is on her thin frame.  Wearing one of these, she could easily pull off the look of a 9-month pregnancy, as shown next.

In this sweater, with the front pulled forward, Luscious looks well into a third trimester of pregnancy.
After an ah-ha moment, I decided to try another Michaels Christmas sweater on Big Beautiful Doll Dasia.  It was my thought that her fuller figure would fill in the width.  I was pleasantly pleased by two things.

After removing her wrap, I rediscovered Georgette Taylor's handwritten inscription to me on Dasia's back, which reads:

To Debbie
Georgette Taylor,

(Taylor co-founded the Big Beautiful Doll Company and is reintroducing the dolls under different names through her newly formed, I Am Beautiful Doll Company.)

I was also delighted that the sweater fits Dasia well (the sleeves are a little short, but we won't tell her). Like Luscious (a.k.a. Anika or Boo-Boo Kitty), Dasia is wearing the sweater over her dress.

Modeling Christmas sweater ornaments from various sources:  (in back, L-R) Nikki's sweater is from  Dasia and Anika's sweaters are from a local Michaels store, and (seated) Goddess Emerald's sweater is from

Acting as mother to the other Christmas sweater wearers, Dasia and her daughters took a lovely family portrait before joining the other attendees of the Christmas sweater party.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale

Brooklyn Dollworks by Valerie A. Gladstone

Message from
Fern Gillespie

RE:  The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale
Unique Black Dolls and Holiday Ornaments at The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale
Saturday, December 5 at Dwyer Cultural Center

New York, NY--(November 13, 2015) – Rare handcrafted black dolls and unique holiday ornaments will be showcased at the Morrisania Doll Society’s Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale on Saturday, December 5 at the Dwyer Cultural Center, 258 St. Nicholas Avenue at 123rd Street.  Show hours are 11 AM to 7 PM. Admission is free.

“We invite everyone to visit our ‘Community of Creativity.’ There is no admission and the exquisite dolls and doll accessories are worth the trip,” said Ellen Ferebee, president and founder of the Morrisania Doll Society, based in Harlem.  “Visitors are always awed by the outstanding level of craftsmanship evidenced by the doll artists. There will be handcrafted dolls to fit every budget.”

Hundreds of amazing black dolls by acclaimed artists will be available at the Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale. On site will be Brooklyn Doll Works by Valerie A. Gladstone, named one of America’s top doll artists. Shaquora Bey will have her sophisticated soft sculpted dolls. Shirley Nigro-Hill will feature her eclectic line of line of miniature to life-size cloth, sculpture and even origami dolls. Joyce Stroman brings her one-of-a-kind dolls with clay sculptured faces and cloth bodies. There’s Rita’s Art Dolls from historic periods and the Angel Doll Company with whimsical silicon sculpted Angel Doll Babies and Angel Doll Kids by artist Vanessa Lee. Hamilo will feature Daddy’s Babies line of clowns, angels and fairies. Custom made Doll Houses by Kellan will be available. Sona Dolls has Venus body fashion dolls. Holiday ornaments by Baskets From Fern with handcrafted Kente Folk wreaths and brooms. Plus, one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments by Goldie Wilson, who is renowned for her cloth and porcelain dolls.
Art doll by Shirley Nigro

“We invite you to come, to look, to learn and to purchase,” said Ferebee. “This is our first show at the elegant Dwyer Cultural Center and we are excited to return to the heart of Harlem.”

The Morrisania Doll Society was formed to bring together doll collectors and doll artists and to help preserve the history and culture of African-American doll making.  It has produced doll events since 2000.

For more information on The Harlem Holiday Doll Show and Sale, please visit or email:


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from Two Star and Me

Two Star by William Tung
I was looking through my archived photos for Thanksgiving photographs of dolls and stopped looking when I stumbled upon pictures of Two Star, an approximately 26-inch vinyl and cloth Native American doll that was sold through the Home Shopping Network (HSN) circa 2004.  I remember the show host, Tina Berry, suggesting that the doll was "similar to a well-known German artist's dolls that had bare feet."  Berry did not say Annette Himstedt's name, but I knew that was the artist she was suggesting.  After Two Star arrived, I was convinced that the former HSN show host would say almost anything to sell dolls. While she is a nice doll, Two Star is in no way comparable to a Himstedt.

The doll's original costume is a fringed suede blouse and skirt, braided suede headband, faux turquoise and muted silver necklace, and bead-embellished suede moccasins.

In the above photos, Two Star wears her original poor quality wig, which had a plastic-feeling texture.

I immediately rewigged Two Star and later changed her ethnicity to African American by redressing her and renaming her Celeste.

Rewigged and redressed, the doll has been referred to as Celeste for several years.
History of Thanksgiving (One Recorded Version)
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. []

Celeste (a.k.a. Two Star) and I wish those of you who celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday peace, happiness and love.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Vanessa, You Were Right About Ginger's Head

In a comment to yesterday's post and my discovery that the bottom of Ginger's head was closed and not open as I had anticipated, Vanessa asked, "Have you checked under her wig?  She may have a hole in the top of her head under her wig cap."

With her wig still in place, I felt all around Ginger's head and did feel a "soft spot" in the back of it. An area of that spot would move inward with pressing.  I removed Ginger's wig and this is what I discovered:

Ginger's head has a grooved circular disk in back that is glued in place.
The circular area is designed to allow easy access to the head cavity and eyes.  I removed that area and this is what I saw:

The eye sockets were covered with white felt which was glued in place.  I peeled the felt away and from the front, applied pressure to Ginger's old eyes to push them inside her head for removal.

Ginger's old eyes are being removed.

The photo above illustrates how the eyes were positioned onto the felt.

I removed the old eyes from the felt and the inner socket remained glued to it.  The new eyes did not have an inner socket, so I applied glue around the old socket as well as on the felt.  The new eyes were placed onto the old sockets as illustrated next.

Ginger's new eyes, glued onto old eye sockets

Now the hardest part was to properly position the new eyes into the eye cavities.

Open head and eye cavities after old eyes were removed

I had to make several adjustments, but finally centered the new eyes in place.

Ginger's new aqua hazel eyes look much better than her cloudy and Sharpie'd ones.

Until the glue dries, the circular disk is temporarily being held in place with masking tape, as illustrated in the first photo of this post.  After the eyes have set, the disk and wig will be reglued into place.

Grandma's Gingerbread Recipe

While manipulating Ginger during the eye transplant, I noticed a Gingerbread recipe on her dress, which is shown above.  Based on the use of Oleo, this must truly be Grandma's recipe.  I haven't seen or heard of Oleo margarine in years.

Thanks again Vanessa for the suggestion.  I probably would have never known about that removable area at the back of Ginger's head.
Addendum (In answer to the question:  How do you measure the eye socket to get the correct eye size?)

I followed the instructions, diagram, and inches-to-millimeter conversion chart here to accurately measure Ginger's eyes (essentially the eye opening was measured from outer corner to corner).


Monday, November 23, 2015

Ginger's Eyes

Bisque circa 1940s Japan-made black baby and a variety of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben-type figures

In April of this year, by text message, my sister sent the above photo of dolls and ceramic figures found at an antiques shop in her southeastern state.  I was not interested in any of these Black Americana pieces.  Because of the person who made it, one baby doll, photographed separately, did interest me.

Baby doll photographed by my sister at an antiques mall in her area.
My then 9-year-old niece was with my sister at the time.  She adequately described the baby's eyes as creepy.  I did not immediately know the doll's identity and asked my sister to look for neck markings to determine the artist's name. "Robert Tonner Doll Co. 1997," were its marks.  I couldn't believe it! Until that moment, I was not aware that the Tonner Doll Company made baby dolls during the 1990s.  "Are you sure it says, Tonner? I asked."  My sister photographed the price tag which included Tonner's name:

Tonner doll's price tag.
"Yes," was my answer to her question, "Do you want it?"  My thought was that I could replace the eyes without a problem.  That day the shop offered 25% off all purchases, which was an added plus.  The final cost with tax was $31.

Before the doll arrived (months later -- a long story that I will shorten), I conducted online research to determine the doll's identity and found the white version at the Tonner website in his company's archived 1997 catalog. The doll's name is Ginger.   Her original retail price was $99.95.

By June of this year, I still had not received Ginger (recall that it was April when the text photo was sent to me and the doll purchased).  Prior to that time, I sent my sister a check for the cost of the doll plus estimated shipping (thinking, maybe she needs me to pay her for it).  The next time we talked, she said she was trying to find a box for the doll and added, "You know I haven't cashed that check, right? And I'm not."  I instructed her to do so (thinking that would get my doll to me sooner).  She said, "I'm tearing it up."  Oh Lord, "Will I ever get my doll?" I thought.

Another Ginger whose eyes remain the original color is shown in an Internet-captured photograph.

Ginger is a 22-inch baby with vinyl head, arms and legs and cloth body.  She wears a gingerbread man themed dress and pinafore, white thigh-length socks, white underpants and cranberry faux suede shoes.  Her dark brown wig has loose curls with curly bangs and two top ponytails accented with cranberry ribbons.

My Ginger finally arrived in July of this year at which time I measured her eyes and ordered new hazel eyes to closely match her original eye color.

Close-up of Ginger's creepy eyes, her left eye color is more faded than the right.

The faded original color was either due to sun exposure or the type of material used to make some doll eyes during the 1990s.  I have seen strange things happen to artist dolls' eyes that were made during that era.

Ginger with pupils that now look "fixed and dilated."

Before the new eyes arrived, I darkened the hazel area of Ginger's "creepy eyes" with a brown Sharpie.  I didn't do a very good job keeping the pupils centered.  As a result, I looked forward to the arrival of the replacement eyes.  After the replacement eyes arrived, I was in for a big surprise.

Ginger and I were all prepared for her eye transplant.  Here she holds two cable ties and her new hazel eyes, which are shown in the next photo.

Preparing to remove her original neck tie, which was threaded through the top edge of her cloth body, the end of the neck tie was pulled out of the cloth edge before the tie was snipped with scissors and removed.  A close-up of original neck tie, still intact, is shown next.

I was expecting the bottom of Ginger's head to be open.  Unfortunately, it is solid vinyl with no way (other than to cut it open) to remove the old eyes and replace the new ones!

What a bummer.

So Plan B is to inquire with the Tonner folks about the possibility of replacing the eyes in their doll hospital or admitting her to the resident doll doctor's hospital.  I know Doc Garrett can perform the necessary procedure to open up the head cavity.   He has never replaced eyes and I'm not certain that I want him to test those waters with Ginger.

I might just leave well enough alone and stick with Plan A -- the Sharpie effect that I have tweaked a bit:

Ginger is okay with the way she is and I'm relatively okay with her as is, too.

I'm just glad that after a three-month wait, she's finally here.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Doll Legacy Award

I am one of four recipients of  the Doll Legacy Award presented by Sandy Epps of Sandy's Land Entertainment.

Other award recipients this year were:
Dr. Margaret L. Betts ("facilitator of the first Black doll show in Detroit over 12 years ago")
Tony Scott Grant of Haus of Swag and the Dollhaus Project
Georgette Taylor (formerly of Big Beautiful Dolls), founder of  the I Am Beautiful Doll Company

The awards were presented at the 2015 4th Annual Detroit Doll Show, which was held on November 14, 2015, at the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, Michigan.

The award reads:

Doll Legacy Award
In Honor of Your Work That Inspires Women and Children
 to "Love the Skin They're In"
2015 Doll Show
November 14, 2015

To be recognized along with such other accomplished women for what I enjoy doing in the Black-doll community is such a great honor.  I regret that I was not able to be there to accept the award in person, but I have received it with great pleasure and gratitude.

Thank you again Sandy for honoring me and congratulations on the the success of this year's show. Wishing you many, many more annual Detroit Doll Shows that each surpass the success of the previous year's show by no less than tenfold.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nikki and the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party - What to Wear?

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornaments from Christopher and Banks

Top Model Nikki (one of my two TM Nikki thrift store finds from a couple of years ago) was selected to model the not-so-ugly, ugly Christmas sweater ornaments purchased from Christopherand

Their sweater ornaments include a removable and pliable silver wire hanger, which I knew would come in handy to create doll accessories later.

For playscale dolls, I would prefer these sweaters to have been a little longer and the neck opening a little larger, but they are workable with much less difficulty involved to dress dolls than I experienced with the stiffened ones I tried previously.

Nikki's Pre-Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Photo Shoot 
Nikki tried on the elf sweater first.  It has mittens attached to the sleeves.  Dressed in this one, Nikki looks like a perfect helper for Santa.

Close up of the mittens on Nikki's hands illustrates the nice fit.

Each of the sweater ornaments has the year, 2015, embroidered on back.  I did not know this prior to purchasing.  I suppose the stitching could either be removed or painted over with matching fabric paint. For this year's Ugly Christmas Sweater party that Nikki is attending, she does not mind the year being on back.  Next year would be a totally different story, however.
Nikki likes the elf sweater, but wanted to try on the other three.  (Christopher and Banks offered a total of five, but the penguin sweater was not appealing to any of the playscale women here.)

Nikki really liked the blue color against her complexion.  The white snowman theme pairs well with her white leggings.  This one also has attached mittens that are a perfect fit.

Close up of mittens

Next to try was the gingerbread man sweater which is without attached mittens, but is hooded.

A silver bead is attached to the top of the hood.

Nikki likes wearing this one without the hood, particularly due to the mishap that occurred while pulling the sweater over her neck.

When found at the thrift store, Nikki had only one of her original gold hoop earrings, which she continued to wear.  The earring, unfortunately broke when the green hooded sweater was pulled over her head.  So word from the now wise is:  Before dressing your dolls in these and other narrow necked tops, remove their earrings, particularly if they are fragile.
After regrouping from the earring malfunction, Nikki tried on the white and gray snowflake sweater, which is both hooded and has attached gray mittens.  She likes the winter white look and didn't mind wearing the hood.

This one also has a silver bead at the top of the hood as illustrated.

 Nikki removed the hood but kept her hair tucked inside.  She took a hot chocolate break while new earrings were made using one of the silver wire hangers. (Who knew I would be creating jewelry with the hangers so soon?)
The wire hanger was straightened out, cut to an estimated appropriate length for two earrings, and wrapped around a small ink pen leaving a straight portion at each end.

After removing the now spiraled wire from around the ink pen, it was cut in half.  The two halves were stretched to create a nice design.   The tip of each curved end was tucked under the spiral above it to prevent fabric snares.  To help the earrings stay in place, the center of each straight end was bent downward to create a hook before placing each into Nikki's ears.

Nikki models her new earrings and will always remember to remove them before taking off or putting on any over-the-head blouse or sweater.

Nikki has decided to wear the winter white snowflake sweater.  She has graciously given her younger sis, Goddess Emerald, permission to tag along with her to the Ugly Christmas Sweater party.