Monday, March 7, 2016

All God's Children Got Shoes

What does this song have to do with dolls, you ask?  Nothing really, but while in the process of dressing and attempting to locate shoes for a 1950s unmarked, 9-1/2-inch vinyl doll, the song popped into my head.

From whom or where I purchased this rubber doll is unknown, but I do know she entered the collection prior to the publication of my first book.  On page 20 of The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls, the doll appears in a photograph (seen on the left) with another unknown, circa 1950s doll.

When purchased, the doll was nude with holes in the area where pupils had formerly been.  Shortly after her arrival, I used black stickpins to create pupils.  Only a few weeks ago were these permanently glued into place after dressing her in preparation for an upcoming exhibit.   So for some 15 years, she has been on a shelf, nude, with loose pupils.

Surprisingly, the dress a friend made for another doll fit this doll perfectly.  With the perfect dress and borrowed undies from a doll of a similar size, she needed socks and shoes.

I looked through all small-shoe stashes and even attempted to find dolls her size from whom she could borrow shoes.  Unfortunately, not a shoe in the house could fit her.  Therefore, using tissue paper, I made a pair.  Yes, you read this correctly, I used tissue paper to make shoes.  This was done similar to the process used to make no-sew dresses for two So In Style dolls.

I took several photographs of the shoe-making process, which are shared and described below.

Feet were wrapped with plastic cut from a sandwich bag
with the plastic held in place with tape.

With red socks being the goal, I wrapped the area that would be the socks and shoes with several layers of moistened red tissue paper, making sure each layer was thoroughly soaked before proceeding to the next.  Each layer was also shaped into place for a snug fit.  Four or five layers of tissue paper were used.

The doll was placed on the windowsill to allow the water-soaked tissue paper to dry overnight.

Next, several layers of Mod Podge were applied to the socks/shoes and allowed to dry between layers until the desired firmness was achieved.  To avoid getting Mod Podge on the doll's legs, the application was not extended to the top of the sock area.  This area would be trimmed away after the shoes/socks stiffened.

To aid in putting the shoes on and removing them, after the proper firmness was achieved, I cut a slit in the back center of each sock area.  The shoes were removed as well as the plastic used to protect the doll's legs and feet while the shoes were being molded.
The shoes were stuffed with a styrofoam "peanut" to help maintain their shape before additional Mod Podge was applied to coat the edges of the back slits and to add additional firmness.

After the final application of Mod Podge dried, I trimmed away the top portion of the socks, and painted the shoe area black to create Mary Jane-style shoes.

I used a sewing needle to create three holes on each side of the back slits.  With the same sewing needle, embroidery thread was laced through these holes to give a back lace-up effect.

To her molded ponytail, which cannot be seen in this image, I added a red ribbon to match her new red socks.  Prior to this dress becoming hers, I had already added two red buttons to the center of the bodice.

Finally, after some 15 years, my ebony-complexioned, 1950s little girl has a dress, socks and she's "got" shoes!

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  1. Hi Debbie! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. She looks perfect with her dress and shoes. This doll is so cute. I love her complexion.
    Keep having fun!

    1. Thanks, Arlette! For some odd reason the video I had embedded with this post which relates to the title, did not publish initially. I have re-embedded and republished for the full effect. As always, I appreciate your comments.


  2. I love the finished project. I will have to use your idea to make shoes and socks for my dolls.

    1. Thank you Simsgrl. It's a really easy process and you probably have all the materials on hand, like I did.


  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Muff! Creating instead of buying.



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