Monday, April 25, 2016

Guest Post From the Creator of Curly Girls United

Curly Girls United dolls

Having my professional background as first a critical care nurse and now a nurse anesthetist, I never imagined I would start my own doll company! But life has many surprises for us as time goes on.

I grew up with girls and women who had beautiful hair textures and gorgeous skin tones, but our dolls all looked the same—generic in a way that didn’t reflect the beauty in our communities. Being raised the youngest of 16 kids in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood during the 1970s offered me a unique perspective. A few years ago, after a failed attempt to find a natural-hair doll of color for a Christmas gift, I decided to create my own.

Kayla is the center doll; the other two will be named soon.
At a time when we are becoming more diverse as a society, it was surprising to me that this lack of diversity in children’s toys was still such a problem. Though toy makers today are producing more dolls with minority skin tones and hair types than they did decades ago, many stores don’t stock them, and the models available online are often targeted for collectors, rather than for girls to play with.

According to research by Unilever, the maker of Dove soaps and shampoos, about 60 percent of girls who have curly hair don’t think it’s beautiful. The Curly Girls United dolls come with a range of hair textures—some very curly and others with looser curls—that can be washed and styled, allowing girls to learn how to care for and appreciate their own natural hair. “I like her because she looks like me; she’s my mini-me,” was the response from Madison, a 6-year-old who received one of our first dolls.

Designing the dolls was a joy and a challenge! They are 18” to allow girls and collectors to use other popular doll clothes. We had our own mold made for the face and worked with the manufacturer to get the hair just right. The hair is fully rooted and of high quality that can be “cowashed” and finger combed. I wanted the dolls to represent the beautiful variety of skin tones and hair textures of the women and girls I know. We are starting with 3 skin tones and hair colors/textures but definitely hope to add more. It was important to have the dolls be able to stand independently and so we chose a primarily vinyl body, but to keep the cuddle factor we went with a 2/3s cloth torso. The cost of manufacturing the dolls is high.  To keep it manageable, I made the decision to have the articulation kept at the head, shoulders and hips.

Currently the dolls are available for order on Indie GoGo: where there is special pricing until mid-May. After that, the dolls are available for full price at Brown Eyed Dolls: The dolls will ship to customers starting in mid-June and will come packaged in a plastic bag in their own branded pink box which has pictures of all the dolls on it.

I think little girls as well as collectors will agree that these are beautiful dolls. It is my sincere hope that they bring as much joy to others as creating them has brought me.

Brand Manager
Brown Eyed Dolls

Thank you, Margaret, for sharing the inspiration behind the creation of Curly Girls United and for providing details about these adorable 18-inch dolls.  It is always refreshing to learn of companies like yours whose dolls are inclusive, because positive imagery of self matters in the eyes of all children.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

An Interview by Shasha

In one of her new endeavors, to feature collectors on her blog, the wonderfully creative and talented Shasha recently interviewed me. I am honored.  The results of the interview have been published on her blog. Please check it out here.

If you are a playscale collector whose dolls may be in need of fabulous fashions, check out Shasha's, Etsy shop, "which brings you doll collecting and accessories that are fun, fresh, sassy, and sometimes dramatic."

Thanks again Shasha for all you do!


Monday, April 18, 2016

Good Morning Texas @ The Perot's Eye of the Collector Exhibition

Take a video look into the Eye of the Collector Exhibition at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science as seen through the eyes of a Good Morning Texas reporter and described by Colleen Walker, the Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer at the Perot.  This segment of GMT aired the morning of April 18, 2016. My doll exhibit is featured in the video beginning at 2:38.

In the event the video does not play on your device, here is the direct link.

Check out my eBay listings here.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Eye of the Collector Exhibition

A variety of objects are currently included in the self-curated Eye of the Collector exhibition at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, Texas, which opens April 16, 2016, and closes Labor Day, September 5, 2016.

In late December 2015, the Senior Manager of Exhibits, Mike Spiewak, at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, invited me to participate in the Eye of the Collector exhibition. We met in January, discussed the possibility, and I ultimately agreed to participate along with the other eight collectors of different objects.  During our meeting, one of my questions for Mike was, "How did you find me?"  His answer, much to my surprise was, "Your blog."  He explained that he googled "doll collector Texas" (or similar key words).

Mike and I met again in February for a scheduled videotaped interview and photo shoot of me and 20 dolls that would be included, among others, in the exhibition. In late March, I selected and packed 91 dolls which were transported to the museum on March 28th.  Transport was courtesy of the museum. Everything worked like clockwork.

On the evening of April 12th, while reading my Facebook feed, the following Perot-sponsored video ad fed in.  Click the arrow to view or click here.


The above video contains a very small portion of February's videotaped interview.  Viewing this added to my anticipation for the members-only preview, which took place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Perot on April 13, 2016. The preview was preceded by cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and a brief introduction of all collectors by Colleen Walker, the Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer at the Perot.

The preview was a spectacular event!  The nine involved featured collectors' objects are beautifully displayed, which include 85 of the 91 dolls on loan.  (My display case, unfortunately, could not hold all 91 dolls that were loaned.)

During the preview event, the following photos were taken by Colleen, Mike, and me, respectively, in which many of the 85 dolls in my exhibit can be seen.  (Stretch or click to enlarge the photos.)

L-R:  My mother, Colleen Walker, me, my son, and Anthony R. Fiorillo, Ph.D., a paleontologist, who is vice president of research and collections and chief curator at the Perot.
In this photo, the family is joined by Mike Spiewak.
The family posed for one final photo.
This photo of a side-glancing me is in the lower left-hand corner of the exhibit case with a brief description of my collector's story.
An almost ceiling-to-floor cloth banner of a doll-hugging me is at the entrance of my exhibit area.
"The camera" took this lopsided photo of the video screen which is attached to the front side of the doll display case.  Exhibition attendees can view my videotaped interview to hear me share my collector's story.  
Banner displays, such as the one above, which feature one or two of my dolls, can be seen throughout the museum's interior and exterior to advertise the Eye of the Collector exhibition.  The doll seen here is by Gloria Rone of Massas's Servants Collectibles who sells her dolls on Etsy.  I made it a point to include one-of-a-kind dolls and dolls made by African American artists.  This doll, Kamica, falls into both categories.

More of my dolls can be seen in the video in this article by CW33 dot com.

I remain quite impressed with the outcome and honored to have been asked to participate.

As mentioned previously, the exhibition opens to the public today, April 16, 2016, and extends through September 5, 2016.  

Tickets:  Members Free
Adult (18-64) $24
Youth (2-17)   $15
Senior (65+)   $18
General Group  $13

For more information about the Eye of the Collector exhibition, the participants and their eye-catching collections, navigate here.    


Friday, April 15, 2016

Travel Doll Janet's Final TX Outing and Departure

The car in which Janet is riding is approaching Downtown Dallas.

The week of March 27th was Travel Doll Janet's last week with me.  On March 29th, 2016, we went to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Downtown Dallas.  Janet enjoyed the trip where she marveled at the height of the buildings.

I could almost hear Janet saying, "Wow, these are skyscrapers!"

As a featured collector in the museum's Eye of the Collector exhibit, Janet and I went to the Perot to oversee portions of the installation of my dolls that had been transported there a day prior.  While I knew the dolls were in the capable hands of the museum's experts, I wanted to ensure each had their accessories after the handlers unpacked and removed the bubble wrap.  I was particularly concerned about the playscale dolls whose tiny shoes tend to fall off easily.   I had placed clear plastic bands over their shoes before packing a couple of weeks before transport, but these tend to break.  I took with me some extra-strength clear bands that had been ordered from an overseas eBay seller.  These, unfortunately, had not arrived before packing the dolls for transport took place.   So while at the museum, on March 29th, I placed these heavier bands on top of the others for added security.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science plaza entrance
At the Perot, Janet took photos at the plaza entrance as well as a photo of the graphics outside the entrance to the exhibit room.  We were not allowed to photograph the setup.

Two of my 85 exhibited dolls can be seen at the entrance of the exhibit room graphics.
Janet and I were quite pleased to see that two of my dolls were included in the graphics at the exhibit entrance:   a one-of-a-kind papier-mache doll (on the left) and a rewigged Barbie Basics Model No. 8 from the denim collection, on the right.

After we were assured each doll had all their accessories and after extra bands were placed over their shoes, Janet and I headed home where she prepared for her departure to her next host's home in a Mid-Atlantic state.

Janet is photographed with her loot, but she traveled without it to the next host's home.  Her loot will be sent along with her at the conclusion of her travels after her forever home has been determined. 

Before Janet departed on April 1st, she took a photo with the clothing and souvenirs I purchased for her (as seen above).  Next, one final photo was taken with me.

At this time, Janet has been gone a couple of weeks.  Based on the photo booklet to highlight her stay, she enjoyed herself as much as I enjoyed hosting her.

According to the photos her current host has shared, she's having a blast there, too.  Janet is one lucky doll!

Check out my eBay listings here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Unfrying Cali Girl Teresa's Hair

A January thrift store find, Cali Girl Teresa
In January of this year, Cali Girl Teresa, 2004, was found nude at a thrift store, wearing only her original necklace, the black cord with silver heart pendant of which aided in her ID. Teresa remained in her fried hair, scarred-body, missing-thumb-state for a few weeks until I decided to bring her back to some form of doll life.  The doll has a pretty face with a smile that reminds me of a younger Halle Berry's smile; so I wanted to revive her.  Had I noticed the missing thumb and gouges in portions of her vinyl, I would have left her there.  She's lucky.

The following are before and after photos of Cali Girl Teresa.

When found, Teresa's hair was so dry it looked like straw!


It was so dull and lifeless, I was not sure the boil perm I had in mind would give it the restoration it desperately needed, but I went in for the challenge.


After shampooing and conditioning her hair (can't remember the conditioner used, possibly some Shea Moisture Leave-In, I really don't recall), I used paper-wrapped rod rollers to create a looser-than-Afro curl, dipped her head in a cup of boiled water for a few minutes, and allowed it to air dry with the rollers in for about 24 hours.  The above photo on the right was taken after the 24 hours' drying time had lapsed.

With the rollers removed, I finger combed the hair to achieve the above super curly hairdo.  Prior to dressing Teresa in Barbie Basics Denim Collection Model No. 5's fashion, I gave her a new body (an older Fashionistas Barbie body).  It is not articulated but it is much better than the original animal-bitten, missing-thumb body she arrived with.

Teresa posed for one final photo.  She looks and "feels" so-much-better!

Check out my eBay listings here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

14R and Other 1950s-1960s High-Heel Fashion Dolls

Last year in anticipation of buying birthday and Christmas gifts for a friend, I asked her to share names or types of dolls that were on her want list.  "I'm always looking for 1950s high-heel fashion dolls" was her answer.  I was able to find five for her last year, which will be shared here, along with two that I own, and photos of others that she owns (shown on the left and later in the post).

All of the dolls I purchased for her and the two I own are categorized as 14R dolls.  The dolls I purchased and the two I own vary in size from 18 to 19-1/2 inches.  All have brown sleep eyes.

According to page 138 of Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide 1820 to 1991 by Myla Perkins (Collector Books, 1993), "Dolls marked 14R are a collection of glamour dolls made between 1957 and 1965.  It is not a company mark.  Dolls marked 14R were sold undressed to a variety of companies who then dressed and marketed them.  Companies known to have used the 14R doll were Bell, Deluxe Reading, Eegee, Natural, Rita Lee, Royal, and Sayco.  In some cases, other marks were added to the 14R.  An example of this is [a] doll marked 14R-1.  Some dolls with this mark are known to have been made by Eegee."  A very informative website devoted to 14R dolls also attributes 14R dolls to Roberta Dolls.  See link at end of this post.  As a result of my purchases, I can also attribute 14R-type dolls to Eugene Dolls.

All except one of the dolls I purchased needed a little help to make them presentable as gifts for my friend.  I will share before and after photos of these with details of what I changed or added.

The doll in the ill-fitting blue ball gown and light blue faded shoes, above left, was redressed in a pink ballerina outfit that includes white tights, white slippers with white ribbon ties, pearl earrings and necklace (above right).  The doll's hair was quite dry upon arrival.  I washed, conditioned, reset and styled it as illustrated in the photo on the right before sending her to my friend. The complete ballerina fashion and jewelry were found on eBay from a seller who continues to sell this in pink and a variety of other colors.  (The before photo above was taken by the eBay seller.)

The above photos on the far left and in the center are before photos of Eugene's 18-inch My Little Lady from the 1960s.  The doll arrived in her original box, which is an added plus.  Her hair, however, was jacked up, very fuzzy and flyaway.  I washed, reset, and styled it, as illustrated in the photo on the far right, which was taken by my friend because I failed to take an after photo before sending the doll to her.   Before sending, I also had to repaint the doll's black shoes as some of the original black paint had begun to chip away with the slightest touch.  Now she is near mint with original box.  (The before photo above was taken by the eBay seller.)

This doll has the loveliest face of all the ones I purchased.  Unlike the others, she has a stuffed vinyl body.  She arrived wearing a lovely pink satin dress, white satin panties and slip, and bare feet.  (Her before photo was also taken by the eBay seller).  I redressed her in a two-piece aqua sweater fashion (above right), added the pearl necklace, and purchased shoes (poorly) handmade for 14R and Miss Revlon dolls.  To make them fit her ankles, I had to cut and resew the elastic straps on the shoes.  Mounds of glue residue also had to be removed. Needless to say, I did not provide this eBay seller any feedback.

The aqua two-piece wearing doll's hair was pretty unruly upon arrival.  After shampooing, I applied gel and placed several metal hair clips on both sides and in back to create waves.  One side is wavier than the other.  (I tried.)  I gave her a new pair of vintage doll earrings, too.

Except for wiping off their vinyl, I did not have to redress or restyle the hair of the next two dolls.

The doll in the lime green hand-crocheted dress is 19-1/2-inches tall.  She has frosted brown hair with brown sleep eyes.  The doll on the right, also 19-1/2 inches, is My Dream Bride by Eugene.  She wears her original bridal gown, veil, and white high-heel shoes.  Much to my surprise, after their arrival, I discovered that the above two dolls are featured in Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide, books 1 and 2, respectively. Based on the return shipping label, I concluded that the eBay seller was Perkins' granddaughter.  I shared their provenance with my friend.



My Little Lady (the center doll in the photo on the left, previously described) was photographed by my friend with two 25-inch 1950s high-heel fashion dolls.  Two other 25- and 23-inch 1950s high-heel fashion dolls from her collection are shown in the above photo on the right.  She has stylishly redressed each of the taller dolls.


The two 1950s high-heel fashion dolls above have been part of my personal collection for several years.  Both wear their original fashions.  The bride is marked 14R while the one on the right is marked with a P.   Both wear the typical pearl drop earrings.  A full view of each is next.

I have also created a Pinterest board where photos all dolls featured here, as well as others, have been pinned.

A prior post on two additional 1950s high-heel fashion dolls can be read here.  These are not 14R dolls but they do fall into the 1950s high-heel fashion doll category.

This website is devoted to 14R dolls and includes a wealth of information about the dolls and the companies that used 14R- marked dolls.

Check out my eBay listings here.