Monday, July 31, 2017

Baby DeiDei Clonette x6

The six colorful dolls shown above are Clonette dolls or baby DeiDei (day-day) dolls.   These were purchased following customer service communication with Tree House Kid and Craft to inquire if additional dolls would be stocked online.  At the time of our communication, their website indicated all dolls were sold out.  I was told they had no plans to restock but they could arrange a purchase from their sister store.

After completing the purchase transaction for the remaining six dolls in stock at the sister store, I was sent the above photo of five of the six and was told there would be two "bright yellow" baby DeiDei dolls.  I was excited!

A large red Clonette is featured on the cover jacket of Isn't S/he A Doll?

I discovered Clonette dolls several years ago after reading about them and seeing African children and one Yoruba woman with them in the book, Isn’t S/he a Doll?  Play and Ritual in African Sculpture by Elisabeth Lynn Cameron and Doran H. Ross.  The book provides a thorough exploration of different types of African dolls and some non-African dolls that have crossed borders.   The book outlines the dolls' usage for play or ritual.  The next three images are Clonettes that appear in the above-mentioned book, wherein they are described as "plastic doll(s)."

Yoruba woman uses a Clonette as an ere ibeji in this circa 1970s photograph
The incidence of twin births is high amongst Yoruba peoples with some births, unfortunately, resulting in the death of one twin.  In the above 1970s photograph of a Yoruba woman, a Clonette is used as an ere ibeji to represent a deceased twin (ah!  the name clone-tte makes sense).  In the photograph, the woman carries the surviving twin on her back and the Clonette is carried in front of her body.  Ere ibeji figures are traditionally carved for grieving Yoruba mothers; however, as evidenced by this photograph, commercially-produced dolls are also used for this purpose.

The caption from the book for this photograph reads, "Commercially produced dolls used as ere ibeji.  Yoruba peoples, Nigeria.  Plastic, metal.  Taller 25 cm [height 25 cm]."

Above left, an Asante girl holds a Clonette-type doll.  Plastic dolls [Clonettes] for sale in a market in Ghana are illustrated on the right.

I had no idea I would ever own even one Clonette until a fellow collector shared a link to the Tree House website where they are described as follows:

These sweet plastic dollies, known as Clonette dolls, or baby DeiDei dolls, are a significant part of African history and have become quite the collector's item! Modeled after colorful traditional wooden and grass dolls, these little girls were the first industrially produced doll in Africa and have been made from recycled plastics in Ghana since the 1950's. Often given as a gift to expectant mothers, Clonette Dolls are said to be a totem of good luck and act as a guardian for babies and children. Their retro look and pop art colors have made them popular the world over. When squeezed, baby DeiDei makes a squeaking sound, adding yet another element of charm to this already-fascinating doll. []

Each baby DeiDei has a squeaker, visible in this image on the top-center of their heads, which makes a squeaking sound when the stomach is pressed.

Around the Internet Clonettes are priced from $10.50 to over $40 each.  Sizes vary.  My dolls are 8 inches tall.

A facial close-up image illustrates baby DeiDei's features.

Baby DeiDei holds a molded bunny rabbit.

The dolls have molded hair, clothing, socks, and shoes and hold a molded bunny rabbit.  They essentially are very inexpensively made squeeze toys.  Their thin plastic is reminiscent of the celluloid carnival toys of yesteryear.   

As indicated, I purchased the six remaining baby DeiDeis the store had in stock, but prior to their arrival, I saw a photograph of only five of the dolls.  As it turns out, one of the yellow ones Tree House sold me has a blue streak that runs longitudinally from top to bottom.  After contacting the merchant about this and sharing the above photograph, I was given authorization (a free shipping label) to return the flawed doll for a full refund.  (According to Kristen at Tree House, the streaked ones are considered the most desirable by collectors.) I  later decided to keep it, but not for its value.  My initial plan was to dye it brown when time permits and after enough dolls are accumulated to justify creating a dye bath. After I showed the dolls to my husband, explained that these are the types of dolls some African children play with, and shared my plans to dye the streaked one, he said, “No, leave it the way it is.  This is the way the kids receive them, flawed.”  He has a valid point, but I would still like to own a brown Clonette because they are available in brown and black; Tree House was just sold out. 

I visited another website, which is devoted to the dolls (  They describe their website and Clonettes as follows:

Clonette Dolls is an online shop dedicated to the Iconic Clonette Doll also known as Jacinda, Auntie & Baby DeiDei.

Originated in Ghana during the colonial era and were the first industrially produced doll in Africa. Inspired by traditional woven dolls usually made from wood, grass and fabric these bright colored dolls can still be seen at market stalls in West Africa but production is very limited.

They can be used as a perfect decorative & collector’s item piece.
They come in a collection of colours and different sizes ranging from small – large.  []

My 8-inch baby DeiDeis will probably be the only size I will ever own.  Whether or not the streaked one will eventually become brown (or black) is undetermined, but I am seriously leaning in that direction.

Now, enjoy, if you will, the results of a Google image search of a variety of Clonette dolls and a few images of African children with their "plastic dolls."

The Dallas Museum of Art has a fine example of a carved ere ibeji.  At the following link, read more about ere ibeji figures and the rituals involved in their use.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Twelve Years Ago This Week

The lovely Matoka by Annette Himstedt represents a girl from Somalia.

On July 18, 2017, I received an email from an image hosting service that contained a link to photos taken and stored at their site 12 years ago this week.  The photos were taken between July 19 through July 28, 2005, after Matoka, by Annette Himstedt arrived.

Part of the artist's 2005 Kinder Collection, Matoka was a must-have for me and was preordered from a doll dealer immediately after seeing the prototype doll's image. To this day, she remains my favorite doll by the artist.  At the time she arrived, I was writing my second book, wherein she is featured on page 264 with the following image, description.  The 2008-assessed value is not blotted out.

Matoka, Himstedt Kinder Collection, 2005
Material: Vinyl head, arms, legs (multiple rotational joints); doe suede body
Height: 33-1/2in/85.09cm
Marks: D3/8 Annette Himstedt© (on head), D3/2 Annette Himstedt© (on lower back), D3/3 Annette Himstedt© (on back of upper right arm), D3/4 Annette Himstedt© (on back of upper left arm), D3/5 Annette Himstedt© (on back of upper right leg), D3/6 Annette Himstedt© (on back of upper left leg)
Hair/Eyes/Mouth: Light brown curly human-hair wig/mouth-blown brown stationary/closed
Clothing: Yellow, coral, and light green dress, brown leather sandals; colorful ribbons in hair, rope necklace with authentic hand-made clay and glass gems from Africa
Other: Matoka’s native country is Somalia. She is a LE of 377, has COA.
Value: xxxxx (This image is the only one in this post that was not stored at the image hosting site.)

Because I have been busy with non-doll-related things with very little time to post here, I decided to watermark the images from the hosting site for this quick post.  Hopefully I will be back soon, but in the meantime, enjoy "meeting" Matoka and/or viewing her initial photos.

After Matoka arrived, before redressing took place, she was photographed in her original clothes.

She has such a gorgeous face and beautiful brown eyes.

I enjoyed and still enjoy photographing her.

She was introduced to the doll family...

...where she blended in quite nicely among other Himstedts, Heaths, and other artist
and non-artist dolls.

A few days after meeting the family, she underwent her initial redresses, which are shown next:

After a great-niece outgrew this size 2T floral-print dress, it was handed down to my dolls.  
It fits Matoka perfectly!

She wears the floral-print dress with a pair of child size-5 white sandals.

This child's pants set and the next one Matoka models were purchased for larger dolls like Matoka.

The strappy sandals are a perfect match for this orange/yellow/white plaid outfit.

Throughout her 12 years here, I have taken many more photos of Matoka, and because I still enjoy redressing her from time to time, photographing her will continue.

I hope to be back to this blog soon.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Clothing a Circa 1920s Composition Doll

This 7-inch circa 1920s composition with dimpled cheeks doll arrived wearing dirty trousers
that were several sizes too large.

I won this little girl in a make-offer eBay auction for $7.50 (the seller's beginning bid had been $15).  Because of the doll's condition, I did not think a $7.50 offer was unreasonable.  The seller did not think so either and accepted the offer. The marks on her back appear to be AGD.  The seller thought the G looked like a C and attributed the doll to American Character.  The "C" actually looks more like a "G" to me.  The doll was probably made by Allied Grand; they made dolls from 1915 through 1980.

The doll has a one-piece composition body with spring joints.  The body is severely crazed from age, which is common for some composition dolls that have been exposed to drastic changes in temperature or moisture.

Because it is uncommon to find black composition dolls of this type that bear a manufacturer's marks, (unless they were made by one of the well-established doll makers like Alexander, Effanbee, Horsman, or Vogue, who usually always marked their dolls), I wanted to bring this one here to make her presentable.

Some materials used to make clothes:  plastic wrap, scissors, water, gift tissue paper and Mod Podge (not shown)

First and foremost, she needed clothes.  Because I do not sew, I decided to make a papier-mache-type romper using gift tissue paper.  I have done this before for modern fashion dolls (a link to that post is provided at the end of this post), but never for a vintage doll.  Because of the composition medium, which should never be exposed to water or moisture in any form, I was a little hesitant to do this, but decided to take the plunge (or allow her to, so to speak).

First the baby was wrapped in plastic wrap from head to toes.

The next task required placing several squares of wet tissue paper over the body to create what would be a romper.  (See the cut-out squares underneath the scissors in the above image).  Several layered, wet squares were used.

In the above images, wet pieces of tissue paper have been placed over the baby's plastic-wrapped body to create the shape of a romper.  The baby was next placed in the face-down position with body propped up on hands and feet to allow the tissue paper to dry.

Next, Mod Podge was applied generously all over the tissue paper.

The baby was again propped up in the position shown above to allow the Mod Podge
 to dry for several hours.

In the above photo, the Mod Podge has dried.

The romper was removed by first cutting a slit across the crotch.

Next, a slit along the right side of the romper was made. After the romper was removed, additional Mod Podge was added to all edges of the romper to ensure all layers remained flat. After the romper and plastic wrap were removed from the baby, I cut and folded two strips of  extra tissue (about 1/2 inch wide each), applied Mod Podge to these and added one strip to one side of the crotch and the other was secured to the side slit.  This extended these areas for the closures that would be created later.

I used Elmer's Wood Filler to repair a hole that developed between the baby's legs that must have been caused by moisture seeping through the plastic wrap.  After the wood filler dried, I painted that area with Real Brown acrylic paint by Apple Barrel, which closely matches the original paint.  Using a make-up sponge with several drops of the Real Brown acrylic paint applied, I rubbed the sponge across areas of the baby's face, body, arms, and legs to cover some of the cracks in the composition.  I repainted the hair area black and sealed that area only with matte varnish.

Delicate lace was glued to the leg openings and crotch to add trim before a self-adhesive
Velcro closure was created.  One piece of Velcro was placed on the extra strip of tissue that was added to this area.  The opposite Velcro was placed on the other side.

Velcro was added to both sides of the side slit with one piece placed on top of the extra piece of tissue that had been added.  

This is how the right side looks when closed with Velcro.

The baby also underwent minor facial repainting of the eyes and mouth.  A matching apple green ribbon was glued to the top-center of the front of the romper, which ties in back, as shown next.

Back ribbon tie

For completion, a tiny white bow was added to the front center of the romper.

I think she looks and feels so much better!
Here is the link to the first set of paper clothing made using toilet tissue and gift tissue.  

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Svetlana Lukina's Black Dolls on EEoDiB

Black Dolls by Svetlana Lukina were inspired by the works of doll artists, 
Ella Smith and Martha Chase, respectively.
Russian doll artist, Svetlana Lukina, shares information about her black dolls in a post published on my sister blog, Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black, which can be read here.

I hope you will enjoy seeing her dolls and learning about her doll-making process.  She welcomes your comments and opinions, which should be posted on the sister blog.  Thank you for reading.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Tooka's Articulated Body x2

This Integrity Toys' A-Tone body was last used for 2015 Dynamite Girls Tooka.

In a post about her New Fashionistas, Phyllis, of A Day in the Life of My Dolls, shared that her rebodied Fashionista #59, Tropi-Cutie, uses an Integrity Toys (IT) Dynamite Girls body.  I scooted on over to IT's website and ordered two A-Tone bodies for $15 each.  According to IT's website, the A-Tone body was last used for 2015 Tooka (the photo at the previous link does not illustrate Tooka's true skin tone).

This body is of superior quality.

IT's bodies are of superior quality with heavy-weighted vinyl. This particular body is articulated under the breasts, at the elbows, wrists, and knees.  The ankles are not articulated.

For the purpose of skin tone comparison, I selected several dolls to photograph with these bodies. When compared to the dolls' original bodies, this body is not a perfect match for any of my non-IT dolls.  When compared to their faces,  however, the color differences are not as marked.  If desired, I could use this body for two of the now stationary ladies, as illustrated below.

Barbie Basics Model 10 shares that her skin tone does not match the A-Tone body.

So in Style Grace with nonarticulated body modeled with the bodies next.  Her facial complexion is also not a perfect match for this body.

Fab Fringe (Tall Fashionista) is about the same complexion as So In Style Grace and would not be a good head donor for this body.
So in Style Kara's facial complexion is a close match to the IT body.
As Phyllis has done, Pam (Tropi-Cutie, Fashionista #59) could use this body.  The tone of her face and the body are a closer match than any of the others.  

This close-up of Pam's face confirms that one of these bodies could be used to give her more movement.
I have no immediate plans to rebody any of the dolls shown, but it is good to know that if I desire to do so, I have these bodies on hand.  

Here is the link to the Integrity Toys doll bodies currently available.
Read Phyllis' post here.

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