Friday, March 30, 2018

Brains and Beauty Malia Review

Brains and Beauty Dolls Malia

Recall this guest post where the creator of Brains and Beauty Dolls, Niya Dorsey, introduced the 18-inch doll, Malia, that speaks positive affirmations of empowerment.  After a long anticipatory wait, the dolls have been produced and shipped to those who helped fund the Brains and Beauty Dolls Kickstarter campaign.

Before removing Malia from the box, the beautifully designed box was photographed:

The side panel contains three affirmations:
Believe in yourself.
Empower one another.
Achieve all your goals in style.
Malia is illustrated on the back of the box with a conversation bubble above that reads:
I am beautiful inside and out.  I am a leader and a motivator.  I love fashion.  I want to be a CEO of my own company and a fashion model.

Malia, still attached to the box liner in this photo, is eager to be released.

Undressed for body exam

To get a full assessment of the body construct and quality, Malia was undressed.  The vinyl is of high quality and the doll is quite sturdy.  The mid area of the body is cloth.  The voice box is located in the cloth area and is accessible in the middle of the doll's back.

Malia's voice box is housed in a small compartment in her back which zips closed.

This is a closer look at the voice box area.  Because my doll was one of the first 100 dolls purchased, she bears the creator's signature, located on the right in the above photograph.

The square voice box is shown in these two photos immediately above and below.  Before the doll can talk, the white tab in the voice box needs removing as shown next.  If the voice box is lying flat inside the compartment when the doll arrives, avoid removing it.  Because the compartment is so tiny, if the voice box is removed, it is difficult to reinsert.  Just remove the white tab.

After the white tab is removed from the voice box (by simply pulling it out), with the voice box positioned inside the cavity correctly and the back zipped closed, pressing the stomach and/or back or both will activate Malia's voice.

Malia is casually dressed in a white dress with a pink heart in the center of the bodice.  The skirt of the dress has pink polka dots.  She wears a light blue brushed denim jacket that has three-quarter length cuffed sleeves.  A pair of chestnut faux suede UGG-style boots complete her fashion.

The back of Malia's boots contain the Brains and Beauty logo.

Malia's dress is cute enough to be worn without the jacket, as illustrated here.  

Malia has pierced ears.  Upon arrival, her pearl stud earrings, with the backs in place, were in her ears.   I removed the backs and reinserted the posts into her ears (with the earrings in the lobes, the backs are not able to be placed behind the posts because Malia does not have a full earlobe).  Caution:  The earrings might fall out easily; therefore, parents of small children should heed the warning on the front of the box shown below:

The warning reads:  Choking Hazard
Small parts.  Not for children under 3 years.  (The earrings are the small parts.)

Malia's fingernails and toenails are nicely manicured and pedicured.

I did not do a physical body comparison between Malia and an American Girl doll.  However, AG Julie's casual 1970s-inspired fashion and shoes fit Malia as though they were made for her.  It's safe to assume that she can wear other clothing made for American Girl dolls.

Malia has a very sweet face.  Her brown eyes are stationary.  Her human hair wig is thick with nice coily curls. It only requires finger combing. Except for the wig being farther down on her forehead, I cannot see the difference between the production doll's appearance and the photos I viewed of the prototype.  I am pleased with the quality of the wig, the clothing, and the doll's overall sturdiness.  The medium brown color of the vinyl is beautiful.  The voice box compartment is small, which makes it difficult to reinsert the voice box, if removed.  Removal of the voice box should not be required.   If the doll is owned by a child, parents might need to assist with removing the voice box tab and zipping the back closed to ensure the voice box remains properly positioned.  The earring backs should be removed as they serve no purpose.  If owned by a small child, the earrings should be permanently removed.

Overall Assessment:  Malia was made to inspire girls to "embrace their uniqueness, individual beauty, intelligence, culture, and leadership ability."  The doll's empowering phrases will certainly do that for girls.  I love the doll and support the company's goal of empowering girls, encouraging them to dream big and to know their worth through doll play.

Learn more about Malia from the Brains and Beauty Dolls website.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Margarette Jane and her Children

Margarette holds two babies.  The one she holds in her right arm is a baby girl wrapped in a lace blanket.  She clings to her son with her right arm.

Last year, I won this bottle doll by folk artist, Charisse Davis of Cyd's Heritage Dolls and Thangs.  The artist posed a question on Facebook.  Because I was the only one to attempt to answer (even though my answer was incorrect), I won the a doll of her choice.  She chose to send the above doll, Margarette and Her Children, along with the doll's handwritten story card.

Margarette (Marga) stands 13 inches. Her face is handpainted. Her hair is made of wool-type fibers. She holds her two children, Jacob Dahoney and Martha. Marga wears a tan floral blouse, tan-striped full-length skirt, with a tea-stained apron. Her body is a fabric-covered wine bottle. Marga's handwritten story card is shown below with the typewritten text immediately below:

Handwritten story card

Marga Jane Motley. Martha-child of the plantation, fathered by white man in ownership of a Mill Marga Jane worked at. And Jacob Dahoney, her other child of slavery, no knowledge of his father, clearly he was black. I love making the stories of my family in folk art dolls.

The back of the story card contains a special note to me, which is not illustrated.

This hang tag is attached to Marga's right arm.  The back reads, "Marga Jane and her Children $135."

Artist's signature and back of hang tag
Marga's back is signed and dated by the artist (2005).  Her signature (Cyd) also appears on the back of Jacob's right pants leg.

Jacob's hand-painted face is illustrated better in this close-up photograph.  His hair is the same texture as his mother's.

With her lace blanket pulled back, the side of baby Martha's hand-painted face is better visible in the above two photos.  She has no hair.
I am honored to own one of Cyd's Heritage Dolls and Thangs folk art dolls and particularly grateful to own one that represents one of the artist's ancestors.  Thank you again, Charisse!

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Queen Mother Before, After, and After

Queen Mother was made by Carolynne White, circa 1998. She is a 37-inch paper clay with cloth body woman dressed in Afrocentric attire, matching scarf, and coordinating beaded earrings, necklace, and bracelet. Her synthetic black hair is styled in multiple braids.  Queen Mother is permanently attached to a wooden base made by the artist.

I am not sure if Carolynne named her, but when I took some recent photos of this doll, I decided to name her Queen Mother (and this was before enjoying the box office hit, Black Panther, wherein Angela Bassett plays the role of Queen Mother of Wakanda.)

A notation made in my Excel spreadsheet regarding this 2014 purchase reads:

"Purchased from [BF] of Michigan, who had the doll for sale at the 2014 Detroit Doll Show, where it did not sell. I saw a picture of [BF] at the show with this doll and others. I inquired about the doll after the show ended and purchased it. The doll arrived damaged (head separated from the body, and earrings which had been glued onto the scarf and face were peeled away from the face, which also peeled off some of the paper clay on the sides of the face. I repaired the doll's flaws on December 31st, a few weeks after FedEx reimbursed the doll's full cost due to the damage sustained during shipping."

First Photos

The earring, side-of-face, and neck damage are illustrated above.  (That black smudge area near her hairline is not on the doll.  Toward the end of its use, the camera used in 2014 to take these first photos would randomly place smudges on some of my photos.)

Queen Mother's head had been permanently attached to her neck.  Shipping caused the head to peel away from the neck, which removed the paint in this area as well.

This full-length photo of Queen Mother, taken after she arrived in November 2014, shows the neck damage was quite apparent.

I was devastated by Queen Mother's damage.  After sharing these first photos as proof of damage to the seller, who forwarded them to FedEx, FedEx provided reimbursement for the total cost of the doll.

1st Repair

Recent photo #1 illustrates how far off my original painting was during the initial 2014 repair  (To allow head movement, after painting the damaged areas in the opening of the head and the neck area, I decided not to reglue the head to the neck.)

Recent photo #2 further illustrates the mismatch in paint colors.  The brown I used was too light.

The earring repair was a success.

The three recent photos above show my repainting of the neck area did not quite match the original paint.  A few days after those photos, which brought the mismatch to my attention, I did a redo of the repair by mixing acrylic paints to achieve a better color match.

Repair Redo

Neck area was repainted.  The paint was extended down to the décolleté area with a makeup sponge. 

The area immediately around the head opening was repainted with the new mixture of brown paints.

The final repair illustrates a better blend of colors.
As noted, my initial repair was not quite cosmetically accurate, but the second repair is more aesthetically pleasing.

Queen Mother can now reign gracefully as the almost tallest doll here.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

CoCo - Creations by Ba'ucham

CoCo by Ra'chel Ba'ucham of Creations by Ba'ucham

In early January 2018, Facebook friend of a few years, Ra'chel Ba'ucham, began posting photos of her newly created crocheted dolls.  I initially inquired about the first one I saw, Ariana. Ra'chel informed me that Ariana and the other dolls she was making would be on exhibit during February after which time she would begin selling. This was perfect timing for me as I was in the midst of a doll-buying hiatus during the entire month of January.

These are the first photos Ra'chel shared of CoCo on Facebook.

Ra'chel posted photos of several additional completed crocheted dolls.  After seeing CoCo's photos, I decided I had to have her!  Ra'chel contacted me at the conclusion of the exhibit, which is when CoCo was purchased.

This 20-inch crocheted doll has a dark brown complexion, dark blonde crocheted hair with two side ponytails adorned at the top with yellow barrettes.

Her ponytails have multiple honey blonde double-strand twists, as illustrated above and in the next photo.

CoCo's double-strand twisted ponytails extend to the back of her knees.

She wears a crocheted yellow dress trimmed in black with a black jacket, white crocheted undies, and black and yellow crocheted shoes that have yellow ribbon appliqués on top.  Her yellow beaded bracelet is accented by a yellow ribbon flower.

CoCo has nicely shaped legs.
CoCo has dark brown eyes and applied eyelashes.  She has separately crocheted ears to which I added heart-shaped goldtone earrings.

A cloth label identifies Coco as a handmade doll by Ra'Chel Ba'ucham.

The cloth label attached to her bottom reads:

Handmade by:
Ra'chel Ba'ucham
Copyright 2018.

Coco also has a signed certificate of authenticity, which is illustrated next:

CoCo's certificate of authenticity verifies that she is a one of a kind.

Ra'chel recently began making crocheted dolls and miraculously does not use patterns to do so. CoCo is her first dark-skinned crocheted doll.  I have seen similar dolls by other artists but none appealed to me as much as Ra'chel's CoCo.  I am delighted by her presence here.

Prior to CoCo's availability for sale, someone else expressed their intense interest/fascination in a comment to the doll's Facebook photos:


Ra'chel answered: GM. I am the Designer and Crafter of all items displayed. The Gift is from the Master Crafter, "GOD", i am just the vessel that he flow through. These dolls are going to be in a show in late Feb. After the show, they will be up for sale. Will notify everyone soon. Thanks for stopping by.

When my perfectionistic husband first noticed CoCo, he said, "That takes talent!  That takes skill... you have to do that with a needle."  He was quite impressed by Ra'Chel's artistic ability and even more so after I shared that CoCo is a free-hand-made doll.

Learn more about the artist, Ra'chel Ba'ucham in a separate artist's profile published on my Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black blog here.


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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dr. Lisa Live, New Fresh Dolls and Fresh Squad Preorder

Fresh Dolls new editions, Aria, Aleyna, and Victoria.  Dressed in new fashions, the original six Fresh Dolls (Gabrielle, Jacqueline, Indigo, Tamra, Lynette, and Mia) will be part of the second wave as well.

Dr. Lisa, the creator of Fresh Dolls, was on Facebook Live the evening of  Friday, March 16, 2018.  She discussed the new wave of Fresh Dolls that will be released in August of this year. These include the 12-inch, articulated dolls shown above, Aria, Aleyna, and Victoria, who are new to the line.  The original six girls mentioned in the above caption will be part of the second wave.  What most collectors are excited about is the new Fresh Squad of three articulated male dolls with rooted hair shown in artist renderings below. All dolls can be ordered at the link provided below Dr. Lisa's live video.

Artist renderings of the Fresh Squad of 12-1/2-inch, articulated dolls:  Daniel, Anthony, and Malik
As Dr. Lisa states in the video, the Fresh Squad will only be available through the Fresh Dolls website and through Fresh Dolls Brand Ambassadors (authorized sellers).  The Fresh Squad will be released in a limited edition of only 3000 (1000 each) for only 30 days.

For 30 days only you can preorder the new Fresh Dolls and Fresh Squad here. For orders over $25, shipping is free.

For information on becoming a Fresh Dolls Brand Ambassador, send an email to or send a private message to their Facebook page.

UPDATE:  After another FB live session on Sunday, March 18, 2018, Fresh Dolls shared images of the Fresh Squad/Fresh Fellas' (final name to be determined) finalized 3D-printed face sculpt.  See it here.  Also shared was an image of the articulated body to be used for the squad/fellas, which has articulated ankles.  See it here.  The squad/fellas will share the same head sculpt and body; they will have different complexions and hairstyles.

For future updates, follow The Fresh Dolls on Instagram.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Third Tuesday

Tuesday is a 16-inch wax doll with brown cloth body by Gladys MacDowell shown in an auction-photo screen snapshot.

I was on eBay searching for something else when I stumbled upon a thumbnail photo of the above doll.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw yet another Tuesday by the late Gladys MacDowell, who was a National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA) member.

MacDowell began making the 16-to-17-inch wax girl dolls that she named Tuesday during the 1950s.  The story about how I discovered these dolls, believing initially there was only one, is included in my post about the first Tuesday made by MacDowell.  A link to that post is included at the end of this post.

According to MacDowell's son, he believes his mother made about 10 Tuesdays in total.  I now own three of those 10 and know of at least three more owned by others.  See them here, here (in red dress), and here (most probably redressed).

In February of this year, Tuesday #3 was in a buy it now or make offer auction.  I made approximately three separate offers which were countered by the seller.  With my final offer, I included a message to the seller.  In response, the seller asked me if I was "Debbie Garrett."  After reading the signature in her reply, I then knew who she was.  We settled on a price that worked well for both of us and now Tuesday is here with her siblings.

Tuesday's golden brown human hair is styled in six braids with yellow ribbons tied into bows at the ends. She has brown stationary eyes that glance to her left.

Tuesday posed for individual and group photos as shown immediately above and below.

Tuesday's head, arms, and legs are made of wax.  She also has a wax shoulder plate.  Her body is firmly-stuffed brown cloth.  Unlike my two other Tuesdays, Tuesday #3 is unsigned, but there is no mistaking her for an original Gladys MacDowell.  (Some Tuesdays were given paper labels, like my #2 Tuesday; it is possible that Third Tuesday's label fell off her shoulder plate.)

The palms of Tuesdays hands and the soles of her feet are painted a lighter color.

Tuesday #3 poses with her sisters.  Tuesday #1, on the left, arrived in 2014.  The second Tuesday, on the right, arrived in 2016.  Do you see a pattern here?  The dolls have arrived two years apart.

Full view photo of the girls shows that Tuesday #3 and #2 are slightly shorter than Tuesday #1. Number 3 is the shortest.   Fabric used for the dresses for Tuesday #3 and #2 is an identical tropical fruit print.  Tuesday #3 wears a yellow underdress that has bell sleeves that hang beneath the dress sleeves.  I am uncertain if the underdress is original to the doll.  She also wears a yellow undergarment as do #1 and #3.  Each girl has six sectioned-off plaits with yellow fabric (#'s 1 and 2) stitched or ribbons tied at the ends.

As illustrated in the photos of the girls, Tuesday #3 has lighter colored hair with a few bangs.  The other two do not have bangs.  Because they were handmade, each doll's face was painted differently giving each a unique "personality."  Of the three, I think Tuesday #3 is the cutest, but I'll always treasure Tuesday #1, which as indicated, is actually the first Tuesday MacDowell made.

The girls pose with their brother, who arrived with Tuesday #1 in 2014.  I named him Cal.  According to MacDowell's son, he believes Cal was made by I. V. Roberts, another NIADA artist, and friend of MacDowell.

I am so happy to have stumbled upon Tuesday #3 in the eBay shop of Rachel Hoffman, who is central operations manager for Turn of the Century Antiques, a brick and mortar shop in Denver, Colorado, which also has a Ruby Lane shop.

Three is said to be a charm.  Even if other Tuesdays are located by happenstance, I will refrain from buying, at least that's the plan.

Read about my initial discovery of MacDowell's Tuesday dolls here.
My second Tuesday was written about here.

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