Friday, September 20, 2019

9-inch Composition Topsy

9-inch composition Topsy, a gift from Leslie Foster

Because she was literally flaking away, I lightly sanded, painted, and sealed the exterior surface to extend Topsy's life.  She is shown above in a before picture.

First seen in a previous post with other doll gifts from Leslie Foster, this circa 1920s, spring-jointed composition Topsy was in need of tender loving care.  I was determined to provide the necessary care before she entered the doll population.

What Was Done
The first coat of "Nutmeg" acrylic paint has been applied to Topsy's face, to the front of her torso, arms, and legs.  She remained supine until the paint dried.
In this photo, Topsy's back and the backs of her arms and legs have been painted.  She remained prone until the paint dried.

Here is a close-up of the partially painted face before the eyes and mouth were repainted.  Some residue of the original paint or repainting that someone before me did is still around one of her eyes.

Topsy's hair, eyes, eyebrows, mouth, face, torso, and extremities have been fully painted.

Here is a close-up of Topsy's repainted face to include the eyes, eyebrows, and mouth.  Matte varnish has already been applied to the head (some of it is on the forehead in this picture).
Before varnish was applied, she insisted on taking this photo from the back.
A couple of coats of matte varnish have been applied to Topsy from head-to-toe.  To prevent her arm sockets from flaking where pieces of the composition are missing, I glued thin strips of brown felt inside the arm socket and/or onto the arm joint.
Final touches!
Finally, I made a felt romper for Topsy which is sewn on at the shoulders and tied on with a peach ribbon at the waist.  I replaced the deteriorating white hair ribbons with orange grosgrain ribbons to match her rust-colored romper.   I need to add buttons or appliqu├ęs to the bodice and will do so later.

Ready to survive another 100 years, Topsy is "in where she fits in" seated in a doll baby bed with similar dolls.

Read more about composition dolls here.


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  1. Thank you!

    I couldn't leave her in the crumbling away state. :-)


  2. You did a great job! On the last picture, it feels like her friends are complimenting on how refreshed she looks now. I can almost hear their little voices.

    1. Awww, that is probably what her new friends are telling her. I knew they were talking about something, but I couldn't imagine what it could be. The little one with the scalp that looks like vitiligo was my next patient. She's been here since the late 1990s or early 2000s and arrived with some crazing but it had gotten progressively worse. I decided she needed attention as well. I didn't take before pictures of her, but I'll post photos of her repair soon.



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