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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fixing Jeri's Doll in 2006-2007

Today I am posting about a doll I worked on in 2006, and finally finished in January of 2007 when the picture below was taken. I hate to confess that I had this doll in my possesion, waiting for attention, for almost four years. Luckily Jeri wasn't in a hurry--if she had pressed me, I would have finished it sooner, I know. I also add that I am not in the business of repairing dolls; it is just something I do now and then for friends that care a lot about an old doll they have.

This doll belonged to my friend Jeri when she was a child. The doll’s body and limbs were made of what I call “stuffed rubber” which is a very thin rubber (latex?) skin stuffed with cotton or a cotton-like material. This rubber skin did not last very long on these dolls; it degraded quickly, over just a few years, in my experience. I had a boy doll very similar to this one, which is how I know. First the skin became sticky, and then it developed holes in it, and soon it was just a big mess and your parents threw it out. I wished I'd have kept my doll's head, but we moved several times during my childhood and things that were "no good" were tossed. Had I realized I could have made a new body for my doll in the future, I would have kept it, like Jeri kept hers.

As mentioned above, I had Jeri’s doll for a LONG time before I fixed it and returned it to her. I know she probably gave it to me in 2003. I finished it in January of 2007, as that was the date on the picture above.  One reason I often keep my friends' dolls so long before I begin to work on them is that I always have to figure out what to do with them, and this requires the problem to "simmer" in my mind for quite awhile sometimes. This makes me feel pretty guilty, but I felt better about this when I learned how long Ella Smith had a neighbor child's doll that was brought for her for repair:  See http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/legacies/AL/200002658.html for more of Ella's story and how the idea she finally came up with lead to a career.  
So, to get on with MY story, when Jeri gave me her doll,  in a brown paper grocery bag, only its head was good--the rest had that thin rubber skin which had degraded--it went in the trash.. I found a vinyl thrift store (second hand) doll whose limbs were the size that Jeri's doll required. Then I made her doll a cloth body to which I attached the original head and the new limbs.
I was happy with the way the doll turned out, and Jeri was, as well. I have dolls that I bought about 15 years ago that need much the same kind of fixing that Jeri's doll required, although mine are composition dolls who have dirty cloth bodies that need repairing, and often a damaged head and missing limbs, as well. The one in the picture below belonged to a friend, but mine are quite similar.
My dolls are patiently waiting, quietly, for me to tend to them, and I will, when I get the time.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Some Hitty Stuff and Other Unrelated Musings


Life is very unfair! How come when you misspell "Barb" you get "Barf, Barn, and Barg(e)? How unfair is THAT, that any misspelling is so unflattering?! Of course, I could also get "Bard or Bark",  but I'm most likely to get the first three I mentioned.

Now that that's out of the way, on to the Hitty dolls. I am still waiting for my USB cord to arrive for my new camera, so I can't show pictures of them yet, but I can promise them to you. I have three Hittys I'm working on now: two are regular 6.5" size: one is all basswood and one is butter___ wood with a resin shoulder/head. One smaller one will be about 4" tall when assembled, I think, and one is a baby who will probably be 2" or so tall.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dad Is Fat and a Short Treatis on the Sleeping Habits of Dogs vs Children


I just checked this book by Jim Gaffigan Dad Is Fat  out from the library. Well, no, that's not exactly true; my HUSBAND checked the book out. I owe the library $32.50, meaning I have a couple of their books hidden somewhere in this large 108 year old house, and I am being punished by not being allowed to check books out, so my husband checks them out for me.  This will continue until I PAY for the missing books, at which time I will FIND the missing books---but not until I PAY for them. It always happens this way, which is why I know this.

Gaffigan's book is about having children, and I was thinking: having dogs is a lot like having children. The reason I know this is that I have HAD children, and now I have dogs, and I can compare the two with my rational mind. I thought, having dogs IS like having children, except you get more sleep with dogs.

Then I remembered how our youngest dog Poki got up and barked at midnight last night because she heard a car being started in our neighborhood.  Then she got up again a few minutes later and barked because she heard a dog barking in our neighborhood--not her, although she WAS barking--another dog was barking and she was answering by barking. The two traded barks back and forth for what seemed like a long time. I yelled, "Poki, it's OK. Go back to bed." She continued barking and the other dog continued answering--or was it the other way around? Yes, it was. Poki was answering. Finally the other dog quit answering and Poki quit barking and all was again peaceful in our rather unpeaceful neighborhood.

Poki, the high strung one

                                                                 Grace, the "polite" one

Wiener, the HOT one

The sometime in the night, before it was light, I felt a bump and another of our three, Wiener,  sniggled under the covers next to my thigh. (A "sniggle" is a cross between a wiggle and a snuggle.) Now, in the winter, having him install himself against my thigh can be a welcome gesture, as it is cold in the winter and Wiener is very, very warm-- his natural body temperature is about 104 degrees--having him lie next to any part of you is like having a superwarm, slightly hairy pillow next to you. In winter, it's great!

That said, it isn't winter now, and it's not too great to have a small, 104 degree dog curl up next to you if you're already feeling too warm. Our bedroom temp lately has been between 70 and 74 degrees; we like it at about 65 degrees, so it's already a quite a bit hotter than we like, even with two windows open as wide as they go. When there's a breeze, it's quite comfortable, but ask anyone around here and they will tell you we've had more humid, calm days this summer than usual. So I am already too warm, and not overjoyed when the 104 degree hairy pillow, masquerading as a wiener dog, climbs into bed with me.

You see, HE'S cold. When you are a 104 degree wiener dog, 70 degrees feels like 30 degrees. Therefore, he's freezing and wants to be under the covers against my warm thigh, even if it IS cooler than he is. Go figure.  So he climbs in, waking me up and making me feel even warmer than I already am. I have two options. Push him out of the bed, and tell him to go back to his OWN bed (which I add, has not one but TWO wool blankets for him to burrow under); or two, let him stay, so I can go back to sleep, hopefully.

I am VERY lazy, and HATE to have to get out of bed in the middle of the night for anything, so I take option two and go back to sleep. However it isn't too long before I wake up feeling WAY too hot. I slide a bit of the sheet between the SuperHeated dog and I, hoping some of his heat will go some other direction than into my thigh. It works for awhile, and I go back to sleep. Then I wake up again, and noticing that the other person in the bed (my husband), has gotten up, leaving a space in the bed where I can go, hoping the HOTdog will not follow. So it is now my turn to sniggle stealthily, removing myself from the mobile heat source near my thigh.

I go back to sleep, and then wake up again. This time it is Grace, the small female wienerdog breathing in my face. She is not ordinarily a problem. She sleeps between her two owners all the time, and generally does not disrupt our sleep. However, she fancies herself "the man's dog" so when he gets up, she follows. This is so she can eat breakfast at the earliest possible time. After having her breakfast, she returns to the bed, climbing the little set of stairs bought so that she will not sit on the floor and whine to be lifted up. However, she seems to think it necessary to get "permission" to burrow under the blankets, which she does by breatheing in my face.

 So I am again awakened,  give my OK to her request, and go back to sleep, but not for long.  For the umpteenth time this "night" (which has now become day), I am again awakened. Downstairs, Poki is barking again--Poki does NOT go back to sleep after breakfast as Grace does. Did I mention Poki is high-strung and barks a LOT?  She is and she does.

I finally give up this wake/sleep routine and call it a night, telling the two dogs in my bed that we are getting up; this doesn't bother them at all. Unlike me, they are "morning persons" and are awake in an instant, leaping enthusiastically off the bed to wiggle happily and lick my toes. Me? I grumble and head for the shower, wondering why I feel so TIRED after "sleeping" for eight hours.

So. Who gets more sleep--people with children or me? Anyone want to guess? I don't expect sympathy, by the way. I have allowed my dogs to "train" me instead of the other way around. It's just the way I am--I take what seems like the easiest way out ("Oh, let this tiny puppy sleep with us--then we won't have to listen to her cry. It's just for one night.") and then I pay for it later. But we love our dogs just like we loved our children (some would say we love the dogs more because we didn't let our children get in bed with us, but there were six of them, so you can see the problem).


Saturday, June 29, 2013

I'm very sorry that I have not posted lately. We lost our son Eric in May and we are grieving and trying to regain some normality in our lives. He got involved with heroin and it is a Destroyer. He fought it but lost the battle.

I am trying to keep up with at least some of the things I do, things that are quiet and calming. I like to carve, but I have not done much carving in the last year. I carved these two Hitty dolls beginning in June, 2010 and finishing them in 2011. I didn't work constantly on them, as you have probably deduced.
A little background info about Hitty: Hitty comes from the book Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. It was a Newberry Award winning book in 1929.  The book is fiction, but the doll is not. She is  now in a museum in Stockbridge, Mass, I believe. http://www.hittygirls.com/research/hittyfaq.htm

Anyway, Hitty has many followers who wanted their own Hitty Doll, and so there are several Yahoo groups dedicated to this end:  Hitty Girls where people sometimes sell Hitty dolls, but mostly people make their own. Other Hitty groups that I know about are:  HittyKnitty, WoodenWorld, and Dollcarving and painting artistry. I've gotten a lot of help and learned a lot from being part of these groups; the people there are very kind and helpful to new Hitty fans.

So here it is three years after I began my first Hitty and I am carving a new one: I'm calling her my third doll, as others I've started are still unfinished. Actually, #3 Caroline, is not finished either, but she is much closer to being finished than the others.


This one was carved from a blank ordered from a carver named Maria who sells her blanks on Ebay sometimes. Her turned blank has a two-level head, a defined neck, and a body that needs minimal carving. I am hoping I can eventually turn out blanks of my own, as I have a minilathe that I plan to use for this purpose; other people evidently use these little lathes to make wooden pens. Not what I want to do with mine!! To each his own.
That's all for now. I'll let you see more pictures as I finish this Hitty. I think she is going to be my best one, and I'm thankful to have a Connie Hardt Hitty to look at as I carve her. I was lucky to get my Connie Hardt Hitty on an Ebay auction a couple years ago. Connie's dolls have their own look. I am too new to carving for my dolls to have "a look" of their own.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Linda" is 120 years old!!

   Yes, you read that correctly. Linda is 120 years old and still working. What!!?? You don't BELIEVE me? Well, it's true. Linda is a Singer Sewing Machine, made in 1993, and she still sews a smart seam. As you can see, she is a handcrank, purchased about nine years ago in Victoria, BC from an Ebay seller named, you guessed it, "Linda." I usually only name sewing machines if I know the name of the previous owner. For those of you, for which a name is not enough, she is a 128K, VS3, made in Killbowie, Scotland in 1893. The way I know this is that Singer has a "Dating Site" (no, not that kind!!) and if you can find the serial number on your machine, they can tell you the date the batch that your machine was in, was ordered. .
I feel as if Linda deserves some sort of celebration this year. I mean, there are not too many things, even machines, that still work well at the age of 120. I will have to think about doing something special for her. Our county fair has a special category for items sewn on an "antique" sewing machine and in 2011, I won a big ribbon for a sock monkey I sewed on her.
This year, in light that she is celebrating this big birthday year, I think I will bring Linda herself to the fair, not just a picture as I did in 2011. I think she deserves to be there this year, maybe wearing a birthday hat?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gourd Head Doll Continued.

Just to prove that I'm not such a slacker after all, I wanted you all to know I am continuing to work on the long-neglected doll. I decided that the glue was dry enough today for her head to be returned to her body. Remember, when last I left you, her head was drying thusly:
I didn't want to just replace the head with the neck as it was, because I was still concerned that it would not be supported well enough by the loose batting in the torso. I did as I had planned, and wrapped stuffing around the stick and lower part of the gourd and tied yarn around it in a couple of places so that it would not slip off:

I have put the head back into the body, but evidently I didn't take a picture, so I guess I'll stop here and take a picture tomorrow. I also painted over her face, as I decided I didn't like the cartoonish look she has. Pictures tomorrow!!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Watercolor Class

I am taking another watercolor class; it meets at our local co-op gallery every week. This week our  assignment was to use only three colors of paint in a picture. This forces us to use the white of the paper as one of the "colors" and to plan the drawing so as to not have two segments of the same color next to one another. It also forces me to avoid getting overly-detailed in my painting.  Here is mine:  

I drew one of my larger dolls that is in the gallery's gift shop right now because I really like the chair she is sitting on, and the way her long legs are crossed. I like her saddle shoes, too.   

In using this "restricted color palette," you can't make colors match the ones that are there,either. I am not totally happy with this picture because I have her head at the wrong angle, but I think I DID achieve what the teacher had in mind for me to do, and, overall, I'm happy with the result.

Doll Club in Puyallup, WA

Our cloth doll club normally meets in Puyallup (that's Pew AL Up, for non Washingtonians) at the Quilt Barn, on the third Wednesday of each month. Sometimes we don't meet in December and winter weather sometimes fouls up our plans in Jan and Feb, as Karla and I have a 90 min drive to get us there. This year, deaths in the extended family (mine) and illness (Karla's)  kept us away in Feb, and we missed January, too, so it had been a REALLY long time since we had all been together.
One of our group was tired and seriously considered not coming, as she was feeling down, but she decided to come after all. After listening to the rest of us relate what had been going on in our various lives, she decided that she was not alone in her troubles. Meeting together, working on our dolls, and talking/griping together is very good therapy, and we all go home feeling better than we did before.

Karla and I are the only ones in our group who live in a semi-isolated community, 50 miles from the interstate and all the stores that are available along it. Our Michael's Crafts left a couple years ago, and we have NO PLACE AT ALL to buy art or craft supplies. So our monthly trip to "civilization" serves as a restocking trip, and our only chance to pick up gesso, matte spray, artists' brushes, art paper, etc.

 This time, the group was working on giraffes. I don't usually do the group projects, as I am always behind and have so many unfinished projects that I work on those instead. But I bring my camera and take pictures that I can post here for those who were unable to attend the meeting. These giraffes are all made of muslin and I think you will agree that they don't look as if they are made from cloth once they are finished.

 Doreen and Stephanie had finished their giraffes (above); they live close enough to get together to work on their projects in between doll meetings. 
These two unfinished giraffes belong to Sandy (middle) and Karla (right).
Karla also made this elephant earlier:
Stephanie also makes reborn baby dolls and she brought some new ones that we had not seen before:

My Joshua is related to the middle doll above: 
I intend to buy another doll the same size as Joshua but with open eyes; he needs company!! A sister, I think.
Even though I did not make a giraffe, I have been working on finishing a doll that has been "stalled" for some time, with no hair, no hands, no legs, and no feet.  This happens to my poor creations a lot, and I feel for them. Sometimes, things interfere with my best intentions, and I am forced to ignore the poor things. 

This is a gourd-head doll--the gourd is just painted, which makes it a little fragile.  The gourds are hollow, and if bumped too hard, can crack. Often I cover the gourds with cloth if they will be moved around a lot, as that makes them stronger. I am not sure about the face of this doll; I'm pretty sure I'm going to change the eyes. But one thing I was VERY sure about was that I would NOT leave her head flopping around like a dead fish. So I had to temporarily remove her head (sorry!) and work on stablizing the neck:
 First I had to don a mask, and go out on the back porch and drill a hole in the bottom of the gourd; then I shook out as much of the dried stuff inside it and poured in a lot of Tacky glue (see pic above). Then I inserted a piece of wood, I think it is from the Mountain Ash tree in my front yard. I "harvest" wood from it every other year, as the thing grows too tall and blocks the view from our front window. This is a dried piece from a couple years ago.
 I stuffed a lot of paper towel into the gourd, on top of the glue, added more glue and then more towel, until the head was as full as I could make it, and the wooden piece very tight in the head. Now the head sits upside down near the gas fireplace (below) where it is nice and warm. It will take awhile to completely dry, but I'm pretty sure it WILL dry all the way, eventually.

Once the outside part around the wood is dry, I can put her head back in the body. I will probably tie quite a lot of stuffing around the stick part first, so there is a pretty substantial "stump" of batting around it, as I don't want the stick to be able to wander around inside the doll--if that happened, I'd be right back where I was before with a wobbly head.

So that's where the doll doings are for now. Next month, I should have more finished giraffes to post, and my doll SHOULD be finished if Life will let me do that.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I am very sorry to have had no new posts here for so long, but Family Matters have come up lately, necessitating last minute trips, frequent stays at the Pet Lodge for my three little "wienies" and lots of disruption of "normal life" around here, not that it would ever appear "normal" to anyone but us.
  Here is a piece I wrote lately, all true, so you can see how stressed we've been:

     The Three Stooges Visit the City

You know, just GETTING into a big city by car is a trial of huge proportions for rural folks like us. We are used to driving in our own small world of Grays Harbor County, and the counties adjoining ours, none of which have CITIES.  It’s not that we’re stupid, but when we get into a city, we are definitely NOT in our element.

For one thing, just the volume of traffic in a city is a shock to us; the speed at which traffic moves is faster than we are used to, too. Those “must exit” lanes with their dreaded yellow bands on the signs, are another component of city driving that stresses us out.

Signage in cities is NOT geared to the unknowing visitor. Arriving in OR, in the dark, clutching  Rand McNally “Driving Directions” in my sweaty  hand, trying to get to the bus depot in downtown Portland proves to be extremely challenging.  Faced with a Y in the highway, the signs of neither reading what our exit should be labeled, we unwittingly take the wrong lane. Husband is driving, I am Navigator.  Looking over the side, at the other lane which is rapidly descending, I see OUR sign down there and moan loudly at once more being left to figure out things for myself. What good does it do, when they put the sign I needed to see way down there?!?!?!?! I couldn’t even SEE it from the freeway surface. Will I get it right next time?  Of course, I will. I try not to make the same mistake twice.—at the Y, take the lane to the left, ignoring that it doesn’t have “Rose City/Old Quarter” on it.

So now we are speeding toward Salem where we have no desire to go. We take the very next exit so that at least we are still in the neighborhood of the bus depot and not miles and miles away. I direct the Driver/Husband to head us back in the opposite direction, now on surface streets, trying to get more or less where we would have been if we had taken the RIGHT exit. Husband constantly challenges my decisions; I tell him to let ME call the shots—his job is to keep going the right way one way streets and to not run over any of the bicyclists who seem to be all over the place.

Soon we see a little sign saying “Rose Quarter” and we follow it. Somehow, against all odds, and with little assistance ,  we get to the destination bus depot and spot our son on the bench waiting. However, no parking lot seems to exist and we don’t know where to go with the car; I ask a passerby where we can find the parking lot (they MUST have one---it’s a depot for cryin’ out loud!!) But not all residents of cities speak “the language,” and this guy seems to be of that group.

Not knowing what else to do, we stop; Son recognizes the car and comes running. At the same time, the little Max train looms up behind us, honking and looking quite LARGE, by the way.  We recognize for the first time that we are parked right on its little tracks, embedded in the street as they are.  The train continues to honk and again, we panic, of course. We have absolutely no ishould do. Son instantly morphs into SuperMan and stands on the tracks behind the car, holding up both arms in a “Stop” gesture. Meanwhile, I spy a taxi parked across the street and, more importantly, an empty taxi space behind it. Although we are NOT a taxi, I order Husband to take the car there, and Son and I follow and jump in. We are totally stressed out for the umpteenth time tonight.

I am sure that the lookers-on were both confounded and amused at the desperate antics of these goofy people who seem to have no understanding of how traffic in a city works. We might as well have been the Hillbillies entering Beverly Hills with their mule tied to their wagon. However, we do NOT think of this now. We only want to get OUT of this unfamiliar and confusing place by finding the nearest freeway entrance.

With the help of Son, we negotiate the multiple lanes, get into the one marked “Seattle”and avoid all the others. Traffic is, as always, heavy and moving fast. Finally, we cross the bridge and are back in our own state. Soon we are in more familiar territory, and on our way home. It is late, we are tired, but we have accomplished our mission and we are all still alive. The car, too, has also survived its trip to the city, not to mention the many bicyclists who unknowingly, risked their very lives being in proximity to our moving vehicle. 
*************************************************************** *****************

Hope you enjoyed reading that. Husband and I have been attending a monthly writing-sharing meeting at our local co-op art gallery. Usually, since we began in November or December, there have been maybe seven people there. When we arrived last Friday, there were about twenty!!! At first I thought I had the wrong day and that I had happened in on some other group meeting there! My next reaction was FEAR because I felt intimidated by such a large gathering. But, as always, the crowd was friendly and encouraging, so all my fears were banished quickly.




Here's a little quiz to see how well you know me. Which of the above is MY embroidery thread, and which is NOT.

That's all for now. Happy St. Pat's Day!