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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.