Sunday, September 13, 2015

Vintage Vinyl Glamour Dolls

I don't set out to find 20+ inch dolls from the 1950's. I prefer to work with dolls 8 to 12 inches. Still, I have ended up the owner of more than one tall lady doll.

My first Revlon was an 18-inch pity buy. She was in the window of a 2nd hand store for months. I recognized her. I could afford her. The fact that she was in original clothing and nearly pristine dolls in original clothing left me cold should have stopped me. We failed to bond.

An 18-inch doll with fried hair and chewed hands excited my imagination. After my mother had had her for 2 years and done nothing, I asked for her. Hot water helped me push the vinyl back into place on the gnawed fingers. I tested several wig-making methods involving deconstructing wigs for people and sewing them to a cap. The former sandy blonde has two dark brown wigs and looks mysterious and French. Her dress is vintage 1960's fabric sewn from a commercial pattern.

 A 22-inch doll  spoke to me. Her hair was matted and thin in places, but this could be fixed with a crochet hook and some curly doll hair. I bought her for experimental purposes, and she nagged until she had clothing of her own. My drafting skills are minimal, and I had 3 different poly/cotton dotted swiss fabrics.


A Canadian doll saved a vacation. We'd gone to Canada for July 4, forgetting that Canada celebrated Independence Day July 1. Nothing was open, and nothing was going on.There were, however, garage sales. This lovely Earl Pullan doll has luminous skin tones and great hair. She's just tall, and different enough in body from Revlons that I need to work on my drafting skills. In other words, she's still waiting for clothing of her own. When I found her, she was wearing a baby dress and bonnet of  dark blue that had begun to stain her body.

One day at Goodwill a familiar foot shape poked up from a bin of assorted stuff and stopped me where I stood. I reached for the doll I could not see. I pulled her out to discover that she was a pink-haired lovely, an 18-inch Revlon I had only read about. And that the metal glitter on her tutu was staining her body.

My latest large acquisition is a 24-inch with a stuffed vinyl body. I bought her because there were no dolls where I was staying, and because she was available. Remarkably, this grocery store lady has good hair, both her earrings, and uncloudy eyes. Most grocery store lady dolls wore long formal gowns, but this one was quite clear in her instructions to me: She wanted  a day dress in a cotton print. The muslin almost works.  

I don't set out to buy large dolls. I cringe when I think about it.  But large dolls seem to have acquired me.

Shoes for high heeled dolls

Funny how things work out. I made my first pair of doll shoes when I was 10, from cardboard bent to fit Little Miss Revlon's  high heel feet. I was less than thrilled because the heels didn't work that well. Had I just kept painting them with white glue, they'd have hardened. In the time-honored tradition of kids everywhere, I abandoned the enterprise and tossed the visible results.

In the intervening decades, I've tried bending and folding and cutting a cardstock template for Gene with surprising success, and attaching cut-down golf tees to cardboard for a 22 inch Revlon clone, also surprisingly successful. The white plastic generic shoes from doll catalogs looked fine, and within months fell into brittle pieces. I saved the pieces. Who knows, glue and fabric and elastic may revive them.

Today I am bending cardboard to LMR's feet, attaching a heel support made with a bead roller, and building it up with bits of toilet paper and glue. I saw similar shoes built on MyFroggy.

The first outline of the doll's foot is inevitably too wide and too long. It enlarges when I trace my template. Cutting inside the lines helped. I use 4 layers of thin cardboard from a Coca-Cola box per shoe. Glued layers make a nice sturdy shoe base, but 4 is too many. Next attempt, use one layer, wet it, bend it.

I carefully measured the height of real LMR heels, cut a paper strip that wide by 5 inches long, and wound it in a paper bead roller from a kit by Creativity for Kids. I paid about $5 for this at Joann Fabric. Bead rollers from eBay can be pricey, and take time to get to you.

It is tempting to glue the heels to the sole early in the process. I really shouldn't have. I will be gluing the top of the shoe to something. It's not a disaster.

My Froggy advises us to cut the heel at a slant. Good luck with this. I do better with a single layer of cardboard at the back of the heel. After the heel is glued to the sole, I check to make sure the doll can stand. Sometimes my measuring is off, sometimes the doll's legs no longer are even.


Shaped soles and paper bead heels will work. It would have been better to have cut a fabric insole. It would have been better to have cut bits of cardboard and shaped them over the doll's foot, gluing them to the bottom of the sole. Was shaping the sole really necessary? Full of  shoulda-couldas, I abandoned the project until a barefoot doll looked at me accusingly. What would it take to turn them into wearable shoes? 

 A bit of white elastic sewn into a ring, a bit of white nail polish to finish the edges, and the barefoot doll had shoes with definite right and left feet.The doll can sometimes stand on her own. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Projects in Progress

There was a week or more between painting most of the bathroom ceiling and edging it. Edging, you see, required climbing ladders. It should have meant opening all the cupboard doors to make sure that no cats got shut into the room with me, because climbing down to let out a yowling furry ping pong ball is perilous.  A white ceiling makes the  tan less obnoxious. And I mind the texturizing a little less. This will do until I can paint the walls.

The patio-to be beside the driveway has had all weeds pulled, and I've carefully raked sand so the patio will be higher near the house and lower  near the driveway. The instructions for paver patios say to buy leveling sand, but the ground here is sand, so I've forgone that step. I rake, allow rain to level that, and rake again before placing pavers. They are heavy-ish but possible to move one at a time.

Small stones from this area get moved to the dry creek in progress by the back patio. The rocks removed from the vegetable garden would line the sides so much better without landscape fabric. The dry creek runs diagonally, so landscape fabric must be laid in overlapping strips. At this point it looks as if I will run out of rocks long before I run out of trench, but the trench is keeping the back patio from being a  pond.

The garden has produced two tomatoes and one green pepper from purchased plants. The plants grown from seed are doing well. We managed to find homes for many of the extra tomato plants grown from seed. There are beans on the bean plants, figs on the fig tree, and lemons on the improved Meyer lemon. The carrots grow well for awhile and roll over and die. One squash plant died, and another appears to be ailing. All the radishes are fiery, despite oodles of water. There are okra plants. The supposed zucchini plants produce flowers but nothing else happens. This makes it sound as if progress has occurred. but it sure doesn't feel that way.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Outdoors at Tanglewood

 East Texas is sunny, bright, and soggy. I'm a bit daunted by  nearly 2 acres. I tried several online landscaping programs and determined that I should continue to do as I've always done: find out what the indigenous plants are, beg some, and buy some.

There was a brick flowerbox near the front door when we bought the house. My mother hated it. Research said we could deconstruct it ourselves, so that's what we did. Slowly, with hammer, cold chisel, and safety goggles. As it turns out, a medium screwdriver is more effective than the smallest cold chisel. The bricks were elderly,waterlogged, and more fragile than the mortar, but we'll be reusing them for part of the patio. They're already here, you see.

For starters, we'll fill in the former flower box with  recycled bricks.

The first lawn mowing of the season took place after I spent 2 weeks raking pine needles and branches from the 2 acres. I'm sure that some folks could have done it in a single day, but raking a little at a time kept my head from falling off when I sneeze. And it allowed me to build up my tolerance for pine mold and pollen. The local garbage pickup services advised us to bag needles and branches for removal, but I'd rather have them as mulch at the base of the trees. After all, Cox Arboretum buys Texas pine needles for its mulch.

My mother wants a large vegetable garden. The area she chose to have tilled must have been some sort of garden in a previous life, because the soil is so much darker and richer than anywhere else in the yard. The man doing the tilling announced that all he was doing was making mud, and that he'd have to come back to finish it. If that area ever dries out, I have a feeling that we'll be planting things as soon as we rake out the dead grass. 


Since the last post nearly 4 months ago I have battled with greenbrier 3 times. If you subtract the time I spent swollen, feverish and itching, my last post was only 2 months ago.In the past two months, we acquired a few things for the yard: a dwarf lemon tree, a fig tree, a crape myrtle, a few veggies. We've got radishes and lettuce sown in the window boxes, and shrublets dug from around trees replanted in cans. There are enough boxwood seedlings to start a  hedge. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Incremental Progress

Everything takes eons. I checked online for hardware to reinstall 40-year old premium Kirsch traverse rods. The online search is not entirely satisfactory. I can have brackets for everything else, or all kinds of rods, but not what I ask for. In the end it was simpler to drive to the store and buy a different rod.

Draperies for those sliding glass doors will be remade from draperies made for a house in Laurel, Md. I located the box, persuaded my mother they were right, and she unpicked, ripped and sewed. Being able to handle this large a project seems to have given her a tad more energy. As soon as I am able to spend time on a ladder again, I'll install the new rod.

I attempted to clean the gutters above the patio today. Every time it rains, water comes down in sheets in front of the patio. The corrugated roof has a new-to -me sort of gutter, more than half closed. The space for leaves and silt to sneak into the gutter is only 1 inch wide; that means it's hard to fish things out. I cleared the corrugated area and wiggled a finger in the gutter, but that's not going to do much. A hose and some detergent might help.

While I was on the ladder, a lovely Husky appeared. Ivan, who had been attempting to scale an 8 foot fence, vanished. The dog's owner arrived to assure me that Lola lives with a cat and knows not to annoy the cat. At least not at too close a range. Lola bounced around the base of a tree while Ivan went about 35 feet up. Sweetie went up another tree. Lola made use of our 8/10s of an acre, streaking from one end to the other faster than I care to run. She has an equally large yard of her own, but she had found a hole and intended to make the most of her time. She knew very well that home was just 4 houses away.

Ivan and Sweetie seemed to enjoy the view from the top of leafless trees, and didn't come down until suppertime. Why yes, they would accept a serving of food meant for people in addition to their regular meals.

The living room is still a maze of boxes. I've moved bookcases around, moving boxes to do so. In the end, some of the larger pieces will stay where the movers deposited them because I'm tired. I've been here 6 weeks. I want to put out a bowl of Christmas ornaments, empty boxes, replace rotting draperies that came with the house with my beloved creamy cotton duck from Dayton. Those draperies remain stubbornly among the missing.

Washing and sanding the insides of drawers and cupboards left them dingy. The 44 degree days outnumber the 77 degree days, but my determination not to paint anything until I can open windows is wavering. An almost perfect can of icy blue paint appeared at the reduced paint rack in a store near me. I bought it, and a quart of white, and am mightily tempted. Until they are painted, I will not be unpacking much. And there are all those drawers from the original kitchen. They can be bolted together and used as shelving for the garage, if I paint them.

The bedrooms will look better when the bookcase headboards are installed. This waits for a bright warm day.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Longview Means To Me

1. Everything I need is packed in a box behind stacks of other boxes.

2. By the time I find what I need, I've either lost the energy to use the tool, or have forgotten why I needed it.

3. Tile cleaners frequently leave soap scum behind. Pure rubbing alcohol doesn't remove all of it. Using a razor scraper gets most of it.

4. I do not need all the clothing I own. I intend to sew more of it. So there, world.

5. The list of things that should be done is self multiplying, but my energy level is constant and inadequate.

6. Cats do not like change. Tokens of their discontent are usually smelly.

7. Banks LOVE change. It gives them new reasons to erect barriers between me and my money. My accounts are secure because I do not have a Smartphone. People at customer service desks for banks are naive and cannot imagine that everyone in the world does not have a Smartphone.

8. Putting checks in an envelope and mailing them, as I eventually did, is MUCH faster than hunting for an ATM that accepts deposits for other banks. Five (5!) days searching. Two days after I mailed the checks, they reached the bank. The next day, I could use the money. 

9. Laptop computers are wonderful electronic pacifiers.

 10. I searched for 3 weeks before locating Snyder's Sourdough Pretzels. Texans may stock Snyder's, but they stock pretzels covered in chocolate, with honey mustard flavoring, or other fad flavors.  

12. It is warmer at 10 pm than it was all Saturday.
  1. There are 55,000 people in Longview. Many of them were at Hobby Lobby Saturday  afternoon.

13. Jarritos grapefruit soda is easy to buy in Longview. 

14. My Magna cart with folding wheels allows me to move filing cabinets. To those who sneered when I bought it, I say Nyah.

15. One interior door stretched over 3 filing cabinets provides a secure temporary workspace for two sewing machines. I say temporary because it looks slightly repellent and is far from my desired sewing space, but it is a sewing space.

16. Six weeks is too long to go without sewing or beading. This is undoubtedly the reason I ventured into Hobby Lobby.

17. It is warm enough outside for plants to grow, but I don't know enough about native Texas plants to do any planting.

18. Learning Open Office is not intuitive. Spacing for numbered lists is idiosyncratic. 

19. My digestive system lives in Dayton.

Are We There Yet?

My possessions got here 2 days before I did. They were stashed in the garage and shed with malice aforethought. All detailed contents labels are hidden. Nothing is where is ought to be. My shoes are still missing.

On the bright side, all computer pieces landed in the same room, a room  without a lot of boxes. The laptops are fine anywhere in the house. The Tower demands direct hookup. We had planned to put the Tower in the same room as the TV, as we so often end  up checking facts from the news.The movers and the installer thought differently.

It is slow going. The dishes have not surfaced and we had to buy 4 plates. The flatware, pots and pans did surface. Whee. One day I managed to shove around two dressers in order to put my bed against a wall and hidden from the entrance. Movers had it positioned like a stuck out tongue. No matter what you did, you'd see that bed.There are days I don't feel like making the bed until 5 pm, and I don't want to look at it either.

Another day I shoved bookcases, a loveseat  and a recliner to make room for a computer desk. The next day I returned the computer desk to the bedroom. In between, I moved 3 small bushes to the property line, dug grass from the street gutter so that rainwater from a steady daylong rain could trickle into the drain, and discovered that portulaca grows wild here. That explains why a mammoth pot of portulaca sold for $2.49.

Curtains and draperies? I sure that someday I will  find them. Meantime, a quilt over the front window gives nighttime privacy and daytime gloom. My room seems oddly barren without  plastic crates of patterns. My mother's room is a box canyon of plastic storage containers. She believes that plastic organizers save space. I believe they are the work of Satan.

My gardening implements are MIA. Also the work of Satan.