Aug 9, 2014

Lessons with Dorothy the Doll Doc

Dorothy Meredith is a doll restorer, super doll show promoter, and a good friend.  So we decided to trade classes.  She came over for my two-day intensive on cloth & clay art dolls.  Then I spent two days at her place, learning (some of) the fine art of restoring dolls.  I figured to apply what I learned to the restoration of my old dolls, but it goes so much further.  I can see many exciting and creative possibilities for these tools and materials in art doll making as well.  WIN!

So the first day I went by myself, where we chipped and dremeled and painted and sanded.  Seriously good information from a lady who has spent thirty-plus years in this business.  Her encyclopedic knowledge of twentieth century dolls is amazing.  (Look up Attic Antiquities for info on her classes!)

Here is her workshop and doll store.  I confess to a little Woman Cave envy.  Aside from great work lighting, lots of space, and all the materials you could ever want, there's a work sink and a little half bath.  How cool is that?

The workshop

Shop Kitty "Nosey"

The Doll Store.  I have to wear a bib here, because I drool.

We buckled down and got to work.  I'm a fan of PPE (personal protective equipment) because I've  not got enough brain cells to waste any, and some of that stuff is STINKY.  And the the dust goes everywhere when you sand bondo.  Yes, what goes on cars.  Interesting process, this doll restoration biz.

My projects for the first day: an old Boudoir doll, a no-name fellow that will require an entirely new body, and below that, a little Effanbee Bubbles who has paint chipping and needs a new crier (laugher?). 

The second day was more of a group effort with some of my favorite people.  Laura and Joann drove a long way to join us with their own restoration projects.  With a good lunch stop at the local Grain Bin, we worked and learned and shared and laughed--a wonderful day spent with people who share a passion for dolls, old and new.

Laura, Dorothy, and Joann

On this second day, I worked on restringing a modern resin BJD--because I wanted to learn restringing--and learning to air brush.  I am so going to use this air brush in making dolls!

Laura had a little Betsy Wetsy type who needed new eyes, and a Patsy Ann type that needs work on her badly chipping paint on the back of her head.  (I am ignorant of 20th Century Dolls, as well as the finer bisque antiques, so ladies, please forgive me if I named your dolls wrong!)

Joann had a lovely (and huge!) Kestner girl who needed restringing, and a tiny little porcelain who needs a wig and a dentist.  I kept suggesting she leave the snaggle toothed look and give her an eye patch and a pirate costume, but apparently this will not happen.  Maybe she'll get them for Christmas.

Dorothy (when we gave her a minute to work) had some tiny Ginny's to restring, and Nosey worked on exercising the hinges on the shop door.  In and out, in and out.  She's a good shop kitty, making sure everyone knows she's the one in charge, no matter what the Lady of the Shop might say.

The plan is for a "hair rerooting party" at my house coming up...BYORT (bring your own rerooting tool) where we can practice on my Monster High dolls.  And my first official Art Doll class is coming up on the 19th and 20th of August.  I love this job! 

Hope your weekend is lovely...and includes time with people you enjoy.


  1. Replies
    1. It is great--and Dorothy is a patient teacher. :~D

  2. I loved seeing what you are dong at the doll work shop. Is is so lucky that you live close to a person that has been in the doll restoring business for so long, this will be a tremendous help to you and she can learn from you too. I can see why you love her doll store.You can get books on restoring, but it is not like seeing first hand in person how to do the jobs that are needed.

    1. You are so right, Martha. There are tons of tutorials for restringing, but seeing it done in person, and having them watch while you redo it yourself a few times, really helps you cut past a lot of the Learning Curve stuff you'd have to learn the hard way!

  3. I really do believe you love your job! And, a good thing, for someone like you, who has such a big heart, will keep on finding sweet little dollies that need to be saved.

  4. Jan... best wishes with the Art Doll classes coming up... you'll knock 'em dead! (well, ummm, not really "dead" O.K.?) Daryle


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