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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Susie restored

Me with Susie when I was small.

Susie was my first play doll. I got her for my first birthday. My grandmother had knitted some clothes for her, most of which I've still got (the shoes and socks went missing very quickly). Unfortunately when I was about eight I gave her a very bad haircut, and her hair was brushed a lot too before that, so it went very wiry and frizzy. I knew as soon as I cut the hair that it was the wrong thing to do, and I vowed then that somehow one day I would get her hair rerooted, a big thing for an 8 year old to resolve.

Last year I finally honoured that promise to Susie and sent her off to have her hair expensively rerooted by a person who specialises in restoring Sasha dolls Some restorers had told me to buy her a wig, which admittedly would have been MUCH cheaper, but this was not what I wanted to do, Susie deserved to be restored, I was having a difficult year and really needed to repair something from my childhood when other illusions about that time had been shattered. So it was definitely an emotional, cathartic thing to do, and I could finally afford to fulfil that wish.

Susie is a vinyl doll, probably made by Roddy, although there are no marks on her body to confirm this. She has a much nicer face than many Roddy dolls, but her lips had faded, her skin looked pale beneath the sticky grubbiness (even though I had washed her) and the restorer gave her a reconditioning wash before removing her old hair for the rerooting job, which took a couple of weeks. She smelled lovely after that.

The restorer sent me the first of two work in progress photographs which bowled me over, as it was obvious that Susie was well on the road to recovery (this was taken before her new fringe was cut).

However it was clear that she deserved more than the new hair, so her lips were repainted and her cheeks given new rouge to make her less pale. I had sent her fully clothed in her original hand-knitted outfit (somehow sending her naked in the post didn't appeal) and the restorer asked her mother to make new socks and shoes (she happens to fit Sasha shoes, though is about 17 1/2 inches tall, which is slightly bigger than the Sasha dolls).

When she arrived home again, my younger daughter's reaction was instantaneous - Susie received a big hug.

I want to make her some additional clothes, but have been rather side tracked by sewing for my daughters' Gotz Sarah and Zauberwelt dolls, however that is another story.


Rebecca said...

What a lovely story. And very reminiscent for me! I still have my childhood doll Susan, whom my Nana knitted, crocheted and sewed clothes for (often from scraps of the fabrics she used to make outfits for me and my sister). I cut her her, too - ever since I can remember, it has been short all round except for the very top of her head, where I plaited it (and was very proud when I learned to plait).
And I loved White Boots and Ballet Shoes as a child - lovely to see a doll named after Harriet, as well. (I have a cat called Harriet, but she got that after hiding on top of a set of Dorothy Sayers books when she was a kitten.)
As you can see from my blog, I collect miniature dolls and their houses and furniture - but now I will enjoy your larger ones through your blog!

DollMum said...

Hello Rebecca, I still keep promising to sew for Susie - it will happen soon I hope.
My daughter read White Boots after Ballet Shoes was televised here at Christmas about 19 months ago, and could identify with Harriet who had long thick reddish hair and was rather thin and pale because that is what my girl looks like.

Katie said...

Wow, what a difference. she was obviously well loved, I am so pleased i have little girl, It's a great excuse to do dolls again, I have even made some rag doll for my girls. I love it. I hope you will soon track down that knitting pattern and add to her wardrobe.

DollMum said...

I've made rag dolls too, the most recent was for my elder girl when she was about 2. I'll blog about her in the near future, as there is a bit of story attached regarding the pattern.