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Sunday 23 April 2023

Trudi - Part 2

On our flight back to England after the Sasha Doll Festival 2022, Trudi the Sasha Studio doll travelled in my new hard-shell hand luggage bag (carefully padded) which I bought in Boston when we were visiting friends after the festival. I had realised our existing luggage arrangements didn’t provide Trudi with a safe way of travelling and I would not put her in the hold luggage (all our dolls travelled in our hand luggage). She arrived in England unscathed by the trip and went to sit on her quilt made by JoAnn on the shelf with the other Sasha dolls. However, I knew that shelf could not be her place once she was restored, so I kept my eyes open for a suitable doll display cabinet.

In the meantime, I started corresponding with Janet about Trudi as it was clear she would need specialist attention. Although my painting skills are reasonable, I have no experience of using oil paints. Trudi needed a doll artist who could also do repairs. Janet has plenty of experience of restoring a variety of different dolls, she used to work part time for a doll hospital in New York City until it closed. Initially, I was going to visit Janet in late September; however her house move meant we postponed my visit with Trudi until 2023.

In early March, I took Trudi by train all the way from my midlands home to the Cumbria coast to visit Janet in her new home. Trudi was well-padded with a soft mohair blanket, her quilt and a pillowcase in that same hard-shell case for the journey. I spent 2 days with Janet as she examined Trudi, and then started the restoration work as I watched.

Trudi lying on a chair at Janet's house before her restoration began

The aim was to stabilise the cracks and make the repairs blend in though not conceal them completely, which would be over-restoring, they are part of her story. Trudi was made in 1965 and before Dorisanne won her at Theriault’s auction in 1993 she may have had several owners, storage, travel and display conditions. Trudi already had a hairline crack beside her left eye when Dorisanne bought her, if you look closely at the photo of her on page 16 of Dorisanne’s book (published in 1999), you can just see it.

Prolonged very cold or warm temperatures or quick extreme temperature changes could result in hairline cracks, white bloom and greening for some Sasha Studio dolls. They need to be stored or displayed away from direct sunlight and heating (radiator) or chilling (air conditioner) devices to reduce the chance of such issues occurring or worsening.

Trudi has a hint of greening on her face. Greening happens to some Sasha Studio dolls because Sasha Morgenthaler used green pigment in the colour mix and while other pigments tend to recede and fade with exposure to light over time, green emerges.

Trudi before restoration, with the white bloom on her head and a crack between her neck and chin

We don’t know the exact chemical composition of the various synthetic moulding materials Sasha used for the dolls, or what chemical effect the colouring pigments contributed to the mix. The following is speculation on my part as I am not a scientist: maybe different pigment combinations in the synthetic moulding material might make some Studio dolls more prone to cracking or greening than others.

Janet showed me how to condition Trudi’s surface to remove the white bloom which appears over time from the synthetic moulding material used to make her. I conditioned her legs with Nivea cream gently buffed on the surface using a cotton wipe, a soothing and satisfying process which brought up the warm colour, and later when Janet gently did this on her face, revealed more of Trudi’s freckles.

Janet demonstrating how to condition Trudi's surface

A cotton pad is used to buff Nivea cream onto Trudi's leg to remove the white bloom

Crack repair entailed carefully putting special plastic filler in her cracks using a pin, a painstaking and time-consuming process, then once it had dried, checking if it needed more filler before doing a test run of painting only over the fine line of filler with carefully mixed oil paints. Janet did not want to put any filler on either side of the cracks then sand it flat as this would inevitably take away some of Trudi’s surface, which we wanted to avoid, and this was impossible on her eye crack anyway. Janet only painted on the filler; she did not do anything to the existing eye paint, so the artist’s skill was in matching the subtle colour changes in her existing paint to make the filled crack blend, and on a very fine scale. We discovered a tiny crack between the eyelashes of her left eye which Janet carefully filled.

Trudi at the start of eye crack filling, with the white bloom on her face

Janet applying some filler in Trudi's neck crack

Applying filler into the eye crack

Filling the eye crack in progress (see the pin, used for applying the filler, in Janet's hand)

Partly filled eye crack, before the section over the bridge of her nose was filled. The white of the filler makes the fine crack look wider than it actually is, as white 'pops' out while Trudi's skin tone recedes in contrast.

Trudi resting on her pillowcase and under her JoAnn quilt between filler application sessions

I sat and knitted when I wasn't watching and taking photos (with Janet's permission). It is hard to have someone take photos while you're doing close careful restoration work.

Watching Janet, the artist, mix oil paints is fascinating.

Trudi awaiting paint on the filler

View from the top of Trudi's head of the filled eye crack before painting

The artist's palette of oils

A blend of colours on the palette

Janet carefully working on painting the filler in Trudi's eye

Blending skin tone colours

Right arm crack

We both concluded after the initial filler tests that what Janet was doing was working fine and it was safe to continue, so I left Trudi with Janet to continue the work, with her sending me daily progress updates for the next 2.5 weeks. Please note, these photos were taken with various lighting conditions and at different angles which makes the colour tone of Trudi's surface look different when comparing photos of the same sections of her head and body.

Filled fine cracks around Trudi's right ear, face and neck

Filled fine cracks around Trudi's left ear, face and neck

Eye and nose bridge crack filled

Left upper arm filler

Left arm filler repainted

Left under arm

Right arm and the Nivea cream

Filled right arm crack

Repainted right arm crack

Right armpit crack filled

Right armpit crack repainted

Fine cracks filled in Trudi's lower back

Filler in neck/chin crack repainted

Eye and nose bridge filler repainted

Trudi's restored face before her hair was tidied

Trudi's paint drying

The oil paint on the filled cracks had to dry thoroughly before Janet could redress Trudi. Janet kindly replaced the perished elastic in Trudi's skirts and pantaloons (the original elastics were placed in her apron pocket), then tidied her hair carefully. We had decided not to remove her wig to see if there were cracks under it and did not apply any conditioner or oil on the wig as this can sometimes damage the real hair wig.

Restored Trudi awaiting her clothes

Restored Trudi ready for dressing

Trudi wearing her pantaloons and shirt

Trudi wearing her socks, underskirt, pantloons and shirt

Trudi wearing her overskirt and boots, with socks, pantaloons, underskirt and shirt

Trudi restored in her full farmgirl outfit including the embroidered apron and scarf

Trudi's scarf is round her neck rather than her head now

Trudi's tidied hair with matching hair ties (Janet found a similar pale blue fabric in her stash)

Trudi restored and awaiting collection

While Trudi was with Janet, I made a lucky discovery in a local shop which sells vintage items – there were two matching deep bookcases made with laminated chipboard, in very nice condition, one of which still has wooden sliding doors. Once I brought them home I glued felt on the bottom of them so the unlaminated chipboard bottom edges would not scratch the surface of my late grandfather’s tallboy (now storing doll clothes) and my late mother’s chest of drawers. The unit with its wood sliding doors is now on top of the tallboy and is where I store some of our larger modern vinyl dolls, standing up. My husband added polycarbonate doors to the front of the other unit, turning it into a display cabinet, we put this on top of the chest of drawers and I arranged some of my collection in it, in readiness for Trudi.

Janet has a Studio doll called Katherine, whom she adopted from Dorisanne before I got Trudi. After the 2022 festival, I started making a coat for Trudi using the same wool (Jamiesons of Shetland Spindrift) and some of the motifs from the Sasha Shakespeare Dreamcoat which I made for the Susanna Lewis raffle doll. I resized and reshaped the pattern. I did not make the complicated embroideries; also the studio doll sized coat does not have a hood. I brought the partly-made coat for Trudi with me when I visited Janet in March; she loved the colour combinations and patterns so asked me to make one for Katherine as well. We both knew this would take a long time, just as the crack repairs were time-consuming, so when I returned home I worked on finishing Trudi’s coat then knitted it again for Katherine. It was an enjoyable task despite the time it took to complete.

The completed coats

Back view of one of the coats

Collecting Trudi in mid-April coincided with a short trip for a musical event involving our little street organ in Lancashire. After the event my husband, younger daughter and I drove into Cumbria and stayed overnight an hour’s drive from Janet and her husband. Our short visit to their home the next day was filled with laughter and conversation. Trudi and Katherine were standing side by side in front of the arts & crafts stained glass and wood shelf in the living room when we arrived and this became the place for their photo shoot, before and after they tried on their winter coats. Janet’s doll is a gorgeous CIII who normally wears a pale grey corduroy dress; however Janet had made and assembled a farm girl outfit for Katherine using the colour combinations of the coat.

Trudi and Katherine in farm girl outfits

Trudi and Katherine



Trudi and Katherine wearing their new coats

Trudi and Katherine

Trudi and Katherine closeup from the side - different skin tones, eye colour and hair

Trudi and Katherine

Trudi and Katherine closeup from the front

Back view of Trudi and Katherine wearing their new coats

Back view of their coats, while still on the shelf

Trudi and Katherine admire the model train

I had brought along my SCW Charity doll Russell, so he was included towards the end of the photo shoot too.

Katherine, Russell and Trudi

Katherine, Russell and Trudi from the side

Thank you, Janet for gently restoring Trudi, she is rejuventated.

Katherine and Trudi

Me holding Trudi, Janet holding Katherine

Trudi and Russell travelled home safely in the hard-shell case, well padded as before. Now they are in the display cabinet together, along with my 19” modern Gotz 2008 Anna, my childhood doll 16” Palitoy Petalskin Susie, Betsy my 16" Schoenhut doll and little Kruselings Zarni San and Thet Khin. They make me smile.

Trudi and friends in the display cabinet.
L-R Susie, Anna, Betsy with her unnamed baby doll, Zarni San, Thet Khin, Trudi and Russell

Susie, Anna Betsy and Zarni San with the Teddy bears in the dresser and Dorisanne's Keuka College pennant (the 1991 week long Sasha Doll Festival was hosted at Keuka College)

Thet Khin, Trudi and Russell with the other end of the Keuka College pennant and Trudi's quilt from JoAnn


From Childhood to Sasha profile Number 4 - Dorisanne Osborn (2015), published by TwizelTheresa on The Sasha Emporium, 27 October 2015, available at (accessed 20 April 2023)

Osborn, Dorisanne (1999) Sasha Dolls through the years, Gold Horse Publishing. ISBN 0-9112823-86-0

The Sasha Doll Festival website 

Information about Sasha Morgenthaler is available at the following websites:


jamamy said...

It has been wonderful to revisit our story with Trudi, this was a project I enjoyed from start to finish, wondering first if it was possible and then the relief when I was able to help her. Thank you for your trust in me Anna and I just love Katherine's new Farm Child look with the crowning glory of that beautiful dream coat.

Gregor Daddies said...

Janet did a outstanding job restoring Trudi. She looks beautiful.

Dee said...

Loved reading about Trudi's restoration by Janet and seeing your lovely jackets for the girls.
I love the farm girls, thanks for sharing this again

Serenata said...

You must be thrilled to bits with the restoration. Trudi looks wonderful and Janet has done fabulous work. What a treasure she is, and lovely to read about the process. As you can see I am so far behind reading blogs, so this is a very late comment. Beautiful knitwear as well. They look so lovely together.