Welcome to Never2Old4 Dolls!! This blog is intended to be a gathering place for doll lovers of all ages. Interested in connecting with other doll lovers? Head to the "Interviews" page to read some great interviews with doll lovers, doll artists, and doll collectors from all around the world. Do dolls inspire you to channel your inner creative goddess? Click on the "Tutorials" page to find how-to instructions for all kinds of things to make for your dolly friends. Want some recommendations for great books featuring dolls? Go to the "Dolls in Literature" page for reviews and links. Want to check out all the great doll-related info and products available online? Head to the "Links and Resources" page. Sit back, relax, grab your favorite little gal (or guy), and get ready to be inspired.

Monday, December 31, 2012

First dolly listings on Etsy!

Hi, everyone!  I hope you are winding down the year in a special way and looking ahead with anticipation to a new year!  I'll (hopefully) be busy crafting in my studio into the wee hours.  I'm planning to focus more on this blog in the new year and to get going on lining up more interviews along with other posts.  I'm writing here today to let you know that I've just listed my first two doll-related items in my Etsy shop, Walnut Hill Handmade.  I'm hoping to branch out this year and sell clothes for both Blythe and American Girl dolls.  I'd love to have you pop over and check out the shop.

I'd also love to have you visit one of my other blogs, Walnut Hill Handmade.  I'm making an effort to blog more there in the new year too.  It's a place where I'll document and write about my creative process, what I've been crafting, and anything else I'm inspired to write about!!  Hope to see you THERE!!

Here are a few photos to give you a little peek at what's listed in the Etsy shop.




Friday, December 21, 2012

Introducing............Ellyn

I'm happy to announce that my doll family has recently grown by one.  I've added an American Girl doll to the mix.  She arrived about a week ago, but I'm only just now finding time to share about her.   I have to say that I'm completely impressed with the quality of this doll.  She is truly lovely and I can't find anything not to love about her.  Her hair is absolutely gorgeous.  I'm looking forward to styling it.  It will be a treat for me since I only have sons.  An extra bonus that she won't scream when I comb out the snarls.

For those of you with lots of American Girl (AG) knowledge, she is a My American Girl, #55.  I wanted to choose a doll that would most likely resemble what my daughter might look like if I had a daughter.  So I chose a doll with hazel eyes and brown hair just like me.  I don't have freckles, however.  If I'd been able to choose a doll with wavy brown hair, hazel eyes, and NO freckles, I probably would have.  But I really liked her and had seen good reviews and beautiful photos of her on other blogs.  I'm so glad I chose her.  I've named her Ellyn.  That's a combination of my middle name and maiden name, at least the way I've chosen to spell it.  As of now, she doesn't have a middle name.  I am SUPER excited to sew for her.  I've already made her a pair of jeans using a Liberty Jane pattern.  I'm going to start selling exclusive outfits for 18-inch dolls in the new year in my Etsy shop.  Ellyn will be my model.  She'll probably be sad that I'm selling all the beautiful clothes she's modelling, but I'll let her keep some for herself too.  Here are some photos I took of her right after I opened her box.  I will take more photos of her soon.


Here she is in her box right before I opened it.  


Close-up to show she's a #55.


Somewhat poor quality photo, but I was snapping this super-quick before one of my piano students arrived for a lesson.  This is how she looked right out of the box.  She still had her hair net on at this point.


Even with the distracting background and less than ideal lighting, you can see how gorgeous she is.  LOVE HER!! 


Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm still here........with new goodies for Talia

I am so sorry I've neglected this blog for almost a month!!  I have a sewing business on the side and have been so busy getting custom orders done for Christmas.  Things are finally settling down a bit and I wanted to pop in here and show you two AWESOME items that came in the mail for me today!  With some of the money from my own Etsy shop sales, I decided to buy Talia (my Blythe doll) a few items for Christmas.  I'm so, so happy with her new items and so glad to support other fine ladies making lovely handmade items.  It was also really fun to tell my oldest son (who loves geography) that we got a package from Great Britain and from Sweden on the same day.  THAT has never happened before!!  

Without further ado..........I present Talia in her new winter duds.

From the Etsy shop, Cannonbelle, in the UK, I ordered Talia a little green sweater.  Green is my favorite color and I fell in love with this sweater as soon as I saw it.  It fits perfectly and is completely adorable. 

NOTE:  I'm still getting used to how to best photograph Talia.  I realized after just adding this to the post that I should have slipped her stand under the sweater so it wouldn't show in the photo.  Oh well!!  She still looks sweet in her new sweater.



From GenePDollShop in Sweden, I ordered this fabulous Christmas hat. I loved the white eyelash yarn trim and the Christmasy buttons.  SO SWEET!! 



Since we just got our first snow of the year last night, I decided to take Talia outside to photograph her in the snow.  Although I'm still practicing how to get good doll photos, I thought these turned out pretty good!   The jeans Talia is wearing in these photos were made by me.  I'm hoping to have some Blythe clothing for sale in my own Etsy shop in the new year.  I'm completely revamping the shop website and blog right now.  I'll be sure to share more about the shop when it's ready to launch in its new format.






Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Doll Blogger Interview: Beast's Belle from Never Grow Up: A Mom's Guide to Dolls and More

Today's interview is with doll blogger, Beast's Belle from the popular blog, Never Grow Up:  A Mom's Guide to Dolls and More.  I "discovered" her when searching online for reviews of the Journey Girls dolls.  I'm thrilled to have her participate in my interview series.  I know you'll love reading her answers to the questions.  She has taken the time to thoroughly think through each question, giving great examples of how dolls have been and continue to be an important part of her life.  After you've read the interview, be sure to pop over to her blog (CLICK HERE) to check it out.  She has a great deal of information and I love looking at all the great photos of her dolls.

N2O4Dolls:  Tell us a bit about yourself.  

Beast's Belle:  I'm a stay-at-home mom to three girls (ages 8, 6, and 4) and I've been happily married to my high school sweetheart for 10 1/2 years.  I enjoy dolls, Disney movies (especially "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tangled"), writing, drawing, singing, and acting.  Most importantly, I'm a follower of Christ and strive to please Him in all that I do.  




N2O4Dolls:  Obviously dolls and Disney are your passion.  Tell us about how you got started collecting dolls, how long you’ve been doing it, and what prompted you to start your blog, Never Grow Up?

Beast's Belle:  Well, I kind of have two different doll collections going.  Aside from a few dolls I had growing up, my Disney doll collecting started back when I was in my second year of college.  It was a really small local Bible college, and that year there were only 5 girls living in the dorms.  I lived locally but visited the dorms all the time and got really close to the girls there.  Since we were all Disney fans, we assigned a Disney Princess to each girl who best represented her character or interests.  I was Belle. :)  That was the year that I realized "Beauty and the Beast" remained my favorite Disney movie, and that's when I started collecting "Beauty and the Beast" dolls and other items in earnest.  My "Tangled" collection started shortly after the movie was released. 

As far as my 18" dolls, I started getting interested in them again about 3 years ago when I read this online review of the Gotz Little Sisters dolls:  http://debonairdesignsblogspot.blogspot.com/p/18-gotz-dolls-american-girl-doll.html

I really wanted to find a Gotz Little Sisters Tess doll for myself, which I eventually did.  That rekindled my interest in American Girl and other 18" dolls...and the rest is history. ;)

I got the idea to start blogging after a meeting with my writing coach.  She had been coaching me through a series of books I was working on (coincidentally, I'm still working on the books!).  In one of our meetings, she happened to mention that authors nowadays are expected to have a blog about their book once it's published.  I thought it might be a good idea to try out this blogging stuff before it was important. ;)  By this time, I was in full doll mode, so I decided to start a blog about dolls.  And from that simple concept and completely noncommittal beginning, Never Grow Up was formed. :)

Jane Austen and Unicorns was a blog I started shortly after Never Grow Up because I loved the idea of my dolls having their own blog.  And Belle's Bulletins was originally a side storyline on JA&U, but it grew much more than I expected until it became its own blog.  I've really had fun developing all of the characters for my secondary blogs. I especially love writing for Maggie.  There's nothing more fun than writing a sarcastic, opinionated post. ;)


 

N2O4Dolls:  What type of dolls do you collect?  Tell us about your collection: where you keep it, how  you acquire new dolls, etc.
   
Beast's Belle:  I guess I partially answered this in the last question. ;)  I collect 18" play dolls, including Gotz, American Girl, BFC Ink, and Alexander Girlz.  I also have a 21" Karito Kids doll and two 14" Hearts 4 Hearts Girls dolls. In addition to my bigger dolls, I collect 12" Disney Fashion dolls from "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tangled".  I do have a few exceptions in my Disney collection:  four 17" Singing dolls, a Disney Animator's Collection Belle that is around 16", and an 18" Disney Princess and Me Rapunzel doll.

Aside from that, I have a couple of Moxie Teenz and LIV dolls, some Barbies, a few Lady Lovely Locks dolls, and other random toys and dolls from my childhood. ;)

I try to display as much of my collection as I can.  I figure that the whole point of having dolls is to be able to have them out and enjoy them. :)  I have Disney dolls in my curio, on top of my curio, and on one of my shelves.  My 18" dolls are all set up in room displays (aside from my two Pre-Mattel historical dolls).  I love setting them all up and making them look just right.  My daughters love coming into Mommy's room because there's so much to see! ;)

 

At this point, I'm pretty much maxed out on space, so I'm trying to avoid actively adding to my collection.  I do a lot of thrifting and reselling to fund my collection.  The nice thing about this is that I get to photograph and enjoy lots of dolls and toys and then pass them on to someone who has the space for them. :}  

When I do acquire new dolls, though, it's usually through a secondary market, such as eBay, Craigslist, or thrift stores.  Of my current 18" doll collection, only one was purchased brand new (Hayden, my My AG #55).  The rest were purchased secondhand.  Emma, my #41, was a doll I won through The Doll Wardrobe Blog's giveaway. :D  She was my first modern American Girl doll.

While I've found a couple of my Disney dolls in thrift stores, most of them are purchased new from the Disney Store online.

 

N2O4Dolls:  Please share a few childhood memories that include dolls.  This could include dolls you owned, dolls you wanted, dolls in books, favorite gift that was a doll, etc.

Beast's Belle:  I've loved dolls for as long as I can remember, so several memories come to mind right away. :)

For my 11th birthday, my grandparents got me the Mattel Classic Belle and Beast dolls, along with the "Beauty and the Beast" piano book.  I remember that the gifts were wrapped in "Beauty and the Beast" paper.   I still have those dolls in my collection. :)

That same year for Christmas, my mom gave me a porcelain baby doll that she had made in a local class she was taking.  She was the same size as a real baby and had a beautiful pink satin dress with lace trimming, also handmade by my mom.  She was stuffed with beans or beads in her bottom and feet, so when you held her, she rested in your arms just the way a real baby would.  I named her April and played with her constantly.  She remained my favorite doll for many years.

At some point during my childhood, I happened across a couple of the "Lonely Doll" books by Dare Wright.  I remember being fascinated by the books.  The author used black and white photographs of her doll, Edith, and several stuffed bears for the illustrations.  The way she photographed them was so vivid and lifelike, you felt like the story had actually happened.  I've remembered those books all these years, and Dare Wright's doll photography still inspires me when I take pictures of my own dolls.

Another memory I have is one that I've shared on the blog before.  In the early 90s, the Pleasant Company (who made American Girl dolls at the time) had a promotion where they sent display dolls to school libraries for a month.  The idea was to get girls interested in the dolls and their books.  At the time, there were 4 dolls:  Kirsten, Samantha, Molly, and Felicity.  My mom worked in our school library, so I always had extra time to sit and stare at the beautiful dolls on display.  They were all beautiful, but I fell in love with Felicity.  I loved her pretty red hair, her outfit, and the fact that she was a horse lover like I was at the time. :)  I always hoped that Felicity could come home with me.  Unfortunately, my parents weren't able to afford such an extravagant gift, so I never got my Felicity as a child.  That made it all the more special when I found her secondhand as an adult, thought. :)  Whenever I look at my Felicity doll, I remember that time as a little girl, watching that doll and wistfully dreaming. :)

N2O4Dolls:  How has collecting dolls and writing your blog inspired your creativity in other areas?

Beast's Belle:  One unexpected area that I can think of right off the bat is my photography.  I've never considered myself much of a photographer, but I really admired other online doll collector's photos (and Dare Wright's photos from her books, as I mentioned earlier).  I knew that the best blogs had pictures, so I wanted to have them on my blog too.  I started playing around with my camera and discovered that I had a knack for it!  I got even more interested in my photos when we got a new camera, a digital Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS.  I don't know that I'll ever be the type to handle a really fancy camera, but I love the simplicity and beautiful pictures of my Canon camera. :)

I don't know that I ever would have gotten into photography as much if it hadn't been for my blogs. :) 



 

N2O4Dolls:  Tell us about your experience in the online doll community.  What have been some of the highlights?

Beast's Belle:  I have really enjoyed getting to know the online doll community.  I've met all sorts of doll collectors and doll fans that I never would have met otherwise.  It's always great to "meet" others with similar interests.  It's almost like meeting the family members you never knew you had. ;)  

In addition to the joy of getting to know other people who share this same fascination, it's been great to learn from the vast amount of knowledge that exists in the online doll community.   One of my favorite online doll communities has been the AGPlaythings forum.  I've learned so much that I never would have known about American Girl dolls and their compatible brands.  

Overall, it's been a wonderful experience getting to know my fellow online doll collectors.  I've loved every minute! :D

N2O4Dolls:  Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Beast's Belle:   Well first, I'd like to thank you for having me here. :)  I'd also like to encourage anyone reading this that you truly are "never too old for dolls".  If you enjoy dolls, then don't let others take that joy away.

We live in a world where little girls are being forced to grow up way too fast.  My 8 year old has already had her classmates tease her about her dolls at school.  I find that heartbreaking.  I'd much rather have my 3rd grader enjoy dolls than be into boys and high heels, like some of her classmates. :{

Adults aren't off the hook either.  I still have people who give me strange looks when I set up a doll for a photo shoot out in my front yard.  ;)  I could let that bother me (and sometimes, I have to admit, I'm a little embarrassed), but I don't have to.  I've learned so many things and made so many new friends through this hobby.  Dolls inspire creativity, teach us about history, and more.  And besides, they're just plain fun!  So here's to all of us who can't seem to put our toys and dolls away! ;)  

N2O4Dolls:  Thanks so much for the interview.  I loved reading all your answers and love your blog as well.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

SQUUUEEEEEAAAALLLL!!! The Story of Laura and Blythe: Part 2

I told you this story would be continued, didn't I?  Well, exactly one week ago I took THE PLUNGE and ordered myself a Blythe doll!!  Online ordering is a dangerous thing because it's so easy to just click and purchase.  However, I have waited at least three years before allowing myself that "click", so I guess I do have self control after all.  I had some money from Etsy sales saved up and decided to treat myself. 

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able to track my Blythe doll as she made her way across the Pacific from Hong Kong to California, then on east until she reached me here in Iowa on Thursday.  I bet you think I immediately ripped the box open when it arrived, right?  Well, that's not quite what happened.  Since this is a day I've looked forward to for a while, I'm going to document the details of how this all went down.

First of all, we have just had new siding put on our house and garage.  Everything has been in disarray outside with all the construction gear and what not.  Also, I've been busy like crazy getting things ready for a Holiday Boutique that I participated in on Thursday.  Most of my extra minutes on Thursday went into last minute details for the boutique.  I knew from looking online that she would probably arrive on Thursday, but also knew I'd be SOOOO busy.  Anyway, I was rushing to get my oldest son to his piano lesson around 2 p.m. and quickly walked out to get the mail.  As I walked back to the house with the mail, I looked through it to see if there was anything interesting besides bills and catalogs.  That is when I noticed one of those slips from the mail carrier telling that they've left you a package.  It was a nice day and usually they just leave it right by our door.  However, the slip said it was in the garage.  I quickly checked and, sure enough, there was a neatly wrapped brown package in the garage.  I knew from the Hong Kong postmark that it was HER!  BUT...........I had to get to a piano lesson.  So I put the box in the house and headed on my merry way.

AFTER the piano lesson, I had just a few minutes to load everything for the boutique, change clothes, then drop the boys off at my mom's house and head to the boutique venue to set up.  NO TIME to open the box.  Truthfully, I would have had time, but I knew I wanted to savor the moment.  So I was determined to wait until later.

I had told my youngest son about the Blythe doll coming and he knew she was here.  He REALLY wanted me to open the box, but I told him "later."

After the boutique I went to my sons' Cub Scout pack meeting and picked them up.  When we got home, my youngest asked me again when I would open the "Blythe".  I told him "later."  As I put him to bed he REALLY wanted me to go get the box and open it with him.  I told him I really wanted to do it by myself and that I'd show him in the morning.  I really knew from the moment the box came that I wanted to wait for a special quiet time to open it all by myself.

SO............at about 10:45ish p.m. I finally went down to my craft studio where I'd stashed the box.  I took along some nail scissors to cut the tape and got busy.  As you may well know, it takes a LONG time to get toys out of their boxes and Blythe was no exception.  I took several photos to document this process.  They did not turn out great since it was at night with flash photography and no natural light.  But it is what it is.  The photo below shows the return address on the box.  My oldest son who loves geography thought it was cool that we got something from overseas.  (I did too.)


The package was very neatly wrapped in brown kraft paper and taped very securely.  After removing the brown paper, there was a brown cardboard box inside.  The photo below shows what was printed on this box.


After slitting the tape on the cardboard box, I could see the pink end of the Blythe box.  I slid it out and below you can see my first glimpse of my new Nicky Lad Blythe doll.


The next two photos show the back of the box.  All the Blythe boxes are different and I love the retro colorful graphics on this box in particular.  I also love all the Japanese (or maybe it's Chinese?) writing on the back of the box.  The second photo shows this close up.



After photographing the box, I opened it and slid out the insert.  As expected, everything was securely taped inside.  There was only one of those annoying wire tie things though, which was nice.  I took my time in removing all the accessories in their taped bags.  I didn't want to damage the yellow cardboard insert.  After I carefully removed all the accessories, I finally retrieved Blythe herself from the box.


One of my first observations of her right off the bat was that her legs were more rubbery feeling than I expected.  Her torso, arms and head are a hard plastic, but her legs are more rubbery.  They're still rigid, but have a different feel than the rest of her.  I also noticed (and loved) how silky her hair is.  I really love her hairstyle.  She is SO cute.  Of course one of the first things I did was pull her string to change her eye colors.  You have to pull kind of hard and her lids close, then there's a distinct "click" sound and her new eye color is revealed.  My favorite is her green eyes which are in all the photos below.  I really apologize for the crappy photos.  I can't wait to try to photograph her in natural light tomorrow.  In the photo below she is propped on my treadmill which is in the craft studio. (Blythes all come with a stand which is really nice since they can't stand on their own.)  She's wearing a dress I made a few weeks ago before I even had ordered her.  I was really happy that it fits perfectly.  I think it's very sweet on her.   I just need to sew some snaps on the back.  Another observation I made when taking these photos is that her head is slightly tilted down (and I couldn't figure out how to tilt it up anymore) which meant that I had to lie on the floor to get photos of her.  Otherwise, I don't think her face would have shown in the photos.


This next photo is her "meet" outfit.  It's pretty cute, although you can't tell in the photo.  ACK!  Flash photography.  It's a polo shirt with little white denim shorts.  She also has these bulky gray socks (which I don't care for and which are hard as heck to  put on) and bright pink high-top sneakers.  I love the sneakers.  Probably won't use the socks much for her though.



She also has a pair of hot pink glasses and a yellow "raincoat" with pink trim.  I will try to get a better photo of her tomorrow in natural light.  


After playing with her a bit, I set her on the table behind my sewing machine and did some other things in my studio.  It made me VERY happy to look over and see her there.  I am SO glad I am finally a Blythe owner.  I definitely don't want to stop at just one!  Now I know why they're so addictive.  I LOVE HER!!!

Oh..........I'd decided to call her...........Talia.  Many years ago when I taught in a Montessori school in Iowa City, I had a student named Talia and I've loved that name ever since.  I never had a little girl of my own to name Talia.  I was thinking of naming her Talia but wanted to "meet"  her to see if it suited her and I think it does. 

Well, I guess that's all.  For now.  I'd better go to bed as it's 1:00 AM.  I may just pop down to the studio first to say 'night to little Talia.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doll Lover Interview: Phyllis F. (my cousin!)

 
N2O4Dolls:  Today I am very happy and excited to post this interview with my cousin, Phyllis.  I thought of asking her for an interview right away when I started the blog because I know how much she loves dolls.  I loved reading about her insight into the very special and important role dolls played in her childhood.  I also love it that dolls continue to be a source of comfort and joy for her as an adult.  I know you will enjoy reading her thoughts below.
 
Phyllis:  A few years ago, I made a scrapbook showcasing photos of some of the dolls I've owned over the years.  It was titled "They're Not Just Toys; They are My Friends."  The phrase best describes how I feel about my dolls.
    
When Laura asked me to be a guest on her blog,  I immediately said yes, thinking how easy it would be to do.  I read through the questions she had sent me, and then went off to make dinner.  The next day I was still thinking and continued to ponder my answers for a couple more weeks -- so many memories and emotions surfaced.
 
In the 60's I grew up on an Iowa farm as an only child whose Mother didn't enjoy guests (young or adult) very often.  Since I couldn't reciprocate invitations, I rarely was invited to my classmates' homes.  Back then, many days my dolls and cats were my only playmates (and cats really don't care to play dress up for long.)  I had several baby dolls, a few child dolls and, of course, a Barbie and Ken.  Looking back, my preteen dolls were my favorites.  My Skipper with her long auburn hair and my Penny Brite dolls were with me most of the time and I have vivid memories of those two.  
 
I had a great playhouse my mother had made up for me in a small building near the house. I created other "playhouses" in the barns and hayloft.  The ones near the rafters of the hayloft were the best, until Daddy had to feed those bales to the cattle.  I learned to build them in the far back corners. First hay in, last hay out.  Daddy would always leave a narrow path between the hay bales for me to get to my "house".  In the loft my dolls had their own hay bale homes with doll blanket beds and whatever clothing I brought out that day.  What fun I'd have from mid-summer and into the late fall.
  
I was blessed to have a grandmother who believed every doll should have a wardrobe.  She made each doll extra clothes whether it was a little crocheted blue dress for my troll doll (N2O4Dolls:  As a little girl I loved sneaking into Phyllis' room when she was away at college and looking at the troll doll by her bed!!)  or an elegant wedding dress for my Barbie.  All those outfits made playing with my dolls so much fun.  I still have many of the 60's patterns she used to make those clothes and many of those Barbie clothes were passed on to my daughters and someday my granddaughters.  Grandma taught me how to make simple clothes for my dolls on her treadle sewing machine and later how to make myself clothes.  What a blessing my Grandma was!  Maybe she understood that I needed friends. (N2O4Dolls:  We had a great Grandma.  She made the dolls that I shared in THIS POST and many other things for me as well.)
 
When our first daughter was old enough, we gave her a "My Friend - Mandy" doll; and I got a "My Friend - Jenny."  Following Grandma's example I made many outfits for our dolls.  My daughter and I spent many hours playing dolls and having tea with them often in the shade of the maple tree in the back yard.  When our youngest daughter was old enough, she got a Mandy doll, too, and joined our fun.  (N2O4Dolls:  I had a My Friend Mandy doll too.  I'm hoping to share more about her in an upcoming post.)
 
Since that time, I've expanded my doll collecting with other pre-teen dolls.  I have a 16" Kelly doll, an American Girl Elizabeth and several others.  I don't collect multiples of one type of doll, just ones I think would be a good friend.   One doll I got recently is a little doll with such a sad face that I knew she needed a friend.
 
 
(L to R) Childhood doll named Luanne, Kelly, Penny Brite, Elizabeth, sad faced doll, and Jenny.
 
What doll would I still like to have?  One Christmas long ago, I asked for a Thumbelina doll.  Instead I got twin babies with red hair.  I played with them a lot, but they weren't Thumbelina.  A few years ago while both our daughters were in college (translate, no extra funds), I saw a collector's version of the same 60's Thumbelina in a catalog.  I held on to that catalog for a long time. Maybe, some day.
 
My someday Thumbelina
 
What surprised me about thinking and then writing for this blog entry was the realization of how lonely I must have been as a child to have such strong feelings about so many of my dolls.  I don't think I realized it then, which was a blessing.
  
My dolls truly are my friends.
 
N2O4Dolls:  Thanks so much, Phyllis, for your insight and honesty about your life-long relationship with dolls.  And thanks for being such a great cousin and friend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Doll Crafter Interview: Jane Street of the Etsy Shop "On Blythe Street"



Today I'm so excited to share this interview with Jane Street from the lovely Etsy Shop, On Blythe Street.
I found Jane's shop when doing a search on Etsy for Blythe clothes.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Her items are SO yummy!  I love her hand-knit Blythe sweaters and can't wait until I have my own Blythe so I can outfit her in one of Jane's creations.  Don't you just love the above photo of Jane in her studio?  It looks so colorful and inviting.  I love the little finished dresses hanging up.  DARLING!!  After you read all about Jane, please be sure to head over to Etsy and show her some Etsy love.  I know she'd love sending you one of her beautiful items!! 


N2O4Dolls:  Tell us a bit about yourself.

Jane:  I am originally from the tiny Island of Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, just off the West coast of France. I went to university in England which is where I met my husband Ollie and we moved around quite a bit with work but have finally settled in Devon in the South West of England. We live near the coast and love long walks on the beach with our little dog Molly. I am a medical scientist at my local hospital. In my spare time I love photography, knitting, sewing and Blythe Dolls!

N2O4Dolls:  What kinds of dolls do you love and/or collect?  And, what got you started on doll collecting?

Jane:  My sister introduced me to the world of Blythes early this year and I was instantly addicted to these gorgeous and very photogenic dolls. My sister Zoe bought me my first Blythe doll (Bohemian Peace) and I have added 3 more to my collection (I’m sure there will be more)! I started making things for my own dolls and for my sister's and she suggested I open a Blythe shop with my creations!


N2O4Dolls:  Do you have a special place to keep your dolls? If so, please describe it.

Jane: I moved house last year to a larger house and I was finally able to have my own den (in the small box room). I have bought a tall bookcase specially for my Blythes which has a few spare shelves to allow for a few more to be added the the collection! I have an area for my sewing and knitting and have an extensive collection of wools and fabrics. Although I have concentrated on my knitting I want to do loads more sewing next year. I have so many ideas for things to make.


 


N2O4Dolls:  Which is your favorite doll and why?

Jane:  I can’t choose a favourite from my Blythes. They are all so lovely and so different and all help with the modelling for my creations. Once you start with these dolls it is so easy to get addicted and there are so many more I would like!!

(N2O4Dolls:  I agree!  My Blythe wish list is quite long and I haven't even started yet!) 

N2O4Dolls:  Share a special childhood memory involving dolls.

Jane:  Thinking back to when I was a young girl I loved designing clothes and outfits for dolls even then.  I had tiny Pippa dolls (not sure if you can still get them today). I guess its a bit like I have gone back to my childhood with the Blythe dolls!!

N2O4Dolls:  Obviously your love of dolls has inspired you creatively with your shop. Explain how you got started with your Etsy shop and creating your lovely items for Blythe.

Jane:  I have always loved knitting and sewing and also photography and can combine all these together to make and photograph things for my Blythe shop. I had my first camera when I was 4 years old (my Dad is a photographer) and I probably started knitting a few years after that. 

I love the fact that making dolls clothes involve smallish projects which take a few evenings to complete. My creativity finally has a very satisfying outlet!


N2O4Dolls:  Any other thoughts, words of wisdom, advice for the rest of us doll lovers?

Jane:  If you start collecting these gorgeous dolls, be warned you won’t be able to stop!!

 THANK YOU so much, Jane, for participating in the interview.  I'm so happy to have become acquainted with you and your lovely work.  Best wishes on your Blythe adventures.  I hope to be a customer soon.............


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dolls in Literature: The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright


Another childhood favorite dolly read of mine is this book by Dare Wright.  There are other books in this series.  One thing that was so unique and captivating to a child in the 1970s was that the illustrations are photographs.  That was not very typical in picture books in that era, from what I remember anyway.  Edith, the main character dolly, has some bear friends and engages in various adventures with them throughout the series.  According to Wikipedia, this book was out of print for quite a while before being reissued by Houghton Mifflin in 1998 and by Barnes and Noble for the Nook e-reader in 2012.  I don't actually remember a whole lot about the plot.  I may have to hunt a copy of this down or get it on my Nook.  Did any of you read this when you were little?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dolly Memories: Shirley Temple Doll

Picture  Source

I had this exact Shirley Temple doll when I was a little girl.  It was one of those things where I think my mom had maybe seen some of Shirley Temple's movies when she was little and then they came out with the doll and she bought it for me.  I don't actually remember seeing any Shirley Temple movies.  I do remember that we had a record or something that had Shirley Temple singing some songs that I listened to.  I think my mom tried to help me make a meaningful connection to the doll and the actual person.  Anyway, I can remember that two of my favorite songs were called "On the Good Ship Lollipop" and "Lions and Tigers in my Soup" (or something, that's probably not the right name).  Amazing that I can still recall the exact tune of each of those songs and in my mind's ear (it has an eye, why not an ear?  right?) I can hear the words in her little voice.  The power of memory is uncanny.

It's funny how thinking about these childhood dolls does bring back such a flood of memories.   I honestly haven't thought a whole lot about this doll for decades.  I don't know for sure if we still have her.  She may be in a box in my mom's basement. Even so, I'm able to recall quite a few specific memories about her.  I surprised myself by remembering the songs and the record.  That just popped into my head while I was typing the above paragraph.

I also remember that Shirley's curls must have been treated with MASSIVE amounts of Aqua Net or something.  They were quite rigid.  There was no way you were going to give that girl a different hairstyle without pulling out some power tools.  The good thing about this is that I'm pretty sure if we do find my original doll in Mom's basement someday, her hair will still look pretty good!!  

I also really remember liking her dress a lot.  The red polka dots were velvety and soft and the skirt was very stiff.  I liked her socks and red shoes, but a vivid memory I have is that the socks were pretty hard to get back on the right way if they came off.  I wonder if my Shirley still has her shoes and socks.  I may have to do some digging at Mom's soon.  I will for sure post a photo if I find her.

Did anyone else have this doll?  Or another version of Shirley?  I'd love to hear from you and see photos if you have them.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Doll Blogger Interview: Karen Owen from Karen Mom of Three's Craft Blog


I am so excited to introduce Karen from Karen Mom of Three's Craft Blog.  Karen is from Canada and writes a great blog all about how to make accessories and play items for your 18-inch dolls.  I discovered Karen when doing research for this blog and immediately knew I wanted to feature her and her awesome blog.  I am so amazed at the depth and breadth of her creativity.  After you read Karen's interview, be sure to head directly to her blog and prepare to be inspired to get crafty for and with your dolls.  After looking over Karen's blog and seeing her lovely dolls, I was inspired to add two new dollies to my wish list.  You'll have to head to my wish list page to see which ones I've added.  One more thing...........Karen is also a contributor for another great doll blog, Doll Diaries.  Be sure to check it out too.  I'm hoping to have an interview with Doll Diaries creator, Char, soon!

N2O4Dolls:  Tell us a bit about yourself.  

KMOT: Well, I am a mom of three boys, Aunt of 7 nieces and owner of many 18 inch dolls. I am a daily doll blogger, craft editor and doll clothes maker. I love to bake,watch Nascar and read in my spare time.



N2O4Dolls:  How did you get started doll collecting and what was your inspiration for starting your popular blog, Karen Mom of Three?

KMOT: I got my first American Girl Doll, Chrissa, in 2009. She is my most favorite 18 inch doll. My Mom gave her to me for Christmas, my sister who lives in Montreal drove to Boston to get her for me. My mother died the following September. Chrissa is very important to me. That being said, when I was growing up Cabbage Patch kids were the big thing and I still have my original 4.  (Chrissa is pictured with Karen below and in the first photo.)



N2O4Dolls:  Tell us about your personal doll collection.  What type of dolls do you collect?  Do you have a doll collecting budget?  How do you typically acquire new additions to your collection? 
 
KMOT: Well, to be honest, I have always kept my Cabbage patch dolls. I only started collecting 18 inch dolls by accident. Once I got Chrissa, I seemed to acquire more and more dolls. Currently in my 18 inch doll collection I have 6 American Girl Dolls, 2 Maplelea (Canada's 18 inch doll), 2 Springfield dolls,1 Harmony Club Doll, 2 older style Our Generation dolls, 3 My London Girl Dolls and one Australian Girl doll (she is 22 inches tall). I also now have 5 of the American Girl Historical Mini Dolls.  I now seem to acquire new dolls in a varity of ways. I rescue them from thrift stores, order them on line or when I am really lucky I am sent them to review.

(N2O4Dolls:  If my math is correct, that makes 22 dolls!)

N2O4Dolls:  Perhaps the hardest question……do you have an absolute favorite doll?  One that you would save in a fire if you could only pick one (assuming your spouse, kids, pets, etc. are safe already!)?

KMOT:  Hands down, Chrissa.

N2O4Dolls:  Do you have any favorite childhood memories that include dolls?  This could include dolls you owned, dolls you wanted, dolls in books, favorite gift that was a doll, etc.

KMOT: When I was growing up every year on my birthday my mother would lay out a baby blanket on the middle of the living room floor and place a new doll on it so it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up. I had hoped to pass this on to my own daughter one day but I have been blessed with boys. Perhaps I can do this with my Grandchildren one day.

(N2O4Dolls:  LOVE this idea.)

N2O4Dolls:  Obviously collecting dolls has inspired your creativity.  Have you always been creative and crafty?  How did doll collecting fuel that side of you?

KMOT: Well, I have always been crafty. My mother would find me at age 4 cutting up "J" cloths to make doll clothes with. I have always taken what I could find and make it into something I could use in doll play. It is something I have always enjoyed doing and now I love sharing my ideas with others.

(N2O4Dolls:  We are SO blessed and happy that you have decided to share your great ideas with others.)

N2O4Dolls:  Tell us a bit about your experience in the online doll community.  What have been some of the highlights for you?

KMOT: Well, my experience in the online doll community has been very good. A highlight for me is definitely the fan mail (email) I get, words of encouragement and being recognized for the work I have done on line.

N2O4Dolls:  Anything else you’d like to share with us?

KMOT: I think that it is important to understand that doll play is an important part of life, that you are never to old to love dolls and that how we play with dolls  changes as we age, but the love of dolls can last a lifetime.   Keep Calm and Play with Dolls!

N2O4Dolls:  Well stated, Karen!  I couldn't agree with you more.  Thanks again for your generosity and inspiration.  

Be sure to leave her a comment and tell her how much you enjoyed her interview and thank her for sharing her awesome work with us online!



Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Story of Laura & Blythe: Part 1

Blythe is a big reason that I started this blog, so for sure she deserves at least a post or two so you'll all know the back-story.  So here goes...........

I discovered blogging back in 2008.  At the time, I was reading a few craft blogs and a few Montessori blogs.  At the time, there were not nearly as many blogs as there are now.  I was a Montessori-certified elementary special education teacher who had just gotten a dream job teaching in a private Montessori school in my hometown.  I decided to venture out into the blogosphere and started the blog My Montessori Journey to document my move from public education to a Montessori preschool setting.  I loved doing the blog and posting about my classroom.  I was blessed to develop a pretty huge following of fellow Montessorians from all over the world.  (Don't worry.........I'll get to Blythe.)

After three years of teaching and directing the Montessori preschool, I left it all behind in the fall of 2011 to homeschool my two sons, then beginning fourth and first grade.  Because I loved blogging so much, I started the blog, Walnut Hill Homeschool, to document that new phase of our lives.  I don't post on it very often, but I'm grateful for the record of our early homeschool days.

Around the time I started blogging in 2008, I was a reader of a popular blog out of Australia called Day to Day (AKA "One Crafty Mumma") written by Melissa Goodsell.  I loved reading about her crafty life and her two lovely children.  In fact, I was inspired by Melissa to create a blog about our family life called A Day of Wonders.  (MMJ is my only Typepad blog.  At the time I started it I didn't realize you could blog for free on Google Blogger.  Once I discovered that, I've had fun coming up with a bunch of other blogs, as you can see!)

Although I loved everything that Melissa wrote, I was particularly captivated by her posts about a doll named Blythe.  Prior to reading Melissa's blog, I'd never heard of Blythe before because 1.) She is made in Japan and not available for purchase in the US and 2.) I had two boys and wasn't really buying any dolls at all.  However, I just couldn't get Blythe out of my head.  There's something about her that is so mesmerizing, to me at least.  So..........I researched all about Blythe online.  I looked at all the different types of Blythe dolls on Ebay.  Back in the beginning the doll I was really intrigued by as a possible doll for ME was Casual Affair.  I liked how she somewhat resembled me in appearance (hair color and glasses).  I liked everything about her.  I can't tell you how many times I would look at her longingly online.  BUT........I just couldn't bring myself to purchase her.  First off, Blythes are pretty expensive.  And secondly, it just seemed so frivolous to spend money on a doll for myself since I'm an adult and my boys would not likely be interested in playing with her, dressing her up, or posing her for photos.


Still, I kept coming back to Melissa's blog and reading about how much fun both she and her daughter, Bella, were having with their Blythe dolls.  I loved all the little outfits.  I loved seeing posts about Melissa or Bella making something for Blythe.  It just seemed so much fun!!

Well, the years went by and I'd forget about Blythe for a while.  Then something (probably in a post from Melissa since I have her in Google Reader) would trigger my memory and I'd be off again, fantasizing about owning a Blythe doll myself.

While I'm not yet the owner of a Blythe, I am, for now, embracing the concept that you're "never too old for dolls".  I'm coming to a place where I think I could be okay with buying a doll just for me.  As I indicated on my "Wish List" page, I'm thinking that Nicky Lad will most likely be my first Blythe because she is less expensive.  However, I was looking at all the dolls on that page the other day with my youngest son.  He was telling me all the ones he "hates".  When I got to "Casual Affair" he said, "Hey, that one looks kind of like you."  So........maybe she'll be the first after all.

 100609_NL1_gfp.jpg  Nicky Lad

I can see why Blythe collectors always say you can't stop with just one.  Which Blythe do YOU think should be my first purchase?  I'm hoping to be able to order one before the first of the year.  I've already made two dresses for her and hope to offer some doll clothes in my Etsy shop, Walnut Hill Handmade, beginning in the new year.

So............time to vote.  Should it be Casual Affair or Nicky Lad?  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Doll Artist Interview: Patty LaValley from Patti's Dolls

 

I'm thrilled to have Patti LaValley of Patti's Dolls as my first interview on the blog and my first doll artist interview.  I found Patti when doing a web search for people to invite to the blog.  So glad I stumbled across her!!  Thanks so much, Patti, for doing this interview.  I want to make sure you take some time to check out Patti's various places in cyberspace.  You will truly enjoy her sites.  They are as lovely to look at as her doll creations.  CLICK HERE for Patti's website.  She also has a blog which you can view HERE.  She teaches doll-making classes.  Information about her classes can be found HERE.  And she has a lovely Etsy shop which you can view HERE.

Mermaid Pincushion- Violet 

 

http://www.pattisdolls.com/52008BF3.jpg 

N2O4Dolls: Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Patti LaValley and I live in the country near the tiny picturesque town of Rainier, Oregon. I'm a self-taught cloth doll artist, using my skills in drawing and painting to create my character art pieces. I have been involved in many types of arts and crafts throughout the years.

N2O4Dolls: Obviously creating dolls is your passion and your immense talent is quite evident.  Tell us about how you got started creating dolls, how long you’ve been doing it, and where you find inspiration.

I discovered cloth doll making about 30 years ago after I inherited some vintage patterns from my dear friend Grandma Morgan, a 103 year old doll maker. Grandma Morgan has since passed away but I will be forever grateful for her legacy to me, a collection of old patterns. My passion for dollmaking developed through a love of textures and colors within a piece of fabric. I like the diversity that dollmaking allows, too. To me, the ultimate form of expression is accomplished when all my skills can be incorporated into one art form. I love to make all types of dolls, fantasy, painted folk dolls, lovely ladies, and ethnic dolls. I often rely on nature for found objects to be incorporated into my dolls. Many of my dolls are one-of-a-kind pieces that have been shown in galleries in the Northwest. When I bring a smile to someone's heart and face through my dolls I feel I have accomplished everything!

N2O4Dolls: Do you have a creative space dedicated to your craft?  Do you have any favorite doll artists who have inspired you, or even artists who work with other media?

I love meeting other dollmakers at shows and gatherings, where I have made many new friends. I teach cloth doll workshops for doll clubs and events, and at my home where I have a wonderful studio that overlooks Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier in Washington. (CLICK HERE to see photos of Patti's studio.) Students are welcome to stay at my home for workshops. I also teach online classes and have a line of about 30 patterns. I have had dolls published in several magazines, Doll crafter, The Doll, Dolls United, The Cloth Doll, and Soft Dolls & Animals and Art Doll Quarterly as well as Susana Oroyan’s book, Dolls of The Art Deco Era.

I also love to enter dollmaking challenges, and this year my piece Oceanna won second place in the very competitive Hoffman Challenge. You can see her here.

My work has been inspired by so many, but to mention a few who have inspired me in my journey would be Judi Ward, whose online classes helped me take my skills to the next level. The late Susana Oroyan whose books and friendship have been a source of great inspiration.

N2O4Dolls: Do you collect dolls? If so, what type of dolls do you collect? Tell us about your
collection.


I only collect cloth dolls, and even that is limited as I live in a small house, and in a very rural area with gravel roads. Most of my dolls are draped with plastic, and are kept in my studio. If somebody comes to visit, then the plastic is removed so the dolls can be admired. I often do trades with other cloth doll artists to add to my
collection. Lack of space limits the growth of my collecting.

N2O4Dolls: Please share a few childhood memories that include dolls. This could include dolls you owned, dolls you wanted, dolls in books, favorite gift that was a doll, etc.

My first doll was a cloth doll made for me by my grandmother. She was a rag doll type, with embroidered face. I still have her, although she no longer has her dress. I must make her a new dress, it's on the list!

The next doll I had in memory was a Raggedy Ann. I got her for Christmas when I was 3, and my sister, who was four, received Raggedy Andy. She was quite jealous that she did not receive Ann from Santa, so talked me into cutting her open to get her candy heart out. (Of course, she DID NOT cut open her doll!) I was devastated when I pulled the stuffing from her chest and there was no candy heart! My grandmother lovingly re-stuffed and stitched her back up for me.

N2O4Dolls: How has creating dolls inspired your creativity in other areas?

Cloth dollmaking is such a diversified art form, and it is an art form. I am continually learning new techniques, re-inventing old ones, and creating some of my own. There is always something new to learn, and my journey has taken many paths, which include learning skills with paper mache, polymer clay, leather working,
felting, free-motion embroidery and wood working, just to mention a few.

N2O4Dolls: Anything else you’d like to share with us?

If I could offer one piece of advice to new dollmakers, it would be nurture your muse, and that inner child within, you will eventually create your own point of view in your art. And most of all, don't forget to play!





Monday, October 29, 2012

Sharing the linky love........

Although the blog is still really young, I want to try to link with all the other great blogs and resources online that cater to doll lovers.  I have created a page called "Links and Resources" where I plan to list things like links to doll clothes patterns online, Etsy shops with doll-related items, and blogs and websites about dolls.  Please head over and check out what I've collected so far.  I would really appreciate any feedback and comments.  Please email me or comment if you know of a resource I haven't included.  I'll be happy to add it to the growing list.

Also.......I have interview questions sent out to SEVERAL people.  I'm hoping to be able to do my first interview post VERY SOON! 

And........I've been spending quite a bit of time trolling the web for more people to connect with and have discovered a few doll lines that are new to me that I really like.  So the list of "Laura's Dolly Wishes" continues to grow.  Be sure to check it out.  If you have any suggestions for things I might want to add, let me know! 

I'm looking for a few good people...........actually a lot!!

I really want to grow this website into a place where people can come to reminisce, to learn, to share, and to get to know others who love dolls.  I'm hoping to feature several interviews each week.  ANYONE (and I mean absolutely anyone) is welcome to contact me to be interviewed.  I will certainly seek out certain people in the online community to interview, but I also want to feature "regular" people who are not in the online community but who would love to have their doll stories shared with others.  The only prerequisite is a love of dolls and/or great memories about dolls.  You don't need to be an artist or collector to be featured.  So.........I'm asking for your help.  Please contact me (see link on the sidebar) if you or anyone you know would be interested in participating in an interview.  It's very simple.  I will contact you via email and send a list of question for you to respond to.  I'll ask you to include a photo of yourself and/or some dolls you love. Then, I'll include your answers in a post for everyone to see!  Can't wait to hear from you soon!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dolls in Literature: Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field






This is another book I loved as a child.  It describes the life of a little wooden doll over the course of one hundred years.  The doll changes owners several times and travels the globe.  This is one that I would enjoy reading again as an adult.  Not only is it great to have a doll as the main character, this book contains a lot of historical information that is really interesting.  Definitely a must read for all doll lovers.

I did a bit more online searching and found a site dedicated to Hitty Preble.  The Great Cranberry Island Historical Society in Maine has created a wonderful website with LOTS of information about this book.  CLICK HERE to check it out.  You can even purchase your own flat Hitty doll that has slept overnight in the Preble house.  (The Prebles were the first family Hitty lived with in the story.)  HERE is a link for you to explore.  Good stuff!