Mad In Pursuit Notebook

Zuzu power

Doll Hospital: Good Golly, Miss Tolly (Work In Progress)

4.2.2014. While we were in St. Louis, Molly came by to show me her "heirloom" doll -- a well-worn, stretched out and badly stained yoyo doll, more than two feet long (photo right). Molly said I had given the doll to her when she was a baby (circa 1980). I didn't remember at all, though it does seem like my kind of gift. She said she had spent many a toddler hour fingering the different colors and fabrics of the yoyos. Now it had been in storage for years. First reaction of the visitors in the living room was not "awwww" but "ewwwww."

I volunteered to give her a makeover. How could I not? The doll had probably been my first gift to my mom's first grandchild. She had survived for more than 30 years through lots of turmoil. And here I am bragging about my dollcraft.

We are in "Velveteen Rabbit" territory. Tolly* is hand-made from what looks like scraps of old clothes, curtains, upholstery. I see polished cotton, chiffon, corduroy, double-knits... prints, plaids, stripes -- all very intriguing to little hands and eyes. And so her magic might extend back to a family well before Molly's birth.

My first over-zealous thoughts were about taking her apart completely, getting rid of the stretched out center cord, and replacing all the flattened-down, bunched-up batting inside the yoyos. But wait. Stop! Wouldn't I be destroying her -- her essence, her lively survivor soul, her Molly-love? She deserves to be treated like an heirloom -- preserved and protected. Maybe she would just need a bit of new stuffing, like Scarecrow in "Wizard of Oz."

When we got home, I started Tolly's restoration by giving her a bath in a Rubbermaid tub filled with warm water, detergent and OxiClean. (I wrapped her disintegrating feet in old knee-high stockings to try to hold them together.) Lots of dirt came out. Repeat. Repeat. Rinse. Rinse. Rinse. The photo at the top was the result. Much refreshed already.

After sopping up the water in towels and letting her air-dry for a while I gave her a short tumble in the dryer to see if her batting would pouf out a little. That's when the knee-highs popped off and her poor feet went to hell -- but they were bound for replacement anyway. I preserved the old balls of batting. We'll see what works... Oh, she did get a lot of her old pouf back.

I was most worried about the stain on her face. Photo of original stain below.

The bath seemed to make it worse. Yikes. Unacceptable. Photo below (head still wet):

Molly and I had talked about coloring the face in some way to disguise the stain. Painting it is always a possibility, but I'm trying not to change her character. So after some research, I took her down to our domestic laboratory (aka the kitchen) and applied a facial mask of baking soda and hydogen peroxide. The results are below:

Much better! Once her head is fully dry, I can repair that eye and move on to other work.


*Molly hadn't originally named her, but since all her other dolls had names that rhymed with "Molly," she christened her on 4/1/2014 as "Tolly."