Doll collecting

Favorite Pictures, Part 1

Hello Readers!

A Doll’s Picnic is back! It has been a long time since my last post, I know. Last fall I decided to return to school as an online student in order to finish my undergraduate degree, and I was accepted by Antioch University. I’m happy with my decision and the program so far. It seems to be the perfect way for me to return to school; I love my freedom and I’ve always struggled to accept the restrictions inherent in pursuing a traditional college education. As an online student I can set my own schedule and work at home, while still being able to pursue my skating and other important activities. However, the class load turned out to be much more intense than I expected! The full-time load was so time consuming, in fact (more than 40 hours a week!), that during my second term I had to drop a class and accept that a part-time course load works much more harmoniously with my life. In any case, that’s why my blog has been completely neglected for the last several months. I’m hoping to be a bit more active here now that I’ve become accustomed to the pace of being a part-time online student. This week I’m on break between terms, so we’ll see what I can do.

A few days ago I found myself going through my folders of hundreds of doll pictures here on my computer in order to revisit my favorite photographs. They were so fun to look at that I’ve decided to share my very favorites here. Because I have quite a few favorite pictures of my dolls, I’m going to share them in parts. This first group is composed of single portraits. Next, I hope to share some of the first photos I took of my first dolls (on real film!). Finally, I hope to share some of my favorite photographs of my dolls in groups. Of course, half the fun of having a doll blog in the first place is in sharing photographs of my dolls, and some of my favorites have already been posted here, so I’ll skip those. What follows is just a collage of photographs in no particular order.

I’m not sharing these because these are fabulous photos–I’m by no means an experienced photographer. These are just pictures that I simply love and make me happy. Sometimes I remember a photo because I captured something quintessential about how I felt about a particular doll; sometimes the picture really captured something of the individuality of the doll; sometimes I like the composition or the lighting; and sometimes they just make me happy without me knowing why. I hope they bring you joy as well–and most of all, I hope my pictures encourage you to go out and take pictures of your own dolls! What’s the point of having dolls if we don’t play with them? Taking pictures is one of the primary ways adult collectors play. 🙂

In the ten years that I have been collecting dolls, many dolls have passed through my home. Most of them have stayed with me for a while, been loved and enjoyed, and then have gone on to find homes with family members, charity recipients, or other collectors. For whatever reason, I don’t tend to hold onto most of my dolls for more than a few years, so many of the dolls in these pictures are now just loving memories. That’s part of the joy of revisiting these old pictures. They are reminders of special friends I spent time with, and I think I love them all the more for being so willing and able to let them go.

Pepper Robert, aka Maggie Amanda, aka Emma Jo

Emma Jo… aka Maggie Amanda… aka Pepper Roberta, aka “Kit.”

This is Emma Jo with Muir the Bear (I love dolls with bears!). Emma has had several name changes in the years she’s been in my/our collection. She was purchased in 2009 as an  anniversary gift, and I gave her the name Pepper Roberta. After hanging out in my collection for a couple of years she joined my husband’s collection where she was christened Maggie Amanda. Now she has once again joined my collection and I felt it was time for a new name in honor of discovering her all over again. This time I’m christening her Emma Josephine, or Emma Jo for short. Emma has always been a wonderful doll to photograph, and this is one of those very favorite pictures that just makes me happy.

Addy Walker times two. Left: Elinor, right, Abby.

Addy Walker, times two! Left: Elinor, right, Abby.

This picture is special to me for a couple of reasons. First, I think it is a wonderful portrait of two different Addy dolls whom I have loved. Second, it shows how different two individuals of the same type of doll can be. On the right is Abby, my first Addy doll. Abby was just my second American Girl doll as a collector! She joined my collection in 2006 and was originally named  Violet until she joined my sister’s collection later on. Abby was what I would call a mid-Mattel-era Addy doll. Compare her face to Elinor, on the left, and you will see how much the face mold evolved in just a few short years. Elinor was purchased in 2010, when I began missing Abby/Violet. She had a whole different look and expression. The dolls were also different heights, and even had slightly different skin tones. I find these differences fascinating!

Surf's up, Paulina and Kamea!

Surf’s up, Paulina and Kamea!

This picture just makes me giggle! We were hosting a tropical-themed party to welcome Kamea (American Girl of the Year 2011 Kanani). Paulina couldn’t help hamming it up! Though Kamea spent only a couple of years with us before continuing her dolly adventures elsewhere, Paulina is the doll who started my adult collecting. She’s actually my husband’s doll now, and she’s a permanent fixture in our household!

Marjorie Mae

Marjorie Mae

I’ve had several Molly dolls over the years, including this little Mattel sweetie. I just love the lighting in this picture, as well as Marjorie’s outfit and the way I did her hair.

Doll hugs.

Darling Melanie… and doll hugs.

This is a doll I’ve been missing lately: Melanie Roxanne, Just Like You/My American Girl #26. Melanie gave fabulous hugs. I loved her amber eyes and sweet expression, but I found her curls a little off-putting because they made me nervous (I was so afraid to mess them up). What a beautiful doll, though.

Umeko Patience and a daffodill.

Umeko Patience and daffodil.

Every now and then, a doll has come along who was just exactly what I needed at a certain time. I found Patience on eBay, after being inspired by the fabulous blog Lissie and Lilly to find a Just Like You #4 doll. I couldn’t really tell from the pictures what condition the doll was in, but when Patience arrived, it was clear that I had a fixer-upper project on my hands. This project gave me something to do during a very tough time. Patience’s sweetness, sympathy, and cheerfulness helped me through, and she and I are now best friends. By the way, her favorite color is yellow. 🙂

Harriet Eloise!

Harriet Eloise!

This is Harriet, another extra special doll. Harriet (American Girl of the Year 2008 Mia) came into my life just after I learned how to skate as an adult, and even traveled with me to my first competition where we performed together! Although she eventually continued on her way into the world, I have many fond memories of Harriet. This picture just makes me happy.

American Girl Kaya and Julie dolls by the lake

Ursie and Joannie at Lake Siskiyou

I don’t often take dolls with me to the lake as I’m afraid to leave them on the shore while I swim, but I guess on this particular day I was feeling just a bit bolder than usual.

Katrin in the snow

Katrin in the snow

Here, lovely Katrin was exploring one of our rare snowfalls. I just love the sunlight and her warm winter sweater!

Harriet and Hobbes

Harriet and Hobbes

Dolls like cats. Cats like dolls. 🙂

Amy Gratitude Octavine Taylor

Amy Gratitude Octavine Taylor

This is one of my very favorite doll portraits. Amy was so beautiful and confident and strong. She was a retired, MCM sale Just Like You #1 doll I found on eBay in new condition one Thanksgiving Day. She’s no longer in my collection, but this picture gives me fond recollections.

Guess where Melita is standing???

Guess where Melita is standing???

Right outside of American Girl San Francisco, that’s where! Melita (My American Girl #55) traveled down with me for the Beforever debut weekend; here she’s modeling Rebecca’s Beforever Meet outfit.

Taking outdoor pictures with dolls is so much fun!

Taking outdoor pictures with dolls is so much fun!

I loved walking with Melita (and my sister and her Kaya doll!) through the outdoor mall where the American Girl San Francisco store is situated. No one there seems too startled at seeing a grown-up lady with a doll under her arm, because everybody knows the AG store is right around the corner. They have such beautiful summer flowers in Palo Alto.

Melita loved flowers

Melita loved flowers

One last picture of Melita. Melita is an example of a doll that I ended up selling and then missing so much that I recently replaced her! That happens sometimes. 🙂

Melanie and Pooh Bear

Melanie and Pooh Bear

Okay, here is one of my more artsy shots. I just love this picture… and I do miss this doll!

Jane goes raspberry picking

Jane goes raspberry picking

Jane (My American Girl #53) was such a lovely and sweet doll. I didn’t end up keeping her for very long, but I sure had fun taking pictures of her sweet self. This picture makes me want her back again!

Emmie in the window

Emmie in the window

This doll was such a fun eBay find: a truly excellent condition Just Like You #2 doll. She didn’t end up fitting my collection, but she had such a perfect, mid-Mattel-era classic face. She always seemed so up for anything.

Grania--looking gorgeous

Grania: looking gorgeous

This is Rebecca Grania, a fabulously gorgeous doll I don’t think American Girl should have retired: My American Girl #45. I just loved everything about this beauty’s looks.

Patience and more daffodils

Patience and more daffodils

Patience loves the spring, and adventures, and traveling! Here she accompanied me to nearby Ashland, Oregon, to look for all the spring flowers. She looks awesome in Grace’s coat, too!

Ashleigh Carolina

Ashleigh Carolina

This is another doll I missed so much that I had to replace: Ashleigh, aka American Girl of the Year 2014 Isabelle. Everything about the Isabelle doll just looks so classic to me. Ashleigh was a very modern, artsy sort of person, and looked like a model.

Melanie in the morning

Melanie in the morning

One last picture of Melanie looking adorable in the morning light. Man, I miss this doll. Okay, eBay, here I come!

Melita Danielle... and Arthur bunny

Melita Danielle… and Arthur Bunny

And one last picture of lovely Melita with Arthur the Bunny! My American Girl/ Truly Me #55 is such a lovely and unique doll. If you’re on the fence about her… get her!

Katrin and the violets

Katrin and the violets

Katrin and her spaniel are keeping guard over the spring violets. Let’s hope her puppy chases away the deer!

Sylvie-Anne enjoying the fresh powder

Sylvie-Anne enjoying the fresh powder

Sylvie-Anne (American Girl of the Year 2015 Grace) was as excited as I was when we received an inch or two of fresh powder last December! (Clear elastics helped her hold the snowball for the picture).

Pleasant Company dolls are special

Melinda: Pleasant Company dolls are special

Melinda was a Pleasant Company Felicity doll who spent a while in our home. Melinda worked as a model for a doll-clothes store for the first twenty years of her life. I carefully restored her, enjoyed her for a while, and then sent her on her way. She had the loveliest, rosiest complexion I’ve ever seen on a doll, and the quintessential, sweet, old Pleasant Company face.

Dolls and roses go together

Dolls and roses go together

I didn’t keep this My American Girl #27 doll long, but I sure enjoyed taking pictures of her! She was just lovely, and was delighted by my modest little garden.

So photogenic!

So photogenic!

She wanted to look at every flower.

Especially the asters

Especially the asters

She seemed especially bewitched by the purple asters.

Dolls and bugs

Dolls and bugs

Okay, this is going to seem a bit random, but I just love this picture! Harriet skated with me at my first (and so far, my only) competition. We were taking a break outside the rink in the sunshine and we found this cool beetle on her tights. It’s kind of a ladybug, but not.

Beverly and the queen anne's lace

Beverly and the queen anne’s lace

I love this portrait… I have this thing about American Girl Gwen dolls. They are just so sweet and lovely, and I love the swoopy hair.

Molly modeling

Molly modeling

This lovely Molly doll was modeling a dress by The Dollies’ Dressmaker for a blog post last spring. I just love this shot from above.

Lydia--what a beauty

Lydia: what a beauty

All Josefina face mold dolls are gorgeous, and Lydia (American Girl Felicity’s best friend Elizabeth) was no exception. She just came alive out of doors among the spring bulbs.

Regency regal

Regency regal

She also looked fabulous modeling this Etsy Regency ensemble. I don’t tend to bond well with blue-eyed blondes, so Lydia continued on her way, but she was a gorgeous doll and very fun to photograph.

Marie Faith... a quiet beauty

Marie Faith… a quiet beauty

Sometimes I sell a doll and later I think: why did I do that? That’s part of the adventure of collecting, I guess. Marie, My American Girl #34, is one of those dolls. This is a fairly rare doll, as she was only around a few years, and she had a unique color of dark auburn hair. I miss her.

Elinor

Elinor

But then, in a way, I miss all the dolls I’ve had, including lovely Addy (in this case, Elinor).

Sophie--a rare sweetie!

Sophie: a rare sweetie!

Here’s a truly rare sweetie-pie I was delighted to find on eBay: Girl of Today #6. She is one of the original 20 Girls of Today, and was only available for a couple of years before she was replaced by the blonde haired-green eyed girl. Sophie didn’t end up fitting my collection, but I had fun restoring and photographing her.

Beverly in the garden

Beverly in the garden

One last picture of lovely Beverly in the garden. I hope to share more favorite doll photos soon. Until then, enjoy your dolls, play, take pictures, be yourself, and enjoy March!

Much love,

from your friends at A Doll’s Picnic.

Zelfie Thoughts: Summer’s Ending… Let’s Go Outside!

Luna Zelfie says take in a view!

Luna Zelfie says: make a discovery–take in a view!

Don’t you love the word September ? I do… and the month that bears the name, too. September has so many poetic associations: cooler nights, chilly school mornings, the end of summer, new beginnings, new adventures, the first turning leaves, the first rains of autumn, the first powder-sugar snows on the mountain peaks. The sunshine is still warm and strong, but the angle of the sun is rapidly changing now, and the days are suddenly growing shorter.

You may have noticed that A Doll’s Picnic took a bit of a sabbatical this summer. A summer full of change has given me an opportunity to rethink my collecting, among other things. It’s always been important to me to love each doll in my collection equally; I can’t bear to just have them sitting on my shelves gathering dust when they’re meant to be played with and loved. From the very beginning of my enthusiasm for dolls I’ve released those I don’t feel as excited about or bonded with–originally giving them away to family members, and more recently, selling them on eBay. These last few months I’ve reduced my collection quite a bit. I’ve been collecting, too, however… I just can’t help it! I’ve been moving back toward my first love, American Girl dolls, just in time for Maryellen’s debut. I’m bonding more with the dolls in my collection more than I have in several years, and I look forward to sharing them here as I have always planned to do–through reviews, doll brand comparisons, and photo stories. So please be patient with me and stay tuned! More doll magic is on the way!

More than anything else, though, the end of summer is a reminder to me to appreciate the place we live, droughty though it is at present. The clean, pure air (once again free from wildfire smoke!), our quiet, peaceful neighborhood, the change of seasons… these are all things to be deeply grateful for. Somehow it is too easy to get caught up in the obligations of daily life and forget that we have so many natural wonders at our fingertips, so to speak. This Labor Day weekend is a refreshing opportunity to get back outside and reacquaint ourselves with our first love, nature.

Flitter Zelfie counsels: find some waterfall spray and some soft moss and let your imagination take flight!

Flitter Zelfie counsels: find some waterfall spray and soft moss and let your imagination take flight!

Three of my favorite Zelfies accompanied us on a short trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park in August for the annual Dark Sky Festival. Lassen Park is one of the secrets of Northern California, and one of my favorite places on earth. We camped; we hiked; we gazed at waterfalls; we built campfires; we looked at the fabulously dark sky.

Elfa Zelfie advises: find yourself a clear stream rambling through a meadow and

Elfa Zelfie advises: find yourself a clear stream rambling through a meadow and take off your shoes and socks!

Thank you, Never Grow Up, for introducing me to the Zelfs! I love these bright, quirky, whimsical little friends. They remind me of childhood, My Little Ponies, colorful pens and pencils, and the realm of the imagination. They are also the perfect size to slip into a purse or bag, and are refreshingly inexpensive to collect! Best of all, they love to pose for photos!

Elfa Zelfie teases: go climb a tree--get a new perspective!

Elfa Zelfie teases: go climb a tree–get a new perspective!

Wishing you fresh air, pure skies, pine-tree-hugs, Zelfie grins, and campfire dreams. Happy beginning-of-September from A Doll’s Picnic!

A Sister for Gaby

These last few months my doll collection has gone through quite an overhaul, as I’ve let go of quite a few dolls I haven’t bonded with and found new girls to take their places. As a matter of fact, as those who know me will tell you, my collection is always a dynamic one, constantly changing with my latest interests. It’s been this way pretty much since the very beginning of my collecting, and I’m learning not to fight it. I often use the sale of dolls I’m no longer interested in as a means by which to purchase those I am. However, my goal is always the same: to have a group of dolls that is diverse enough to satisfy the collector in me, but personal enough to inspire my imagination. In short, I can’t help loving many different dolls, but I truly want to have only those dolls that not only make me admire them, but inspire me to play. I feel like this new year is off to a good start! I’m looking forward to sharing my latest doll-loves with you in the weeks ahead.

The first new member of our dolly-household that I’d like to introduce to you came kind of on impulse, when I found out that she, along with her two sisters, was being discontinued by the company. The jointed, 17-inch Schildkroet dolls have only been around since 2013, which means they’ve only just made their debut. Sadly, they are being dropped from the Schildkroet line (so if you want one, now is the time to nab her before they disappear!). I purchased my first Schildkroet doll, the perky red-head who I’ve named Gaby, from the wonderful UK doll shop My Doll Best Friend last spring; you can read the review I wrote about her here. I usually don’t respond to blond/blue-eyed dolls… but of her two sisters, it was the precious blond and not the lively brunette that called to me from across the seas. My Doll Best Friend was having an awesome deal where if you buy a Schildkroet doll with an outfit you receive a second outfit free, so… you know what happened, right? Gaby and I waited on pins and needles for her little sister to arrive. And one evening, when I got home from the rink, a box wrapped in pink was waiting for me! Joy! (Forgive us for the funky lighting in the pictures–it was after dark when we opened her, because we simply couldn’t wait ’till morning!). Without further ado, Gaby would like to share with you the excitement of greeting her new sister!

A box! And we recognize the pink wrapping, don’t we, Gaby?

What could possibly be in there, Gaby?

What could possibly be in there, Gaby?

Better read the label though, to be sure…

From London? Are you sure?

From London? Are you sure?

What’s that you say? Your sister? She’s here?!

Schildkroet doll with box

Hurry, get the knife! Let’s open her up!

Inside, we found the wonderful sturdy cardboard Schildkroet box with the little blue turtle logo design. (I always feel like a doll’s box does a lot to enhance the doll, and I just love these simple boxes! They seem to promise a sturdy, old-fashioned, heirloom treasure just waiting to be revealed!).

It looks just like my box did!

It looks just like my box did!

Open it, Gaby!

Schildkroet doll with box

We’re holding our breath…

(Maxine at My Doll Best Friend always does such a nice packing job. The outfits were carefully wrapped and everything was snuggly packed as efficiently as possible for overseas shipping).

Blond hair??? Really?

Blond hair??? Really?

We lifted off the tissue paper…

Schildkroet doll with box

And there she was!

Et voila!

Et voila!

Gaby was so excited!

I have a sister!!!

I have a sister!!!

She appeared to be sweetly sleeping, which is the best way to travel in a box overseas…

Dreaming...

Dreaming…

At first Gaby seemed reluctant to wake her up…

Wake her up, Gaby!

Wake her up, Gaby!

But finally we could wait any longer! It was a little awkward just at first, as Violette seemed a bit shy…

Schildkroet doll meets sister

It’s probably just the long journey, Gaby.

Gaby admired Violette’s puppy-dog toy.

That's a nice puppy, Violette.

That’s a nice puppy, Violette.

This helped thaw the momentary ice…

Look at those faces!

Well, hello there Violette! Welcome to A Doll’s Picnic!

She asked to hold the puppy…

He's so cute! May I hold him?

He’s so cute! May I hold him?

And so we soon found that Violette is very good at sharing!

Why, of course!

Why, of course!

Mutual interests secure affection…

Schildkroet doll meets sister

He’s so sweet!

And before we knew it, they were friends!

Friends already!

Friends already!

Now that Violette was feeling less shy and more at home, I could take a good look at her.

I must say, there is a strong family resemblance.

I must say, there is a strong family resemblance.

The result of my reverie? Need I say?

We're in love!

We’re in love!

These dolls are the dearest, sweetest, cutest, most adorable, most charming slim-bodied dolls ever. Period. Can’t you tell???

It's so good to meet you at last!

It’s so good to meet you at last!

Now I want all three.

Welcome home, sis!

Welcome home, sis!

I mean, if twins are this adorable, what would it be like with triplets?

Tell me all about yourself...

Tell me all about yourself…

Happy Spring, from A Doll’s Picnic!

Friends forever!

Friends forever!

 

Brown is Beautiful: The Wonderful Faces of Addy

American Girl dolls with Addy face mold

One of my favorite American Girl face sculpts of all time.

Happy 2015! It’s a new season, a new month, and a new year. Weeks have passed since my last post, bringing the solstice, the lovely simplicity of winter and the fleeting sparkle of the holidays. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, since a new year begins every moment (it’s now been a year since this moment last year, right?), but I do love the idea of starting fresh, and I do set goals for myself as a way to organize and channel the creative process. One of my goals is to post here on A Doll’s Picnic much more frequently. I have lots of dolls to share with you via overdue reviews, and the dolls themselves are clamoring for me to step out of the way and let them tell their own stories sometimes. I’ll do my best to let 2015 be a year of writing, sharing, and creativity–and dolls of course (but that goes without saying)!

To start things off, welcome to a new feature called Brown is Beautiful. In this series of posts I plan to showcase and celebrate the lovely dolls of color in my collection–as well as the occasional Caucasian doll with brown eyes. The point? To help spread the word that dolls with brown eyes, brown (or black) hair, and/or brown skin are just as desirable, just as lovable, and just as interesting as their lighter counterparts. American Girl dolls are my first love, after all, and the need for diversity and representation in the American Girl line of products is well established. The debut of the fourth Caucasian girl (with light eyes!) in a row in the American Girl of the Year line has brought the simmering discontent among many fans to a boiling point and sparked a new social media campaign. You can read about the motivation and manifesto of the #AGDoCGoTY social media protest movement at Nethilia’s blog, American Girl Outsider, here. While I don’t use social media (encroaches too much on my creative time), I’d like to support the cause by doing a better job here at A Doll’s Picnic in a couple of ways: 1) make sure my own collection is diverse, and 2) make sure I share dolls of color at least as often as I do Caucasian dolls.

A little background about myself and my collection is called for here: My impetuous and changeable method of collecting–varying with my latest interest or whim–means my doll collection is always evolving. From the very beginning of my collecting I’ve only been interested in actually keeping girls (as I call them) in my collection with whom I feel a strong bond, because I love simplicity and can’t bear to have dolls sitting around neglected when they ought to be getting love. Thus it is that many dolls, including most of the named American Girl character dolls, have passed through my collection, been appreciated and enjoyed for a time, and then passed on to new homes (including charitable causes, homes with family members, and more recently eBay). These have included several dolls of color like Addy–whom I’ve actually had in my collection 3 times–Cecile, Josefina–owned her twice–Kaya, Sonali, Kanani, #26, #28, #4 and #30, a Jess look-a-like. I mention this because looking at my doll bios a casual observer might not realize what a big fan I am of the dolls of non-Caucasion backgrounds that AG has offered. Josefina and Addy were my first two 18 inch dolls as an adult because I remembered how much I had admired them when they debuted in the original Pleasant Company catalogs. Since I change the names and stories of all my dolls when I get them, the question of permanently bonding with a doll or not has little to do with that doll’s ethnicity, but much more with how my imagination interprets her character. My doll collecting seems to be a process of getting closer and closer to who I really am and what I really like, which of course is always changing. I am glad to be able to say that some of my current favorite dolls–including #1, #45, #2, and Marisol–are dolls of color, and that my collection now includes a much larger percentage of dolls of color than it did at this time last year. (I also have several dolls of color on my wishlist, including #15 and #58). I can’t wait to share these beautiful girls with you!

And now, for our first Brown is Beautiful focus: the wonderful, adorable, and unique Addy face sculpt!

American Girl Addy doll portrait 1

Glorious Addy.

Addy Walker was introduced by Pleasant Company in 1993, and featured the first–and for 15 years the only–African American face sculpt in the American Girl line of dolls. She was the fifth historical character in the American Girl line. I would have loved having this doll as a child. I remember how excited I was when she came out: pouring over the catalog pictures with my sister, minutely admiring all her tiny perfect accessories and gorgeous outfits, and rendered practically speechless by her luxuriously long hair. At that time, hair was the most important feature for me in a doll, and I remember being awestruck by the catalog pictures which showed Addy’s tresses reaching past her knees (very realistic for her time period).

Addy was my second 18 inch doll as an adult, and I just adored her soft, round face and poofy hair. I always found her hair incredibly forgiving and easy to style–often needing nothing more than finger-combing to keep it looking its best. My first Addy had a penchant for dressing up in Victorian-esque fashions pinched from Samantha’s collection, and I loved how I could make her hair up into lady-like buns and up-dos. Although I gave my first Addy away to a sister when I felt she was falling behind a bit in my collection, I kept my interest in her, and after a few years I missed her enough to purchase Addy a second time. This second girl enjoyed staying in mid-1800’s fashions. After about a year my second Addy found a home with my other sister. She was followed by Melanie, a #26 doll. I loved Melanie’s medium-toned skin and gorgeous light-brown eyes, which reflected so much light that they almost looked real. And though Melanie eventually found a new home via eBay (I wasn’t crazy about her hair), I still kept my affection for the Addy face sculpt. Last fall I found my third Addy doll on eBay. She’s a 1997 Pleasant Company Addy, and very sweet. I’ve restrung her, but haven’t yet had the nerve to take her hair out of its original braid.

On Thanksgiving evening 2013, zooting around on eBay while hubby was preparing our vegan feast, I found a #1 doll in new condition being sold for an outrageously reasonable price. It took me about two minutes to look her up on AGPlaythings, find out she was retired (why, oh why?), fall in love, and buy her. Introducing Amy Gratitude Octavine Taylor, named after Thanksgiving and one of my great-grandmothers, with initials that spell out AGOT (or American Girl of Today, my favorite AG line):

American Girl of Today just like you #1

I love this doll. Oh, how I love this doll.

Amy is very much a modern Addy–in fact, she loves to say of herself that she’s what Addy Walker would be if Addy were transported into the 21st century.

American Girl Addy Walker just like you #1 doll

Addy meets herself 150 years in the future.

Her hair is identical in color and texture to Addy’s, and the style only differs in the following points: 1) Amy has no part, while Addy has a center part, and 2) Amy’s hair has a unique wig with two sections of hair at slightly different lengths. These sections are the front or top area and the back area. This wig style has received complaints from some collectors, but I think it is awesome! I love how easy it is to gather her hair into a half-pony or half-pony-braid. I love how poofy it is on top. In fact, I think Amy is wonderful in every single way and I wouldn’t change her one bit. The only thing ornery about my Amy is that she will not under any circumstances be historical. I once dressed her in Cecile’s adorable yellow summer dress outfit (one of my favorite historical ensembles). Amy looked perfect, but she gazed at me with a frozen smile that clearly said: If you do not remove this ridiculous outfit this instant I will happily kill you. I took it off. Amy is a modern girl, won’t be anything but. After all, her initials, as I’m happy to remind you, do spell out A…G…O….T. Let that be understood.

My Amy and Addy dolls have different skin tones, which I’d like to share with you here. Variations in lighting and my camera’s limits make it hard to see in pictures, but I’ll do my best:

American Girl Addy Walker Just like you #1 doll

My Addy has a lovely, rosy deep-brown skin tone, while Amy’s is a little yellower and perhaps not quite as dark. Some people might say Amy’s tone is a little grayer.

American Girl Addy Walker Just like you #1 doll

My Amy is a wonderful person: funny, strong, thoughtful, sensitive, bold, courageous, independent, authentic. She hates wearing anything too trendy; in fact, she simply won’t wear anything that doesn’t express her care-free, independent attitude. She is a civil-and-women’s-rights activist. She is a writer. And she’s not afraid to speak her mind, while still being very tolerant and open towards everyone, provided they don’t oppress her or anyone else. (By the way, she’s best friends with my Isabelle doll, Ashleigh–their choice, not mine. Amy’s the writer and Ashleigh’s the artist, and although they’re totally different they just seem to get along great!).

Last fall I found my third Addy face-sculpt dearie (well, fourth really, counting Melanie), also on eBay. Introducing the incredible, gorgeous Rebecca Grania:

American Girl just like you #45 doll

Oh. My. Goodness. Best. Doll. Ever.

Grania is one of those extra-special dolls I was always meant to have. I could tell this the moment Amy and I opened her box.

American Girl just like you #45 doll #1

Hiya, sis! It’s love!

She is Just Like You/My American Girl #45. She was apparently only available for two brief years between 2009 and 2011 before she was retired. I was so disappointed when I discovered she had been retired (serves me right for not buying her when I could), and so thrilled when I found her new on eBay. I. Adore. This. Doll. Why? Because she’s perfect, period. Seriously, I love everything about #45. I adore her hair. It is lighter brown than both Addy’s and Amy’s, but still a rich, dark brown. It has a straightened-but-still-textured feeling, which I love. It just feels great to my fingers. It is shiny and glossy. It is thick. It has short hairs generously planted over the wig cap. It is layered. It looks great in every single style. And it has a fringe! Look at all that beautiful BROWN!

Loose and easy-breezy.

Loose and easy-breezy.

Ballet-style bun (thanks to Isabelle's hairstyling accessories).

Ballet-style bun (thanks to Isabelle’s hairstyling accessories).

Twin french braids.

Twin french braids. Her hair isn’t really this dark–this picture was taken in the shade.

Grania is much more girly than independent Amy. She loves artsy, feminine outfits, and unlike Amy, Grania is happy to dress in historical outfits, looking wonderful in practically everything I’ve put on her (including Rebecca’s BeForever Meet outfit, Samantha’s Play Dress, and an Anne of Green Gables outfit I bought on Etsy). She promptly clued me in to the fact that she–not Isabelle–is the dancer.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

I think she looks amazing in Isabelle’s mix-and-match ensembles.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

The bright colors just pop against her rich brown skin.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

So much so that she easily convinced me that this is the Isabelle doll AG should have produced, but didn’t.

American Girl just like you #45 doll

Oh man, I love that hair.

Here’s Grania with her sisters Addy and Amy:

American Girl Addy just like you #45 #1 doll

A beautiful bouquet of brown.

Besides the difference in their wigs, Grania’s skin tone is also a bit different. She is a touch lighter than both Addy and Amy and has a beautiful golden glow. Her lips and cheeks are also just a bit rosier. As far as eye color goes, I think they’re all the same, but sometimes it seems to me that Amy’s eyes are darker. It’s difficult for me to visually isolate the exact color of the brown eyes from the overall complexion, so set me right about this if I’m wrong.

Amy and Grania.

Amy’s eyes appear darker.

American Girl Addy just like you #45 doll

Here Addy’s eyes look darker. Maybe Addy’s and Amy’s are the same and Grania’s are lighter?

And finally the last member of my Addy face-sculpt quartet: Elodie Rain!

American Girl just like you #11 doll

Rain is a Just Like You #11 doll. Like #45 and #1, she is now retired from American Girl’s modern line, and like them this is a terrible shame. It is particularly unfortunate in the case of #11 as she is arguably one of the most ethnically diverse and interesting dolls AG has ever created. With her medium brown skin tone, dark brown eyes and truly black (not black-brown, but really black) hair, Rain can represent a wide variety of ethnicities, including but not limited to: Native American, Native American/black mixed-ancestry, Native Canadian or Alaskan, Native Australian, Filipino, and South Sea Islander. My interest in #11 came about through my sister, who always thought of her as Maori (Native New Zealander). Like her sisters Amy and Grania, I found Rain new on eBay. I haven’t yet developed a strong sense of her character, but she seems quieter and calmer than her Addy face-sculpt sisters. I also like to think she’s a rain charm, because immediately after she arrived it rained in Northern California for the first time in months (and yes, I had already named her Rain).

Elodie Rain

Elodie Rain

Rain is the second of my Addy face-sculpt dolls (after Melanie, the #26 I didn’t keep) to have medium-brown skin instead of dark-brown skin. My favorite feature is her jet black, super-glossy hair. From what I can tell, she has the same exact wig as #4, which was really exciting to me, as these two dolls are the only ones I know of in the whole of American Girl’s history to have truly black hair–that is, hair that doesn’t have any brown highlights in full sun. It has almost a blue cast to it in direct light. It is a very thick wig, but has been criticized by collectors because it lacks the short hairs to cover the wig cap when her hair is parted into pig tails or twin braids. It isn’t a perfect wig, but the color and ultra-sleek texture as well as the flip at the ends make up for this shortcoming as far as I’m concerned. Here you can see the variations in color and texture between the wigs of my four Addy face-sculpt dolls:

Addy face sculpt mold doll wigs

Top: Rain, #11. Bottom: Grania, #45. Left: Amy, #1. Right: Addy.

And again, here:

American Girl just like you #11 #1 #45 Addy doll

Top left, Addy, top right, #45. Bottom left, #1, bottom right #11.

 

Conclusion? The Addy face-sculpt is one of my very very favorite American Girl faces ever. I believe it has been used a total of nine times–once in the historical line for Addy herself, and eight times in the Girl of Today/Just Like You/My American Girl line–exclusively for dolls of color. It is cheery, intelligent, sweet, round and loveable. And it is very VERY much needed in the American Girl of the Year line. With such wonderful possibilities, how can American Girl resist?

American Girl just like you #45 #11 doll

American Girl just like you #1 #45 doll

Here’s to a year of doll of color love! Until next time, celebrate the beauty of brown!

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!

Here at A Doll’s Picnic, the girls gave thanks for having a warm home full of sisters and changes of outfits, and for having doll-crazy human friends who love to have picnics and play!

I managed to capture a rare shot of all my girls together in one place:

My current doll collection.

Here we are: the girls of A Doll’s Picnic!

And here are all the dolls currently on our shelves, including my husband’s collection of seven in front:

All the dolls at A Doll's Picnic

That’s a total of 39 dolls (gulp)! Little did I imagine when I started collecting back in 2006 that it would get to this point!

The story of my husband’s collection is simple: six of his seven dolls were once mine. When I no longer wanted these girls in my collection, he liked them too well to allow me to either give them away or sell them. His collection began pretty early on when I decided not to keep Paulina Clementina (front center), the Josefina doll that began my doll collecting, and has gradually expanded from there over the years. The only exception is Catherine (in the blue dress, third from left), who was purchased for him as an anniversary present at the American Girl Store in Seattle this summer.

Our dolls had a special treat last week when both my sisters and my two nieces came to visit, bringing with them all of their doll friends! That made a total of 50 dolls in our house for three days! Here’s a picture of our joint collection, including all my own girls, my husband’s collection, and my sisters’ and neices’ dolls!

My family's doll collection

My nieces’ dolls are seated in the front row. From left to right, that’s Ella (My Twinn), Butterfly, Karis (My Twinn), Polly, and Emma (Our Generation). My sisters’ dolls are standing in the row behind them. Aren’t they beautiful? (Averill has the light full in her face, poor dear). My girls were so excited to have all their cousins over to visit and play!

Happy Thanksgiving from A Doll’s Picnic!

A Halloween Story, Part 2: The Costume Party

The girls at A Doll’s Picnic have worked very hard on their costumes this week! It’s quite a project to find enough costumes to cover 20+ dolls, but they got creative and did their best. They’d like me to show them off to you, so here you go:

Category #1: Global Girls

Dolls dress up

From left to right, Augustine is dressed as a southern belle; Idina is dressed as a Chinese maiden; Rain is dressed as a Poynesian princess; and Jade and Tabitha are dressed as Scottish school girls.

Category #2: Storybook Characters

American Girl dolls dress up

Left to right, Fanny and Maribel are dressed up as Anne of Green Gables and her bosom friend Diana Barry; Melita is dressed as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm; Megan is dressed as Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden; and Marie is dressed as Laura Ingalls from The Little House in the Big Woods.

Category #3: Vocations

American Girl dolls dress up 2

Left to right, Amy is dressed as an artist; Jane is dressed as Ginger Rogers, the professional dancer/singer in Follow the Fleet; Grania is dressed as a ballerina; and Bethy is dressed as a hobo.

Category #4: Fairytale and Fantasy

Dolls in costumes

Left to right, Amanda is dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood; Muirrean is dressed as a fairy; Sharon is dressed as a pirate; Matilda is dressed as a lady at a masquerade ball; and Phyllis is dressed as Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice.

Category #5: Miscellaneous

Dolls dress up 2

Left to right, Alejandra is showing off her pretty party dress; Natalie is sporting the American Girl “Spooky Fun” outfit with a homemade mask; Caoimhe says she is an acrobat with her performing kitty; and Tasha doesn’t have a costume but gets the prize for cutest pajamas. 🙂

And last, but not least, Category #6: Scary!

Schildkroet doll mummy costume 1

Gaby is a mummy! We’ve never seen one quite so cute…

Schildkroet doll mummy costume 2

…Or with such a lot of red hair!

As for the costume party, it was a success. After all their hard work, the girls were happy to relax and hang out together. Gaby went straight for the goodies. I guess it’s pretty demanding being a mummy.

Schildkroet doll with treats 1

Natalie went over to make sure Gaby didn’t take all the brownies. That’s Melita being gorgeous in the background, by the way.

Schildkroet doll Via E Alexis doll treats 2

Grania spotted the parrot.

My American Girl doll #45 parrot

She tried to get him to talk to her, but he was ignoring her.

A Girl For All Time Matilda ball gown 1

“Come on, Grania,” said Matilda. “Let’s go get some punch before it’s all gone.”

My American Girl doll #45 A Girl For All Time Matilda

Fanny, who longs to travel the world, asked Amanda all about Australia.

Australian Girl Amy American Girl Felicity 1

Bethy chatted with Marie about what life was like for girls in the old days.

“They didn’t even have heaters!” exclaimed Marie. “Can you imagine those long winters?”

“No,” said Bethy. “It would be bad enough hopping from freight to freight, never knowing when you’ll have your next meal.”

American Girl doll Kit dress up

Amy entertained her friends by imagining what she might do if the next American Girl of the Year is not a Person of Color.

American Girl dolls on bed

But what was that? It sounded like the doorbell. Who was there? The girls peeked outside and caught a glimpse of fluttering wings and sparkles.

Carpatina Erin fairy 1

Who could it be? They opened the door, and there stood a magnificent fairy!

Carpatina Erin fairy 3

“My name is Muirrean. May I join your party?”

The girls oohed and ahhed over Muirrean’s lovely costume.

Carpatina Erin fairy costume detail

The details were exquisite!

Carpatina Erin fairy costume detail 2

They adored the flower in her hair.

Carpatina Erin fairy costume detail 5

“Come on in!” They eagerly welcomed Muirrean into the party.

American Girl doll Felicity A Girl For All Time Matilda costumes

Fanny, considering herself to be the senior lady of A Doll’s Picnic, shook Muirrean’s hand and introduced her to everyone.

Carpatina Erin American Girl doll Felicity

Muirrean looked around. So many friendly faces!

dolls dress up

She knew she was going to feel right at home.

Dolls in costumes

Happy Halloween from A Doll’s Picnic!


Okay, group photos are not my forte! Please forgive the cluttered background and funky lighting. I hope you enjoyed my dolls and their costumes. No, this is not my entire doll collection. 🙂

 

“About the dolls” update: Photos added!

my doll collection on shelves

My (almost) current doll collection on the shelves.

Hello Friends!

Do you ever get so busy that you sort of forget about the things you love? You know, the things that express your creativity and make you sparkle? It’s been that way around here for the last month or so, as I’ve been working to balance my skating practice with all my other duties and interests. But Natalie Alexis kept nudging me to get back to work on A Doll’s Picnic, and finally with her inspiration I’ve jumped back in, and I’m so glad. This afternoon I’ve had so much fun photographing several of my dolls and adding portraits to the doll bios on the “About the Dolls” page. Please feel welcome to take a look and see all their adorable faces! Every doll in my current collection now has a photo up on A Doll’s Picnic. Eventually I plan to post pictures of my teddy bears and soft toys too, but that’s a project for another day. I’ll continue to add to their likes and interests in the weeks and months ahead. 🙂

It was so fun to spend time in the garden with my camera, remembering how special these precious and delightful imagination-friends are. I especially enjoyed photographing Tasha, my Maru and Friends Jamie doll, and Alejandra, my Karito Kids Pita doll. They were each so photogenic, and their taller height and elegant proportions harmonized so beautifully with the garden (wild and unkempt as it is).

Maru and Friends Jamie doll with rose 1Jamie enchanted me with her ability to lean forward and grasp a rose bud. Her hip joints make her very poseable, and even with her small feet, she balances pretty well on uneven surfaces.

Maru and Friends Jamie doll with rose 2Her dress is so adorable and gardeny, too. 🙂

But I was especially astonished by the beauty of Alejandra! She poses so naturally that it is like taking pictures of a real girl.

Karito Kids Pita doll with sweet peaShe found a volunteer sweet pea that came up from last year’s seeds among the strawberries and wild dill. I love how she can hold flower stems in her beautiful hands.

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 1She was also excited about the sage that has flourished in an old wine-barrel, within the protection of the fenced vegetable garden. She said it reminds her of Mexico! She reminded me of a beautiful Aztec or Native American princess!

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 2Wow.

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 3I love how her tilting head joint and lovely neck and shoulder area help her pose so naturally.

Karito Kids Pita doll next to sage flowers 4What an incredible doll. I am so glad I found her on Ebay brand-new in box, at her original price! I wish these dolls had never been discontinued.

Every time I make time to slow down and play quietly with my dolls, I fall in love with them all over again. Thanks for your patience during my break from blogging, and I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Play Dolls: Master List

I’ve been collecting play dolls since 2006, but for seven-and-a-half of the last eight years I stuck exclusively to American Girl. It’s hard to say why, now. I guess we tend to like what we’re familiar with, and I was convinced that American Girl dolls were the prettiest, cutest, and just all around “best” play dolls there were. Whenever I saw pictures of other brands of dolls I just couldn’t see the appeal or charm. But finally last year I began to get a little, well, bored. It wasn’t until just a few months ago, however, when I was given my first ever non-American Girl doll (A Girl For All Time Matilda) that I finally cracked open the door to the universe of play dolls beyond. Now exploring the diversity of alternatives to American Girl has become my newest passion in collecting. I still love my American Girl dolls, but I now feel like I’m loving them in a much larger context. I’m gradually reducing my collection of American Girl dolls, and my new goal is to gather a group of dolls that I love to play with and that reflect both who I am and the variety of dolls that are available. I am especially interested in contrasting American Girl dolls with similar brands, which I hope to share on A Doll’s Picnic as time permits.

I’ve compiled a master list of the major doll brands for my own information, and thought I’d share it here. My criteria for this list are: 1) the doll is intended for play, 2) the doll is at least 16 inches tall, 3) the doll is a quality toy made to last. Just when I think I am aware of all the brands offering dolls that fit this criteria, I discover a new company! I had no idea there were so many!

Here is my list so far. The asterisks denote the brands included in my own collection. If you know of a brand that isn’t on my list, please comment below, and I’ll look them up!

Brands of Play Dolls

A Girl For All Time, by Daughters of History *

American Girl *

Australian Girl

Bonnie & Pearl *

Carpatina

Classic Kidz, by Gotz

Favorite Friends, by Madame Alexander

Happy Kidz, by Gotz *

Hannah, by Gotz *

Harmony Club

Karito Kids (no longer in production), by Kids Give *

Kidz ‘n Cats, by Heart and Soul *

Journey Girls

Las Reinas, by Paola Reina *

Magic Attic Club (no longer in production)

Maplelea *

Maru and Friends *

My Twinn *

Our Generation

Pen Pal Girls

Precious Day, by Gotz

Schildkroet *

Sisterhood in Town

Soy Tu, by Paola Reina

Springfield

Starpath

Vanange, by Vannuzza

Via-E *

In your Easter bonnet…

“… With all the frills upon it/ You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade…”

Happy Easter from A Doll’s Picnic !

doll collection, Kidz 'n Cats dolls, Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll, American Girl dolls, Gotz Happy Kidz dolls, A Girl For All Time Matilda doll, Bitty Twin doll

Happy Easter!

As any collector knows, a collection is dynamic and ever-changing, not static. This is my current doll collection as of this moment on this particular day, but tomorrow it might be a little different. This is only a fraction of the dolls I have bought, given away and sold over the the course of the last several years. It is important to me to keep only the dolls I am most interested in and passionate about.

collection American Girl dolls

“…with all the frills upon it…”

Some pretty hats and faces:

American Girl Cecile, American Girl Caroline

Zelie (American Girl Cecile) and Henriette (American Girl Caroline with customized eyes).

American Girl Felicity doll

Fanny Rose, the matriarch of my collection (American Girl Felicity).

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

Emily (Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll).

American Girl Felicity doll

Such a pretty Easter bonnet!

American Girl of the Year 2014 Isabelle

Ashleigh (American Girl of the Year 2014 Isabelle).

Paola Reina Las Reinas Lidia doll

That’s a lovely face!

Pleasant Company Felicity doll

Melinda: a very special face (Pleasant Company Felicity).