Everyone who’s read the classic children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit or seen at least one Toy Story movie knows that toys are often a child’s first friends and are often the first victims of age and shabbiness. No matter how excellently a child cares for their toys, they usually come through childhood minus a few pieces and looking less than like new.
Such a situation occurred with my mom’s beloved doll Marialynda. Marialynda is a baby doll made by the Horseman company in the 1960s, who was loved by my mother for all her life. After our house fire in 2001, Marialynda was damaged by the smoke which destroyed her dress, socks and shoes, and made her hair dry. Marialynda was put away until we could afford to have her restored, but as time went on, it seemed less and less likely that we could ever afford to get her fixed.
I had always had an interest in toy restoration. I often fixed my own and brothers’ toys and kept that interest alive, but was not able to act on it until recently. Recently, I started looking at various ways of restoring dolls. Some of them called for exotic materials like wig shampoo and fabric softener that I didn’t have on hand, nor could get my hands on. I tried fabric softener, but that didn’t work out at all. Then I tried a method that called for only three things: Johnson’s baby shampoo, a plastic tub, and hot water. It worked wonders! The first doll I tried was my poor Disney’s Hercules Megara doll, whose hair had been through the ringer. After a relaxing day at the spa, Meg’s hair was restored to it’s original shine and softness. I was amazed at the difference!
Now, how does a modern Barbie-style doll relate to Marialynda? Well I found Marialynda and I decided that I would try to fix her. I raided Ebay for new clothes, got advice from my doll contacts (affectionately called the “Doll Mafia”) and was able to gently restore Marialynda to her former glory. After that, I bought several dolls from EBay who needed care, four 18 inch dolls and two fashion dolls and restored them too!
One of the best things about doll restoration is that an old toy can go to a new child. Not all families have the means to buy brand new toys for their children, but to most children a new toy is a new toy, it doesn’t matter where it comes from. (More than one “used” toy became a favorite around my house!) But 9 times out of 10, old toys look… old. But with a little time, dolls and toys can be restored to use and love. Don’t think that doll you picked up at that garage sale is a hopeless wreck! Call on me or another doll lover, we can help!
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**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.