Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Dolls who needed a doctor

Last week I took some tiny patients to see a doctor. The dolls came to me from my mother last year, and they were so poorly! The little one had one arm loose and a severe hip condition. She was also dusty and her outfit - just underwear - was more grey than white.
The bigger one had her wig (my other grandmother's own hair) off and her blush was spotty and her face needed some soap and water too. Only now I noticed that she should have had an eye operation as well.

Luckily there is a doll doctor in Helsinki, and I had an appointment with them and left the dolls in capable hands.
Here are some views of Dr. Benita's surgery and shop. Some of the dolls are antique, some just old, but they are all lovely. Maija, your doll's twin sister is on the bike!
Here are two special dolls: On the right a Bebe doll from the time after the WWII when there was shortage of everything. Many kinds of substitute materials were used for the dolls' heads, and as mohair was not available the hair was just painted on. The baby doll sitting next to her is a rare specimen of plastic dolls made in Finland by Siro Oy. You could get it in exchange of newspapers for recycling, when you had collected enough vouchers.

This is the doctor's reproduction based on the old Finnish Martta doll called  Pipsa, made in Finland from about 1908 until 1974. The manufacture was organised by a women's association Martat, and the sewing, stuffing etc. was done by women at their home. Some specialised in sewing the dolls, others made clothes for them, and the demand was so great that the manufacture soon grew into a real industry.

The doll doctor with her staff also treat teddy bears and other soft toys.

While my dolls were taken care of, I washed their clothes. She has new rubber bands for her arms and legs now, and she has had a bath. Look how pretty!

Here is my other "new" doll. Her dress had so many holes that she has to wait in her petticoat until I have sewn her a new dress. Any suggestions?

Doctor Benita helped me also with this case. I don't remember ever having seen this doll's head among my mother's things, but it is one of her own dolls and must be over 80 years old. They didn't have body patterns for this size of a doll, but I got copies of a smaller doll and instructions how to enlarge them. I also bought her socks and shoes so I can sew her feet the right size for them. This is an exciting project, as I have only sewn rag dolls (64 Unicef dolls over the years, plus some other rag dolls as a teenager) until now. I will show you if I ever get her finished.

 I'm still sorting my photos from England and will continue my travel report in the near future.


  1. What an exciting project! Good luck in making a whole body for the doll. With the doll who has your mother's hair, what about digging into your family treasure trove of fabric and using one of your mother's fabrics?

  2. What a lovely job they've done on the doll. I have a doll that has been through a couple of generations of playing and could use some loving care.

  3. What wonderful treasures. I love Melanie's suggestion of using fabric from your mom's stash to make new clothes. These dolls are lucky to have someone such as you to care for their well being.

  4. Gosh - what beautiful dolls, Ulla! Are the heads painted porcelain? How wonderful that there is a doll doctor to restore your beauties! I think an orange dress from something of your mother's would be just the perfect match for her orange ribbons. Do they have names?

  5. How nice to see the restoration of such wonderful family memories. I have two of my childhood treasures in need of help. Perhaps I should look follow your lead.

  6. Ahh, many years ago Satu sent Laila a 'Finnish' dress with a white blouse and a white half apron. I think your doll would look lovely in something like that.

  7. How amazing to see all the dolls, Ulla. It must be such a special feeling holding the dolls and with the real hair as well; very interesting:-)


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