So, a freaky thing happened to me today. . . But I need to back this story way up so you can understand why it's so freaky. . .
Almost a full year-to-the-day ago, I saw this doll, and fell in love:
She is "F.G. Mlle. Florence," 20" tall when finished, and is from a Seeley doll mold (#S134). I found her because I had been hunting for reproduction French Fashion dolls that were no shorter than 20" tall. I'm obsessed with getting a doll of this size because that would make her 1/3 scale, and therefore able to use the large collection of doll furniture and accessories I've amassed over 23 years of collecting 1/3 scale doll things! Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one obsessed with larger dolls, and it seems that the popular dolls are more like 12", or 15" at most. At any rate. . . My search turned up this doll. And thus was born my crazy notion that I wanted to learn to make porcelain dolls. I was convinced I was somehow going to be able to buy the mold and make this doll!
Then, I got to finding a little bit more about her, and realized she doesn't have a shoulder plate. Instead, one needs to buy a $108 "composition" body, and attach the head directly to it. I was so disappointed, because I want a fabric body. I want to make the body in exactly the shape/size I see in my mind's eye, and I want the knees to be able to bend, and I think the arm color on the composition body they offer is ridiculously wrong. It's just really not what I want! I desperately tried to find a back-issue of the "Doll Artisan" magazine she was featured in, hoping I'd find out that maybe there was some optional shoulder-plate mold piece that works with her, that just maybe wasn't mentioned on the web site. I couldn't find the issue anywhere.
Full of disappointment at how close I had come to fulfilling my dream of the perfect doll, I relinquished the idea, and began my search again.
It was a long time before I found a suitable replacement, but at long last, I found this lady:
She is "F. Gaultier French Fashion," a 20" doll mould put out by the Bell company (#MD2649). Her face shape is so similiar, and with a prettier wig, I think she could really work! And, she has a shoulder plate, and an arms/legs mold. I got super excited! Now, all I needed to do was gather up the funds. She's $139 for her mold set, plus shipping (which will probably be high, as I hear these are heavy things), and plus any patterns I may choose to buy for her. (I already have the dress pattern for this doll - scored that on eBay - but I would probably go ahead and buy the underpinnings pattern, just so I woud have the complete set).
But then, I heard that this doll company no longer exists. Their web site is still there, but what I am told is that if I try to contact them to place my order, I will have no luck at all.
I have seen sites that will pour the parts for you and mail them to you in the greenware stage, but this is of no use to me as my studio only allows dolls poured in the studio into their kiln. (And I have no problem with this, because if it were my expensive kiln, filled with the work my other students had put their time, money, and love into, I would also not want to stick some unknown thing into my kiln and risk causing damage of any sort! So I completely understand and agree with this policy, for sure!)
At this point, I was really beginning to feel cursed in my quest for the perfect French Fashion doll of my dreams. I began looking at dolls I didn't like as much. I found this one:
This is Seeley's 20.25" "Leone Smiling Bru" (#S190). She's pleasant enough, but she just doesn't have the look I wanted. I don't feel jazzed about her. But she's the right size, and she has the shoulder-plate, so, maybe I could learn to love her. . .
Then I got struck with the crazy notion that maybe Smiling Bru's shoulder-plate could work with Mlle. Florence's head! Now, I know this is probably a slim chance. I understand a doll's neck has to fit really closely into the shoulder plate. But what if I got really lucky, and it fit - or was close enough that a little sanding in the greenware stage could make it fit? I promptly ordered the Dollmaker Worksheet for both dolls, so that I could find out more about them and think about this.
That was several months ago.
Today, completely out of the blue, Mlle. Florence suddenly popped into my head again. Maybe it's because I'm making such progress with my china-head in class, and am thinking it will soon be time to choose my next doll that I will make. At any rate, Mlle. Florence was dancing across my thoughts, and I was filled with longing for her all over again, like the first time I ever saw her. I went looking for the Doll Artisan back-issue - something I haven't done for months - and I found one up for sale! Then I got this creepy feeling like if I looked at the seller's other postings, the Smiling Bru back-issue might also be for sale by the same seller. How unlikely would that be? But hey, maybe that would be my "sign" that I should do this. So I had to look. Of the five other Doll Artisan back-issues this seller had for sale, guess what one of them was? Smiling Bru's. I literally got chills. I ordered both magazines. I had to; it seemed meant to be!
Now, I don't know if this is really a sign from fate that I should give this crazy plan a shot, or if I have finally obsessed over a doll so much that something in my brain has snapped! I mean, I could well end up with a head mold for the perfect head - but no body for it, plus a shoulder-plate and arms for a different doll - but no head. And this isn't a cheap risk either, because I'd have to shell out $164 (plus what I'm sure will not be cheap shipping!) to take this chance. In the event that I can not Frankenstein this doll together, it would then be another whopping $220 to get the compo body for Mlle. Florence and the head mold for Smiling Bru, and I would then have two dolls, neither of which were exactly what I wanted. (But maybe I could then sell at least one of them to recover my expenses? I don't know; something to think about, I guess. . .)
I think maybe I will give the Bell company a shot. Maybe the company isn't totally out of business (after all, why would you continue paying for your web site hosting, which I know from experience is probably costing at least $100/year, if you were not going to bother with your business at all?) but just only sort of part-time and bad about responding. I could pull a Shawshank Redemption and just start writing a letter (or in this case, call and/or email) once a week until they get so sick of me they answer, ha ha ha! Meanwhile, I'll gather funds. Because if I can't get through to Bell, I might just be insane enough to take this risk of attempting to Frankenstein a doll together from these two Seeley's molds!
The ONLY other thing I can think of to do would be to buy a kiln, order the Bell doll I like in greenware form, and fire it myself. The HUGE problem with this is that I'm deathly afraid of kilns. I have no idea how to use one, or how to do any of the pouring/firing of dolls, since in my classes we really only work on cleaning, painting, assembling, and dressing. I'm afraid I'd damage or even burn down my house, or at least maim myself somehow. Plus, a kiln is expensive. And then I'd have to figure out all the different other tools/supplies I'd need to do the pouring/firing myself, and that will probably add up too. And where would I even get this stuff? I think this plan is a little too crazy - even for me!
Humbug. I need to travel back in time to when dollmaking was super popular and buy up all the molds and supplies I could ever need. But then, if I'm time-travelling, I might as well go all the way back to the 1870s and buy one "brand new"! ;)