Back in the early 90's, I was privileged to be invited to sit down with a noted Barbie doll restorer and artist. From him, I learned the art of sewing new hair into a vintage doll's head. Through the years, I've asked so many talented repainters for their tips and ideas. I've chosen some of this, and some of that, to come up with my own style. Below, you will see a series of Chatty Cathy dolls that I have rerooted, starting in 1993.
Sadly, I sold most of my doll art. I miss them so much. At the time, I didn't realize that I needed to keep them. I've been selling off my art for decades. This is why I still have my Crissy family re-roots. Since I love the Crissy family so much, I will keep them.
Doll art was a natural progression for someone like me. The creativity bug hit me in middle school. I glommed on to every art class offered when I was in high school. I discovered that I love all aspects of the art world. I love to look at others' work. I can't tell you how much I enjoy art studios and art museums.
So when I started considering myself an "advanced collector" by the mid-90's, it was only natural that I would combine my love of art with the doll world. When I would receive a destitute doll, perhaps with a severe haircut, I just couldn't leave her that way! After I learned to re-root, the rest, as they say, is history.
Here are the Chatty Cathy dolls that I miss so much.
This is the very first Chatty Cathy piece I did. Back then, we didn't have weave hair or synthetic extension hair. There were no Internet sites like Doctored Locks to buy hair from (they are AWESOME by the way). This doll was rooted with hair from a wig.
She is wearing a recreation of a Mattel outfit. In it's original state, it is red and white striped.
This precious little lady also has hair from two disassembled wigs. Her dress is a replication of an original Mattel Toy Corporation outfit called Sunday Visit. The dress from Mattel is pink with a white overlay. Mine, as you can see, is mint green.
I created a braided-hair headband for her.
The so-called brown-eyed blonde Chatty Cathy very nearly does not exist. There were very few. Now if you are one of the unfortunate, there are a number of them out there that "people" created by stripping the brown eyes out of a few common brunettes and transplanting them in to blonde dolls. Now, no one is sure they have a factory original doll.
I really thought this doll, with platinum blonde hair, looked great with her original brown eyes!
There were several patterns made by Advance for Chatty Cathy. I used one of those patterns to dress her.
Well you won't see one of these at just any doll show. She is wearing a "onesie" under her clothes. I painted the traditional Raggedy Ann heart on her onesie, over her heart. She has black satin slippers, appropriately striped tights, white bloomers, her dress and a white apron.
Now about that hair! I rooted orange yarn hair in (a TOUGH task) and then rolled it all on permanent wave rods. Then I boiled her head (before repainting). After all of that work, that is all the curl I managed to get. But I like the result. Sometimes, it's the unexpected that I really preferred after all!
This doll is dressed in a recreation of Mattel's Nursery School in pale green. I suppose you've noticed by now that I prefer to dress my art pieces in outfits that either resemble what Mattel had in mind for them in the first place or in pattern outfits made to my specifications. Even her orange velvet shoes are soled with real leather, just as Mattel had in mind. Looking back, I really despised making those shoes. (grin)
This little gal is one of my favorites. Extension hair was becoming more and more available. I remember paying an arm and a leg for this. Now it's about four bucks a pack! LOL
She is dressed in a replication of Peppermint Stick, usually found in pink and white. But when I found this fabric, a white on white stripe, I knew what I had to do with it!
She had such a pretty face.
Very tragically, a doll dealer got her hands on this piece. This just ripped my heart out when I found out what she did. She actually sold this doll's clothes on eBay! Then she sold the doll on eBay! When I create something, I take my vision and translate it into the final product. The piece was totally ruined and destroyed in my eyes. Even ten years later, thinking about it makes me ill.
Here is a Tiny Chatty Baby! She is unusual because she has very blue glassene eyes. Many TCB dolls had them. Even less Chatty Cathy dolls had them too. They are very pretty. She is also dressed in a replication of an original Mattel Tiny Chatty Baby outfit.
All of the dolls above, including this one, have some measure of repainting done on their faces.
This is the last one that I did in this series. I finished her in 1999. She is redressed in a copy of Mattel's Sunday Visit in yellow. I used hair that I found in a craft shop called, appropriately enough, Dolly Hair. I used three packages. It was insanely curly and I will never use it again. After I was finished with her, I rolled it on large rollers and gave her a steam bath. Love her curls now!
With all that great hair, I thought she needed bigger, more "chocolate-y" freckles.
All text & photos, © January, 2007, by Beth-Ellen Colvin