So here’s the finished project– one 12″ doll with custom wig and eyes, ten custom-fitted dresses, coordinating shoes, socks, hats, undies, hair accessories, purses, and a customized trunk to hold it all. And yes, I realize that having replaced the original doll, clothes, and trunk, I essentially used my childhood toy solely as inspiration for a much more elaborate project (which could’ve been accomplished without the extensive eBay search or actual purchase of the doll).
As I was working on this, though, the foremost inspiration had to be Sara Crewe’s “Last Doll” from Francis Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess. Reading this book as a child, I always loved the idea of having a doll as elaborate as that one, and honestly it was probably what made me want the original doll in the first place. Here’s the relevant passage:
Sara laughed, but she turned to the biggest box. When she took out the Last Doll it was so magnificent that the children uttered delighted groans of joy, and actually drew back to gaze at it in breathless rapture.
“She is almost as big as Lottie,” someone gasped.
Lottie clapped her hands and danced about, giggling.
“She’s dressed for the theater,” said Lavinia. “Her cloak is lined with ermine.”
“Oh,” cried Ermengarde, darting forward, “she has an opera-glass in her hand—a blue-and-gold one!”
“Here is her trunk,” said Sara. “Let us open it and look at her things.”
She sat down upon the floor and turned the key. The children crowded clamoring around her, as she lifted tray after tray and revealed their contents. Never had the schoolroom been in such an uproar. There were lace collars and silk stockings and handkerchiefs; there was a jewel case containing a necklace and a tiara which looked quite as if they were made of real diamonds; there was a long sealskin and muff, there were ball dresses and walking dresses and visiting dresses; there were hats and tea gowns and fans. Even Lavinia and Jessie forgot that they were too elderly to care for dolls, and uttered exclamations of delight and caught up things to look at them.
In honor of A Little Princess, and since the Last Doll didn’t have a real name, I’ve named this doll Emily. Fans of the book will know why.
For what it’s worth, my 3-year-old had a wonderful afternoon playing with the original porcelain doll (the not-cute one), which is apparently named Cinderella and is no longer “mean.” So I guess it didn’t go to waste after all…