Saturday, June 21, 2008

Composition Toddler, Part one

I have never worked with composition dolls, I think they are beautiful and full of history. The composition doll was promoted as the unbreakable doll, for a period of time, sales of the doll overtook the sales of a porcelain dolls.

Composition dolls are pricey if found in excellent shape, crazed or peeling dolls are more affordable and I'm always on the look out for them. This is my first one I bought about 12 years ago. She is in very sad shape. She was crazed when I purchased her and at the time I figured I'd order composition filler. It is a solution painted on the doll to prevent peeling. I never did.

The problem with composition dolls is the humidity and temperature changes. Even though you could drop this doll on the floor and it would literary bounce, it didn't tolerate being close to temperatures that dip and spike. Mine has been in storage for 8 years, unseen but not unthought of.

Well, I decided I would remove the layers of paint and see what I had, maybe I could start over....I'm assuming the white color is a crude wood putty used to blend the two half of the heads together. Composition is a material made of wood chips blended with glue then press into molds. The back of the head is attached to the front part of the face.

Most of the peelings came off easily, I had some spots I used a utility knife , I'd catch the open edge of the paint then snap it off. It saved me from scraping and maybe gouging too deep. I had chips smack me in the face, get stuck in my hair, and find a quick trip down my shirt! Not a bad result though......neat material.

Problem.....I stored my toddler in a smaller box, really to snug to fit this work of art in.......over time the pressure from the cardboard caused a stress fracture on top of her head. I felt lucky though, I ended up with two pieces, all in all, she could of been worse. Since I'd never worked with composition before, I decided to try to repair her pieces before painstakingly moving on to the arms and legs, they are in better shape and it will mean more utility knife.

Okay....not real sure how to repair composition, I've chose to use a high quality wood glue, cabinet grade, and wood putty for the holes and imperfections. I'm sure there is a better method but I want this technique, might work.....

I started by doing something I learned long ago. Wad a current page from a newspaper and place it in the head, do this when assembling any doll, it dates it and in my opinion, just a nice thing to do. My newspaper for this doll dates the repair and yes, the head has a opening out the neck.

Not only did the storage box cause my doll to break it also twisted the molds from one another. I had to place my pieces as close as I could, then clamp her poor head. Once the parts got tacky and stable I put another clamp on her head to achieve the right shape. Looks like torture.

I could hardy wait to take the clamps off and start to fill, how exciting for me! I busied myself with cleaning the house just to keep occupied, checking my work every fifteen minutes, seemed to be working. Ead gads, if I remove the clamps to early...I'll have to start over. If I putty too early, it might not be stable and fall apart the next day! OH, I MADE myself wait.

After all the energy was put into removing the original paint, after all the anticipation over the drying glue.....It took me about 20 minutes to fill the holes and some of the imperfections. I must say, she came out better than I expected. I'll do a light sanding and another coat of putty. After a complete sanding, I'll dilute the putty with water and brush lightly over all parts, it fills the small chips and causes a smoother appearance. Missed areas and dings will stand out like a spotlight once painted, do as much as you can before then, it's well worth it. Boy! She looks like she has the worse case of poison ivy!

Off to the arms and legs.....

Stay tuned. C&G Design


tina said...

You'll have to post a pic when she is done. Hard work!

Skeeter said...

I can now say, I have seen a doll operation! Good job and yes, be sure to post the final product when completed....

Dawn said...

I will, she is hard work and probaly no one else would bother but like you Tina, with plants, I can't seem to throw away a doll.

Jean said...

Even in her sad shape you can tell what a sweet face she has so all the hard work will be well worth it in the end. Great job and can't wait to see it finished!