Meet the newest resident of my sewing room:
The Scotch lass joins two other little egg dolls, also made by Barbie, that have been gracing my sewing room for several years:
When Barbie’s mother died in 2008, these little treasures were found tucked away in a box in her home. Happily for me, Barbie brought them to the Portland White House where they have been lovingly displayed on a shelf in my sewing room. The latest addition turned up recently in a box at the home of my husband’s son Mike, no doubt brought there after his mother’s passing.
(I should note that Mike and Barbie are just a few years younger than I am. I married their father when I was 30 and they were in their 20s. That was almost 40 years ago. . .)
I asked Barbie how she learned to make these dolls and how old she was when she made them. It turns out Barbie and her best friend Bonnie — namesake of Barbie’s older daughter, now 19 — made dozens of these around the time they were in 7th to 9th grades. This was in the mid to late 1960s, which means these dolls are around 50 years old.
“Bonnie and I always enjoyed doing crafty things,” recalled Barbie. ‘We used to make little one-inch dolls out of felt for our bigger dolls. These tiny dolls were stuffed and had embroidered eyes or eyes made from beads. We used ‘weaving loom loops’ made for kids and shaped them for hair.” Barbie noted that the flowers on the hat of the doll above right were made from weaving loom loops.
(Weaving loom loops. That rang a bell. I remember making a potholder for my grandmother with one of those weaving loom kits when I was a kid. It was red and grey, a color combo I love to this day.)
I am amazed at the artistry and creativity behind these egg dolls. How did they do it? “No one helped us,” said Barbie. “All logistical problems we solved ourselves. I think Grace may have shown us how to puncture and blow out the raw eggs. But that was it.”
The detail on these dolls is amazing. Look at their hair, their clothing, their hats. “Bonnie’s mom Grace sewed so there were always plenty of fabric scraps around,” said Barbie. The girls drew the faces on with watercolors although Barbie thinks they may have also used crayons and felt tip markers.
The care with which Bonnie and Barbie created their egg dolls extends 360 degrees. Look at the backs of the dolls:
As I examined these egg dolls again today, I realized that the shoulders of the dolls are made from egg cartons.
“That’s right,” said Barbie. “Cut and upside down, with felt cut and glued on the bottom. We may have added something for weight on the inside.”
These three dolls are all that remain of the dozens that Bonnie and Barbie crafted together. It’s pretty miraculous that they have survived half a century. I love having them on display in my sewing room but I know they are not mine to keep. As I reminded Barbie today, “You know these belong to you. I consider myself a lucky temporary custodian!”