Vintage Aranbee (R&B) Doll
This is a vintage baby doll from the 50’s. The owner of the doll obviously cherished her as a child, and still does. Dolly came to me a couple of weeks ago in need of repair on her cloth body. I was to recreate the original pattern. Here you can see the final result. Came out pretty good! I can understand why this doll is so well-loved. If she were mine, I would want to preserve her, too. I’ve gotten slightly attached to her myself!
I’ll tell you a bit about this doll’s restoration.
Happily, her vintage vinyl arms and legs, and “hard head” were in perfectly good condition. The eyes open and close. You can hear a charming “squeak” when they move, reminding us of her age. She wears an adorable pair of booties, which the owner says she purchased with her allowance for 25 cents. Her mother was quite upset at her spending “so much money” and she never got allowance again!
To restore the doll, I took the original cloth body apart and traced around it to redraw the pattern on paper. It is a very interesting pattern, and not easy to assemble. At one point when I was sewing the new body, I got scared that I would not be able to figure out what to do again. I had to use the old pattern and match up needle holes in order to solve the “puzzle!”
The stuffing was so decrepit, I am sure it wasn’t too healthy… it did not look like stuffing as we know it today, but more like some weird soft and lumpy fiberglass material. It made me very nervous and I disposed of it immediately. I wish I had a picture of the way the doll looked before I began her restoration, and the stuffing, but I forgot to take a picture.
Here’s the original cloth from the body:The doll’s head was painted in brown paint, and a wig was glued over that. Based on what I saw inside the body, I felt that there was bound to be something going on under the wig. I was right. The paint was disintegrating under there, and you could blow the dust off if you wanted to. I’m not sure if the paint contained lead, or whether some of that dust could be from the glue, but whatever it is, I’m glad it’s gone.
I decided to wash the wig as well. After all, it had been sitting on ‘that business’ for so many years! I used gentle shampoo, very good conditioner, and cold water. When the wig was dry, I noticed that the hairs are quite brittle. Some of the thread holding the wefts in place, and some of the netting, had deteriorated.
The washing definitely helped with the latter- at least put a stop to it. The curls came out though, and the original poodle hairstyle is no longer intact. It is possible to re-curl the wig. However, it will take time because it’s so short, needs repair, etc. And, the hair is brittle. She will be getting a new wig… stay tuned! The hunt is on.
I love this doll. I think she is wonderful! I can’t remember too many of my own toys because I was into weebles (remember those?!?!), jumprope and stickball, my dog and cat, tape recorder…. I didn’t really start “playing with dolls” until I was 30! Can you believe it? It’s true. I wish I had an old doll. They certainly do not make dolls the way they used to! This one is priceless, that’s for sure. I am inspired to buy an old doll like this on Ebay, and make it new. Does that count? *^*