All In The Family

This is Maddie with a doll from my mother

If you’ve read our book you might remember reading that my mother was a doll maker by profession. When I was a young girl I did not fully appreciate everything that went into making a porcelain doll from start to finish. As I got older I began to see what a long, involved process it is. My mother did it all. Starting with the liquified porcelain being poured into the molds, firing the greenware in her kiln, all the way to hand painting the last eyelash on their pretty faces. Then, after that whole process she would sit down at the sewing machine and create darling dresses which were her own original patterns.

Making dolls was, for her, a way make some extra money without having to work outside the home. But it was also a creative outlet. She really enjoyed it even though I’m sure there were times that were very stressful, like finishing an order with a deadline. At one point she actually opened up a shop with a storefront. It was a joint venture with my grandma as well as my other mother. They taught classes for those that wanted to learn and took orders from those that just wanted the finished product.

As each of her daughters grew old enough to show an interest she would bring us in on her classes and teach us too. It felt so grown-up to sit at the table with all those women and listen to all their chit-chat. Mom was so patient when teaching us and guiding our hands.. I think she wanted us to have the same love and passion for it that she did.

My mother always tells the story about when she was a little girl and her family was very poor. Each year for Christmas my grandma would take the only doll my mother had and repaint the face to make it look new and sew a new dress for it so my mother would have something “new” to open up on Christmas morning.

I never did feel like I was very good at the whole doll-making process but there is so much I have come to appreciate because of it.

A few weeks ago I had somewhere to go and as I left the house I noticed some of the girls playing with Barbies. A common occurence here with so many girls. However, when I cam back home they held up their Barbies for me to see. They couldn’t find the clothes for them in the toy closet so they made their own. They cut out peices of paper towels to fit, they taped them on, then they drew in all the little details with a pen. The result was surprisingly darling. What do you think? Future fashion designers?



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