Exciting Week – Mailbag – Doll Repair – My Life as a Doll Doctor





Question From the Mailbag

I have had quite the exciting week with great questions…(which I will answer first), then… I want to show you a repair that in spite of all the damage…still turned out to be quite the pretty old dolly! But before we begin…I need to give a great big shout out to a most generous WILLIE GREEN from S.C. That is all I know of the person responsible for sending in a big box of wonderful antique doll parts. They will go on to live in another coveted doll for sure. The mystery man left no address or any other way I could send a note of thanks….so Thank You Willie!!

Now here we go with some questions:

QUESTION: My great-grandmother collected dolls and shared them out among her granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law. I’m the first since my great-grandmother to collect as an adult, and with these elderly dolls I have no idea where to go for resources for things like damaged or sunfaded fabrics, or how to even tell if a doll is damaged enough to send in for repair in the first place. It’s not 100% a repair question, but I was wondering if you could point me at resources?

As well, I collect Tonner dolls and one of them has a bad case of static electricity this winter. Her wig is a giant mess and stands up on end whenever anyone walks by. Being new to doll collecting, how do you address this without having to park dolls next to a humidifier?

ANSWER:  Many of the older, vintage or antique dolls that are kept in climate controlled areas may still be in wonderful shape and may not need any work at all. The most common issue with older dolls is they will need a re-stringing to keep joints tight. You should expect certain signs of wear with antique dolls that is normal and does not detract from value. These would include some fabric fading or yellowing and of course dust. The normal aging of antique dolls is like the patina of valued antiques and not considered damage. The things you must watch out for are the composition dolls which do not stand up well to any climate changes or improper storage. These dolls have a shorter life span and once you see signs of crazing..or fine lines–that is one that should go to the doll hospital ASAP. Nearly all of the compo dolls I receive are so far gone that the work I need to do is extensive!

As far as the static issue with newer dolls that have saran hair–very common! Most homes are heated during the winter and the air actually becomes twice as dry as the desert. Synthetic hair…and fabrics like nylon are very prone to it. You can spray a bit of static guard on your palms…then gently slide palms over hair. Do not wet hair with the static guard!! Some collectors have luck just rubbing a bit of fabric softener between palms and again gently smoothing hair. Also a bounce dryer sheet gently wiped down over hair does the trick. When the humidity levels return to normal–the problem should resolve itself. If in doubt about dolls needing repair–always feel free to email me a pic!

QUESTION: I have a few old (1950ish) composition Madam Alexander dolls. They have an odor. Is there any way to get rid of the Oder.  They have been put way in boxes.
Thank you

ANSWER: Oh dear….I know exactly what you are referencing! I would bet these are the Madame Alexander dolls from the 1950’s and made of hard plastic rather than composition. These dolls do change..(age) over time and we refer to this as Hard Plastic decomp. The plastic itself begins to age..(and change chemically) and although this process can be slowed…it can not be stopped. There is a product I use with some success. It is called De-Stinker and after I un-string…I spray the inside of all plastic parts. When dry….and before I re-string I moisten a few cotton balls with Febreeze and place them inside the strung doll. You must remember–that smell…(like baby puke) is actually the nasty gases given off as the doll ages. (I know what you are thinking….you know a few old people who are aging in much the same way–but with a change in diet…that process can usually be stopped) The best way to discourage this process is to make certain your hard plastic dolls are stored or displayed in an area free from humidity and where there is good air circulation. Closed, dark and humid areas hasten the process quite a bit!

This Week’s Repair Challenge

Now……on to a doll I finished this week that was actually too far gone…but you know me…(some day I will be too old for challenges like this…but not yet–oh no–not yet!)

Ouch….bad legs for sure!





Fill, sand, fill, sand, fill, sand…ugh…..

This little sweetheart took a bit more time than expected…but was well worth the time. Now on to the 45 patients waiting. I should be finished up and ready to take in more by March! And please…keep those questions coming!  The Doc

 A Doll Repair or Experience Question for Dr. Noreen?

If you have a question for Doctor Noreen to answer in a future post you can submit it here through this form, or email her directly at dollhospital@tonnerdoll.com with the subject line “A Question for the Doll Doctor”

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2 responses to “Exciting Week – Mailbag – Doll Repair – My Life as a Doll Doctor

  1. What a great job..infact I’d love to do your job.
    Im new to collecting Tonner DC superheroes and hope they never see you…BUT if they did they’d be in great hands.
    Keep up the great work.

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