What Really Matters – My Life as a Doll Doctor

 

 

 

Anyone who knows me will tell you how I will go above and beyond to fix a child’s doll…even when that job seems impossible. Many children are quite attached to their dolls and really have a difficult time when they are separated. When I know a child needs their doll back home quickly…I  push all other jobs aside–and work to get that doll out of recovery and back into their little owners arms. This week I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely family who came to me with their daughter Maria and her sad little Disney Belle doll. Maria was also accompanied by her sister and these girls looked to be about 5 and 6 years old or so. Maria looked up at me with big sad eyes and told me how sleeping with Belle every night messes up Belle’s hair and how she tried to fix it. I could see her apprehension–after all..Maria was going to leave her prized possession with a total stranger! Her Mom had already spent hours trying to condition and comb out the frizzy matted mess–but felt this hair was far too gone to ever save. When I first saw the doll…I was also unsure if this could even be fixed.

Talk About Bed-Head!

This shot shows how dried out and frizzy the hair was. It actually looked like a hot blow dryer just crinkled it up. I could not even find the ends of the hair as they were matted at the roots! When I looked into that little girls eyes…(my brain was saying no) my mouth said Yes….I will do my best to make your Belle Beautiful. I could see the sadness and fear in Maria’s face about leaving her dolly here so I told her and the family to follow me to the Hospital in the back. There was already an old Schoenhut laying on one tiny mattress…and I had another doll mattress just waiting for Belle. When Maria saw me carefully lay Belle down on her little bed and explained she would not be alone…I saw a little smile form on her face. As soon as they left…I pulled out the complete Hair emergency kit I had in the dolly O.R. I started out with the detangler–and used probably enough for ten dolls! I knew I had to take the special 5 tooth comb and start at the ends of tiny one inch sections…but how to get at the ends was the problem! Using just that comb and spray…after about 3 hours–I was able to section off the areas that I had de-tangled. I knew I was getting somewhere, and continued until all the tangles and matted hair was combed through. This still left me with de-tangled but Frizzy hair. (Luckily I just learned from another collector–that you can flat-iron certain types of nylon hair..thanks Michael!) I took a tiny sample piece and used the flat-iron on low setting…sliding carefully down the small piece. Sure enough–it worked! I had never, ever used a flat-iron on synthetic hair as I always feared a big melt-down. I would still ALWAYS test on a little sample piece first–but wow–this worked great! After I had the hair nice and straight, I shampooed and conditioned with products made specifically for synthetic doll hair. This removed all the silicone in the de-tangler and brought back a nice shine. I sent a couple of pictures to Maria’s mother for approval……….

Belles hair is now beautiful

No More Brittle Frizzies for Me!!

 

What a Difference a Day at the Spa makes!

I received an email right back from Maria’s mom telling me she passed her cell phone with Belle’s picture on it to Maria and said “take a Look” and Maria cried!!  OMG…I said “I hope they were tears of joy”  She emailed me right back and I had to cut and paste the actual email:

They were!! She reacted like this. I passed her my cell phone and said “Take a look.”
Maria: Is that Belle?!
Me: Yes
Maria: Is that Belle?!!!
Me: Yes
Maria: She’s so beautiful. (And she broke into tears.)
Me: Aww don’t cry.
Maria: Mommy, these are tears of joy.
It was so sweet I almost cried!

After reading that email…I thought–talk about a rewarding job—this is the part that really matters!!

 

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About Dr. Noreen

Dr. Noreen Morris is chief of staff at the state of the art Tonner Doll Hospital located in Kingston, N.Y. She has over 20 years experience in the repair and restoration of antique bisque head dolls right on up through modern dolls of today. She is often referred to as the "Plastic Surgeon"..but operates on vinyl, composition, hard plastic and bisque dolls too.

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10 Comments

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  1. Great story, not to mention, fantastic work getting that mess straightened out! LOL, did you send Belle home in a hospital gown? I still remember getting one of those when my Super Stripes Angelina was sent back to me.

    • Yes!! The lovely Belle went home in a Hospital Gown…and for the children–a little hospital ID bracelet. Would you believe–the same size gown that your Angelina went home in! They are not quite one size fits all–but I am making it work.

  2. tht is an amazing labor of love. curious what you suggested to the dollymama to prevent such a mess from happening again and ….what kind of charge there was, if thats not classified info
    thanks

    • Hi Frankie,
      yes…..that was a labor of love for sure! I did include a special plastic wide tooth hair brush so Maria can enjoy brushing that hair. The best thing is a wide tooth comb or plastic wide tooth brush. The worst thing to use is a bristle type brush that people use.
      As far as costs go….we usually charge according to each individual job according to time and materials involved. I guess if the time was factored only…it was about $1.50 per hour!! Our usual pricing for a wash, condition, detangling and trim runs about $30. to $35. but they usually only take a few hours. This one took quite some time…but was really worth it to me!

  3. Oh my goodness – this is miraculous!!!!! So much patience to do this!! Maybe it could be suggested that Belle needs to sleep in a night cap or with hair tied with a nice ribbon??

    I bet this little girl just added “doll doctor” to her list of “things I want to be when I grow up”. Roberta

    • Hi Roberta, Thanks so much for the kind comments! I think the ribbon idea may be a good one! I will have to email the mommy and mention that…tee-hee!

  4. Dr. Noreen,
    I understand how hard it can be for a little one to leave their closest friend with a stranger, but you did suck a wonderful job and Bell just looked beautiful. My neices love their dolls and play with the Disney toddler dolls all the time. They are so cute and adorable. Thank you for making a little girls friend all better. If you ever need a intern I’d sign up.

    Joe

    • Thanks Joe….this job has so many rewards–and I bet it is something you would be great at!!

  5. My own china doll went to a hospital in Chicago for what seemed like an eternity to me when I was a little girl.
    I loved reading your article, the caring kindness that you feel for your patients & their human friends is wonderful. I am so pleased that places like this doll hospital are still around making people happy!

    • Thanks for the kind words Sarah….I hope to be doing this forever!!

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