Mending a Doll

I don’t recall how I happened to come into the possession of this old doll of my mom’s.

I don’t know why she still happened to have it, to be able to pass it on to me.

It is very old. Considering that my mom was born in 1918, I’m guessing it dates to the 1920s or ’30s.


It comes with a rocking cradle, that I believe my mom made in a manual arts class in junior high.

Considering its age, it is in pretty good shape — except for the hands.

Several weeks ago, when I retrieved it at my daughter’s request from the box it had been stored in for the past several years, I saw how badly the hands had deteriorated.

I emailed pictures to two or three doll restorers that I found on the web. What I learned was that the doll body was most likely made of “Magic Skin,” which doesn’t age well and is really not repairable or restorable.

A doll restorer in Idaho told me that the only option for repair or restoration was to replace the whole body with a “replacement vintage vinyl body” which would cost  $100 to $125.

I passed this information on to my daughter, who expressed the opinion that, if we did that, it wouldn’t be the same doll.

Can’t say as I disagreed.

But I just couldn’t leave her in her sad condition. I had to do something.

I tried to think of what I could apply to her hands to keep them from falling apart worse than they already had. And I settled on Mod Podge.

The right hand was in much worse shape. It was so fragile that any handling just made it crumble more. I tried as best I could to arrange it so what edges were left more or less aligned, but I can’t say I did a great job.

I gently brushed on a layer of Mod Podge, and left it to dry overnight.

It worked about as well as I hoped. It won’t stand up to anything more than the most gentle handling, but at least the hand is what I would call “stabilized.”

Then I did the left hand.




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