Saturday, December 27, 2008
As a young child, one of my favorite things about visiting my Nana and Gampy was Susabella. In my little girl memory, Susabella was the most beautiful baby doll, with her curly auburn hair and glacier blue eyes that opened & closed. Her lace trimmed dress was several shades lighter than her eyes, but the same icy blue hue. When we (the 3 grand-daughters) would visit my grandparents, Nana would "hide" Susabella...usually in one of the same 4 places :-) The search for the treasured baby doll was almost as exciting as being the first to find her.
My cousins and I were in our late teens/ early twenties when our Nana passed away and Susabella was the one heirloom that nearly caused an irreparable family feud. Because I was the eldest grandchild, it was decided that the coveted baby doll would be mine.
For years I kept Susabella perched on the needlepoint cushion of a chair my Nana made. As she (and I) aged, Susabella's auburn locks grew brittle. Some of her eyelashes loosened. Her "skin" became a bit grimy and her dress began to disintegrate. Still, I saw her as the precious doll of my youth. It wasn't until I had my own children that Susabella's age became evident to me. I finally put her in a closet, wrapped in a blanket my Nana had knit, when the sight of her (literally) gave my son nightmares.
Last week Susabella fell off my closet shelf, while I was searching for a handbag, and I decided it was time for a make-over. I had originally intended to research companies that did professional restoration of dolls, but happened upon a plethora of websites that sell doll making supplies. I ordered a wig and a pair of new eyelashes, figuring that was as good a place to start as any. The package arrived this afternoon. I washed Susabella as best I could with "Goo Gone" and popped her new do on, with minimal difficulty. The eyelashes were quite another story...don't know HOW Dolly Parton et al mess with those things on a regular basis! I dug through a bin of my favorite baby clothes of my daughter's and found an ensemble that does Susabella proud.
Of all of the refinishing projects I have undertaken, this has been FAR and away my favorite. Although I think of my Nana frequently, today she was working alongside me as we restored Susabella to her original beauty! The fact that her eyelashes are crooked and there are remnants of ballpoint pen on her chin is apropos. It was Nana, after all, who presented a lovely gift-wrapped present held together with black, electrical tape!