Thrift Store Dolls - Holiday Displays

By:  Roselyn Gadia-Smitley

Photo: Fashion Dolls: Christmas Tablescape.

        I have been a collector for over 30 years and is not satisfied with only collecting the most pristine dolls, the "never out of box dolls".  I have the most fun renovating dolls that would be otherwise be overlooked.  One of my very best sources are the thrift stores.

        One of the very earliest thrift store that was established in my home town in the United States is the Salvation Army.  This charity organization which originated in Europe helps out the homeless in many parts of the world.  Today, there are many thrift stores in my home town for various charities. I contribute many of my purchased items that are still useful and saleable condition to charity organizations.  Most of these items were purchased on a whim or given as gifts that have not been useful to me. These visits to drop off items begun innocently with the concept of "let me look around while I'm here".  It started with one Barbie doll, from a "superstar" smiling face mold of the 1970s.

        When purchasing dolls in a thrift store, expect the dolls to be dirty, with matted hair or balding hair, cut hair, inked with ball point or pens, chewed limbs, or missing limbs. Choose dolls with clean faces. The rest of the body can be covered with clothing.  However, if you really love the doll's face with ink marks, this can be fully refurbished as a themed doll with painting over the face.

        To clean the dolls, use dishwashing soap and scrub gently with a soft well-used toothbrush. To clean and untangle the hair, use shampoo and squeeze to clean to avoid further tangling.  Apply hair conditioner (use a generous amount)  and use a wide tooth comb from the bottom of the hair length to the scalp.  Be patient when untangling the hair.  Use a plug in your drains when rinsing the doll as loose nylon and saran hair strands can plug up your plumbing.

        If face paint is missing, use acrylic paints (Liquitex) with a fine brush to paint the details. To redress the doll, there are many books in the marketplace that have a variety of patterns.  Such a book is my out-of-print book, Dolls' Clothes Pattern Book (1987), which is still available (used copies) from internet sellers as Ebay or Amazon.

        I utilize my dolls for my holiday displays.  One of these favorite holidays is of course Christmas!  Tablescapes and Christmas trees are my favorite places to display my renovated thrift store dolls.   Have a wonderful time visiting your local thrift stores.

        Happy Collecting!


For further information, click at these links:

History of The Doll

Muse Body Barbie

Collecting Barbie Dolls On A Budget

Retirement Hobby - Collecting Barbie







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