Fashion Doll Restore7:  Jem

by:  Roselyn Gadia-Smitley


Photo1: "Rock n Curl Jem" Doll (1987) by Hasbro Inc..  Original dress to Jem/Jerrica doll, but embellished with star shaped and round shaped beads in bald spots. Face is painted to cover ink marks.  Replaced left hand. Photo by Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.

    Jem dolls by Hasbro Inc. came into the marketplace in 1985-87.  The mid-80s was the height of the popularity of glamorous all-girl bands.  The emergence of the television network, MTV, gave this era "girl power" with their translation of the cartoon series of the Jem dolls.  The Jem dolls reflected the spirit of the all-girl bands of this time.  Jem was introduced with a complete line of characters, her main band called "The Holograms", a rival girl band "The Misfits", and cast of support characters.  She came with musical paraphenalia (guitars, stage, microphone), cassette tape, a pink pet llama, a car, and a boyfriend.  One of the dolls, "Jem" - the lead singer of the holograms had earrings which flashed when lighted up.  To power the lights, battery was inserted at the back of the doll.

    Through Ebay, I purchased a lot of nude Jem dolls to dress.  One of these dolls is the last of the Jem dolls which was released in 1987 called "Rock n Curl Jem".  She was badly damaged.  Her legs and face were stained.  She had a missing hand which is common to these dolls as the swivel wrists can be broken off  with repeated play.  Her full head of hair (blonde with pink) was tangled and dirty.  Overall, she was a fixer upper parts doll.  At the back of her torso are the marks as follows: Copyright 1985 Hasbro Inc., China.

    The process which took to restore "Rock n Curl Jem" follows:

1.    I cleaned the doll with mild soap and water by gently scrubbing with a soft used toothbrush. I shampooed her hair, but squeeze the hair to clean to prevent further tangling. 

2.     With a generous amount of conditioner applied to the hair, I untangled her hair from the bottom to the scalp, with a wide tooth comb.  I rinsed the doll thoroughly, dried off with a clean towel and used the same squeezing motion to dry off the hair.  I left the doll  in an upright position in a tall glass to air dry further.

3.    I studied the doll closely to analyze her damaged areas.  Stains on the face and legs were the two most prominent areas in this doll.  She also had a missing hand.

4.    I styled her hair with the boiling set technique.  I utilized plastic straws as rollers and secured these in place with hairpins.  I poured hot boiling water in a bowl and dipped the sections of her hair with the rollers.  I used drinking glasses and bowls to hold her in place, while her hair was sitting in the hot water. (Only the rolled sections of the hair was dipped in the hot water.)  I left her hair in the water until it cooled down.  I patted her hair to dry with a cotton towel with the rollers and left her again to air dry (rollers still in place).  At this stage, I began to paint her face.

5.    I applied paint to the stained sections of her face (similar to the Japanese style face paint that the rock band, "Kiss", utilized as stage makeup).  On the right side of her face, I painted a long triangle motif in hot pink and a purple star, to echo the colors of the star-shaped sequins  which I also decorated her dress with.  To balance the face painting, I painted another triangle (with one point at the edge of her left eye) counter pointing in the opposite direction of the other eye.  I selected very bright acrylic paints for this procedure and also painted her faded lips.

6.   After the face paint and her hair had dried,  I removed her rollers. I styled the hair and applied hairspray to keep the wild hair strands in place.  I covered her face with a paper towel while applying the hairspray.    



 Photo2:  "Rock n Curl Jem" in full view restored.

7.    To replace the missing hand, I sculpted polymer clay and attached it to the wrists with super glue.  The sculpted hand was heated to cure in the oven before attachment.  When the hand dried, it did not match the skin color of the doll.  To fix this problem.  I decided to cover the hand with a knitted stretch fabric, from an infant's pink leotard, and glued it with superglue to the replacement hand.  I painted this fabric in mottled hues, the same paints I used for the face to cover the stains.  To harmonize the presentation, I made flat shoes of felt and painted the front of the shoes the same mottled pattern as the gloves.  I also made leotards of the same knitted fabric to cover her stained legs. Jem dolls wore leotards with their original clothing.

8.    To dress Rock n Curl Jem, I utilized an original dress of the first release Jem/Jerrica (1985) doll.  This is the metallic pink dress with the white belt.  The dress had bald spots where the metallic finish had rubbed off and the belt was missing.  To salvage the dress, I applied star-shaped sequins, round sequins, and glass beads to the damaged areas.  These embellishments were sewn in.  I also applied the same shaped sequins to her hair to match.  As the dress had shrunk from usage and uptake of the sewing of the sequins, I made a short metallic silver skirt to match. 

    "Rock n Curl Jem" is presentable again.  Happy Collecting! 



For additional information, click at these links: