Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meet Ann Estelle, A Tonner Mary Engelbreit Doll

Hi Doll Friends!

I am pleased to introduce you to Ann Estelle, an adorable doll sculpted by Robert Tonner based on Mary Engelbreit's whimsical Ann Estelle character. Since I am such a big fan of all things Mary Engelbreit, a little Ann Estelle doll was destined to live at my house!
And here she is...

Mary Engelbreit is famous for her designs that include cherries, checkerboard, flowers, and of course, Ann Estelle. According to her website, maryengelbreit.com, Ann Estelle was named after Mary's maternal grandmother, and she has been drawing her since she was a little girl. Mary gave Ann Estelle the title "The Queen of Everything".

Ann Estelle dolls were made by Tonner for 10 years, from 1999 - 2009. Over the course of those 10 years, Tonner produced many versions of Ann Estelle and her friends, Sophie, Georgia, Gracie, and Michael, along with many outfits, furniture, and accessories.

Ann Estelle dolls are no longer available from Tonner, but a quick eBay search reveals that they have quite an active following there, with many artists designing custom-made outfits for these little cuties. I was able to purchase my little Ann Estelle from a doll collector friend on Facebook. She sent her to me in the original box.

If you notice, her box says Effanbee Doll Company. In 2002, Robert Tonner purchased the Effanbee Doll Company, which was one of America's oldest doll companies, manufacturing dolls since 1908.

Ann Estelle dolls are 10" tall, making them the same size as Tonner's new Patsy dolls. Patsy dolls have been produced by Effanbee since the 1920's. Since Tonner now owns Effanbee, he has re-imagined Patsy with an adorable new face sculpt. The new Tonner Patsy is currently available from tonnerdoll.com/patsy. Patsy would make a great friend for Ann Estelle since they are the same size.

My doll is known as Birthday Queen from the 2009 release.

Ann Estelle wears the most adorable little wire framed glasses.  These little hinged glasses are very well made too, nice and heavy.

Here is a close up of Ann Estelle's face, without her glasses, so you can see her adorable inset blue eyes. Her sweet smiling face just makes me happy.

Earlier Ann Estelle dolls came with straight legs, but later versions had hinged knees, like my doll.

Here is 10" tall Ann Estelle with my new 11 1/2" tall Bleuette that I recently introduced in my last post.

I love the size of these smaller dolls. They fit perfectly in my doll cabinet, and it's so much fun to look for accessories for them. I found these adorable Mary Engelbreit chairs on eBay.  They are actually pin cushions.

I can't wait to make Ann Estelle some Mary Engelbreit style dresses from these adorable new tiny print ME fabrics from Hancock Fabrics.

I'd like to design a whole Mary Engelbreit theme room for Ann Estelle. There is definitely some Mary Engelbreit style going on in my dollhouse, as you can see here. Don't you think Ann Estelle needs her own Mary Engelbreit style kitchen? :)  The wheels are turning now...

Facebook Group

If you're on Facebook, check out the Mary Engelbreit Collectors & Fans Group. It is a place to chat about Mary Engelbreit products, past and present like Tonner's Ann Estelle dolls and more.

I hope you enjoyed meeting my new little Ann Estelle!

 - Lisa

Monday, February 9, 2015

Meet Bleuette, A Resin Ball Jointed Doll from Ruby Red Galleria

Hi Doll Friends!

I'm so excited to introduce you to the newest member of my doll family. Please help me welcome Bleuette. She is a new ball jointed doll available from Ruby Red Galleria. She is also available in the US from Denver Doll Emporium. I found her at a bargain price on eBay though.

As you have probably noticed, I have developed a great interest in the history of dolls. In addition to modern dolls, I love searching for antique dolls, learning about them, and adding them to my collection whenever possible. After learning a little about Bleuette, I purchased the book "Bleuette: The Doll and Her Wardrobe" by Barbara Craig Hilliker to study and learn more about the history of Bleuette. This large book is filled with information and hundreds of beautiful color pictures, and I would highly recommend it if you'd like to learn about Bleuette.

Bleuette History

You may have heard of Bleuette dolls before. The original Bleuette dolls were produced from 1905 to 1960, as a premium for the French girls' magazine, La Semaine de Suzette. Little girls who subscribed to the magazine would receive a Bleuette doll, and each magazine contained patterns so that girls could make entire wardrobes for their dolls. Bleuette dolls were designed for interactive play and as a tool to teach girls sewing and homemaking. There were more than 1,000 patterns published for Bleuette during the 55 years that she was produced, in addition to the commercially made outfits that were also available.

Bleuette dolls have a bisque head and a wooden composition body which is fully articulated with joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees. The dolls range in size from 10 5/8" to 11 3/8" and there are several different Bleuette head molds.

After learning about Bleuette's fascinating history, I knew I'd love to have one of these lovely dolls, and maybe even sew, knit and crochet a complete wardrobe for her. So I began to look for an antique Bleuette. I joined a Bleuette group on Facebook, where I learned that most Bleuette collectors buy reproduction Bleuette dolls. The reason is because a nice original antique Bleuette is valued at around $5,000 or more.

My First Bleuette

My Bleuette search quickly turned from searching for an antique to looking for a reproduction. Since there are so many different head molds and different artists, not all Bleuettes look alike. That's not a problem, it just means you search for one you love. During my search, I ran across this new version of Bleuette by Ruby Red Galleria. Her head and body are made completely of resin. I thought the resin would be more durable for play and redressing than bisque. Since I have other resin ball jointed dolls, I took an interest in this new resin BJD version of Bleuette.

She came dressed in her white one piece underwear, which are beautifully detailed with lace trim and two tiny working buttons.

So embarrassing Mom, I'm in my undies.
Since she came only in her underwear, she requested that I start on her wardrobe immediately.  I sewed her first dress from a rose print fabric and added lacy trims.

A fun fact about ball jointed dolls is that they can be so easily customized, and the Ruby Red Bleuette is no exception. Her wig is removable and can be changed for a totally different look. Her eyes can also be changed. In addition, she came with two interchangeable face plates, which Ruby Red calls the Bleuette face and the Charmette face. She also came with two pairs of eyes in blue-gray and brown. You can see the two different face plates with different color eyes side by side below.

She came with pierced ears, so she is already looking forward to starting her own jewelry collection.

Can I have some lovely earrings please?

She is about 11 1/2" tall and is jointed at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees, just like her bisque and wooden counterparts. Here you can see that even though she is about the same height as Rapunzel, her proportions are very different.

Here she is with Rosalee, my Fairyland Littlefee resin BJD who is a little shorter at just under 10" tall.

Bleuette dolls love to collect lots of accessories, so she immediately started collecting things from around the house.

She decided that the Schoenhut piano and the bowl and pitcher were the perfect size for her house.

She has a great love for animals, especially the sheep and the alpaca.

HELP! She needs a NAME!

I could really use your help with choosing a name. The choices on my list are Maryette, Josette, Juliette, or Ruby. I'd love to hear your thoughts and name suggestions in the comments section below!

 - Lisa

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I'm back & I've missed you!

Just a quick post to let you know that I'm very excited to be back here working on the blog again. I've missed you all very much. I've been away from the computer, taking care of my mom who has been sick. I've made some updates for the new year with a new header and background, so I hope you like the new look. I am currently working on a post about a brand new doll that has just arrived. I'll be revealing who she is very soon.

 - Lisa