Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thinking About Twins!

My daughter-in-law has almost reached the 34-week benchmark, and it is dawning on my husband and me that it won't be long before we become grandparents to twin babies!! We are so excited and thrilled, and dying to know a few things: whether they're two boys or two girls; whether they're fraternal or identical; what their names are going to be; if they have my daughter-in-law's dark hair and large hazel eyes or my son's blond hair and smaller blue eyes--or some wonderful blending of their parents' features. I can tell you this: even in the sonogram pictures, they have the cutest noses and mouths! We can hardly wait to meet them.

So I've got twins on the brain these days, and I thought I'd show you my darling pair of newborn porcelain baby dolls. I suppose you'd have to say they're fraternal twins, because they look nothing alike. I made these dolls about 15 years ago, when I was taking a weekly porcelain dollmaking class with a small group of women. The teacher had a whole room filled with molds for making both antique reproductions and modern dolls, and we could choose whichever ones we wanted. She would pour the liquid clay into the molds, then we would carefully clean and smooth the dried and hardened, but still delicate and breakable, doll parts. The parts were fired in a kiln and turned to porcelain; we would paint the porcelain pieces and then they would be fired again to make the painting we'd done permanent. After that, we constructed the soft bodies and attached our heads, hands, and legs to them. Then came wigs and eyes, unless the eyes were hand-painted. And finally, we dressed our little darlings. This class was so much fun for me, because I adore dolls. And yes, I have 5 sons and no daughters; so needless to say, if those twin grandbabies are girls, Grandma is going to give them dolls for Christmas!

The doll on the left is the first doll I ever made. She's called "Sugar Britches" and she was modeled by modern doll artist Boots Tyner. (Don't look at me--I didn't name her! And I'm not sure which name is more bizarre: Sugar Britches or Boots Tyner.) She probably has a bit too much hair for a newborn, but her features are very realistic; and the way her body is weighted, when you hold her, you feel like you're holding a real newborn--floppy head and all.

The one on the right is a reproduction of an antique doll called "Bye-Lo Baby." This doll was designed in 1925 by an American woman named Grace Storey Putnam; she visited a hospital and modeled the face after a three-day-old infant she saw in the nursery. At the time, most baby dolls had a very idealized look, so the Bye-Lo Baby caused quite a sensation because of how realistic-looking it was. When it was introduced, it was an instant best-seller and became one of the most popular dolls ever made. Bye-Lo Babies were made of both compositon and porcelain bisque, and they had either painted or glass eyes. (I wish I'd hand-painted the eyes on mine, because I'm not that crazy about how it looks with glass eyes.)

Both babies are dressed in antique baby dresses, which were given to me by my neighbor's mother (a fellow doll and antiques enthusiast).

I think my two babies, my little twin newborns, look awfully sweet together. Looking at them just makes me that much more anxious for the real thing--a pair of living dolls. Please pray for my daughter-in-law and her two little angels as the big day approaches.

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