I have twin porcelain dolls that are just waiting for my twin seven-month-old granddaughters to get old enough to love them. I made these little beauties (named "Jenny" by the doll artist who created the molds) years ago, in the mid-nineties, when I was taking a weekly porcelain dollmaking class. I was young enough at the time that having a daughter was still a possibility, but that wasn't the reason I took that class; I love dolls so much that I really just did it for me! It was a nice, feminine activity for a mom who was surrounded by five dinosaur-loving, video game-playing, sweet little ruffians. At the time, the idea of having grandchildren seemed so far-off and unreal that, while I made dolls for many family members and friends, I never made any specifically thinking they would be for my future granddaughters. Well, time does fly, as they say...and now I have two grandddaughters with whom I hope to share my passion for dolls.
The Jenny on the right, dressed as a little Irish lass in green, is one that I made for myself in 1996. My mother-in-law loved it so much that I decided to give it to her as a birthday gift that year. The next year, I made the one dressed in Christmas finery for myself, but this time instead of glass eyes, I decided to do painted eyes. So these two Jenny's aren't quite identical twins, like my granddaughters--but they're darn close.
In 1997, my mother-in-law's Jenny was nearly destroyed when my in-laws' house had a first floor fire that caused so much smoke and water damage, they had to gut the house and rebuild it. Mom's Jenny's eyes and wig had melted, her porcelain skin had turned black, and her soft cloth body smelled of smoke. I swapped Jenny's with my mother-in-law; I gave her my Jenny with the painted eyes and took her ailing one home to see if I could clean her up and repair her. I was able to put her pretty much back together, but she still has a crack along one arm, a badge of honor earned by surviving that awful event.
Since my mother-in-law's death, my husband's siblings have been encouraging everyone to take back any items that were gifts they'd given to Mom (in an effort to clear out some of the bric-a- brac that is cluttering up the house). I have been hesitant to do so; but fnally this Christmas I did bring home the Jenny with painted eyes that I'd given my mother-in-law when her Jenny got damaged in the fire. If it wasn't for those two precious granddaughters of mine, I think I would have left that doll there indefinitely. But I believe Mom would be happy to see it loved by one of her great-granddaughters rather than gathering dust on a shelf.
My daughter-in-law has commented that her girls are going to get all the "good stuff," because I keep finding things that I want to pass on to them. I guess I will have to try to control my first-time-grandma enthusiasm and save some things for the children my other boys may have someday. But these two Jenny's are definitely earmarked for the twins!
(By the way, the oil painting in the background was done by my maternal grandmother. Isn't it wonderful?)