- Duane Joseph Olson runs Duane Made It on YouTube, where he restores dolls and action figures.
- He shows us how he restores an almost-100-year-old Effanbee Mary Ann doll.
- This includes deconstructing the doll, repainting it, fixing the voice box, and making new clothes.
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The following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Hi, my name is Duane Joseph Olson, and I have a YouTube channel called Duane Made It on which I do custom art projects, prop replicas, and restorations. This doll is an Effanbee doll. According to my research, it’s a Mary Ann Effanbee doll, which was one of the bigger doll companies back in the early part of the 20th century. They were significantly popular especially because a lot of their earlier dolls were the first to do realistic proportions.
I’m making small incisions to open up the seams and begin to dismantle the doll piece by piece. I’m slowly loosening up the old glue that attaches the head to the body, removing the head. At this point, I’m able to turn my attention to some of the features that help me to actually identify what this doll is supposed to look like. I can see that the mouth plate has four teeth, so I know to only look at Effanbee dolls that have four teeth. The doll has eyelashes on the top, not the bottom, so I know to only look at dolls with top lashes. And the doll has eyebrows that are solid gold crescents, so that’ll help me to figure out both the doll that this once was and what color hair I’m gonna be looking at later on in the process.
Once I’ve got the whole doll dismantled, I can begin removing the paint and going through, starting with the legs, using a moderate-grade sandpaper and going over the whole piece. I also want to make sure that I’m not sanding away any of the features. So going through as gently and carefully as I can removing all that paint. Looking at the face of the doll, you can actually tell just how much this doll was used. Whoever had this doll definitely loved it a lot. The biggest problem with this doll is the cracks. I’m taking some wood filler and starting to find those cracks. This particular wood filler is pink in color, but a lot like school glue sticks, it actually dries clear.
Something that I found while dismantling it, that there was a voice box in there. This particular voice box is called the crier because that’s the sound that it makes. There’s a little cloth membrane that’s been oiled inside, and every time the voice box gets turned upside down, that compresses, and it forces the air through the instrument part of the voice box. I just have to take a piece of cloth and replace this membrane. The eyes are actually in pretty good shape. The only problem is the paint is severely discolored. I’m gonna go ahead and use some white Rust-Oleum spray paint and cover those guys up. I could tell that these were once a bright blue, but they have faded to kind of a dark teal almost. Then I actually went on my laptop and I photoshopped some irises. I print out those irises on waterslide decal paper, soak them in a little bit of water, and apply them like you would a normal decal. And once the eyes are ready, I can go ahead and pop them back into the head.
Now I can begin the painting process. I’m taking paint and I’m watering it down to kind of a milklike consistency, pouring it into the airbrush. Once the initial coat of her flesh tone is done, I can go through and start to blush the areas I know I want blushed. In this case, it’s the cheeks and the knees and a little bit of the hands. Once all the airbrushing is done and dry, I can go in and repaint the lips. I’m using a black watercolor pencil here. Once the eyelashes are sketched, I mix up a shade of paint that closely resembles the color that these brows once were, and going through with a very thin brush and repainting the brows. The doll does have painted eyelashes, but it also has a set of literal eyelashes that get glued onto the lid. I’m actually just using a set of fake eyelashes that you would get at a beauty shop, trimming those down to the right shape, and gluing them on with superglue. Once that’s done, I can begin the reassembly process.
With all that taken care of, I can finally restuff the doll. I’m just gonna stick the crier back in there before gluing on the head. I was able to find only one picture of what the original Effanbee Mary Ann doll was supposed to look like. After making a trip to the fabric store and finding as close of fabrics as I could, with all the pieces traced out, I can begin cutting them and piecing them together. This is a wig that I ordered on Etsy. It’s from the ’50s. I’m just going to glue it onto the head. While that glue is setting up, I’m gonna work on making the iconic Effanbee heart. Effanbee dolls either came with a heart bracelet or a heart necklace. This particular one, according to the picture, has the heart necklace. I could only find a reproduction bracelet. So what I’m going to do is take the original chain out of the bracelet, trim a new chain, place the bracelet heart on the new chain, and use that. And with that, the piece is complete.