A bisque restorers point of view

BY PETER STRANGE.child with broken doll

At the risk of boring your readers by continuing the discussion of the pros and cons of bisque restoration, I feel I must write to make one or two points arising from the article by David Barrington in Issue No 6 of your magazine.

It is interesting that there should be such strong opposition to restoration of damaged bisque dolls. After all, the restoration and conservation of antique furniture, oil paintings and fine china pieces of all ages, is not only universally accepted but indeed expected.

One is tempted to believe that what is good enough for some of the world's finest porcelain pieces, may also be considered to be good enough for dolls' heads,
the majority of which were manufactured by mass production methods.  Why, therefore, should there be a widespread belief that a damaged doll ought not to
be restored?

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Response to articles on doll restoration

A response from Dorothea Thompson in issue 7

Dear Editors, 

I was very interested in David Barrington's article on restoration. I agree that one should ask the question "What am I doing?" when faced with a job of restoration.

When I became interested in old dolls, I restored for my own personal collection, mainly because I could not afford anything else. I started as Peter Strange suggested with a bag of pieces.for an S.F.B.J. head minus a wedge shaped piece for the forehead. I completed it to my satisfaction, acquired a suitable body and felt very pleased with myself.

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When to restore bisque dolls

claireDavid Barringtons excellent article on the restoration of bisque dolls also appeared in issue 6 of Kinloch and Sellers Catalogue. It caused quite a stir! I invite people to add their thoughts and comments at the end of it!

Margaret Glover's excellent article on restoration of wax dolls in last month's issue has prompted this expression of my views in relation to the repair of bisque head dolls. Views which may seem strong to some but which are, I think, in need of being stated; indeed, should have been put forward some years ago.

Put shortly, my opinion is, that bisque should never be restored unless the original work is so damaged as to be quite disfigured.

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19th Century fashion part 2 1870-1900

The second part of this aticle, written and illustrated by Claire Kinloch,

doll fashion from 1873appeared in issue 32 of Kinloch and Sellers Catalogue


19th CENTURY FASHIONS PART 2 1870-1900

by V.H.C.K.


The 1870s saw the French firmly established as the supreme doilmakers, with their luxury lady dolls with trousseaux and trunks often costing as much as the doll itself. Fashions in clothes were elaborate - favourite materials used were wool, alpaca, velveteen, for everyday, with ball dresses of tulle, tarlatans and muslin and summer clothes of linen, cambric and muslin. With the invention of aniline dyes, colours became much stronger and brighter - with purples, royal blues, grass green and red. Trimmings were very lavish and braids, frogging, laces and embroideries decorated the edges of clothing. 

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Restoration of bisque dolls

sad childIn issue 6 of Kinloch and Sellers Catalogue, the doll restorer, (or dolly doctor) Peter Strange wrote an article for us. I am reproducing this article below. In the same issue we had an article by David Barrington, on whether or not to restore bisque dolls. The two articles prompted a slightly heated exchange in our letters to the editor section. I will be publishing both David's article, and the letters to the editor over the next new weeks.

If you are interested in the restoration and repair of dolls, I found a good tutorial on resetting sleeping eyes. It was written by Sandra Fayle .

Restoration feature


Being asked to write 500 words on restoration is rather like being invited to give an outline of 'War & Peace' on the back page of Old Moore's Almanack However, as a specialist in the restoration of bisque dolls' heads I will confine my remarks to this aspect of restoration work and hope that a few general points will be of assistance to those who would like to attempt porcelain repair themselves and also to those wishing to have a head professionally restored.

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