Rainy Weekend Project: Mini books!

I wasn’t exactly sure of what I would receive, but 30 mini books under $15 seemed like a good deal to me. This kit is called “My Miniature Library” and you can find it at Amazon at an affordable price. Also, I don’t shy away from spending a day cutting and folding paper (it was more like 2 days to be honest). I find focused, repetitive tasks therapeutic. If you’d rather shove bamboo under your nails than assemble 30 tiny books, this may not be for you.

I used ink pads to age page edges.

The kit delivers as promised – you get 30 books to make and a mini ‘library’ to store them in. You cut out book covers and page strips, then accordion-fold all the interior pages. You also get a tiny room to display it in (cleverly inside the box). A cardboard bookcase is also included – which you must punch out and assemble. All the books tuck in with ample space for a few nic-nacs. I won’t be using the box or bookcase, but they are pretty darn cute! This kit would actually be more suited for older children. Serious collectors may turn up their nose at this – but it’s all for fun really, and great accessories to display with my ball jointed dolls.

You’ll need scissors, a straight edge, and glue.

These books are too big for dollhouse scale, but they would be lovely in 1:8th to 1:6th (play scale). I am thinking Blythe or Iplehouse BID dolls. I’ll be using them for my dolls. For ease of putting them together, they made all the books the same size. My one tiny suggestion: a little variety would have been nice. But I am not complaining as they are super cute – and did I mention they are full, proper stories inside? Yes, proper! Not 3 words to a page….very readable and enjoyable. I recommend this kit for older kids stuck inside on a rainy day. Whatever they don’t complete can be tucked back inside the box for the next rainy day.

Full stories inside and lovely illustrations!

But this is also great to keep as a gift stash and give one away to a deserving child…or 30 deserving children! For nothing other than to inspire reading and an interest in minis. What kid wouldn’t be thrilled to get a wee story book?

Copyright Infringement, Fair Use, and Dollhouse Miniatures.

My little treasures – Enid Blyton books!

Do you remember the squeal you suppressed the first time you saw a miniature book of one of the classics? A tiny package of oreos? Or a half inch tall Yankee candle? We love to see familiar objects shrunken down. I know it brings out that little kid in me. That’s not hard to do!

Image result for dollhouse miniature oreos
Not mine …but how cute! This is a gray area.

Since my interest in minis first peaked, I’ve noticed a plethora of book cover printies floating around on the internet. I ADORE miniature books! I love how they look and how they feel between my fingers. And I love making them. Yes, it is tedious but also therapeutic and so satisfying. I made myself a stash of beautiful Enid Blyton books. My husband used to read books like the ‘Famous Five’ series from a branch in his Rambutan tree, when he was a little boy. And we read a collection of her stories to our youngest girls.

I couldn’t help but think that other people would love these mini Blyton books too. It got me wondering about the laws of copyright and how they pertain to minis. As many miniatures you see that are direct copies of their real life counterparts, you also see ones that miniacs went out of their way to modify so they can’t be pursued for infringement.

Important to note, is that copyright laws vary country to country. If it’s something you care about (and you should), it helps to familiarize yourself with the laws of the country where the original work came from. Take Enid Blyton’s work, for instance. Enid was from England, so from there we must refer to the UK laws. In Britain, an author’s books don’t come into the public domain until 70 years after his/her death. In Enid Blyton’s case, that will be at the end of 2038. At first, it was pretty clear than that if I don’t care to ever receive a cease and desist letter, I should keep those mini books in my own collection.

After further investigating, black and white turned into the gray area of ‘Fair Use’ (or ‘Fair Dealing’). Fair use is a concept used here in Canada, the USA, and the UK (other countries as well). These 3 are the countries I typically deal with for selling and purchasing miniatures. Canada, US, and UK law is quite similar when it comes to copyright infringement. The gist of it is this: copyright permission is not required if you are using the work for an educational purpose, to critique a work, if you are only using a portion of the work, or it’s use is for something other than it’s original purpose. If you decide to go this route, you should have a solid purpose to what you are doing. You also should be able to defend your intended use if ever called into question.

When in question, Fair Use is determined by these 4 factors:

  1. The purpose and character of the intended use.
  2. The nature of the work.
  3. The portion used in relation to the portion as a whole.
  4. The effect your usage of the work has on (the market) the original work …will your work devalue the original work?

‘Transformative’ Use is a legal term under fair use, which stipulates that when the original copyrighted work is significantly transformed in appearance or nature, it no longer qualifies as infringement. I believe that this applies to most any dollhouse miniature. Mainly because the intended use is for decoration only and it’s only a small fraction of it’s original size. If a tiny package of oreos or box of cereal is not edible, you may have a valid argument. If you copy a book cover but not it’s contents, you may have a valid argument.

Property of Jessica Hische.
Property of Jessica Hische.


These above covers are all over Pinterest on boards for mini books to print. They are of classics, written by great authors who also happen to be long gone from this world. The books themselves are no longer under copyright protection. Anyone can publish these works. However, see that crisp, lovely typography? Well that is the property of a young lettering artist Jessica Hische , and she designed them for Barnes and Noble. Can I sell miniatures of them? I probably could cite transformative use, but I wouldn’t. Personally, I have no issue making copies for myself, but I wouldn’t feel good about profiting from the works of a current artist. However, I see no issue with paying homage by sharing Enid Blyton’s book covers with the miniature world. I believe if the inside contents were left out, in place of blank pages, or a wood slice, it falls under the definition of transformative use.

If one has any confusion over whether they are legally covered to replicate another work, it would be smart not to do it. If you just can’t resist owning that special treasure, I suggest making it just for yourself.

Miniature dollhouse versions of books will not harm the sale or damage the literary value of the original work in any way.

Perhaps not everyone agrees. Feel free to add your comments.

So many times when we read on this subject in miniature forums we see more passionate opinion than informed fact. I’ve sprinkled a bit of both in this post. Please remember – Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Know the law before you decide, and then search your conscience. It wouldn’t hurt.

If you would like to read more on copyright vs. fair use, here are some links on the subject for British law, Canadian law, and American law.

*I take no credit for the photos of Enid Blyton’s books or the others in this post. They are for educational use only.

Christmas Sweeties

The girls are enjoying some Christmas cake, cookies and peppermint bark. Everything you see here is in dollhouse (1:12) scale, which I think is charming and cute paired with my tiny ball jointed dolls.

Blossom’s candy cane sriped outfit is from Denver Doll and the super sweet dress on Riley is from Trillian&Co. on Etsy. She makes the best little dresses, every time! 

The gingerbread candy cane cake is for sale, made-to-order, on my shop page and on Etsy.  

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

This past weekend I attended a workshop at Freedom Miniatures, in Kentville, Nova Scotia. This is a newly opened bricks and mortar shop -the ONLY one in Atlantic Canada – which is a combined studio and retail space for miniature enthusiasts. This was the first workshop offered by the owner, Shelley Acker, and I was thrilled to attend!  

Before it’s all put together…

When we arrived we had a neat stack of wood, cardboard, cork base, and various bits and trims to make a lit fireplace scene. The theme was a Christmas one,  but you could do it in whatever style you wanted. Ultimately, I chose a fun contemporary one.

Along with our kit, in a bag of various decorations, Shelley included 2 wooden Santas that she had made herself. They are fabulous and dainty little things and they reminded me of wooden folk art figures. So, at first I was thinking I would do ‘folk art’ style. I began looking for a folksy winter painting for above my mantle. That’s when I came across this cute sign with a wagon hauling a Christmas tree and I knew I had to change my direction. We had an ugly wooden paneled wagon when I was a kid ( which I have fond memories of)…and so, my direction changed to more of a child’s anticipation – that night before the big day when the air is charged with magic!

I made the tree last year from lycopodium (A.K.A princess pine). It makes wonderfully realistic miniature trees and wreaths. Everything was attached with tacky glue. It’s easier than you may think. I just love the green, red, and white Styrofoam balls which also came with our kit. I centered my colour scheme around them.

My favourite part – which actually is tied with Shelley’s Santas – is the tray filled with goodies. Partly because a nice fellow miniaturist gifted me with trays to use with the mini foods that I make. Miniaturists have hearts of gold! So these gifts helped make this piece so special to me. The goodie tray is filled with milk and cookies, letters to Santa, a candy cane -and lollipops.
The lollipops were made from a mold that I purchased from Stewart Dollhouse on Etsy. I highly recommend that mold. It comes like a kit with fine white wire and a bit of coloured translucent clay to make several lollies. And they come out perfectly!

Santa has a serious sweet tooth like me. This little kid went all out. Perhaps it is a bit of a bribe?

Shelley’s Santa.

The rug is made from red cotton duck, from samples that Shelley provided. I made use of a new stamp kit I bought, and mixed Martha Stewart’s fabric medium with paint to make the snowflake design.

The candle stand on the mantle, was made from a costume ring I had, which I straightened out and painted black. The candle I made from a mix of green and translucent polymer clay, which I inserted a fine wire for the wick.

The final touches were cards that I found online, which I strung together. Luckily, the little train and tricycle I had in my collection already.

 I can feel the anticipation of waiting for Christmas morning when I look at it, can you? In case this is my last post of 2018, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas!”

Summer’s End: A 1:10 scale diorama

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Summer is over and my mind is turning to…

Thanksgiving turkey

the crisp Fall air

the crunch of leaves under foot

 and the spicy sweet mingling of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves …

While the grass is still green, and the leaves mostly so, I thought I’d put Lily in a pretty gingham dress and snap a shot of her. Time to pack away the summer clothes and take out some tiny sweaters!

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the-purse
This sweet purse is made by Mondina Dollhouse on Etsy.

The box and furniture, I made myself. The Lati Yellow dolls that we collect are 1:8th scale and many of our accessories are 1:12th scale. So, I decided to marry the two scales by custom building the furniture and surroundings to 1:10th scale. I think it works.

I had great fun making the tiny books, like these Enid Blyton ones ….

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Some of the accessories, such as the pretty rug and purse, were made by Mondina Dollhouse. I love everything I have purchased from this shop and highly recommend Raimonda’s lovely miniatures. Much of the room I put together with odds and ends I have collected. Those sweet topiaries are made from tiny wood pots I found at Michael’s…and believe it or not, bulgur grains! I learned how to make them on ‘We love Miniatures’, a tutorial channel on Youtube.

 

 

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My daughter’s Lati Yellow doll, which she named ‘Riley’.

I’ve made this diorama for my daughter over the summer. She requested something that looks a bit vintage and she wanted to include deer in the decor, as her Grampy was fond of deer that visited his property. She was very close to her grandfather, so it’s a little nod to him, the outdoors, and animals.

Now to working on our Christmas dollhouse, which I hope to complete before the holidays!

elishas-diorama

heart topiary

How’d ya like them (mini) apples?

my apples3_edited-1I live in the apple capital of Nova Scotia. And it’s harvest time. So, to pay homage, I have made a bunch of dollhouse apples. I’m sharing this little tutorial because this is a good starter for polymer clay fruit.

To make realistic dollhouse fruit, you must first get the scale conversion right. Then it’s about the texture and colouring. For my 1:12th scale apples, I start with 1/4″ ball of clay. Vary the sizes slightly because there is no uniformity in real apples.

Most of the colour details are done after curing the apples, with thinned acrylic paints. I get those ready in various shades of red and green. I also include a small amount of ocher and burnt umber. Sorry, I got carried away and did not photograph the painting process!

A great reference website to see different apple varieties is applename.com

Granny Smith apple identification

The above is a detailed photo of a granny smith. I will be making the good ol’ Macintosh. Just look at all the useful information this page has on this apple variety! Maybe too much info! This really helps in getting the size, shape, colour, texture/juiciness correct.

Image result for macintosh apple Image result for macintosh apple leaf

Some apples I plan to cut open, and those ones will start as a slightly translucent-white apple base, with yellow and ocher brushed over the surface. For the apples I will not be cutting, I will use a pale yellow-green clay as the apple base. Yellow, green, then reds will be painted on after the apple is cured. See the subtle vertical striping of the colours on the left apple above? It helps to move your paint brush up and down, to replicate this colouration. Related image

Attention to tiniest of details is key. For apples, it is the stem, leaf, and seeds. These smallest of details are especially fragile, so I prepare them and set aside so as not to mar them.

Stems will start out a light brown or tan clay with a bit of pale green at the base of it. Seeds are reddish-brown.  Any further colour will be painted on after they are cured. The apple flesh has texture, so you need to achieve this for realism. This really makes the difference between realistic and just ‘meh’. I use fine sand paper with a light touch. Of course, the grooves where the stem and seeds will be must also be made before curing the apple. An x-acto knife and ball stylus can achieve this.

I also had some golden delicious apples in my fridge (such a pretty apple!). They often have just the faintest blush of red on them. I had to make some of these as well.

my apples9_edited-1
I got hungry….

Once cured, a fine detailing brush -and lots of patience!- with thinned acrylic paints will take this from looking plastic to WOW. Make sure you finish off the apple with a slick of satin or glossy glaze.

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Look at how sweet these look in a miniature scene! Here they join some pumpkins which I had previously made, displayed on my potting stand (a work in progress).

 

 

My New Obsession: Meadow Dolls

Bailey sunkissed
All photos from Meadow Dolls website.

I have spent too much time coveting these cuties! I think these may be my new favorite BJD. They are the picture of innocence and fun, aren’t they?

Meadow dolls are from a Swedish Mother-daughter team. Their company name drew inspiration from flowers of the meadow – all unique, equally beautiful, yet complimentary to one another. And their dolls definitely have that quality, they have a sameness yet individuality to them. The dolls look as if they could be siblings or cousins (Ella and Gigi would make a wonderful pairing!) The mom became fascinated with Asian bjds which reminded her of her native Czeck Republic marionette dolls. Later, she employed her daughter with the task of painting their sweet faces. Their dolls come in various scales, their ‘dumplings’ collection being my favorite! If you want to read more of their interesting story, here is a link to an interview they did for the website, bjd collectasy.

“Ella” here is a dumpling and she stands 11″ high…

Ella has completely stolen my heart, more so than the other dolls….

The toothy “Gigi” is also darling! ….

“Gigi”

“Patti” is another one of the dumpling gang…

“Patti” from Meadow dolls gallery.

 

Meadow dolls makes 18″ dolls compatible with AG accessories. “Bailey” is one such doll and she is very cute!

“Bailey”, with tan skin finish.

They also have ‘Tween’ dolls  and ‘Twinkie’s which are comparable in size to tiny bjd’s like Lati Yellow.

Twinkies “Chara”

I think these dolls tug at my heart so because they embody the best qualities of childhood…innocence, playfulness, and a hint of mischief. They aren’t carefully groomed like other bjds, their wigs are a bit tossled, clothing is more practical. They appear as though you’ve caught them in play. These dolls are twice what I have paid for my other bjd, so they are far out of my price range. But I can always admire these gallery photos. I’m sharing these in hopes of bringing a smile to your face…enjoy!

Oh Ella….you are just so adorable!!

Ella has enchanted me.

A Give-Away! : Miniature Sculpted Rainbow Cake.

rainbow cake5
The cake in this photo is 1:6 scale – You may choose between 1:6 or 1:12 scale.

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As a thank-you to my small but loyal followers, I’d like to gift one of you with a small token of my appreciation. I am giving away this rainbow layer cake to someone, with 2 slices included, and I will ship anywhere in the world! I will, or course, pay the shipping.

This polymer clay cake will be custom made just for you, in either dollhouse 1:12 scale, or Barbie 1:6th scale. Perhaps rainbow cakes aren’t your thing but you may know someone you’d like to pass it on to. And that’s fine, generosity should be passed on!

rainbow cake 1 12
This is the 1:12 version I have made. So cute and delicate!

To enter, you must first visit and like my ‘Blossom Friends Studio’ facebook page. Lastly, leave a short suggestion in the comment about a Holiday food that you would like to see in my Etsy shop this coming Christmas season. Yes, I’m already thinking of wonderful things to make for the holidays!

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The contest closes Monday July 16th and the randomly chosen winner will be announced on my facebook page. Best of luck to all who enter!

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DIY doll Furniture

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My growing doll collection needed some furniture. Currently, I’m working on a bedroom diorama for our 1:8 scale BJDs (ball jointed dolls).

As mentioned in another post, dollhouse furniture in 1:12 scale is quite acceptable for these dolls. In fact, it’s a very cute fit as it appears the dolls are using child-scale furniture. You can see what I mean below, with my Lati Yellow (Lily), who is lounging on the pink checked love seat.

Lily's dress2

 

But for the bedroom, I thought I would bridge the gap between the tot-sized 1:12 furnishings and the 1:8 scale, which would be furniture designed for 1:8 scale adult dolls. They may look a bit swallowed up in that scale. So 1:10th scale makes sense to me, just a smidgen bigger than 1:12th.

reading
Unicorns love story time.

1:10 scale furniture is not something I could find, so I grabbed some graph paper and started designing a simple daybed, desk, and chair. I referred to life size furniture and converted the measurements using an online hobby calculator.

I still plan on antiquing the daybed and desk, but the chair is finished! My daughter loves everything to look vintage, vintage, and more vintage – what can I say, she has great style!

It was a lot of fun and I would say beginner level. All you need to make your own simple doll furniture is:

  • bass hobby wood (find at Michael’s, Joanne’s, etc)
  • cutting mat
  • fine sanding block
  • hobby knife (adult supervision)
  • wood glue
  • wooded dowels (for legs)
  • the website, ‘print mini’, has a great scale conversion calculator!

I encourage you to try for yourself ….

Have fun!

lily hello 2

My First Ball Jointed Doll!

blossoms room_edited-1

Notice I said she is my ‘first’ BJD.

There will likely be more, once I am done nursing some wounds (I’ll tell you later).

My kids are quite enamored with her -as in all things cute and small- and now they want a piece of the action! We are already in negotiations and discussing room boxes and props we can make together. They are clever, my girls!  They know I’m more likely to commit if there is a project involving mommy-daughter mini making. Oh very clever indeed

But until the bank account recovers, we introduce you to Blossom. She is a Fairyland PukiFee Ante doll and she is ADORABLE! Photos don’t do her justice, and I will have to learn the art of photographing her properly.

She’s a tiny bjd, at 16 cm tall, she ‘just fits’ into most dollhouse 1:12 scale furniture. As a doll though, she is actually 1:8th scale, and that puts her size almost in the middle of  1:12th scale and 1:6th fashion scale (Barbie).

It’s a bit tricky to fit her with furniture, because it isn’t really possible to buy such things in 1:8th scale. 1:6th scale is too big, dwarfing her. 1:10th scale would work great, and you can find a few of those online if lucky. However, I like using 1:12th scale rooms and furniture with her. The scale works because it actually looks like everything was shrunken down to child-size…and the results are super cute! It appears as she is living in a very up-scaled play house. Dollhouse scale items are also easier to obtain.

If you collect dollhouse 1:12th scale, you know how sometimes you find items to be a bit off? They can be slightly too big, slightly too chunky? More cute than realistic? Well those items are PERFECT for these dolls! Now I have a use for those chunky ceramics I purchased for cheap from overseas *rubs hands together*

I am still working on her bumble-bee bedroom. Blossom is brainy as well as adorable and she really digs bugs, science, and environmental causes. Her character is still evolving 🙂

If what follows seems to be a bitter rant, it is. Sorry, but I wish I had known this before my purchase…

If you have swooned over these dolls for a long time on Pinterest or Flickr, you should know a few things before purchasing. If that is what you have planned. These dolls look absolutely perfect in those Pinterest photos, and easy to pose in all kinds of positions. Don’t be fooled, these doll owners are pros. Posing requires practice and skill. I also suspect that the ‘bad’ unboxing videos never find their way on YouTube. Instead, the buyer is too frantic trying to call the store or email the factory between sobs or bouts of cursing. I know from experience.

I had a jarring experience when I took my doll out of the box. She looked perfect at first glance. Then I tried to move her joints around, get to know her workings, and tried standing her up. There was a long list of problems – strung too tight on one side, one leg was very tight and would not move at all, ugly seam lines down all 4 of her limbs, a head that lopped backwards, and a doll that would neither sit nor stand. I felt so deflated…and I actually was close to tears! And feeling foolish for it.

Fairyland, the factory in South Korea, would not help me at all. They referred me to the US based store (licensed distributor) which I purchased her from. After a series of back and forth emails with photos attached, I was basically told to learn how to restring the doll by watching YouTube videos – and that ALL bjds have seam lines.  I was certainly warned that dolls that have a tan colour resin were notorious for seam lines. That is why I purchased the fair tone that they offered. They suggested that the magic eraser would work to smooth the seam lines. My seam lines were too bad for that – quite raised and rough. It will require a fine grit sanding, which I haven’t done yet.

leg seam line
An unsightly seam line that goes all the way from hip to ankle!

 

I was a bit suspicious at how quickly I received my doll from the distributor. That coupled with the amount of ugly seams on my doll had me wondering if I received a returned doll. So I wrote to the shop and they emailed me stating, “I assure you she came straight from the factory”.  The use of the word ‘factory’ here is one reason I wouldn’t call this an art doll. I’ll go into this more later.

 

arm seam line
A nasty seam line on her raised forearm.

That being said, I still love this doll. Aside from the aesthetic flaws (which I think I can improve) and the issue with posing her (she seems to be loosening a bit), the ball joint mechanisms are wonderfully made…. But I am still upset that I paid $250 USD for a doll  that was strung poorly and obviously was not sanded. Which I was then told to fix myself!

Though it definitely is theft, I can certainly see why some people opt for purchasing Chinese recasts (knock-off dolls). Yes, there is another (albeit shady) option if you want a counterfeit doll that is half the price, and sometimes less. I don’t condone it, but I understand the temptation. The legit dolls are not cheap, first of all. And since hundreds (or thousands?) of these dolls are cast from the same mold, it is far from one-of-a-kind. I don’t consider them in the same category as art dolls – but they are collectibles in which the value is mainly the joy it brings to the collector…once the flaws are minimized!

Some may argue it is handmade, so you should expect minor flaws. These dolls are made from molds. Not a hand sculpted doll. Seam lines can easily be sanded flush. Heads should fit well and snug. String tension should be checked before it is shipped to the customer. Limbs should not be so tight they are impossible to move!

Because they are expensive despite not being OOAK, I think customers could be treated better. I think the dolls should arrive without major issues. It was a first time experience and unfortunately I’m left somewhat jaded by it. I’ve compared legitimate dolls to recast dolls. The former should be significantly superior quality for the price paid. In my albeit limited experience, I don’t see that from what I have observed.

Well now…with the negative out of the way….

I have managed to play with her a bit more and her strings are loosening a bit on their own. Her head still lolls backward. I really don’t want to restring her. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask a novice buyer to restring a doll straight from the factory. So, I’m holding off as long as I can. When I finally get the courage to do it, I will chronicle my experience and share it here.

I have a couple of wigs and outfits that I have purchased. If you are thinking about collecting these dolls, wigs can run anywhere from $20-$50 USD. Full clothing outfits can run anywhere from $15-$100 USD. I have purchased the lower cost outfits and wigs from Asia, and the quality is very good – but the shipping wait is looong. Anywhere from 1 month to 2 months. I’m excited to try my hand at making clothes and accessories for the doll. I am fortunate to have a supplier of mohair and other fibers living close to me so perhaps some day I will try wig making.

She really is a delight, even without the clothes, wigs, and cute accessories. Their joint system is beautifully articulated and their faces are so very sweet. I already look forward to Christmas props, Halloween scenes, and the like.

pukifee7
Here she is borrowing from the Calico Critter’s reading library 😀

She’s getting a bit easier to pose and sometimes I can get her to stand, but rather stiffly. In the photo below, I stood her on a metal stool and much to my amazement I found out she has magnets in her feet! She was able to hold more challenging poses that way.

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I have already started to bake for her!

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And my daughter gifted her with a toy panda (a mini eraser!)

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This well made, sweet little dress is from Trillian and Company on Etsy. She’s an American collector of dolls who sews on the side. The dress was under $15 and excellent quality!

While I don’t think of these cuties as art dolls, they are far from Barbies. These will be well cared for and passed on to my kids, and so there is a lot of value in them. They are sturdy, so if handled carefully, they can be played with lightly.

Would I do it again? Yes, with slightly less expectations and lots more research.