This vintage 1970’s Velvet doll is the first doll that I’ve ever restored myself. Velvet was one of a number of "growing hair" dolls that were released by the now-defunct Ideal Toy Company back in the 1970’s. (To learn more about growing hair dolls in general, check out the excellent Crissy and Beth site.) Velvet was released as a younger cousin of Crissy (who was the flagship character of the growing hair line) and she was only 15 inches tall. (In contrast, Crissy was 18 inches tall.)

I purchased this Velvet for $10 at a doll show in Gaithersburg, Maryland in September, 2005. She was found in a bin of dolls that were either nude, broken, or both and they were priced low so the seller could get rid of them. When I first saw Velvet, I found her partially nude with one of her eyes being covered by this white surface that made her look like a Living Dead Doll. However, her growing hair function still worked and the rest of her body was still in good shape.

Fortunately I had a copy of the book Crissy Doll and Her Friends: Guide for Collectors at home and, from reading that book, I knew that the white surface covering Velvet’s eye and eyelid was mold that is a common affliction among the Ideal growing hair dolls and that it is very easy to remove with a little bit of patience. The same doll show had another booth that specialized in selling original vintage clothes that fit older dolls and they were all neatly organized by type of doll. I discovered that the booth had Velvet outfits and shoes available for low prices (mainly because they weren’t in their original packages—the outfits that were still in their original packages commanded prices of $35 and higher). So I ultimately purchased a vintage doll, a dress, and a pair of shoes for under $20 and I immediately got to work restoring her when I came home. I finished restoring Velvet on September 18, 2005.

Velvet Doll Before Restoration

This is what Velvet looked like when I purchased her. She was clad only in a pair of red and blue shorts that were covered in white stars.

Velvet Doll Before Restoration: Close-Up of Face

Here’s a close-up of Velvet’s face. If you look hard enough, you can see the flecks of white covering Velvet’s violet eye pupil on the right side of the face. The white flecks were mold and it made Velvet look like one of those creepy Living Dead Dolls.

Velvet Doll Before Restoration: Eyes Closed

Here’s a photo of Velvet with her eyes closed. That’s not white eye shadow that she’s wearing, that’s white mold that has completely covered her right eyelid and had just started to cover her left eyelid as well.

Velvet Doll's Clothes and Shoes

The first thing I did after purchasing Velvet for $10 from one booth at the doll show is to walk over to another booth where I purchased a purple velvet dress (that turned out to be Velvet’s original default dress that was originally sold with the doll) for $8.50 and a pair of yellow Greek-style sandals for $6.50. That booth was operated by Kathy’s & Terry’s Dolls of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and they specialize in selling vintage doll outfits going as far back as the 1940’s.

Velvet Doll Restoration 1

After I got home from the doll show, the first thing I did to restore Velvet back to her normal self was to remove those shorts. I discovered that Velvet was wearing a pair of white underwear underneath so I kept them on her.

Velvet Doll Restoration 2

I took an exacto knife and scraped the mold away from her right eye, right eyelid, and her left eyelid. Once most of the mold was scraped away, I decided to do a through cleaning of the eye. Taking the advice of a post I found on the Yahoo! Crissy Doll Club, I purchased this stuff called Amazing from a Dollar Tree store for only $1 (Amazing looks like a knock-off of the Oxy cleaner that’s sold in other stores for far more money) and I used a mixture of Amazing and water to not only get rid of the mold but to prevent it from ever coming back in the future. Once I finished with that, I laid Velvet down on her face overnight to drain any excess water that may have gone into her head by accident.

Velvet Doll Restoration 3

I made a terrible mistake when I used the exacto knife to remove the eye mold. I saw that some black marks were left on her eyelids. At first I thought that some leftover pen residue on my exacto knife (that I have never been able to get rid of) had found its way on to the doll’s eyelid. So I decided to use a little bit of acetone to get rid of the black markings. Well I found out that the acetone only made the problem worse and Velvet began to resemble Alice Cooper.

Velvet Doll Restoration 4

Using a tiny paintbrush and some flesh-colored acrylic paint, I painted Velvet’s eyelids to completely cover up the black marks. Once the paint dried, I sealed it with a matte varnish to prevent the paint from ever peeling off.

Velvet Doll Restoration 5

I brushed her hair a little bit (just enough to take out a few minor tangles) and put her dress and shoes on. She looks like nothing bad has ever happened to her.

Velvet Doll Demo 1

The wheel in the back that’s used to shorten Velvet’s hair is still fully functional. The next few photos show how short Velvet’s hair can get.

Velvet Doll Demo 2
Velvet Doll Demo 3
Velvet Doll Demo 4

The next two photos show what to do if you decide that you’re tired of seeing Velvet’s hair short and you want to make it long again.

Velvet Doll Demo 5

Simulaneously pressing the button on Velvet’s stomach…

Velvet Doll Demo 6

…and pulling her hair tail will make her hair go from short to long in a second or two.

I’ll end this entry with a side-by-side before and after comparisons of Velvet.

Velvet Doll: Before and After Restoration