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Santa Claus

Since today is Christmas Day, I figured that it would be very appropriate to blog about The Doll and Teddy Bear Show that took place at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Maryland earlier this month.

I used to go to that show frequently. While the show, which is held about two or three times a year, has always had a huge emphasis on vintage dolls prior to 1960, I remember that the show had tables that were devoted to more recent dolls from my own childhood (such as Beautiful Crissy, Barbie, and Dawn) as well as newer dolls from recent years. I even remember seeing a table or two selling Asian ball jointed dolls.

I have lots of memories of going to those shows, starting with the couple of times I attended doll meet-ups at the Gaithersburg show that were organized through the Den of Angels forum where we all carried our Asian ball-jointed dolls around the show as we browsed the various vendor tables.

It was at one of these shows in September, 2005 where I found a vintage Velvet doll that was partially clad and had eye mold. I purchased her for only $10 then went to another table that sold vintage doll clothes and purchased Velvet’s original dress with a pair of shoes in her size for another $10. I managed to get rid of the eye mold and restored Velvet to her original glory. I took photos of what I did at the time. I later wrote a post about what I did back in 2010 and that post still remains among my more popular posts of all time.

At another show I found two vintage circa-1940s dolls that were totally disheveled and they were on sale for only $3 each. I purchased both of them and I turned one of them into a Little Red Riding Hood doll that I later sold on Etsy. (I’ve since misplaced the other doll but I’m hoping that she’ll eventually turn up once I get really serious of decluttering my home once and for all.) It was at that same show where I had unfortunate encounters with vendors whose hearts weren’t clearly into their profession of selling dolls.

The last time I went to a show was in 2011, when I purchased a couple of adorable outfits that were perfect for this doll that I had recently purchased. But then my hip problem became so acute that I had to have surgery followed by my husband leaving me abruptly just three months after my surgery. Then I spent the next few years dealing with the fallout from the hip surgery and divorce while adjusting to my new reality. (And that’s not to mention the crappy economy and the crazy politics that have gone on since an African American was elected to the White House for the first time followed by unlikely election of Donald Trump. But that’s a whole different series of blog posts that have nothing to do with the topic of this post.)

So it was 2017 and I found out online that another doll and teddy bear show was being held in Gaithersburg in early December. I hadn’t gone in six years so I was ready to visit again. I remember that the December show was usually the biggest one. The show’s organizers would rent more space than usual and it would be filled with lots of vendors and lots of dolls and teddy bears. I was looking forward to seeing some eye candy. My attitude was that I would purchase a new doll and/or doll clothes only if such items fit in with my tight budget but, otherwise, I was only there for window shopping with no anticipation of buying anything new for myself. I wasn’t disappointed because there were tons of eye candy and I took tons of photographs to prove it.

There were plenty of Christmas-related dolls and teddy bears for sale but I found one vendor table that had a Hanukkah menorah on display.

The most memorable booth was the one that sold Lenci dolls. The most notable thing about these dolls is that Dare Wright used her own Lenci doll in The Lonely Doll book series. I found them to be very lovely to see in person.

I really loved the expressive look on their faces.

Lenci even made a Madonna and Child doll.


Many of the outfits on these dolls are very exquisite.

The only thing about Lenci dolls is that the original company went out of business in 2002. As a result many of these dolls are collector items and they are definitely not cheap. Many of the ones I saw on sale cost thousands of dollars. The cheapest Lenci doll I found was a tiny doll that was less than one inch tall and that was on sale for a whopping $75.

The show had plenty of miniatures on sale that were made for dollhouses.

I even saw hand-painted clothespin dolls at that show.

I saw American Girl dolls on sale that were even cheaper than buying a new doll at the American Girl Place store.

I found two Barbie dolls that were made to resemble Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance from the famous “Job Switching” episode of the TV sitcom I Love Lucy. (That’s the one where Lucy and Ethel get jobs working in a chocolate factory only to have their stint be short-lived.)

One table had a variety of doll parts in a variety of sizes available for sale. It would be great for anyone who was looking for a part for an old doll.

Since the show was known as The Doll and Teddy Bear Show, it was natural that there were plenty of bears there, as well as other types of stuffed animals (such as rabbits, and dogs).

There were plenty of Santa Claus dolls available in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Some vendors had those reborn baby dolls which look very lifelike.

I found some odd things on sale at that show, such as this vintage children’s book called Beloved Belindy. It was written by Johnny Gruelle, who was the original creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. With the Aunt Jemima/Mammy-style illustration on the front cover, I can see why Beloved Belindy is more obscure today than Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy.

I saw a couple of Native American kachina dolls on sale at one table.

I vaguely remembered when I was a very young child, there was a TV show called Julia, which starred Diahann Carroll. That show is remembered today as the first TV show to depict an African American woman in a non-stereotypical role. (The main character worked as a nurse.) I remember some kids in my elementary school had Julia lunch boxes but I never realized that a Barbie-sized doll was also released until I went to that show.

I saw a couple of other dolls based on the main characters in the TV shows The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie.

I saw this one vintage Mickey Mouse doll.

There were plenty of vintage Barbie dolls but the ones that still had their original boxes were expensive.

I saw some vintage dolls that were based on Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

I saw a set of vintage Dionne Quintuplets baby dolls. I have to admit that they are adorable to behold as long as you’re willing to overlook the sad real-life story of what happened to those girls behind the dolls.

I found these bottles of dollhouse-sized perfume and cologne to be totally cute.

I found this sign announcing that a family-owned business will close down in a few months after being in business for 72 years.

Most of the dolls and stuffed animals on sale were very expensive. I found one vendor table that sold something called Bling Dolls, which measure around six inches tall.

They cost $6 each but if you bought two or more, they would cost only $5 each. I might have considered buying two if it weren’t for the fact that all of the dolls had the same hairstyle, hair color, eye color, and skin color. That one doll type was cute but I wasn’t into buying the same doll with different outfits.

I basically bought only one Bling Doll. It was an impulse buy but she costs $6 and I found her to be quite cute.

There’s a keychain attached to her head, which means that she can either be attached to a few keys or clipped to a backpack.

Here’s a closeup of her face.

I took those last three pictures while I was eating lunch that I had purchased from the food stand at the show. A woman sat down near me and we started talking. Like me she had also attended previous doll shows and she mentioned that she felt it was smaller than she remembered.

As I was walking around the show I noticed that too. I remember the Christmas doll shows used to fill at least six large rooms. It would literally take me at least two or three hours to visit them all and I would be exhausted from visiting every single vendor table. This time I basically finished the entire show in less than 90 minutes. On top of it, I saw no Asian ball jointed dolls or even recent modern dolls from the 1970’s onwards. The vast majority of dolls on sale were made before 1960. The older dolls looked nice but they were very expensive. (It was common to see such dolls being on sale for over $100.) I still remember the day when I bought a wrecked Velvet doll for under $20 and I rehabilitated her. Or the times when I found some cool fabric that would be perfect for a doll outfit or a really neat doll clothes pattern that I wanted to try or a really interesting doll book that I decided that I wanted to read.

I don’t know for sure why it had changed so much. Maybe it’s the rise of sites like eBay and Etsy where people prefer to sell online than to actually transport their wares to a doll and teddy bear show. Maybe it’s the rotten economy where too many people have finances so tight that purchasing an expensive doll would be considered a frivolous luxury that they literally can’t afford. Whatever the reason, this show didn’t really have the little surprises that used to amaze me so much and were so relatively affordable that I ended up making impulse buys. The only surprise that really came close was that $6 Bling Doll I purchased. She’s a cute find but I still remember the show’s better days in the past.

The only fringe benefit of going to a smaller show is that I still had time in the afternoon to check out a flea market that was also held on the grounds of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds but it was located on the other side from where The Doll and Teddy Bear Show was held. I ended the day by checking out a show that was held closer to my home and it was also where I ran into a lot of my friends. I’ll write about those two events in a separate post.

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Passover

Free Tutorials

Simon Philion made an unsuccessful attempt at using Kickstarter to help fund his new idea: The Cool Baby, a life-like baby that’s really a flask where one can store alcohol and drink secretly in public. Someone has come up with a cheaper DIY alternative to the Cool Baby and has posted the free instructions here.

Here’s an alternate way of dyeing Easter eggs that will create really spectacular effects.

How to use sports jerseys to make wall art.

Browse other free tutorials previously mentioned in this blog (along with pictures) right here.

Miscellaneous Links

20 Creepiest Urban Legends From Around the World includes such figures as the Goat Man and Bloody Mary.

And, speaking of creepy, here is a statue of Lucille Ball in her hometown of Celoron, New York that the local townspeople want removed because it definitely looks like the statue is out to get you just like Chucky the killer doll from those Child’s Play movies. (Although I maintain that if they added wings to the statue, she’d be a dead ringer for one of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.)

19 of the Greatest Easter Eggs Hidden Around the Web.

Last Saturday, June 8, would’ve been my wedding anniversary had my husband not abruptly ran away from home without giving any kind of advanced notice that he wanted out of the house on December 28, 2011. I haven’t seen my husband since that day in divorce court two months ago when the judge gave us a Provisionary Divorce and, after all the abuse he has flung my way (including threatening to sue me if I didn’t do everything he wanted me to do in order to conform to this timeline that exists only in his head and sending a divorce petition in a .pdf format as an attachment to an e-mail he sent on Christmas Eve that my own lawyer later said was a fake because it didn’t have a case number assigned to it), I would prefer not to have anything to do with him ever again.

I decided to do everything possible to keep my mind off of my wedding anniversary. I went to Behnke’s Nursery in the morning to check out this garden party that was held there and to purchase some gardening supplies I needed for my own new garden that I’ve recently started. The garden party basically consisted of wine tastings, local musicians providing some tuneful ambiance, vending tables from local crafters (none of my own crafting friends participated in this event), and tables from a variety of local gardening clubs. It was a nice little party but I didn’t take any pictures because I was too busy looking for stuff to buy for my garden.

After I left the checkout counters and loaded my new things in the car, I drove up to Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood to check out the annual Hon Fest. The last time I was in that area was back in December when one city block on 34th Street has become famous for all of its rowhouses being totally covered in Christmas lights. I haven’t gone to the Hon Fest since 2007 (the year before my hip replacement surgery) and I thought it would be good to visit it once again.

I took my Canon DSLR camera with me and I was busy snapping photos of both the festival and the local stores. I really like this area so much that I’m thinking about visiting Hampden again in the near future when it’s not clogged with tons of people because of the Hon Fest or having houses totally covered in Christmas lights. (I picked up a local map of the area from the information booth at Hon Fest so I can plan which stores and local art galleries I want to visit before my next trip.)

The Hon Fest, as described in the Wikipedia, is basically an annual celebration of the stereotypical lifestyle of the average Baltimore resident. Lots of people come dressed up wearing beehive hairdos, feather boas, and housedresses and many of them will drink Natty Boh (short for National Bohemian beer) or Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Many booths have pink flamingo decorations on display. I saw a bunch of women dressed as Lucille Ball during her I Love Lucy sitcom days. I even saw a bald Elvis impersonator. (Yeah, that one seemed surreal since the real Elvis was always spotted with a head full of hair.) If you happened to arrive without a beehive hairdo and regretted doing so, you could either buy a wig or go to a booth where hairstylists will tease your real hair into a beehive. The Hon Fest is one of those events that is better described through pictures than through words.

Hon Fest

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The only downer about the Hon Fest was the weather. It started off pretty cool and cloudy and it started to drizzle while I was shopping at Behnkie’s Nursery. By the time I reached Baltimore the sun came out along with this very high humidity and temperature in the 80’s. The huge crowds exacerbated the situation. There were times when I ducked in the stores for some air conditioning relief. After a few hours I grew tired so I drove home. (Fortunately there was a parking garage belonging to Johns Hopkins University that was reserved just for this event. The parking fee was only $5.) The Hon Fest continued the following day but I didn’t go because I was too exhausted from the day before and I had too many things to do around the house.

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