Home' East and Bays Courier : February 15th 2012 Contents www.eastandbayscourier.co.nz
EAST & BAYS COURIER, FEBRUARY 15, 2012
Precious dolls sport
a fresh new look
Good as new: Studio manager Trilby Conway with a restored Pedigree walkie talkie doll.
Photos: STEPHANIE FAWCETT
By STEPHANIE FAWCETT
Head room: Doll heads in the spare parts room at the Auckland
Dolls Hospital. The hospital welcomes donations of broken
dolls for use as spare parts.
Helping hand: A basket of arms in the spare parts room.
Wigging out: This German-made
doll still has her original mohair wig. Fancy footwear: Tiny shoes at the
Auckland Dolls Hospital.
She might be in her 50s but she
sure doesn't look it.
The 1950s-era Pedigree walkie
talkie doll is waiting to be picked
up from the Auckland Dolls Hos-
pital and with her new hairstyle
and swish new frock she looks like
she just came out of the box.
The walkie talkie dolls are the
most common patients at the
dolls' hospital and studio manager
Trilby Conway says they're just
starting to show their age.
The Pedigree walkie talkies
are really getting to that age
where they need restoration work.
The women who had them as chil-
dren are becoming grandparents
now and they're wanting to get
their dolls restored to pass down
to their grandchildren.''
The Auckland Dolls Hospital
was founded in the 1940s by an
Irish couple from New Lynn --
years before the first walkie tal-
kies strolled off the assembly line.
It was based in Karangahape
Rd but closed due to the ill health
of its founders. It was reincar-
nated in Epsom in 1995 before
making its way south to Manukau
and then on to Dominion Rd.
Nowadays the hospital can be
found in Mt Wellington having
found a permanent home as part
of restoration company Wright-
way Studios where dilapidated
dolls and treasured teddies get a
new lease of life.
The hospital's 19 fulltime staff
see several new patients daily.
When it comes to dolls we see a
lot of brother damage or a lot of
the time they've had a bit of a
haircut at some point in the past
and they're in need of a new wig,''
Ms Conway says.
Dog attacks are a common
issue with teddies and if they're
well-loved, they're well-worn and
we see a lot that have been loved
Because most of the toys that
make their way to the hospital are
antique or vintage, the restoration
artists painstakingly restore them
while trying to keep everything as
original as possible.
Teddies are patched from
underneath -- often with their own
fur, delaminated dolls are
stripped back, repaired and
repainted and no unnecessary
changes are made.
If a doll comes in and it's miss-
ing a leg or the body's really bad
then we'll replace that but we
would almost never replace a
In the spare parts room a row of
heads stares down from a shelf, a
basket of arms lies nearby and old
dolls are piled in a box on the floor
ready to play a part in restoring
their fellow broken and ageing
When restoring dolls from such
a broad range of eras it helps to
have a variety of parts on hand.
Older dolls might have a com-
posite head and a cloth body or
they could be porcelain, plastic,
rubber, celluloid -- we've seen all
kinds of things.
The oldest dolls we see are
stuffed with straw and they tend
to take in moisture and swell,
splitting their seams. Old teddies
can be stuffed with kapok -- which
isn't used any more and in the
past we've come across teddies
that have been stuffed with old
bandages,'' Ms Conway says.
As well as repairing battered
bodies and ageing faces, staff at
the dolls' hospital often overhaul
the outfits before returning them
to their grateful owners.
Clothes are the first things to
have a lady who makes the most
wonderful clothes for us,'' Ms Con-
Once they're dressed up, freshly
coiffed and looking as good as
new, the dolls are handed over to
We get all kinds of people
bringing in their childhood toys
and we've found that women bring
in their dolls and men bring in
their teddies. You'll see a guy
come roaring up on his motor-
cycle, unzip his leather jacket and
pull out his loved-to-death old
Go to www.eastandbays
courier.co.nz and click on
Latest Edition to see a video
of a newly-restored doll.
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