My name is Frances and I am the main restorer for Antique Doll Repair. I believe in the best practice possible when restoring a doll and so I will draw on other restorers when specialisms in wax, celluloid and some specific ceramic repairs are called for. I am a founder member of the Doll Restoration Society, which was established to ensure high standards and a network of professionals in doll restoration and repair.
I did my first repair in 1974 when, at age 15, my precious Heubach Koppelsdorf doll was knocked from a shelf (never display a doll on a shelf unsecured). The repairs and restoration I complete now are somewhat more professional.
Every doll brings its own history and needs to be approached using a range of applicable techniques to complete its particular repair. I use a range of methods and materials. Some modern and some the same as the material of its time of making, depending on the age, fabric and state of the doll.
30 years of working in the theatre gave me the opportunity to work extensively with fabrics and multimedia, creating scenery, props and costumes, using many of the same techniques and materials used in doll restoration.
I trained in America with Janie Nafsinger, specialising further in American Composition Dolls as well as learning recent techniques for bisque, china, papier-mâché, and cloth bodies dolls.
It is not only the craftsmanship of antique and vintage dolls that inspires me to restore. The history of the makers, their families, the times they lived in are fascinating and a life’s study. The history of the times that they have survived through, the use they may or may not have had in play.
As a small child I had the privilege of living close to Bethnal Green Museum of childhood and London Museum. both with fantastic collections. I was invited by the curator of the London Museum to use their library and would write my own books drawing from reference books by the Coleman sisters and the Ciezliks. The range of references and research since then is enormous.
I love to pass on the history that I know of your dolls and will hopefully inspire you to learn more about the general history of dolls, once your own treasure has been restored.