My wife, Patricia, is a doll doctor and a member of the Doll Doctors of America. She recently received an e-mail from a young Mexican student asking her some questions about her doll interest. The following is Pat’s reply.
Hello Maria, 12-10-16
My name is Patricia Peacock Haskell and I live with my husband, Henry, in Hilton Head, SC. We are both 83 years old. I am a Registered Nurse and we met on a blind date 60 years ago.
I started to repair my first doll in 1964 when my second daughter, Margo was born and I was confined to bed by a back injury. We lived in Connecticut then. My mother in law was cleaning out the family house in Brunswick, Maine and found doll pieces in a box and she thought it would give me something to do while I was in bed for 2-3 weeks.
After that, I spent 30 years as head designer for Brunswick Yarns in South Carolina. I didn't do much doll work at that time.
In 1995 we sold the business to Coats and Clark. We had lived 30 years in Pickens, SC and inherited a house on Hilton Head Island and moved there.
While we lived in the upstate, working for Brunswick, I developed a keen interest in theatre—acting, directing, costume, lights etc. and I had finished my MFA in theatre design at U. of Georgia.
We founded a live theatre on Hilton Head, which we ran for 22 years; during which time I'd been collecting a few dolls on my own. In the meantime, during the theatre era I'd been taking a few dolls for repair from friends and didn't charge. This is where I got most of my experience. After we closed in 2014, we decided to travel because we hadn't been able to travel the world except on business.
My shop is my home and I have repaired about 200 dolls for myself and for other people—I am charging to do that now.
It would be hard to say what kind of doll I like. I enjoy repairing vintage and antique dolls. The most expensive doll I bought last year in Washington, DC. She is a French Jumeau Be.[shown above to the right].
I think the most specific process for repairing is to tag the doll with the name, price, where it came from, date bought. Then I take pictures of the complete doll that show where the repairs are needed. After the repairs, I take pictures and keep a file. Then I determine what I will charge, according to hours spent and cost of supplies used to repair the doll.
The dolls that are most difficult to repair are the bisque dolls, if their body parts are broken. The most common repair is restringing a doll with moveable arms and legs (re-stringing is a process of threading elastic cord to the head, arms, and legs to hold the doll together—and to keep it moveable. I really enjoy molding and sculpting missing parts—heads, arms, fingers, and legs. I am an artist and have spent many years painting and sculpting in America and Italy.
As you may surmise, at this point in our lives, we are retired and cannot expect to live on money earned from doll-repair. I do doll repair because I enjoy it and it ties in with our travels to Europe and to the National Doll Association meetings every summer in the USA.
Thank you for your interest. I hope you can use this information in your school project.
Pat Haskell, Doll Doctor