Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Restoration of Mayzie Applebottom

With permission of the owner of this wonderful little early 19th century English wooden, I wanted to show the restoration that I have finished on her and am very proud of the results.
This was a very difficult restoration for obvious reasons other than her small size of 10 inches tall. Her little plaster face had popped and lifted severely over the years from the wood underneath expanding and contracting and had been crushed in the middle as seen in the before restoration photos below.
It was in two pieces which were only being held on by the glued on wig. Bother facial piece were literally flopping up and down. I am surprised she made it to us in the mail with the face still holding on, but she did. There was shattering in the center where the crushing was as well and sever lifting everywhere as can bee seen in the photos.
I have developed techniques over the years which give me amazing results with my restoration work.
All of what you see in the after restoration photos is her original face re-attached and sealed back to the wood without removing it and without touching any of her original paint. I filled and restored the damaged areas and cracks and only restored/ repainted these areas to match and did not touch any of her original paint. Basically I restored / repaired the damage and put back what paint was missing because of the damage.
Her new owner, a friend of ours was thrilled with the restoration and Mayzie will have another 200 years hopefully with her good as new old face.
Mayzie of course is the latest type of English wooden, dating from around the 1820's but she is a very rare little survivor indeed. She may have been of the latest made, cheap and cheerful type of English wooden of her day, but these simple little dolls were either played with so much or just thrown away when their face popped and lifted and fell off, like in Mayzie’s case. So very few of these little examples have survived in 100% all original condition from head to toe like Mayzie. The ones who have are rarely untouched like Mayzie. She is indeed 100% all original in every aspect including her arms and legs and that amazing wig and headpiece of her period. The only thing she is missing is her sheer gossamer thin over dress which has rotted away over the years, only bits of it remain around her waistline. Luckily our friend who owns her agrees with us, that she should be left just as she is and nothing done to make a replacement over dress.
I though everyone would enjoy seeing this rare little survivor.

The e-mail below I received from Mayzie’s owner when she arrived home.

DAVID: I about cried when my little ragamuffin Mayzie arrived home in her little box with her name inscribed within. She looks like she had been put there a couple hundred years ago and had slept peacefully until I opened up her box!
I can hardly believe the fantastic job you did on her. Not even a museum curator would know she had once had broken and floating face. You Mr. Chapman are an extraordinary restorationist, artist and magician! No one can do what you do with early English wooden dolls. She is magnificent! There is no other English word that comes close.
To see her for the first time and in her little box made my Christmas in July!!!!
She looks amazing David!!
Thank you so very much.


  1. You are a miracle worker David! She does indeed look like she has just awoken from her 200 years beauty sleep. I adore her sweet mis-matched eyes and those tiny little lips. It's also such a treat to see her worn to pieces little toesies!
    Love to you both,

  2. My name is Janice and I am the owner of dear sweet little Mayzie Applebottom.
    I have fallen in love with early wooden dolls and their incredible history. So it should not surprise any of you that when I found this little 200 year old + doll I had to bring her home. The poor little doll's face was literally falling apart and was in danger of coming off all together. If I did not get something done quickly she would sadly continue to deteriorate. Who could save her?
    I knew of of only two restorationist in the world who can do museum quality restorations on early wooden dolls. I knew from talking to others, reading extensively about their work, and speaking with them personally, that David and Paul first and foremost work to keep the original historical integrity of any doll they work in as original as possible.
    They have been know to purchase a doll sent for complete restoration to protect the doll in the original condition for future generations. They have brought poorly repainted early wooden dolls and turned back time on the shoddy work to bring the original beauty of the doll back to life.
    I spoke with David explaining the wooden doll's damage and was excited when he said to send her on.
    He asked me what her name was and I had to confess she had not told me yet!
    When she arrived at their studio David and Paul confirmed that this dear little one's face was virtually hanging on by the threads of her original wig.
    David went over the restoration process in detail and told me he would keep take all steps to keep her as original as possible. He would secure her floating gesso face to her wooden head and fill in the tiny missing pieces and very carefully blend the paint to keep the original painting intact.
    David and Paul are true professionals. I received close up photos all along the way of the restoration being done on to her face.
    I was thrilled to watch the little early wooden blossom under their care! True to his word David left all the original paint and face intact.
    The final day of her stay David wrote with great news that she was ready at last to travel home. He sent more detailed before and after pictures. She was beautiful once again.
    He also announced that Paul was able to get the little one to tell him her name. Mayzie Applebottom. The perfect name for such a sweet little ragamuffin!
    When Mayzie arrived home I carefully unwrapped her and there she lay snuggles in her own wooden box, loving made by David and Paul, with her name on the inside.
    She looked 200+ years old! l saw no signs of restoration whatsoever. Tears immediately came to my eyes. She had stepped right from a little girl's arms in the year 1820 into my hands here in 2012.
    I felt so touched and overwhelmed when I examined her little face. David's restoration work was beyond amazing. She looked like she had never suffered damaged. Every original line and paint detail was still there. I could not see where she had been restored even under a magnifying glass!
    Little Mayzie Applebottom is simply magnificent all in thanks to David's fine restoration, intricate expertise, and loving care.
    I have made copies of Mayzie's before and after pictures so her history will stay with her always.
    I highly recommend David and Paul's museum quality restoration work if you need any work done on early woodens, papier mache, or carton moule dolls. You will be truly amazed!
    Thank you once again David and Paul!

  3. that is truly one of the most amazing and magical things I think I have seen in many a year!
    Bravo sirs!