by Valerie Towers
When faced with a Grecon that looks like a tramp, don’t despair.
You can rebuild him, you can make him better than before!
Apologies to the Six Million Dollar Man, I watched too much television in the 1970s!
Nora Batty Legs
A case of Norah Batty legs is easily sorted. Some legs are bound in a silky thread and if the thread is mainly all there, only need carefully unwinding and rewinding tightly. Thread the loose end on to a needle and push the needle up under the binding to secure.
If the binding is wool, then the moths have probably feasted on it and as you handle the doll, bits come off, pull all the loose wool off until you come to uneaten bindings or not as the case maybe. If the stuffing is intact, all well and good, if not add some stuffing where necessary. Using a length of matching darning wool or 1 ply, lay the wool against the leg with one end pointing towards the body and starting at the ankle bind carefully up the leg, watching that it covers front and back evenly, secure as before. If he is wearing socks, bind to match other sock, the stripe is just once round with coloured wool; securing all ends up under the binding.
If the legs have good bindings, I would just get a needle and thread and starting at the top of the leg push the needle carefully up into the main body and stitch the leg more firmly in place to the trunk. This may not completely cure the wobble but at least the leg will not fall off!
If, however the bindings are a mess, then study the way his/her clothes have been attached and carefully remove the lower clothing. Unwind the leg binding and remove the stuffing. Possibly the wire has remained intact and just needs a spot of glue and pushing back into place. Leave until the glue has set then recover with stuffing and re-bind.
If the wire has broken then you need a splint, find a piece of similar thickness wire and using fuse wire bind the two pieces of leg wire together, paying attention to the length of the undamaged leg, the splint needs to be slightly longer to push up into the body and glue as previous. Then proceed as before.
Both feet gone?
New replacement parts can be obtained from Dolls House Restoration (I expect commission for the plug Trevor!) Just joking!
Moth Eaten Clothes
Carefully remove and using the old clothes as a guide, cut from new felt, the thinner felt is best. Grecon jackets have the sleeves put on the doll first and the sleeveless jacket is stitched to them.
If both are missing, one longish piece of wire pushed through the body will do both. Pad with stuffing and bind from the hand up as for legs, making sure that only one layer of wool goes around the hands which need to be bent over about 1/8th of an inch to form the hand after binding, you will probably need small pliers to do this. Bind up to the top and if the wool is long enough thread though the body with a needle and laying the wool down the arm, bind from the hand as before. Taking the wool through for the second arm/hand should ensure that the arms don’t pull through and fall off! If the wool is not long enough, start your new thread from the completed side (knotting the wool in the armpit) to anchor the second arm.
Above: broken wire in arm. Below: new wire pushed through the arm
And the mended arm!
Grecon Road Kill
After I thought I had finished this article, I had an impassioned plea from Zoe:
“Valerie, these look like road kill! Buy them and rescue them, please!”
To be truthful I thought they were beyond resuscitating but the feet were all there and I have some Grecons sans feet so I went for it.
I used Florist’s stub wire because I had some in my toolbox and it is plastic covered so may not rust as quickly as bare wire.
The blue spotted dress Grecon posed a big challenge, being headless and armless and the right leg had no wire. New legs pose no real problems, a piece of wire cut to the right length and stuck with Superglue to the back of the shoe and the stub of wire remaining from the original leg, left to dry and then both legs bound with a piece of rose wire to keep the two bits of wire together. Pull the stuffing away as far as you can without detaching it and when the glue is dry rearrange the stuffing around the leg. Then bind as for Norah Batty legs. I have since realised that I should have reinforced the other leg as the foot has now gone floppy and needs re-doing.
The arms were one piece of wire stuck through from one shoulder to the other through the existing stuffing, use a large darning needle to make a passage for the wire otherwise the “arms” get stuck. Bind the arms as for the tea towel lady; and to make sure they can’t pull out. secure across the body with arm binding in a figure of eight. I didn’t touch her dress, just worked round it.
That is the easy bit done, now for the head. I cut the rusty head loop off leaving behind a short neck stub and folding a new wire over a Biro to make the shape, twist the wire together about three times to secure. Cut the wire just below the twist. I left a small piece of wire at the bottom and bent it to either side like tiny shoulders. Push the wire “shoulders” down into the body and stick the new head frame to the old neck stub with Superglue.
To make the face, I used a small square of pink cotton material trimming off each corner to make a rough circle and run a gathering thread around the edge, turning in a small hem if you wish. Put as much stuffing on the circle of cloth as it will take and pull up the thread tightly, fasten off securely.
Squidge the face/head into an oblong shape or you can have a moon face if you prefer. Sew the head to the head frame over & over the wire all the way round, fasten off securely.
Now for the hair. The style is your choice.
To a moth eaten, bald headed Grecon, the biggest transformation is giving him hair! Using another Grecon as a guide, stitch a new wig, going in and out in little loops if you want curls. Stitch mainly to the metal hoop that forms the back of the head and use a fine needle to stitch onto the hairline, or face in the case of a beard. The Sailors top knot is “en brosse” - I just trimmed across all the little loops to get this effect. I find straight hair more difficult, but in theory it is just longer stitches caught at the neckline.
A bun for a lady is achieved by stitching from the hairline around the face into the middle of the back of the head and then stitching a small “doughnut” over the resulting space. You could position the bun at the nape of the neck if you prefer, just adjust the angle of stitching.
These are more difficult and my first attempt at plaits looked wrong, so I undid them and started again. Get a piece of scrap card twice as long as you think the finished plaits will be, fold it in half, and wind 1ply wool round and round the card as if you were making a tassel.
Stitch along the parting where possible to anchor the wig to the head, you could stick it I suppose but I stitched it. I divided the front hair into three groups of 8 strands on either side of the head and plaited them, tying off with a piece of wool. You now have to sort out the back hair. Working from the middle of the back of head out to each side, thread the strands two by two on to a needle and if you can attach them to the head wire at the bottom, great! If not, and I couldn’t, push the needle through the neck to the front of the doll and continue until all the loose strands have covered the back of the head.
The doll now has a “beard” at the front and a loose plait at each side of her head. I popped a small dab of glue along the back hairline & let it dry before cutting the “beard” off close to the neck. Carefully slipstitch the plaits to the back hair as far as the ears, or where the ears would be if she had any!
I wasn't entirely happy with this hairstyle, so I changed it to door knockers as we used to call them, and tweaked her make up. I think her hair looks better, but I am still not happy with her face!
I still have to master a ponytail but I am sure that practice makes perfect!
Don’t be scared of having a go at repairing your Grecons, someone very like you made them in the first place.
Here are photos showing how I remade the worst of the road kill Grecons: