I don’t have many Steffie-faced dolls. They’re not common over here and when they do crop up on the second-hand market they go for good money, and I just never end up fighting for them (too busy chasing Leas and Monsters usually). For a long time, though, one of my primo Grail dolls has been Sweet Roses PJ from 1983:
I don’t know why, really. Maybe it’s her unusual colouring, the mousy-brown hair and blue-grey eyes. Maybe it’s her very 80s-typical design – the flower corsage was a popular 80s doll accessory and although I don’t remember ever seeing this particular doll when I was a child, I do remember this style of outfit very well. Maybe it’s that, like Mystery Squad Kenzie, she kind of reminds me of my sister in the 80s. Whatever it was, I stalked her for a long, long time, but she wasn’t easy to track down or cheap when I did find her.
This is probably why I snapped her up without thinking about it too much when I did find her for an affordable price. It was quite obvious from the listing photos that my version needed major work, but I didn’t let this put me off (although given the length of time it has taken me to sort her out, it really should have made me at least hesitate). Her hair had been roughly chopped, right up to the roots at some places. Her facial paint was chipped. We were looking at a re-root and repaint 😦 Re-rooting is hard on my hands (it’s a long story but I sometimes get pain and numbness in them, which makes me clumsy) and repainting, to be perfectly honest, drives me crazy – I’ve never done one that hasn’t “bled” into the vinyl or been ruined by sealant. I just avoid them these days.
So, I put it off. And put it off. And put it off. For years.
Eventually, though, I found her again in a drawer and felt pierced by guilt. I ordered some matching replacement hair from Retrodolls, plucked out her original hair and got going with it. I wasn’t quick, it took me ages. Part of this was because I got discouraged and left it for a while because on one occasion, in a fit of numb-fingeredness, I poked the rooting needle through her EYE and chipped the paint, leaving me with another part to repaint. Also, she lost even more of her eyebrows during the re-rooting process as a result of being handled. Depressing.
(By the way, sorry about the picture quality). Anyhoo, eventually I bit the bullet, finished her re-root and sealed her. Disaster! My sealant, which was never great to start off with , had developed a shiny finish when dry, maybe as a result of age or contamination. So most of that had to be removed too. We got there in the end, though.
Finally, I gave her a trim, rebodied her to a Fashionista and styled her hair. By now I’d decided that I didn’t want an exact copy of the original PJ, just something very close. As you can see above, although I used a colour nylon very like her original hair, I also added a few blonde highlights, just because I thought it would look good. When I’d finished I found that I really wanted to keep her hair straight instead of boil perming it. However, as I’d followed the original rooting pattern, I found that unless I let her hair hang forward over her face, her parting would gape and her scalp would show – the front sections were also very thick and heavy. I sorted this out by giving her some side plaits, and I quite like the result. Here she is now:
Do you like her? I was going to make her a rose-themed dress, but then today I found this current-release rose-themed dress, which I think suits her better than anything I could have made. Overall, she’s been a long-drawn-out and rather frustrating project, but a worthwhile one. She’s one of my special dolls now.