Wooden dolls have the possibility of being or becoming family heirlooms, which can be cherished for generations, with the proper care. In some ways the care of wooden dolls is similar to vintage dolls which are made of other materials, but in other ways their care is very different.
To begin, a little preventive maintenance can go a long way toward avoiding cleaning problems later. This begins with dusting. Even dolls that are kept in protective packing still need to be dusted. You will need several different tools to dust, depending on the size and intricacy of the doll. The first tool to start with is a clean, dry cloth. For dolls with simple heads this is ideal. if your doll has more detail in the carving a better idea is to use a soft artists brush. A soft brush is ideal for getting into the tiny details of eyes, ears, fingers, etc. Another option is to use the cans of compressed air that are used to dust computer keyboards.
Hopefully a gentle, regular dusting is all that is needed. If the doll needs a little more thorough cleaning the next step is a clean cloth dampened with plain water. I emphasize only damp, water is wood's biggest threat, so use as little as you can to get the job done. Never dip a wooden doll in water. Wood absorbs water and can swell causing the wood to distort and become rough. This is especially to be avoided if your doll is painted. For dolls with painted hair or features, test the damp cloth on the back of the head, down close to the neckline, where it will be less noticeable, to see if the paint will be damaged by water. Wipe with the grain of the wood, very gently.
If your doll has a fiber wig that is glued on, do not get it wet, use the compressed air of soft brush to only remove dust.
For a doll that requires more cleaning than I have suggested, it may be a good idea to take it to a doll hospital for professional restoration. More vigorous cleaning can reduce the value of the doll to collectors.
If you would like more information on wooden dolls or carving your own wooden doll, I have written a review of Lotz Doll Pages. This is a fascinating educational website about wooden dolls; to read my reviewClick Here.
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Ebook with patterns and instructions to make 5 cloth dolls as well as chapters on general doll making techniques.The book includes 21 inch Lalena Doll, 21 inch David Doll, Bear Dolls, 9 inch Destiny Doll and 15 inch Annie Doll, all together in one handy book. 53 pages.Making and Dressing Cloth Dolls.