Monday, May 5, 2008

Fixing Cissette's fancy hairdo

My last post was about my redhead Cissette with the fancy hairdo. I wish I also had a picture of what her hair looked like when I first got her — it was not as lovely as it is now.

I had no idea when I bought this Cissette that she had a fancy hairdo. The seller's picture was bad, and in any case, her hair was falling out of the original style on one side.

Basically, the hairstyle consists of a pigtail on each side, pulled back into one pontail farther back — kind of like Snow White's original hairstyle, except that the resulting ponytail is curled. Then the rest of the hair is drawn into a low ponytail or chignon, which is also curled.

Madame Alexander Cissette with fancy hairdo

Fancy Cissette hairdo

Side view of fancy Cissette hairdo

Like in other Madame Alexander dolls of the era, the pigtails are tied with string, rather than rubber bands. The hair was partially coming down out of the pigtail on the doll's right side, and the string holding both the high and low ponytails was entirely gone.

I knew I could fix her hair, but I wanted to be sure I got it right, so did some research to find out how it was supposed to look. Because I wanted to copy the original as closely as possible, I decided to use string. I didn't have an exact match for her hair, so I used maroon — which makes it easy to see where I touched up the hair.

First, I fixed the right pigtail — but rather than taking the original string out, I just pulled up the loose hair and tied it to the original pigtail. Then I pulled the hair from both pigtails together and tied that with string, too. Finally, I used string to tie off the rest of the hair into the lower ponytail.

You can see the darker string I used in both of these pictures:

Fancy Cissette hairdo - restyled

Restyled Cissette hairdo

Unfortunately, some of the curl had fallen out, most notably in the hair that had come out of the right-hand pigtail. I touched that up by wrapping the hair around those tiny pink rubber curlers that came with the dolls in the 1950s, then zapping it with the hair dryer on low. The heat sets the hair, so when you take the curler out the curl stays in place. The curls on the right side of the upper ponytail in the pictures are mine, though you can hardly tell the difference.

Finally, I had to arrange and recurl parts of the low ponytail. I used the hair dryer method to do this part, too.

Cissette's restyled hair looks pretty close to the original, and I'm proud of the results. Most of all, though, I'm pleased to have been able to fix her hair without destroying what remained of the original set. Original is always best, so I like to do the least amount of restoration necessary!

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