Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Betsy McCall, My Paper Doll

Sydney has a new passion these days. She has always been extremely into character-driven imaginary play, leading her not only into a love of media figures such as Land Before Time or My Little Pony, but also into a far bigger enjoyment of things like dolls, little animal figures, and princess/fairy/unicorns than her sister ever exhibited. I have seen this child, when no other toys were available, play a pretend game, conversations and all, with her fingers, for Pete's sake.

But also? Sydney loves paper dolls.

We did a lot of paper doll play after Thanksgiving, when I bought a paper doll cartridge for my Cricut, and she loved them just fine then, but now that her manual dexterity is just this much more advanced, and after I happened upon some awesome old paper doll high-quality scans on the internet and printed them out for her, we have hit a paper doll renaissance. I'm talking, every day there are new paper dolls to cut out and play with. Every moment there are paper dolls on the child's mind. There are paper doll parts everywhere, including the car.

At the moment, the paper doll crush is deeply tied up with the Betsy McCall paper dolls from the 1950s. I print the pages in color (on a laser printer, not an inkjet) and cut them out for Sydney, and back the doll itself with adhesive-backed cardstock. The outfits can stay on plain copier-weight paper. Paper dolls are fiddly with their smallness and their tiny little tabs, so Sydney really just now has the manual dexterity to dress them up without getting too frustrated:
Not frustrating at all!

And then she carries them around and plays games with them, and changes their clothes, and plays some more:Willow is NOT into paper dolls, and I didn't play with them as a child, either, so I'm actually surprised at how cool I think they are. And they have a lot of educational value, as well, beyond just the sheer enjoyment of them. The whole point of the paper doll is the outfit, see, and so many creators have taken a lot of care to make up some very detailed, and very specific period pieces for the dolls. For Sydney, at least, this could be a great way to teach history.

Sydney and I have also found PLENTY of awesome high-quality paper doll scans online. Our very favorite is Teri's Paper Doll Scans; I've printed out, all ready to cut out, some Easter paper dolls, and some 1940s paper dolls (Sydney will appreciate the ballet outfit, in particular, but I really like these because they remind me of old photos of my Mama, whom I miss), and I am just waiting on the merest excuse to jump into the whole world of 1940s film stars.

While Sydney plays paper dolls, Willow and I indulge her newest passion--vibrating electric football. Our house is just full of awesomeness this week.


Unknown said...

I loved paper dolls. I loved them so much that I would cut people out of the Sears catalog. Maybe Syd and I have a secret bond. Afterall I was the only one that could get her to sleep when we visited........

julie said...

She does have a soft spot for you. And your Mountain Dew.

I'm trying to figure out how paper dolls from the Sears catalogue would work. Too bad we got off of all of those junk mail lists...