#MyrtleMondays: World Doll Day recap & The Myrtle Doll

Dear Reader, the long-awaited day has come! This Saturday was World Doll Day, and the big reveal of the custom-made Myrtle Hardcastle dollĀ and my handsewn costume for In Myrtle Peril. Keep reading for highlights of the big event!

Here she is! I knew you didn’t want to wait any longer, so we’ll begin with the incredible Myrtle Hardcastle costumes created by Connie Heller of The Doll Cradle in Shawnee, KS. Here is her blue day (…or night!) dress from Premeditated Myrtle, beautifully rendered in tiny (!) 1:6 scale on a ball-jointed doll by Ruby Red. She’s not quite 12″ tall, and there are so many lovely, delicate details, from her tiny cameo to the books she’s carrying to the very, very fine lace trim on her frock.

But Connie didn’t stop there–oh, no! She made another four (4!) costumes for her wee Myrtle, including:

Her Garden Party frock–check out those blue shoes!

The Myrtle Hardcastle Detective Society goes undercover with the Kansas City Chiefs!! The Chiefs were one of the event sponsors, and Connie–a natural fan–does outfits for all sizes of dolls for all the local sports teams.

There was much, much more to the event than Myrtle costumes, however. I was tremendously honored to give the keynote address (click to watch), discussing Myrtle and her journey from page to seam, the importance of creative play for young people, and the role dolls and books can play in developing curious, empathetic, adventuresome kids. (And a girl in the audience asked for an extra reading! Thanks, Isabella!)

Photo credit Bekah Boyer, Toy & Miniature Museum

Event co-sponsor, the National Museum of Toys & Miniatures, added an element of fascinating material history to the afternoon, with a biographical presentation by Madeline Rislow on Harriet’s Doll, an early 1900s Kestner Gibson Girl doll in the collection (she is currently resting from the rigors of display, but you can visit her companions in the collection).

Dr. Rislow, manager of education at T/M, gave us a Historical Lecture on Gibson Girl culture and the New Woman of the 1890s-00s. (credit: Bekah Boyer) Three Words: Gibson Girl Wallpaper. (Which you can still buy!)

Her characteristic self-possessed expression reminds me of Sargent’s portrait of Mrs. George Swinton. Truly a Modern Woman!

This was one of my favorite pictures from Dr. Rislow’s talk:

Not an autopsy photo. Museum staff show off the worn hands of the doll and the chipped paint on her fingernails, demonstrating that she was used and loved and played with.

Myrtle & Co stand as witnesses while UFDC Regional Director Christine Faust reads the formal proclamation from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, officially establishing the second Saturday in June as World Doll Day in KC. (So we can do it all again next year! *grin*)

World Doll Day was founded by doll lover and artist Mildred Seeley in 1986, whose legacy of doll collecting is carried on by the United Federation of Doll Clubs, and members were on hand for the festivities.

One of the KC area doll clubs at WDD, with a display of antique and vintage Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls and books by creator Johnny Gruelle

It was so fun to bring the Myrtle doll costumes that I’ve sewn–and to have a whole modeling crew on hand to display them (and some fun props).

All the sassy lasses! Bekah Boyer of T/M and I pose with The Girls.

This is the first time all the book cover costumes have been on display together. I recruited a few of Myrtle’s friends to help model.

All of this was, of course, leading up to the grand reveal of Myrtle’s In Myrtle Peril cover dress:

Truly “from page to seam:” what began as an image in an 1890 catalogue went to the paintbrush of Brett Helquist and finally ended up under my needle!

Next week’s #MyrtleMondays post will take a closer look at the creation of this dress in all its intricate detail.

Somehow in the glorious hustle and bustle of the day, we neglected to gather everyone together for a group photograph (*sob!*), and there were so many people I didn’t get to chat with as long or as often as I’d have wished. But I left with a fistful of doll club flyers, and a very full heart. Oh, and also…

I got a present. *blush* My Astute Readers may be able to Deduce what was inside, although I was Utterly Gobsmacked.

Yes: it’s the ball-jointed Myrtle doll! For my very own! AND all her costumes! (I felt like Harriet must have, opening her Kestner doll so many holidays ago.)

The Grand Unwrapping, with my new friend Lena. (See Lena’s new friend? The event gave every attendee a swag bag containing a beautiful doll! Lena chose one in an exquisite purple velvet coat.)

Just LOOK at the wee middy from How to Get Away with Myrtle!

Far too hot for shoes and hats as Peony and Myrtle ponder the mysteries afoot at the seaside…

And maybe my favorite part? A complete set of nonfiction titles by our favorite authoress, H.M. Hardcastle herself:

My huge, enduring, heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in pulling together this amazing event, and even huger and more heartfelt thanks for the incredible creators behind bringing Myrtle to life in doll form: Alana Smith and Alisha Cole with the Westport Historical Society; Connie Harrell with The Doll Cradle; Bekah Boyer and Madeline Rislow of T/M; Crystal Farris, Lindsay Foat, and Julia Kingsbury of the Kansas City Public Library; Christine Faust and the representatives of the United Federation of Doll Clubs; the Kansas City Chiefs; Mayor Lucas; and all of the wonderful Myrtle fans and doll lovers who showed up on a beastly hot Saturday afternoon to take part in all the fun.

I’ve said this before, but being a kids’ author is the greatest job in the world–and days like yesterday bring that home. It’s such an honor to discover the growing affection for Myrtle (and her author) all over the world and close to home. We love you right back.


2 Responses to “#MyrtleMondays: World Doll Day recap & The Myrtle Doll”

  1. Debby Chase Putman

    Congratulations! What an epic day! I am sure Myrtle took it all in stride, being a Young Lady of Quality. So exciting to see her brought into the world of dolls. I am sure most of us remember or still have that precious one that is at least still seen in pictures with us, and now Myrtle gets to join the ranks. Quite an adventure!