Sunday, December 18, 2016

Kiwiana doll: the 'plastic fantastic' era and a tea party hostess doll from Gisborne

It is not unusual to see the vintage Kiwiana dolls -  cotton/wool crocheted, tatted, or knitted outfits. In contrast, our doll not only has an outfit crafted from a plastic doily, this doll also has a unique shape: so cakes and lollies could have been served in the skirt pockets space. This doll was made in Gisborne, in the 1950s, and there is no evidence to suggest that this type of doll was made systematically.

The doll outfit was made in the following way: the top part (blouse) was knitted with a pink colored plastic knitting yarn - well known by the name raffia. After that, the four pieces of the round plastic doily were knitted with the same pink colored raffia on the edges: to give the look of the pink lace attached to flounce skirt pattern.

After that, one of four pieces was used as a flat base, and the other three pieces were laid over and arranged in a circle; and then stitched together with a plastic knitting yarn to make the desired round shaped doll skirt -making 6 pockets. The central part of the bottom doily is stitched with a skirt.

Then, the hard plastic 1950s doll with her pink blouse was added by simply placing doll legs in the skirt. The following step was to knit together the edges of the skirt with a doll blouse.

We spoke to Robyn, who is an antique and second-hand dealer in Napier.

"In New Zealand, plastic doilies would have come out in 1948, when I was 5. We use to use them quite often as an ornament on dressing tables, or underneath of backlit plastic radios. In 1960, they sort of,  went against them, they had paper ones. Plastic doilies returned in the 1970s. The Plasterton factory from town Masterton made plastic doilies, plastic bags, washing baskets, fake tableclothsJapanese buyers bought them out, and 150 women lost their jobs. That's when they stopped making them. Today, people would buy them immediately if they spotted them in the second hand and antique shop"said Robyn.

According to our research, apart from plastic and paper doilies - crochet, and crochet & linen design doilies were also popular in the 1960s and 1970s. In more detail, Calypso crochet, and crochet & linen design publications which were originally printed in the 1960s, were often reprinted in the 1970s; and widely distributed throughout New Zealand wool shops. This tells us about their popularity.

The pictured cover page of our copy of  Calypso publication has a stamp on it: Neil Goodman Limited Wool Shops Nelson Richmond Motueka. This copy was first published in 1968, reprinted 1978.

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