Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meet the amazing Mrs. Cotterman

A few years ago when I was getting into the world of 18 inch dolls I had the good fortune of corresponding with a woman named Mrs. Cotterman. She was instrumental in getting me oriented in the doll world. I was so inspired  and encouraged by her that I began sharing my knowledge gained since then with all of you. I  had lost touch with Mrs. C  but recently re connected with her in last few months. I wanted to bring you her amazing story and share with you her talent at restoring dolls and give you a peak in side her doll room world.
Mrs. C is a Doll Collector, Doll Clothes Maker, Blogger and Grandma Extraordinaire!
I recently sent her some questions and here is what she shared with me"First you need some background information.  I am the second child in a family of seven children.  My father was a career serviceman.  I had four brothers and two sisters.   We were "very" poor and I did not have dolls,  I had real babies to take care of.   My sisters are six and twelve years younger than me and I purchased dolls for them.  Four brothers, two sons and lots of nephews made it so I was not very interested in dolls. (FYI-- I did live in Anchorage, Alaska in the sixties and graduated from East High.  I started at West High but the 1963 Good Friday earthquake flattened the school so we all went to East High)" 
Says Mrs. C 

When did you get started collecting AG dolls?
 In 2001 we were blessed with our first granddaughter, Kylee.  A friend told me about the American Girl dolls and I started researching them. (http://curtdanhauser.com/AG_Collecting/Main.HTML  and http://www.agplaythings.com/)  These two sites are very helpful.  Curt was known from our son's Star Trek fascination and I met Meg through ebay.    In May of 2002 I purchased Kirsten to give as gift to Kylee when she got older.  

When did you start sewing?
I have porphyria and must spend most of my time out of sunlight.  Other "health issues" limit many of my activities so my father taught me to sew, knit, crochet, tat, embroider, and quilting.  I was around four years of age. 
Who did you make your first American Girl doll outfits for?
 I learned that American Girl dolls are a "bit" pricey so I stopped buying books on ebay and started selling doll outfits I made for Kirsten and Girl of Today dolls.  

What are your favorite patterns to make?
I enjoy many different patterns.  My own patterns are fun but I also enjoy Bunny Bear patterns, Liberty Jane patterns, and Joan Hinds.  I do have a habit of altering patterns too.  

How did your doll room come to be?
 I decided to start collecting all of the historical American Girl dolls, their outfits, furniture and items.  As I sold doll outfits, I purchased dolls and pieces from other ebay sellers and American Girl.  As I bought, I removed them from my lists and photographed everything.  All of these purchases were kept in boxes until Sept 2007.   I started with a Sauder Wardrobe and made my first doll house. 
What is your favorite room in the doll house?
I do not have a favorite room in the "doll house" but Kylee loves the music room and Hailey loves the kitchen.       

Do you have a favorite doll?
 I really do not have a favorite doll but I do lean toward Samantha and Molly with her short hair.  

Your Abby doll from NCIS is so fantastic did you design her all by yourself?
Yes, Abby's outfit is my own design.  The doll is American Girl doll of today #4.   She is of Asian heritage.  I am working on a new outfit for her right now.  :)  
Do you create your own patterns?
Yes, many of my outfits are of my own design.   I was known on the doll collector's board for my Princess Leia outfit before I even knew there were boards.  :) 

Do you find you sew more in the winter months then the summer months?
 I'm not sure when I sew the most.  I cut things out and then sew in spurts.  My gardening time is limited to about an hour so I can spend the afternoons in the basement sewing.  Winter months are filled with holiday activities so I feel rushed then. 
Mrs C makes over and rescues dolls to see some of her make over process visit http://cotterman.shutterfly.com/99
You rescue dolls and make them over where do you find the dolls?
Yes, most of the dolls come from Ebay, but a few have been purchased from college students needing help with the cost of books. 

When you get a rescue doll what is the first thing you do?
 The rescue dolls are most interesting.  I gathered information from several sources when I decided to try to restore a TLC doll.  The first thing, is to clean the poor doll.  Face, limbs, and body.  Remove all warts and scratches. ( http://www.justmagicdolls.com/   Maria does a wonderful job of step by step doll care.  She is making some changes so be sure to get her new website bookmarked soon.)  I do enjoy restoring the dolls to their original beauty.   The dolls I have taken care of have found loving homes.   Be patient and take your time and you can change the "unloved doll" to a doll of beauty.
This is my album of the three white bodied dolls I purchased and restored.... they are AR real treasure. http://share.shutterfly.com/share/received/welcome.sfly?fid=2f8d677d07478e8f9a16dcf07a6807f9&Sid=0IatXDVo4bsWKC
Can you tell me about your blog?
I really do not know a lot about blogs.   My granddaughter is entering the tween years and wanted more hip clothing so I checked out Liberty Jane Patterns.  One of her requests is for partners to have blogs.   Picasa is a wonderful place to store pictures so I followed the instructions and started a blog.  Gomunk said just to write as if I was talking to a group of people.  (I am a storyteller so that part wasn't hard)  I have have not promoted the blog enough but once I get into the habit of writing every day it should be fun.  Ebay is an interesting site 

Can you tell me about your Ebay and Etsy experiences? "Ebay is an interesting site.   Long before I knew American Girl dolls, I used ebay for books.  I love to read and then the sons needed text books so Ebay was the place to buy cheap and then sell when the course was over.   Has it been easy to shift from a bookworm to a buyer and seller of dolls and doll things?   Yes, and No.   I had some bad experiences at first as a new seller.  As an unknown, my outfits were purchased cheap and then resold making profit for another Ebay seller.   The fees and demands of Ebay have changed .... really Changed.   It can be very time consuming and expensive to sell.    As a buyer of American Girl retired items.... it is the only place to go.  (Craigslist is available but be alert when buying)   A suggestion (strongly given) is to set your price and do not get into a bidding war as a buyer.   (As a seller .... it's great for me but remember that even Felicity's gold thimble will come around again.  Don't spend more than you can afford.)  
Another tip for Ebay shopping, be creative in your searches.  Sometimes your wished for treasure can be found in a most unlikely auction.  Remember men sometimes sell dolls and have no idea of what they are selling.   If you have time or have friends that will help you look you will find the doll, or doll items.   Be patient.   My entire doll house was purchase by sewing, selling, and buying one at a time.
I knew nothing of the Etsy site until about a year ago.   I had set up an account a few years back when I was looking for a pattern.  The Doll Wardrobe blog suggested that I list some outfits on etsy as the fees were cheaper than Ebay and so I gave it a try.    It is a lovely network but you must be patient building clients (repeat buyers) and be aware that all artists are looking for deals.   I've had wonderful ideas show up in other shops and even other sellers ask for lower prices, free patterns, and items purchased to copy and then returned or resold.   I thought that Etsy would be "high end" but it's just a website for artists, buyers looking for deals and friends that want to know what you are selling.   I like the friendships but have not found the selling success that I had hoped for.  (This could be my own fault as I am a grandma and can't give the Etsy community the attention it deserves)    I do like to shop for unique "one of a kind" gifts and do check Etsy first. "
Here is a link to Mrs. C's doll house photos   


You can follow Mrs C's blog at http://mrsc-clothes4dolls.blogspot.com/

As with all my posts I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at karenmowen@gmail.com 


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  2. Thank you, Karen, for your lovely comments about my good friend Donna. We met on an AG message board about five years ago. As we are both grandmas who "do" dolls, we gravitated together and found we have much in common. She is truly a creative and determined and energetic lady, and I am happy to call her friend.

  3. Thank you for your comments, she truly is a wonderful and creative woman! I am glad to know she keeps such great company!