An Unimaginable Gift

Today I received the most amazing gift from a friend. I won’t beat around the bush about it; I will just jump right in and introduce you to Catherine Eliza:

Barbie doll in 19th century style crocheted wedding gown

Barbie Bride, full view

But, she has a back story. (You knew she would, didn’t you?)

Twenty years ago, when I was newly married, I was an avid Barbie collector. I decided that to avoid buying nearly every doll made, that I would focus my collection on a couple of specific genres, bride dolls and dolls with disabilities. I once paid $100 for a 1959 original Barbie bridal gown in near mint condition, which sounds like a lot of money until I tell you that at the time, the period doll who wore it sold for roughly $10,000. (My gown is being worn by a reasonably priced modern replica, who is, herself, now 20 years old.)

My grandmother on the Humphrey side was an avid crocheter, and was eager to help me expand my collection. She had found a book of “Gibson Girl” Barbie bride patterns to crochet, and asked me to pick my favorite for her to make. She said it was a delayed wedding gift. I stewed over the patterns for an entire weekend before choosing, and my grandmother lovingly set to work.

My grandmother fell ill during the making of this precious gift, and eventually she was not able to work on it any longer. The stitches and beads were so tiny that it had become hard for her to see them. The project was mostly all crocheted up and it was a matter of the detail work, I was told. Eventually she hoped to feel well enough to finish it.

Sadly, it was not to be. My grandmother died before the project could be finished. I would have accepted the article in any state of completion, but it was not offered to me and I never saw it. Another relative took possession of most of my grandmother’s crafty things and I never knew what became of it.

Fast forward to now. Apparently some time recently I had relayed the story of the lost wedding gown to my friend who specializes in doing needlework on very tiny, delicate objects. I can’t remember how or why I told the story but my friend picked up on my sense of sadness which I still hold to this day. And so she made for me a lost treasure, which now fills the space in my heart that would have been filled by my grandmother’s gift, if I had been allowed to have it. This bride is different from the one my grandmother was making, but she is every bit as exquisite and detailed. Here are more photos of my beautiful treasure.

Bridal ensemble, side view

Bridal ensemble, side view

Here is a view from the side. Just look at that expanse of veil! And it is all trimmed in lace.

Closeup of the bodice

Closeup of the bodice

Here you can see all of the pearls at the bodice and neck, the delicate fabric, and a tiny cameo pin at the neck. Exquisite!

Skirt Detail

Skirt Detail

Notice all of the beautiful shell stitches in the skirt.

Beautiful Parasol

Beautiful Parasol

crown of hat

crown of hat

Even the top of the hat is detailed with tiny roses and seed pearls. I love the variation of colors in the individual flowers.

Top of veil

Top of veil

This is a view of the back of the hat where the veil begins. Just lovely…

The artistry that went into the piece is astounding. And, that the maker knew just how much this gift would mean to me makes it all the more amazing. Saying “thank you” a thousand times would never be enough.

And I thought this was going to be just another crappy Monday. Boy, was I wrong.

Comments

  1. Shirley Wiram says

    Trish what a lovely gift and so beautiful. What a wonderful friend you have to do this for you. I do somehow hope the original doll will some day show up and someone on the Humphrey side would give it to you. I know that is a long shot. I know you will always treasure this doll, as you should, as the friend that made it for you.

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