Woman to display homemade dolls

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Bev Arahood arranges a few of her dolls. Arahood has made 150 dolls, some of which will be on display on Saturday, Oct. 15, and Sunday, Oct. 16, at Grace Lutheran Church in Courtland. -- Merle Monahan | Tidewater News

COURTLAND—Bev Arahood’s doll collection is out of the ordinary because every doll is made from scratch.

Arahood estimates she has made at least 150 dolls in different sizes, shapes and nationalities over the past 11 years. Her collection includes Grandma and Grandpa holding a baby, a children’s choir, Ole Saint Nick, a scarecrow and a clown.

There are pirates, Victorian ladies, two men shooting pool with a barmaid nearby, and children of all ages, including one riding a tricycle and another playing piano.

The Franklin woman’s collection will be on display 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, during a yard sale at Grace Lutheran Church on New Market Road in Courtland. The dolls also will be on display after the Sunday, Oct. 16, church service until 3 p.m. The dolls will not be for sale.

An accomplished seamstress, the 76-year-old started her hobby at the suggestion of her daughter, Debbie.

“She made dolls, but did not like to dress them,” Arahood said. “I started making the clothes for her and grew to like it. I took a few classes and that was it. I was hooked.”

She purchases the heads, arms, legs, eyes and eyelashes before deciding what type of doll she will make. Arahood’s next step is to paint the faces before sending off the porcelain heads to be fired.

She makes the body of the doll, which Arahood stuffs with cotton and electrical wire for the skeleton so the arms and legs will move. She then attaches the head, arms, legs, eyes and eyelashes.

The final steps involve making the clothing, dressing the doll and fitting it with a wig.

“I buy the shoes, if I can find them,” Arahood said. “Otherwise, I just make them.”

She gets ideas for her dolls from magazines, books and observing.

“When I was taking the classes, I read all the information they had,” Arahood said.

The dolls range from 8 and 10 inches up to 42 inches tall.

She has a few dolls that will not be shown in this exhibit, like Scarlett O’Hara and her daughter, Bonnie Blue from the epic film, “Gone With the Wind.” She also has a pair of American Indians and Little Lord Fauntleroy, which are too heavy to handle.

“I’m very lucky that my children are able and happy to help with some of the things I need,” Arahood said. “My two daughters bring me materials for the dolls’ clothing, while my son looks for props.”

He found a small pool table and unicycle at an antique shop for props.

“He also visits yard sales looking for things I might use,” Arahood said. “Why just a few weeks ago, he brought me a big bag of ribbons and lace that he paid about $2 for. I know the lace sells for at least $25 a yard because I’ve seen it in fabric stores.”