Long, long ago, in those fabled times before The Arrival, me and Himself spent a lovely, balmy weekend in the Cotswolds and picked up a little King ornament from a garden centre along the way.
Eva has always been fascinated by this King so, under supervision, we let her play with him often.
Eventually, when she was old enough to not immediately chew the limbs off everything she touched, the little (legless) King joined her basket of wooden blocks. She still played with him often, but I couldn’t help feeling he looked a little lonely there on his own-some, no-one to share his wooden castle blocks with. And I started thinking about how I might get a companion for him.
Anyone will tell you that Peg dolls are currently two-a-penny on Etsy and, squinting around there for inspiration, I reckoned I could do a half-decent DIY job, rather than try to find a vaguely matching one and paying through the nose for the privilege.
First stop on this journey was this handy site www.littlebrowndog.co.uk, where you can select a custom ‘family’ of blank peg dolls to purchase (this is a cracking idea, though could be made easier by some clearer photo labelling to show which doll is which, as the drop-down menu can get quite confusing!). Then, in a welcome throwback to my A-levels, I went in search of bargain acrylic paints – easily found on Amazon, if a little sketchy looking, brand-wise (no pun intended!). I tried to be a little more thoughtful in my brush selection however, knowing I could come a proper cropper if they were super-cheap ones – splayed out bristles moulting everywhere isn’t really something you want ever, and particularly not when working at a small scale. It’s early days, but these ones seem to have performed okay so far, whilst not breaking the bank.
With that, I pinched the King from Eva’s basket and, using him as reference, started to pencil in the features of the Queen. Acrylic dries relatively quickly, so I was then able to fill in the colours over the course of a day, leaving the evening to complete Her Highness’ finer details.
Not confident in the steadiness of my hands with a paintbrush, I chickened out and filled in the Queens outlines and facial features with a fine fibre tip pen. This was a mistake, given that I went on to cover the whole lot in a few coats of PVA I had lying around, figuring it was child safe and a cheap alternative to varnish. What ol’ Brainbox here wasn’t considering is the water soluble properties of both PVA and Fibre-Tip pen (dur!). And, although Eva rarely puts toys in her mouth these days, it’s a rare child who always handles them with dry, clean hands. So poor Queeny has suffered a bit since, and I plan on upgrading her with proper varnish soon, with this being the main contender…
… though good luck to me with varnishing around Queenie’s hair, which was the next big creative challenge. I pinched some wool from DP’s long-abandoned learn-to-knit-kit and stuck about twelve few strands on her head in a ‘middle parting’ style. From there I made what must be The World’s Fiddliest Braids – which I then abandoned halfway though after deciding it looked nice for her red locks to be flowing a bit. So the Queen has half a hairstyle – though she wears it well.
But your average Queen appreciates some flashy headgear, so the next move was to sort through my ‘Hordes of Random Crap’ Box and unearth red ribbons from old presents, along with some old Christmas cracker gifts too. I found a tiny plastic basketball toy (think this, but rubbisher) and realised that the net, with a ribbon around the top might make a passable crown, if upended. So that’s what I did.
And thats how Queen came to be. I’m happy to report Eva has taken to her well. She joins us for ‘Picnic Time’ (which currently takes place about every twelve seconds) and she and King were proudly held aloft just yesterday to look at a blimp out of Eva’s bedroom window (these royals get all the best views!). Queen hasn’t escaped all this attention unscathed. As mentioned above, she needs ‘exfoliating’ now the PVA has been breached by soggy hands. And the acrylic is peeling from her little plastic crown. She also goes missing at least once a week to the cries of ‘Where Queen gone? Where Queen gone??’. But that’s peg dolls for you. Risk/Reward. At least she has not been eaten. Yet.
In fact, overall, she has been such a hit that I’m considering making a new arrival next – so stay tuned for the pitter-patter of tiny (wooden) feet…
So next time someone asks you why you hoard so much junk, tell them you never know when you might need to make a tiny plastic crown for the Peg Doll Queen of a Legless Cotswolds King. That’ll shut ’em up!