Scouring local dime stores, she found cast off and forgotten dolls.
Back at her home, she carefully bathed them and combed their hair. She sewed clothing for them, dressed and loved and treasured them.
I was mesmerized by her efforts. Dolls lined her shelves and couches, occupied knick-knack cabinets, and held places of honor in special chairs and on beds.
I didn't inherit Grandma's skill for sewing so, growing up, I never made clothing for my own small collection of dolls.
And I didn't possess Grandma's patience — painstaking effort that required hours upon hours to skillfully restore neglected dolls to their original beauty.
But about ten years ago I began to draw dolls.
I loved giving them different hairstyles and creating paper clothing for them. Some of my dolls were even published in a workbook for children. And some were published on the Internet by a company that sold clipart.
Making paper dolls was also a hobby I pursued now and again over the years, making them for family members and friends.
Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to take things a step further and form Hearts and Hands Dolls. A nonprofit organization that would make soft sculpt dolls for elderly shut-ins and abused children. My wonderful seamstresses sewed dozens and dozens and dozens of dolls.
We delivered them to nursing homes and care centers.
We even made Hope/Nicole Dolls for a little girl with leukemia and sold them to help defray some of her medical costs.
But then life caught up with me and I realized I couldn't keep up with the demand for all those who needed dolls — and all the wonderful women who wanted to have a hand in sewing and stuffing them.
While I am still involved with the soft sculpt dolls, I've had to scale back. I've had a few discussions with manufacturers who may be able to one day help make and distribute them.
In the meantime, I've kept creating my paper dolls.
Wanting to celebrate the strength and diversity of women across America, and provide kids a way to learn state facts, I created a line of American dolls — one from each state. I've given them names and lots of cute clothes.
I've given them teddy bears that can be posed and other friends such as state birds and, as in the case of Aurora, the doll representing Alaska, sled dogs that can be posed as well.
I'm working toward negotiations with manufacturers to offer complete doll sets that will include all the articulated figures and separate, unique carrying cases. But all that's still a ways off. For right now, to get them out where kids can enjoy them, I'm offering limited one page jpg printables on Etsy.
Each page includes a doll and two changes of clothing, plus a handful of fun elements like state birds and or flowers, and a positive message of hope and good cheer that kids can share with friends and family.
You can download the pages and share them for personal use with friends and family.
Not only are they ideal for rainy-day and sick day play, they make for awesome craft and educational activities, and they're perfect for birthday and holiday/general kid parties and get-togethers.
And, as my youngest daughter and granddaughter will tell you, they're just plain great to play with for no reason at all other than to just have fun!
The first several dolls are up now, with the remainder to be posted in coming weeks.
If you don't see your state, send me an email and I'll do my best to get that doll listed for you right away.
Read the complete story about my Grandma Maggie here
Or get started on your own collection of paper dolls here