Military job by day, doll doctor at night
JONESTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Valarie M. Moyer works in the military during the day, and on the side, she is a certified doll appraiser and doll doctor.
Moyer is originally from Philadelphia, but moved to Florida where she grew up. Now she is living in Jonestown, and currently works at Fort Indiantown Gap as an operations sergeant in aviation.
After 23 years of working in the military, Moyer is ready to retire, and will be doing so by the end of the year. Right now, Moyer’s doll business is just a side job, but once she is retired, it will become her full-time job.
“I love my job, but I’ve been there long enough. It’s time to let it go, “Moyer said.
Moyer’s love for dolls got started because of influence from her grandmother.
“I started collecting dolls because of my grandmother, who was a collector,” Moyer said. “So I fell in love with dolls that way.”
Moyer’s doll business got started because she was looking at putting together something to do after retiring from the military.
Being a doll doctor was not her first choice, and originally she wanted to sell new dolls and hand bags. In 2004, she even started a business called “Valarie’s Dolls and Hand Bags.”
“Through the years it has changed, and now I do just the doctor side of it,” Moyer said. ’The idea of a store went by the wayside because what I found myself doing, I was always fixing something.”
Moyer said that there is also an opportunity for her to do her doll doctor business at home, and it is something she is excited about.
The dolls that Moyer works on are sent to her in the mail from many different places, and are sometimes as far as Arizona.
Her customer from Arizona said that there was a doll doctor where she lives, but the business closed down. The lady then did an Internet search and found Moyer’s business.
“It used to be a business that people got involved in, and it was a popular thing for a while,” Moyer said.
The original doll doctors restored antique and vintage baby dolls, but many of them are gone now according to Moyer.
There is also a doll doctor association where people meet and discuss techniques of how to restore dolls. Moyer was recently elected as the president of the Pennsylvania chapter of that association.
Overall, Moyer said that being a doll doctor is very interesting and it’s something that she enjoys doing.
“When you think about how the dolls used to be made, they stayed around for hundreds of years,” Moyer said. “Some of the older baby dolls are what I normally get, and I really like working with those.”
A lot of the work Moyer does on the dolls involves composition repair.
“There are a lot of steps involved,” Moyer said. “It depends on the type of doll that I’m dealing with.”
Walking into Moyer’s shop, you can see dolls in all different stages of repair.
On one table there was a box with a porcelain doll that had a broken body, and the pieces were placed in a pie plate by the customer who sent it.
It was a doll made by the customer’s mother from years ago, and she wanted it restored to its original form.
“My job is to replace the body,” Moyer said. “Of course she wants to keep as much of the body as we can because it has the identification on it. Her mother is no longer here, so that is important.”
As Moyer works on the dolls, she takes pictures of the different stages of repair. She keeps those pictures of the dolls in a photo album to show how they are restored.
In order to repair the dolls, she also collects items such as hair, doll body parts and filling for dolls that need stuffed.
The amount of time it takes to repair a doll depends on the condition of the doll when it arrives in Moyer’s shop. She also does the dolls in the order of when they arrived at her shop.
“The composition dolls normally take several months because I have to do a lot of stuff outside,” Moyer said.
Because the paints on the antique dolls have lead in it, she has to work outside when taking it off.
Moyer also has masks in her shop to protect herself from some of the chemicals when doing her work.
Then once she gets the paint off of the dolls, it takes several layers of paint to get them back to their original color.
In addition to being a doll doctor, Moyer also makes reborn baby dolls that are made to look like real life children.
Moyer also goes to shows and takes the dolls along to display to the public. Her next show is in New Jersey.
Information from: Lebanon Daily News, http://www.ldnews.com