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My Handmade American Girl Canopy Bed

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posted by alias A Thousand Splendid Dolls on Wednesday 7th of July 2021 10:34:59 AM

Written by my sister: In late 1996 or early 1997 (shortly after getting Molly for Christmas 1996), Mom presented me with my first ever American Girl catalogue. I remember telling her that what I wanted most for Molly was a homemade bed, made by Pepere but with bedding made by Memere. (I was really close to my dad's parents. Pepere made me lots of furniture for my dollhouse and Memere, the summer after I got this bed, started making clothes for our AG dolls.) In my mind, this fantasy bed had Molly's name carved into it. I also, I'm sure, mentioned how much I loved Molly's dog Bennett. Well, my 10th birthday came and, at the end, after I opened all the other presents, my parents emerged carrying this bed with a little gift box perched on it. A friend had, coincidentally, gotten me a bathrobe for Molly as a birthday present too! This bed was actually made by my dad, not by Pepere, but Memere did make the bedding! It was better than my fantasy bed by far because I LOVED the canopy. It reminded me of something a princess would have and I was REALLY into princesses as a kid. Memere also picked my favorite color--pink for the bedding. The mattress underneath is purple, my second favorite color. What was in the box my parents placed on top? Bennett! It was a fairytale birthday for sure--happily ever after. Anyway, the reason I wanted this bed so much is because Molly had nowhere to sleep. (My parents didn't want her to sleep with me because she was so nice--that battle didn't last long. She started sleeping in my bed secretly, then not so secretly after my parents gave up on keeping Molly nice.) Before I had Molly, my favorite large doll was my Twist N Style Tiffany. I had a very old doll cradle that Tiffany slept in and I told my mom, when I was pitching to get Molly, "She could share Tiffany's crib." The trouble is, "Tiffany's crib" was world's too tiny for Molly--her feet hung way out. I had to kick Tiffany out of the crib for Molly, and Molly didn't even fit! So, this was a much needed present and it was EXACTLY what I wanted. Every item in our collection is like a snapshot of my life--or multiple. Some people swap dolls like baseball cards, and, as they are inanimate objects (technically) there's nothing wrong with that. However, to me, they are more like a photo in an album--and you can't just swap your memories with someone! To this day, this bed still brings out the image of Molly's feet hanging out of Tiffany's crib, followed by the image of me looking through that catalogue for the first time. I remember my parents carrying this out at the party and seeing it, along with that special, little box. I actually have real photos of opening Bennett! I remember the pride and joy I felt that night, putting Molly into her purple bathrobe that a friend gave me, with its cute fluffy white slippers, and tucking her into her new bed. (The new bed smelled wonderfully of Memere because she made the bedding.) I remember, also, the many nights tucking Molly into the bed and, for some reason, it also reminds me of my birthday in February 2000 when I turned 13. I got Valerie (GT16) that birthday and I took Molly into my bed that night, regretting that I now had three other dolls beside her, and wishing I could go back. I sang Shania Twain's "You're Still the One" to Molly that night. Why this bed conjures up that memory, I don't know. Maybe my 13th birthday made me remember my 10th, getting Molly's bed and her dog, and wishing I'd been more "faithful" to her and hadn't kept getting new dolls. (And, it was nearly 20 years before I got another AG--except Emily/other Molly's--after that birthday!) Or maybe this bed just reminds me of my 13th birthday too because it reminds me of those years in my life when Molly's bed was in my old bedroom. (By the next birthday, I was downstairs in the semi-finished basement.) In any case, this bed conjures up a lot of memories, those are just the primary ones. Sadly, it took a real beating over the years due to: me being klutzy/careless with my things, improper storage, and naughty cats. Up until much more recently (2019--I think it was in my room already when I got Rebecca for Christmas 2019), this bed mostly lived in the closet downstairs because the top frame is busted. Even when I was a kid, many of the support rods for the canopy would pop out. You can see, in this photo, that the canopy dips down in the middle. When it was new, it tented upwards there instead. Shelly's ambition, since putting it back into my room, has been to keep it stable up top. It's funny--I swear we are intuitive with each other, like twins, even though there are four and a half years between us. I'd been thinking about this bed and how sad I was that it was in the basement, not being appreciated, wishing I'd taken better care of it. DAYS later, I came home to find that, while dusting my room, Shelly had brought it up, laundered the bedding, glued the supports back together, and put my beloved Mollys and Emily on it. It was the nicest surprise and a friend, who I'd been telling about the bed, was floored that Shelly was so weirdly in sync with me--having the thought to bring the bed upstairs, not knowing I'd been wanting exactly that. Having it put back in my room meant so much to me--almost as much as getting it in the first place. It was a struggle keeping it together--Shelly even tried Apoxie Sculpt. The trouble is, when you have two very large cats that always seem to want to be EXACTLY where you DON'T want them to be, fragile things need to be fixed often. Shelly wound up resorting to tape by 2021. However, it is back in my room, where it needs to be. No matter what means we need to use to keep it together, it is never going back to the basement again! It is a treasured gift from my family in so many ways--Mom telling Dad what I wanted, Dad making the bed, Memere making the bedding, and Shelly fixing it and restoring it to its rightful place. I love seeing my dolls on it. I know it would make my parents happy to see that I'm still using it, over 24 years after getting it!

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  • Published 08.08.22
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