My Upside Down Pals (above) were inspired by the vintage topsy turvy dolls. These dolls have 2 heads and 2 bodies where one of the characters is hidden beneath a long skirt. I was first intrigued by these toys because of its clever dual identity and the potential to tell a good story.
When I’m creating the double sided dolls, my intention is not only to spark storytelling, but also to help children understand the concept of opposites. My Little Red Riding Hood was made to share the classic tale and also to teach children not talk to strangers. Below is a picture of the Potty Pal that’s in my Shop. On one side is a baby in diapers, and on the other side is the “Big Girl”. There are endless possibilities on how a child would play with this doll. One of the underlying reasons I made this toy was to help promote potty training conversation in a non-stressful way and to visually demonstrate to the child that they don’t need diapers because they’re a big kid now.
Topsy turvy dolls are rich in American history with the first one dating back to early 1900s. They were made during times of slavery on southern plantations. Below is a picture of a topsy turvy doll made in 1901:
There’s a lot of speculation on the original reason why these dolls were made. According to historicalfolktoys.com, they were given to white children to pretend master and servant. Some say that they were given to black children to role play their mothers who took care of white babies during the day and their own at night. Others say that the dolls were given to black children so that they could hide the forbidden black doll when the plantation owners were around. Topsy turvy dolls were mass produced in early 1900s, and then various companies such as Vogue started selling patterns called, Topsy and Eva Doll.
In the future, I would love to explore more opposites in life and translate them into dolls. I enjoy making these interesting toys that tell a good story. I’m hoping that these special features will make children want to connect with my toys, and in turn, become fond childhood keepsakes. ❤
Check out Upside Down Pals, Little Red Riding Hood featured on riftcut.com
Vintage topsy turvy doll image was found on Ebay.