Well! It’s been a long while since I’ve written a new update (the last post was written in April!) I’ve been working non-stop for several months now, which is why this Brady Bunch set had taken so long to materialise. The bulk of it was painted after after after hours, and by that time of, um, early dawn I was in this surreal state between “Zombie” and “Speedy Gonzales” so it’s a real miracle that anything requiring symmetry was accomplished at all.

I had so much fun with it, though. I don’t remember watching any Brady Bunch episodes when I was growing up in Taiwan, only the re-runs when I finally moved to the US. It was the mid-80s then so the show hadn’t completely lost its kitschy charm. My parents had bought a house from a family who had decorated its interiors in the late 60s/early 70s and never updated it. We’re talking shag carpets, we’re talking wood panel walls, we’re talking bathrooms with splashy blue and silver wallpaper–even on the door–and we’re talking bulky mid-century wood furniture and a kitchen done in orange and olive green. My bedroom had a wild orange wood panel walls, a chandelier in orange and yellow and matching wall to wall shag carpeting. In lieu of curtains there were these semi-opaque plastic orange casement windows. When the sun hits it just right in the late afternoon and you happen to be in my room, you’d think you’re a Roald Dahl character except instead of being inside a giant peach, you’re in a square orange. Even the layout of the garage resembled Greg Brady’s eventual attic “bachelor pad.” So it was in the basement of our house, also panelled in wood complete with a second kitchen with an adjacent honest-to-goodness bar, atop the bulky brown tweed sectionals with attached side tables, that my brother and I watched The Brady Bunch re-runs after school.

It’s not the wittiest TV show, but it was very cute and it gave me some perspective of what American families are like. I always liked the fashion sported by the older Brady girls because it looked like the outfits my mother and aunts had worn in the photo albums. Ever since I started the Babushka game, I’ve been wanting to do a set of the Brady Bunch dolls but had hesitated because there’s just so much material to cull from…that is, until someone requested it. Dozens of emails were exchanged before I sat down with it. We went over everything from the outfits of each family member to the objects that makes them identifiable in a particular episode. I’m glad the buyer has very definitive ideas of what she wanted because I couldn’t have chosen anything otherwise.

I had complete freedom as to what to do with the outfits for everyone else (with the exception of Peter Brady), and boy that was a hard one. Even harder than painting them!

This set is a little unconventional from the word go because of the Johnny Bravo alter ego of Greg Brady. The buyer is absolutely enthralled with what Johnny Bravo represents and even named her cat after him. After much discussion we’ve decided to make him a stand-alone doll and work her cat into the mix.

Her cat, named after the titular character, is painted as the embroidery on the jacket.
For Mike’s papers, I found TV listings from a California newspaper circa 1974. Carol’s needlepoint is the exterior of their house. The Alice doll pays a homage to her boyfriend Sam the Butcher. There’s Greg Brady with his guitar (if I had the time I would’ve liked to work in the goat), and the football aimed at Marsha’s nose.
Peter Brady’s bad luck with a tarantula comes from the tiki idol. Jan is sporting the locket from her mystery admirer. Bobby is holding the “Safe” laundry soap that eventually floods the Brady’s laundry room. Cindy, is, of course, holding her Kitty Karry-All.

It took me over three months to crank this out and I felt so bad about the hold up that I kicked in a little bonus doll.

Tiger, their “sometimes” dog! (You thought I was going to paint Cousin Oliver, weren’t you?)

I have to admit, although it took so long to paint and some nights the task I was scheduled to do was downright daunting, I had an enormous amount of fun making it!

…and that’s the way they all became the Brady Bunch!