Friday, June 30, 2017

The Columbian Dolls - another journey in learning

Since I developed an interest in the columbian dolls, I have made 5 of them, only three have made it to completion. If you have never attempted to make one of these dolls, you wouldn't understand the way the head is made by gathering the front section and sewing it to a back piece which is not gathered. A tricky process, because you will see by looking at the two dolls I am showing you, that the head may turn out totally different each time. It depends on how you gather and stuff the head. Everything looks like it is going to be good, and suddenly you see the head is stuffed to fat and short or to thin and tall, or in the case of one of my dolls, with big fat jaws, which to be fair is really cute on her. According to the book I have, later in the Adams sisters doll making, they were making or expected to make up to 1200 dolls a year. They had tested sewing among their friends to see who could sew the best and later the people who could sew the best were hired to help make and dress the dolls for sale. A newspaper article was written when the doll business was flourishing  that said the Adams house was like a paradise to children. It was full of dolls and doll clothes of all sizes. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Emma Adams died suddenly on July 26, 1900 and her father wrote her obituary. Here is one part : With an artist's eye and touch, all combined with a magnetic personality, she was one whom to know enriched ones life. In her heart was always a great love for the little ones and an instinctive appreciation of child nature. I think she began making dolls for the children around her, that led to the doll business. Not much is said about how the business began, so I think it evolved from a hobby into the doll making to help the family. Another little item I will share with you is that I am a great John Wayne fan. I love to watch him in the movies, I bought a collectors magazine about him with great pictures and history. His name is really Marion Morrison, and while he is nicknamed the Duke, this was taken from his childhood dog who was named Duke. This brings me to why I bring him up, I made three Izannah dolls, while not completed, the heads are finished, just waiting for arms and legs on two of them, but one is , to me, beautiful, and I decided to name her Marion, because of John Wayne, because he is one of my favorite stars and I so admire how good he was, how good his character was in the movies, and I like to believe, his character was , in real life. The other two girls are pretty too. Agatha is not really pretty, but she is compelling and makes you search her face more. Making the Columbian dolls is another long adventure into making a great doll. I admire Emma and Marietta Adams, not just for the dolls, but because of their devotion to their parents, who certainly needed help in their old age. I named the third Izannah doll Marietta.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A troublesome little doll

A person can spend a lot of time making a certain doll seeing that from the unpainted head, the doll looks to be a good one, however, paint the doll and then you might see a different picture, this happens to me a lot, causing the dolls to be a lot longer in being finished or being redone into a entirely different doll. Most people don't comment or lament to much on their failures or troubles, but I think its good to share that every doll you make doesn't jump right off the work table onto the paint table onto the dress making table and be a fabulous beauty. I did make a pretty doll and have finished ( for the most part) , except to tweek her curls out a little more. I posted this doll on facebook. She is beautiful to me. I might have given up on getting the famous Izannah curls just exactly right and settle for pretty ones, but, getting the curls right is important if it can be done. I think people have  ( blocks ) about things. things that for some reason are really hard for them to do. these curls shouldn't cause this much trouble, but as I said, there are things that a person can't seem to do, even though it should not be that hard. My post today is really about another doll I made. the doll is sweet, but not what you would think of as an Izannah Walker doll. Sweetness doesn't save her. Before I redo one, I try to figure out what can be done with the least amount of trouble, but most of the time, there is no easy solution. Considering it has already taken my husband about a week and a half to make the head, which was a good formed head, then making the body and stuffing it, then starting the painting process, which takes several weeks, and then to discover it isn't working out, so what to do?  Can you change from a girl to a boy? Will that work? If no, then let really dry and sand and make a few changes to the head, restockinet and then start the painting over again. All this can be done if the changes will not add to much weight to the head. A light weight head in the cloth doll is super important to me. Choices are re do the work, or trash the doll and start over. I hate to waste time and effort and supplies, but ultimately, the finished doll is the most important thing. Oh, the problems doll makers face ( if they are me ) HaHa. Hope your doll making goes easier and you have great sucess ( most of the time ) as I am sure even the most dedicated and famous people had troubles along the way when making their creations.  Here is a picture of my little troublemaker.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Adam Names The animals

For the last several years, since my sister's son and wife had a baby boy, I have been elected to do a painting for the baby. This year they had another boy, so the painting you see here is for this one. I painted a Noah's Ark, and a Train with all their family names on it and now this one, which I have enjoyed doing more than the others. I like angels and figured there were probably some present when Adam was doing his job of naming the animals, so I included them in a big way. Keeping it simple is pretty much the rule now in everything from house work to doll making to painting and everything else we have to do. Sometimes it is hard to not get carried away, but remembering I have only so much strength, and my eyes will focus for just so long at a time, I try to stay focused and keep my imagination from going to far off the beaten path. About two weeks ago, I started thinking about making copies of these paintings  again. In years past, I did make big prints, sending some paintings to a company out in California that made professional grade prints on canvas. I still have them all. Like most people I had plans to sell the works on ebay, but work, and other considerations ,mostly work ( a full time job ) made me let all that fall by the way side. I was a waitress

for 15 years, and a  happy 15 years it was too. The work was hard, but we had fun lots of the time, as I worked in a big buffet,  and it enabled me to help my family. Now those days and work  are over, so I turn back to painting and making dolls and I will make a few prints along the way, and even make some pictures of the dolls for a big scrap book. I hope you enjoy seeing the painting too.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A visit with an antique Ella smith Doll and other things.

Hi. Today I am putting up pictures of my antique Ella Smith Doll or  Alabama Baby Doll, which is so amazing.  This doll is 27 inches tall and such a beauty. I just could not pass her by, she has loads of charm and her hair painting is, to me.  a wonder and a inspiration for hair painting on my other dolls. I have seen lots of pictures of alabama babies and I have another antique one, but the hair painting and the face isn't anything alike. This girl is enormous. So big she is actually hard to carry, and her legs are super fat. I forgot to take a picture of her original dress, but I will do that next time, as I have to make some absolutely necessary repairs, as her arms are about to fall off. Her dress is pretty, but super fragile and I hope to repair it. I have also finished two of the three painted head rag dolls for two of my friends. It took me  a long time to make these dolls, partly because I was doing two and I wanted to take extra time and try not to make mistakes. On the subjects of making mistakes, I have to say, no matter how careful you are and paying attention, mistakes will occur. On these two, if I made a mistake and was able to fix it, I went back and did things over, that is why  I was long in making them. Another reason, I took a long time as I was trying to age the Indigo homespun fabric. Let me tell you what I have found out about trying to age fabric, atleast the blues. REMEMBER THIS PEOPLE. If you want old looking fabric, buy it old,  as blues don't like to be subjected to lemon juice, tiny amounts of bleach water, washing repeately or being strung out in the sun for days on end. Should I go on as to what to try, such as I have heard people running over their fabric with the car or scrubbing it on a rocky bank, or actually putting holes in it. HaHa  I learned blue fabrics will most always go purple, not a lighter blue, if you try to lighten them. Back to the dolls. I love these two girls and learned much from working on them. I was lucky to be given an antique doll quilt to dismantle to make the bonnets. I think these are my best ones so far. Such a joy to work with the old fabrics. Next, long ago I made two rabbits on stands. My mama made a dress for one to give to my sister. I think she did good.  Lastly, I made a decision to buy shoes for the time being instead of making them, as I need to take a shoe making class. It is worth the expense to to this, and forget about ever trying to make socks. I, at this point in my doll making, refuse to even try to make a pair of socks. HaHa Well, my time is over. Good Bye.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Making Painted Flat Head Rag Dolls

Here are some pictures of three Flat Head ( Pancake Head ) painted rag dolls. These are fat, big girls made by a pattern I made up about two years ago. As I said, I put the first coat of paint on these tonight, so they will evolve  a lot before they are finished. They will be sanded, repainted, have some changes made to their features, be grunged, distressed, baked in the oven, Get a finished hair style ( which I will comment on further down ). Doesn't all this sound like lots of fun. HaHa, actually it is. Seeing what these dolls will start out as, and then become,  is very satisfying to me. I never cease to be amazed at what people can make out of a few pieces of cloth, and paint. Along with the flat head dolls, I have made two more Columbian dolls, which have not been painted yet. These will be fun to do, as I know they will not look the same as the one I just made, or like each other. About a week ago I bought a book, The Story Of The Columbian Dolls, how the Adams Sisters saved the Family Farm. There are a lot of interesting things about how the dolls are made and lots of history about the Adams family too.  When I post the new Columbians, I will speak more on this book. It did make me to want to make the 29 inch Columbian doll, which I didn't before. Emma Adams died at 42 years old, and I can only imagine the sorrow her family felt. She was apparently a very sweet, and inventive person, much loved by everybody, and certainly from the dolls she made you can see her generous, calm, sweet spirit. Her fathers eulogy to her was heartbreaking in its description of her character and the love people had for her. Another great thing I have to tell about is the purchase of a very special 27 inch Ella Smith ( Alabama Baby Doll ), which has already taught me a new lesson on hair painting, and I don't even have the doll yet. I noticed when looking at this dolls hair, something new I had never noticed before. After years of studying old cloth dolls, I finally saw how many of the cloth doll heads were painted. I cannot imagine why I have not seen this until now, it just goes to show you, that people don't really see what they are looking at sometimes. We miss what is right be

fore our eyes.  I cannot explain what I mean, but I will use this same hair painting style on these three dolls you see here. I am also happy to have the old rare big example of this doll, as I think she is a very fine example of Ella Smith's work. Lastly, I have been experimenting with dying cloth again. This time on homespun fabric to try to make it look old. There will come a time, you won't be able to get old fabric, or it will simply cost to much, but I still like to try to see what is possible to get nice fabric that has a old worn look that I and I think others love. GoodBye

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Columbian Doll

I have made a Columbian doll. After thinking about doing it for a long time, I struck out and made this one you will see pictures of.  She is 19 inches tall and made by the pattern from the Wenham Museum. It is Connie Tognoli's pattern, which is supposed to be a actual duplicate of the antique doll. I believe the pattern is actual due to pictures I have seen and the unique design of the body and feet. As I have said in the past, the 29 inch doll pattern did not work out for me, but I know that is my fault, not anything wrong with the pattern, which also can be bought at the Wenham Museum. This doll is really a great doll. ( the real Columbian doll). she is compact ( in the 19 inch size )  has beautiful feet and a long body and shorter legs. The head shape works really well, except in this, my first doll,  my girl's face got up tilted a little. The Columbian doll has super distinct features, and I did use a picture of an antique doll to paint by.  I was going to wait until I had her dressed, but, deciding to post another doll, I put her on here. The body is very pleasing, and the long waist will be easier to make her blue Calico dress. Over the last year I have invested in several large pieces of antique blue Calico, and have been using it to make several dresses, including the one for the tiny 9 3/4 inch doll I am showing you today. The little Izannah doll has two more sisters, waiting on arms and clothes. As I needed to use up every possible scrap of the antique blue fabric, I began to inter mix the fabrics, All blue, but different designs to take advantage of the costly fabric. Once these three are done, it will be a long, long time before I make any more of these small dolls, as they have worn my patience to a nub, over my not being able to make tiny hands  very well, and the clothes are harder to make too. the tiny doll, I call them pocket dolls ( they are a tad big  for a true pocket doll ) , but they are great to just hold and look at, just right in weight and size to play with, a childs toy for sure. I know for sure, I will make more of the Columbian dolls, as they are a delight in every respect. I can see why they are so wanted. Hope all are doing well and looking forward to spring and more doll and toy work coming along. Good Bye.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Izannah Walker Style cloth Boy Doll

Well, here is a new boy doll. He is the second doll from this mold I have made. He also has an outfit of antique black calico just like or very similar to the first boy I made in this mold. I have made boys in the past, but truly I don't remember them to much and I have lost pictures of them. I was not careful to take pictures of all the dolls I have made and now I wish I had. Lots of things going on here, working on houses along with trying to made dolls too. I hope to stop and take a few pictures of some of the renovations going on at my house. I think I mentioned in my last post, I was trying to make some Columbian dolls, and so I have made one, but she is in the painting stages, so she asked me to wait until she is at her best to make her picture and perhaps to get a fine outfit. If you have never made a Columbian doll, there are two different patterns, I accomplished the 19 inch pattern, but the 29 inch pattern still has me beat. I learned to make the foot, which is the same on both patterns, but the 29 inch doll is just to big and the body pattern is different, and so I had the pattern downsized, but the head doesn't seem to fit together, so I have stopped that for now. I will make it eventually, but will be happy to just finish the one doll for now. I certainly hope everyone enjoyed the Christmas holidays and this year we can move on to make some great dolls. Splurging on Christmas, I did buy a antique 13 inch Martha Chase doll, as I knew I would never want to make the arms and feet on one that small. Martha chase dolls have such great hands and feet that it would be hard to make them, atleast for me. The old Barbie dolls have called out to me a little, but knowing I could not and would not ever try to make a outfit for a Barbie doll, I have resisted the temptation to get a antique one, as they are super expensive too, but the 1959 ponytail Barbie is a great doll to have. Some of them are in the thousands of dollars. I named my antique Izannah doll " Harmonia " and am still considering the fabric for a dress for her. Lots to do and to enjoy doing, as I hope all my doll maker friends and collectors are enjoying their individual doll making and toy making plans and projects.  Good Bye.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Antique Izannah Walker Doll

Recently I bought an antique Izannah Walker Doll. I had tried in the past, a couple of times to bid on one on ebay, but missed out, so when this doll came up, I decided to invest in the doll for several reasons. I wanted one, plus,  I wanted to see a antique one up close and personal. This is what I would call a very standard Izannah Walker doll. She is about 18 1/2 inches tall. dainty and in very good condition. I made pictures, some are not really clear enough, but I wanted to show various parts of her that I saw, that I needed to change in my own doll making. One of the worst things about this doll is the overpainting on the hair someone did to her in the back of her neck. The person I got the doll from stated that the doll had belonged to her mother and that she had,  had her for 50 years. So the old painting was done long ago, so we will never know what her neck line really looked like. In time, I might try to see about taking off the old paint at the base of her neck only, as it is really bad now. there are no other changes that need to be made. Her side curls are really beautiful and I hope will be a help to me in trying to make them on my own dolls. This has been a difficult thing for me to do all along, is the curl making. The other area that has, ( you might say ) damage,  is the skin at the back of her shoulder plate. It is stitched and looks stretched a little. Someone had to sew her up a little in the past. Who knows what her doll life has been through so many years. I will make her some new clothes, as the things she came to me wearing were not what I thought she needed or what I think will be pretty on her. I have to tell you, that buying this doll was a huge decision, because of the large amount of money, and also I wondered if she would really help me in the doll making in the end. I have other old antique cloth dolls, and even though you see them close up, that is not a guarantee that you can duplicate them. After examining her, which ( by the way) I discovered her upper legs feel sort of crunchy, like dried grass or something, I see a few things which I can improve on while trying to make dolls like her, not a reproduction of her. I am proud I got her. I do feel a kinship to Izannah Walkers family as I know they made her and I am looking at one of Izannah's own dolls she made. Appreciated and well cared for, she will be,  and included in my small cloth doll collection which I use and pick up and look at and pet constantly while making other dolls. I have to get busy now to try to make some dolls to help pay back my debt to my husband for buying her. He was generous and supportive of me in doing this. I hope you  enjoy seeing her and it helps you. She doesn't have a name, as her former owner said she didn't ever hear her mother call her by name. In due course, I will give her a good name.