Thursday, January 29, 2009

Note to self..............

Just as us humanoid folks, dollys do in fact have 2 different sized feet........

I don't know why, but I always start dressing dolly from the feet up.....normally its socks first, then the shoes, but I made Grete's shoes first before her socks....I am still pondering on what kind she will get.

Anyways, I have this little dolly shoe here, its an early antique one, the style worn in the 1830-50 era in both children and dollys! I drafted a pattern from it and then tweaked the upper vamp a little for Grete's thick foot. I am fairly happy with how they turned out, other than my middle finger that I sew with is nearly raw from stitching thru leather.

I made them from 2 kinds antique kid leather, they are lined with a period appropriate print on
the upper, with cloth footbeds.....BUT, as you can see, dolly 's right foot(left in the top picture), is a bit more high on the top of the foot than her other one, and gosh darn it, she has swollen ankles poor thing!
I can remember my Great Grandma Randall, in her 80s when I was little, boy she
would get horrible swollen ankles! I always took off & on her shoes for her, and I was amazed at how big a persons ankles could get! Its only fitting a dollye over twice that age, would have swollen ankles too!

So she may get another pair of shoes, a bit more roomy than this pair, a little later~ but these will do for now. It actually was the 'fashion' to have small feet in the early to mid 19th
century....women were always squeezing their feet into wee teensy shoes. Being leather, I think these will stretch out a bit over time to be just fine. I'm certainly glad I don't have to make shoes for my children!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I have been working on Grete a little, slowly, and some other dollys. I have also been practicing my H is a little too thick, but I don't think my large letters look tooo bad~ I really prefer something hand inked, instead of printed out from a computer.....kind of like receiving a handwritten letter in the post, instead of an email. Its just different, more satisfying to both the giver and receiver~ don't you think?

This is Grete's before picture. While so beautiful, I can see her inner beauty wanting to come out....she is not the kinde of spirit that wants to wear a pancake of makeup. Her eyes had been painted over, and her hair painted a solid black.....kind of sloppy actually~ the black paint was down over her pretty face in many areas...... also there was globby filler and olde varnish built up around her eyes....very uncomfortable, so I let Grete recline on my work table, and gave her a bit of a facial....

After we uncovered her real glass eyes, (see last post), I removed recent touch up paint around her hairline......boy was the black paint underneath messy! I wanted to scrape the black off to her original hairline, and for the most part, that worked very well. We soon found ourselves chatting away, and Grete felt quite refreshed and tingly with her olde layers of paint coming off. "Very Itchy" was her remark.......

Up close, you could see the overpaint on her forehead, was not the same color as the rest of her face, so I gently scraped it away...then another layer, and another.....too many layers to count! I had originally planned on totally repainting her. As I see it, I can do no harm since she was already repainted.......but, with each layer coming off, her character shone brighter and brighter...she looks sooo happy~ don't you think?

I like that she looks olde and worn, cause~ hello!! SHE IS ! She didn't look right having solid black painted hair with a worn face, so I took some automotive grade 440 sandpaper and sanded her hair~ the areas that were flat and obviously worn away, got sanded back off again. We smoothed out her upper eyelids, and I painted over her iris with dark brown paint...just temporary until we do her final enamel contacts. I also gave her back a bit of eyebrow, since the ones up in the top 'before' picture were totally shaved off. I think I took about 7 or 8 different color brows off before we got down to a coat of base paint.....and I could still see more brows under this, but didn't want to take them down any further. After painting on her new brows, she took a little nap, and when she woke up, we shaved a bit of them off to match the rest of her. Besides her eyes, I am totally happy with Grete, and she seems to glow with delight too~ having all that heavy makeup taken off!

I am planning her wardrobe now, stockings, shoes....corset, chemise.....all late 1830 early 1840. She is perfect size to rest in my antique baby cradle(of which I had all 4 of my own real babies in)~ I have her body wrapped in plastic for her trip to the spa... I think she is well deserving of a good pampering!

until next time, grab a dolly and GO PLAY!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It is with much respect and the utmost sensitivity that I embark on my latest obsession....isn't she wonderful? Isn't she just amazing? "Grete, as my Dear Friend Edyth & I affectionately call her, is an antique, c late 1830, early 1840, 33" tall papier mache doll. The above photo was taken on the 14th December, 2008. Her profile is so striking.......her dress is a shredding MESS.....c1870 and has already been cast aside. Her previous owners loved her dearly~ it is easy to see why~ yes? She speaks directly to my soul~ it is destiny that we have come together

Grete on the 4th of Jan, this year. Wonderful early head, on most likely the original early cloth body~ stuffed with wool and has been carefully and neatly covered, and I have decided to leave as is. But as you can see, she has been entirely repainted. Even so, this is the Grete I fell in L*O*V*E* with. I have decided to share 'our' journey together on the blog, so I hope you enjoy seeing her transformation. She will have her own tab on the sidebar, so if you want to keep up with her only, just look for it over to the right. At first I wanted to repaint her~ up close you can tell she has had much work done around her eyes, and her entire forehead is a slightly different color than the lower part of her face. BUT... I love her character~ and I DON'T want to cover over her years and years of life. We have talked alot today, and I have decided to just touch her up a bit here and there, over her obvious patches, and take her down to original paint where possible

This is Grete this morning. You can see she has been to doll hospital alot in her 170 some odd years of life....on her right eye, a hint of glass is poking thru. Carefully, I slowly chipped the olde varnish off, and

hello! Grete has blue eyes! Tho they are antique paper weight glass eyes, they were most likely replacements for her original eyes, that would have been dark brown pupiless glass. You cannot tell in the photo, but Grete has once a nasty fall, and needed her forehead patched. While nicely done, and she was very grateful for it, it wasn't sanded don flush with the rest of her, so we will take care of that!

From the earlier repair, her eyes are no longer accessible from the inside, so they will stay, I will enamel them a nice dark brown after we get her hair and skin toned down a bit. She is quite enthralled at how clear everything looks now~ so many decades her vision has been so cloudy....she has refused to look in a mirror until her new brown contacts are in place.
She is resting now~ such a long trip home from Texas!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Olde stick in the Mudd.....

Have you ever heard of that expression???? Olde Stick in the mudd? I can remember being told that I was one, when I was younger.....cause I like to sit inside and sew, and do relatively mundane things~ exciting to me but not to others......thinking of it, I hear that quite often still!

This is o.k. with me~ I am happy being a stick in the mudd......but my dollys are anything but that! I love playing dollys....and want my dollys to be played with by their new owners too. Yes, they are fragile, and meant for adult collectors....but they are not too fragile, that they cant enjoy their lives!

I think dollys all lined up in a row are boring!!

Part of the appreciation of an artwork is in the use of it, after all, all the wondrous antique dollys we love so much, got their charm and appeal over years and years of play. I can just hear our Mothers as ancestors, telling their children "no touching~ no touching!". Just like I have taught my own....' do not touch unless you are first given permission....and then only carefully'....... unless we are at Walmart....when all 4 of them touch everything they can get their fingers on, and go running up and down the isles like a pack of wild dogs...

This is Abigail, Mifs Abigail Greene. She is one of my Grande Dame Queen Anne dolls, not quite finished yet, but she loves to play! She is content on her stand for a photograph or fitting, but as soon as she is finished, off she goes skipping and getting into everything. We have had to have a few lessons on the proper way for a ladye to is her favorite to plop herself down, right in the DIRT!, with both legs going the opposite direction.....she madly gathers her skirts up and stuffs them down beneath her crotch....cause she finds marbles very fascinating, and loves to play!

We are working hard at sitting with legs together, at the side.

'Gabby' as we call her, is growing up so fast. She has been promised in marriage already at just 14, and we are getting ready for her betrothal to a spunky young fellow that works as a shoemaker on Needle Street West.

Playing does have consequence~ shoot a marble to hard, and you may end up loosing a thumb! Play too long with your Mifstresses' baby, and she may chew off your pinky finger.....character~ all character building moments!

A fortnight ago we visited Msrs Piproy & Meegle.....shoemakers yes, but they have just employed a new Stay~Maker...trying to keep current with the times I suppose....anyways, her fitting went so very well, and her new stays were delivered to us Mondaye last. She has been wearing them ever since, trying to get used to them and break them in slowly, as not to rub blisters under her arms or on her hips...... they are in a beautiful pineapple shade of silke, with black trim.

Is it getting hot in here???? Gabby get your cap back on! Is is not proper for a young ladye, or any age of ladye for that matter, to be seen indoors without her head covered!!!
Are we getting undressed now? 'Ohh, yes,~ you'd like to take a bath?' Ok....we have a bit of spare time, why not. I will go boil some water........

Gabby is a Grande Dame, so of coarse, all her pretties come off so you can p*l*a*y!!!!

See her shift??? Its hand stitched from antique linen, and embroidered on the front "S S".

What??? What is that you say???? ........Oh no! Those are not her initials! Her Dear Mother has given Gabby her wedding shift, so that she may wear it on her wedding day, and then pass it down to her own daughter one day.

Shoosh! Look at that wild hair! Gabby's naturally black, undyed mohair locks perfectly match her antique pupiless black glass eyes....

I LOVE to make shoes~ yes I do! These are a new design for 09....(no rhyme intended)....wonderful little wee latchet tie shoes~ made of antique dark green kid leather, with green silk ties~ yes, they really tie, and come on and off. They have cloth footbeds, with my mark in the center, and leather soles.

Hmmmm........looks like Gabby may need a little trunk for her pretties

:::GASP:::: Bath must be ready! Where has that girl gone~ stark nekkid.....well with only her stockings on! Look at that~ she has taken off her hair and left it on the floor.....I better get that before the cat paws it into a rats nest!

No matter how many times I tell her~ I cannot get her in habit of hanging up her wig! I hope she is using SOAP in that bath~ Id better go check!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This Day in History.....

My Blog has no place for Politics, but being an observer of history, I will say this,

"I am PROUD of how far we have come".

18th century, c1770 silver shoe buckles bezel set with faceted paste stones atop a slave ad from the Monday, March 10th, 1800 Philadelphia Advertiser. Bottom, 1801 Columbia Minerva.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What WAS I thinking?????

Have you ever had one of those wonderful ideas, and then half way thru your execution of it, thought~ 'what the heck was I thinking????' I thought I would start my new year off by making a new Queen Anne doll. I have had a super gorgeous pair of antique glass eyes for a couple of years now, saving them for just the right dollye.....they're so beautiful~ early 1830-40, pupil-less black glass eyes....but the size. ::::sigh:::: they are as big as my own!!!! I think they may have been either mannequin eyes, or maybe even eyes from a life size fashion doll (how wonderful to think of!) last week, I finally decided I was going to make that doll this year! It is turning out to be utterly ridiculous~ I have to sculpt in stages because of her size....and it is very strange to me, trying to sculpt dollye while cradeling her head under my armpit like a football. I worked on her a bit this morning, and the whole time, I just kept thinking to myself....'this is so crazy!'. I became so bothered by her size, that I had to put her down and sculpt 2 wee little Queens to make myself feel better!

I am so OCD about having UFO's around(un finished objects), I know I will finish her, but golly~ could be all year trying to get her right! I think about working on her, and within minutes, my mind thinks up all the things that I want to do this year, and should be doing instead...I want to paint a mural in the stairwell down to the studio.....pull up the carpet off the stairs and make a new painted floorcloth to cover them......I want to hang new sheet rock and stencil the walls in my bedroom......not to mention our kitchen. I still haven't got my Baltimore Album Quilt Top pieced together yet....(my one and only UFO)~ so writing it all down now, actually makes me think maybe starting this big dollye was a good thing~ cause at the end of the year, either she will be done, or Ill have a beautiful mural & floorcloth going down to the bedroom or kitchen......maybe Ill even get my quilt top finished~ COOL!!!!

photo: back of green brocaded silk open robe, American, c1770

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spring Showcase 2009....Inspirations

I sometimes hear a person say that they cannot find inspiration.....and have set out on a journey to find it. Secretly I am always thinking, 'how very sad'. I mean, for someone to be so blinded that they must go on the hunt for something to inspire.....when I feel the best inspiration comes from what is around us every day. I am inspired by so many things, I couldn't keep track if I wanted to.

Having 4 children is certainly an inspiration! My smallest, Pip, she loves to swing! She never tires of it, she could swing all day long, every day! We have had a terrifically mild winter so far here in southern Colorado. My Ma called week before last to tell me it was still snowing in which I then had to get my camera and take a picture of Emma, playing outside in sandals, shorts, a tank top and the winter hat Grandma had made her....cause it was 70 something degrees here!

Spring....just thinking spring thoughts brings to mind this particular 18th century Fragonard painting...

I get to daydreaming about what it really looked like in the 18th century....I imagine the colors were spectacular. I could sit all day and daydream....which can serve as an inspiration all in itself! Sometimes I will be thinking about something so hard, my body will go into the autopilot mode, and half way thru doing the dishes, I will realize, 'Hey~ I'm doing the dishes!'

So I'm getting off track again....of which I do alot these days for some reason, but one thing that keeps coming back to my mind while I watch Pip swing, and Emma in her Spring clothes, and how I love the colors of the spring that Fragonard painting of the beautiful las on her no mind to what those mischievous fellows are up to.....there she is just swinging away..............

Then I happened upon this wonderful antique doll, with her dress made entirely of shells! Do you have a guess at what my Spring Showcase will be this year?

Do drop by the TDIPT Mercantile this Jan 15th to find out! Until then, here is a little sneeky peek

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's time to play..............

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Did you get anything special???? I mean.....that extra special something you have always wanted? Maybe you did ~ you just don't realize it yet! One year for Christmas, 1981 to be exact, Santa brought me a kit to make a dollhouse. I had always wanted one~ with lights and everything! It was a Greenleaf dollhouse kit~ all plywood that had to be punched out, sanded, and put together

I was 10 years old that Christmas.....and I can still remember being absolutely obsessed with building my new dollhouse! I had the entire dining room table all a mess....wood and glue and pieces everywhere......I can still see and hear my Pa walking thru, putting his hands on my shoulders and softly saying... "Do a good job now~ don't wanna rush" ....and when it came time to put the shingles on, I just could not go to bed until every last one was put on! I got the shell built before I had to go back to school, and a little at a time, I would work on my dollhouse. Id pick up bits here and there.....and spent hours and hours pouring thru Pa's Train catalogue, cause they had 1-1 scale wood mouldings in it too........

So Pa~ I have always taken your advise, and I hope that 27 years wasn't rushing it too much!

So come on in and play ~ will you?

I cant believe I finally have it finished~ just finished the porch railing today, and can call her d*o*n*e! Now I can spend the next 27 years finding and making neat little things to go inside! I have always thought of my house being an 1880 era farmhouse....but fell in love with the painting of the ship, so that is over my mantle, and I think the folk living here must be part of the Sea Trade....

My Ladye ( A beautiful one of a kind dolly by Marcia Backstrom) loves to sit at the window up in her bedroom and work on her sewing....I think she must be watching the horizon for her husbands ship to come sailing into port.... her sewing room is up in the tower.

Her Bodo Hennig treadle machine looks just like my White that I have here...........hmmmm, maybe the Ladye is 'me'

One of her little kittys, Curly, is wiggling and stretching on her bed. I made this quilt in 1987.

Heater is stoked with coal and warming up the bathroom for a nice long soak in the tub (I made all the furniture in the bedroom, bathroom, dining room, kitchen and parlour)

The olde pump organ has been the center of many a celebration

I think the dining room table is the first piece of furniture I made, its been so long I cant remember. I CAN remember the drawers of the sideboard are filled with teensy silverware!

My Ma made me the little crochet doily so long ago~ she was surprised the other day when I told her I still had it

Ohhh my kitchen~ a bit sparse....I need to get some food for it! I have always wanted an olde stove like this to cook on....was looking at one the other day, and at a price tag of 8 grand, looks like this is the only one I will ever have!

An attic just would not be complete without a beautiful wedding dress

Ladye keeps her dressing table so nice and neat....wonder what is in those drawers?

Thank you for stopping by to play! I absolutely love my Greenleaf Pierce dollhouse, and would highly recommend one to anyone as a gift that will last a lifetime!