Sunday, January 31, 2010

Glitz, Grammys......and Paste?????

Well I am planing on watching the Grammy's tonight~ I cant wait to see who is wearing what :) I was planing on posting on 18th century paste anyway, and thought, you know~ if they would have had a Grammy Awards show in the 18th century, they would have worn paste to it! In all actuality, it may surprise you that many of today's well to do also wear paste jewels~ copies of their precious real ones at home in the safe. Paste was very popular in the 18th c~ nearly more so than actual real diamonds, and was even made by the Royal jewelers. The above 18th c buckles are made of the most popular type of paste~ the colorless type that simulates diamonds. These things really BLING in natural light, just like diamonds. This brilliant type of paste is made of a highly leaded glass, more specifically a borosilicate of potassium and lead, with a little alumina in the mix. They are backed in silver foil for maximum reflection and sparkle, usually in a bezel setting, as the backs must be airtight as to not tarnish and discolor the stone.

Georges- Frederic Strass invented the technique for making paste in Paris in 1724. All manner of jewelry was made from it, and it was a favorite stone for shoe buckles up until the last quarter of the 18th c when latchets on the shoes went out of fashion. They usually were made in suites~ 2 for the shoes, 2 for the breeches (men), and sometimes matching stock buckles as well (for the neck), and kept in their own fitted cases, highly prized. It is somewhat rare to have a set, as over the years, one would be given to one child, the other to a second child ect ect, since there isn't much call for actually using them. Many were stripped of their mechanisms and made into brooches as well

Looking to the back, one can see they are as nicely finished here too. Note the bezel settings are completely solid and airtight on the reverse. On the rectangular buckle on the bottom, the fork like poker to the right is called a 'tongue', and the oval loop with the 2 spikes on the left is called a 'chape'. They are held by a pin down the center and rotate for ease of use. I have made a little video for you to see how they are actually attached to the latchets on an 18th c shoe. I currently do not have an adult size pair to show you on, so I made up a simple pair of leather latchets to demonstrate with

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I am trying, I really am.. but I just cannot get myself motivated to quilt this Baltimore....I have found that I really hate, no....I loathe it. It is coming out nice, but sooooooooooo slow~ I am on just my 4th of 25 full squares, and then another 12 half ones after that, and I just cannot make myself want to work on it. My fingers and hands hurt so blasted bad after just an hour or so, and then if they are whirling along, my back is not cooperating. Y*U*K! My wishes for the quilting fairy to come complete it when I am not looking are not working either.

Perhaps it is because I have so many other things I am working on, I don't know. As you can see above, I am learning to make do with a thumble,(ha ha) and a thimble or two, or three! I have not quilted in many years, but when I used to quilt more often, I never used a thimble. I had bought a slew of leather ones on a sidewalk sale, but never liked the bulk of them, so threw them in one of my trunks and forgot about them....until this past December, when I was madly digging around for them like crazy. Nothing hurts so bad as when the needle pokes thru ones skin, or breaks thru our coveted calluses we build up so carefully~ even the leathers don't help after a while, as I found my needle poking thru again quite often, so I would turn the thimble to a different position and it was just really driving me crazy! My Ma brought me back a really wonderful seal skin leather thimble from Alaska, and I have never used it cause it was so precious....but, it is also thinner than paper and wonderfully strong, so now, I slip that one on my thumb, with a larger leather over that, and a horribly clumsy metal thimble on my middle finger....akkkkkk~ if anyone knows where I can find the leather thimble with the little circular metal piece in it, let me know PLEASE! I cant find one anyplace

CURSE this quilting~ it will be the end of me!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So Happy Being 'Me'

I was going thru my pictures today, to pick some out to show you body views of Holley & Dollye, and I just got such a feeling of contentment....a feeling that totally pleased me, thru to the soul, of who I am. A doll maker. A mommy. A wife~ it is all good. I feel full measure of my blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me, and I am so very honored to be even a little inspiration to others....if not for anything else, but to inspire one to be and do what they want to do. We only get one life, so I say why even bother putting off what you really want to do~ whatever it is. Don't have the time you say? Make time!

I really do love making dolls. When I look at the early dolls, I think of the makers~ who sat and carved that face....who sat and painted that face? Did they think their little creation would take on a life of it's own, and be so everlasting, and so meaningful to others? I can certainly see the love in the painted strokes on their precious faces, and I get the same feeling when I sit and make my own dolls. I often talk to them about what they will see and do, in the lives they make for themselves. And I do miss them.

Some times I will make a doll, and think she is finished, only to find some time after, that she is unhappy with her current situation. This came to mind this past weekend with Ladye Jane Peale. You may recall this wonderful pet-en-lair I made last year, silk coat and blue silk stays she wore.....well, she just did not like them. Actually, what she really wanted was a big Pompadour hair do, and she just couldn't have a wonderful formal wig, and be in morning house she has retired to the Inn for a while, and her cast offs were quickly snatched up by my Elsa girl. She is a little bit larger than Jane Peale, 25", and they actually fit her better. She was indeed, very happy

As I was cleaning my worktable to paint her some primitive hair on, I remembered the fabulous human hair weft that I had bought earlier this year....hmmmmmmm I thought. Would you like to try some on Elsa? Well as soon as I opened the drawer and pulled it out, she was hopping up and down and just would not be still until I came into her same agreement.

If you recall with my Marguarite, I was not able to find human hair that was up to my standards, so I used my own. ALL of the 20 inches I I certainly cant keep doing that! Earlier this year I found a gorgeous brunette weft, and so far, have just been admiring and petting it. I have never sewn with a weft before, so that was kind of intimidating me too......but, after stitching up Elsa a wig from it, its like sewing butter and I will be doing many more human hair wigs in the future!

If you are wondering what a weft is, it is a line of hair that has been turned and stitched to itself at the top to keep it together. Most all wigs are made from weft. I wanted Elsa to not have much bulk and her hair to be quite sparse, so in between the wefts I stitched antique kid leather in a nearly matching color, to cover the muslin base. Her wig is totally removable, and I am pondering on making her a blonde one as a surprise birthday gift this year....((shhhhhh~ don't tell!))

It lays very flat, and I am quite happy with it. I like a doll with straight straight hair~ seems most all wigs are curls curls curls. I haven't yet styled it, or trimmed it, but as I let it soak in and relax on her, I am leaning towards not doing a thing to it~

I kind of like the morning uncombed look it has~ she is truly relaxing & lounging! Perhaps she will write some letters later in the day.........

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Hope You Will Please To Join Us at the TDIPT & EW Mercantiles, this Thursday, January 14, 2010

Friday, January 01, 2010

Princess Holley, a c1820 Grodner Thal Wooden Doll

I have so many wonderful pictures of Holley for you that I decided to split her introduction into 2 posts, this one we will look at her beautiful original wardrobe, and in a later post, I will treat you to her body pics

This beautiful girl was my very first early wooden, my little Princess. Her name is Holley, named for her original owner, Maria Holley Williams, who's father, John Milton Holley, built their home in Salisbury Ct in 1808. I am more than honored to have her here with me, and even more so, to be able to share her with you all. She is a treasure.

Having a background in early textiles and clothing from this period, I have absolutely no doubt what-so-ever that she is wearing her original trousseau, all beautifully hand stitched of fine cottons, and made to fit her like a glove. Her bonnet is a fine India Muslin hand embroidered in cotton with a Lille Lace ruffle round the face. Its so delicate and gossamer fine, you can see right thru it. It, like many other pieces of her clothing, has been on her so long, that even off her precious body, it still retains its shape

Here is a little peek up under her dress....nothing naughty here~ look at all those underclothes! Don't see a lick of skin anywhere do you? This is how our foremothers dressed, and clearly shows that along with being a cherished friend and play companion, these dolls taught the proper order of dressing and undressing

Holley wears a beautiful white mull dress with short cap sleeves trimmed in Lille lace. The back is pinned closed.

Taking off her outer dress, we can see she is wearing a petticoat over a long shift. Petticoat is a pin back closure, the shift has separate front AND back tape tie closures

Looking down, she wears what 'look' to be pantaloon, and gorgeous pair of powder blue kid shoes with white kid soles and the original tape laces. (peeking in thru a seam, she has red painted shoes on her feet)

After removing her petticoat, I removed her shift~ later in the 19th century, this would be called a chemise. It, and the petticoat, are both expertly stitched from a fine striped cotton. It is 2 piece in construction, with 2 separate drawstrings in the neckline, both emanating from the top of the shoulders. The back tie has remained knotted, while the front tie is untied and loosened to remove it

In taking off her shift, I know you all will have the same reaction as I did, a little gasp followed with an 'ohhhhhhhhhh'! What look to be ordinary, and expected pantaloon, are not. She is wearing combinations! Honestly speaking, these are the earliest combinations I have ever seen~ they are rare in women's wear prior to the 1850s.....exceedingly rare. Children wore pantaloon that buttoned onto a top, but not permanently affixed by stitching. These are just tooo wonderful! But first, before they can be fully appreciated, she has a soft stay (corset)to remove!

The corset close view from the front~ very short waisted, which helps to date her to the 18teens

Back of her corset can be seen pin'd closed with 2 weensie little pins, just over 1/4" long. Here you will note the fullness in the back of the combinations, allowing for much room when sitting, very similar to late 18th c men's breeches. They have a single waist tie, that wraps around and ties in the front.

Corset removed. Shoulder straps are stitched in place at both ends. 2 front tucks, and 2 diagonal at the sides fit this to her like a glove.

And finally, we are to the gold at the end of the rainbow! Her early combinations are stitched as a single whole unit~ look at the amazing triangular gusset in the front~ these would not fit any more perfect if they were painted on~ and due to the gusset, there is absolutely no bulk at the waist

Beautiful stitching at the center back seam~ do click on and enlarge the picture to fully appreciate the expert workmanship

The tannins (acid) in the wood has discolored this first layer of clothing the most, but has also perfectly illustrated the function of wearing so many layers~ ones in cotton, close to the body, could easily be cleaned and withstand several washings. There was no need to wash the outer layers as they did not come in contact with the body. Airing, and occasional spot clean were all that was needed. I love this picture~ here they are, sitting all by themselves!

It is obvious they have a memory of the body they cover~ how I wish they could speak to me!