Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Gift for Dollye...

So now you know how I spend my idle time whilst its blizzarding outside..... I love this little girl, she is so precious to me. I found her a while ago, quite a while ago actually, and she has been more than patient, content to reside in her unmentionables, until I had time to make a quaint little gown that agreed with her

This is how she was when I got her~ poor girl clad in c1890 dress and bonnet~ not at all anything like her original 1820-30 wardrobe would have resembled. She was extremely happy to be free of them! Her replaced skin wig, tho cunning on the 'right' doll, looked, well, unbecoming on her, to put it nicely. Besides being to small it washed out her pretty features...and ghads, whats up with the widow's peak in the front! AKKKK! She spoke to me tho, I could see her for what she is, and once was, a wonderful first quarter 19th c wax over mache precious~ dollys like these are English, she is on her original body~ the feet pointing inward are a distinct feature of these dolls, as are the red kid leather lower arms with individually stitched fingers. Later 1830s you see the slit heads where wigs were rooted, and some with wire sleep eyes~ this one tho, she is an early early girl with very well done painting and those wonderful blue glass eyes

What a change , a change of wardrobe can make, don't you think? She looks absolutely content in her new duds. I hand stitched her an empire waist gown from a coveted bit of antique late 1820 printed cotton I had here~ been saving it forever for just the right something! This style of dress was very common on these little dolls~ it is simple, yet can be made to be quite elegant just by changing the materials of it. This same pattern, but made up say, out of a silk satin, with perhaps an overlay of netting, would be most acceptable, even for dolly's mistress, to attend an evening dinner or soiree. I made her a little poke bonnet from antique crinoline and lace, and yes, cut a little lock of my own hair for her to wear. Tho she does have a painted pate, she really didn't want to be bald.......

Just a whisp of hair~ I love this picture~ you can appreciate the skilled tinting of her cheeks, precious rosebud lips and those wild eyebrows!

Her shoulder plate is actually quite deep, it goes nearly to the red silk ribbon on her dress. She is a rare survivor to remain in such good condition~ her wax is clean and bright, just nearly as it once was when new. These dollys were commonly sold in places like the famed 'SoHo Bazaar' in London, and by peddlers called 'Bagmen'~ which is where the term 'Bagmen Babies' also comes from.

Her red kid leather arms are original, but do show their age. Perfect individually stitched fingers grace her hands~ and from the worm holes, we can see that scraps of other leather gloves were used to stuff hers.

I left her her most likely original pantaloon and stockings, but made her a little pair of shoes out of two fingers from a pair of antique green kid leather gloves~ actually one of a pair tha thad lost its mate long ago~ I have seen shoes made like this of the period, and actually, was quite surprised how easy it was, and how good they look. They are the tips of the ring and middle fingers, just snipped off in their entirety, you will cut a slit in the top that becomes the vamp, and then stitch the 2 sides up center heel in the back and voi~la~ a little shoe that fits dollye perfect.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Dollys on TDIPT Mercantile tonight~

Merry Christmas! I will be off doing a bit of my own Merry~making at the childrens Christmas program, so will be updating my page on the mercantile about an hour later than normal tonight~ hope you all will join me and say hello!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Charity is on eBay special this week!

You can click on my eBay special tab to see her at a special LOW Holiday price, and FREE Shipping to boot!

Wishing you all a Very, Merry, Christmas~

I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season, whatever you celebrate! Keep kindness and love in your heart, give a smile to someone you have never met before....realize that every second of every day, is a precious gift. One of the things I really love about Christmas time, is the tree as most know! We have a tree up in the house, and another I keep in the gallery, with my most special, prized ornaments on it. No, they're not solid gold or diamonds....but they are priceless none the less, each keeping a special memory of my life within it. I have made alot of them, at school when I was young, with my Mother, with my own children now~ some have pictures, some dear Dear friends have made for me. I love this tree, and one of my favorite things to do is sit at night beside it, and just stare at them~ they're so magical on the tree.

Some I have had since my earliest memories~ like the Raggedy Ann in the center my Mother painted for me nearly 40 years ago~ she has been with me EVERY Christmas! Tressa crochet me the little wee red stocking hanging beside her, and look, you can see one of my little Wedgwood tile angels near the bottom :)

I have a glass bee on a skep to celebrate our own honey bees, I found it the first year we harvested Honey~ such a special memory with the children all taking turns to spin the combs. My Son made the green Popsicle stick reindeer at school in the first grade, and put his picture in there~ I LOVE those ornaments~ they are sooooo special! Down low, next to a Queen Anne dolly I made, is a glass lobster & trap~ my husbands personal favorite, remembrance of when he once worked on a Lobster boat when we lived in Maine.

Santas and popsicle frames of toothless grins~ so much fun to hunt them on the tree. And center, MY real egg my Mother made for me with Raggedy Ann & Andy within~ I can remember her making them, so careful to blow out the eggs, we simmered the paraffin on the stove to coat the insides with, and glitter....I can also remember having to fenaggle this one from her for my tree. I guess with 4 children, I need to make more ornaments...if they're all going to want them for their own trees when they grow up~ AKKK!!! And finally, my Christmas would not be complete without one of my most favorite paintings from a Dear artist friend, Jane DesRosier. I am lucky enough to own 5 of her gorgeous paintings, but this one is my most favorite of all~

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Sweet Dreams My Jack Boy, Ill miss you so~

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I always get choked up if I have to say the Blessing, its hard for me, because I really mean what I say, and love my family more than life itself. So ... I make my husband say it :) But I certainly can type what I would say, and what I am thinking every moment, of each and every day~

Dear Father, thankyou for this life you have given me. Thankyou for my family, and for letting me be a Mother. Thankyou for my husband and for his company, Pioneer Natural Gas, and for giving me the oppertunity to share what I love, thru art & history, with all who will listen. Help me to be a better person, more loving and giving, more compassionate and more patient with others. Amen

I hope each & every one of you has a Happy & Safe Thanksgiving, with Loved ones and their Memory to keep you company. Thankyou for stopping in to say hello~ know that the dollys & I are thinking of you!
xoxoxo rachael

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rare 18th c Sleeve Links

Such a rare what~not. Just think of things that you take for granted, and use every day, but never actually keep. I can think of several things that get worn, clothing wise, until they are worn OUT, and then tossed out. I shudder to think of how much of early everyday life has been lost this way. Every now and again, we get to peek into the past thru treasures in an untouched box, or perhaps an original diary when it comes to our attentions. I am so thankful for the big attics in the North East, and the fact that 'things' could just get stuck in a box, crammed up there, and left...not for years or decades even...but generations!

Earlier this year, I had the absolute honor and pleasure, of being able to acquire such a trunk for the Museum. It was literally like the drawer of a dresser had been taken out and put in a trunk, and forgotten. Everything dated from the mid 18th c up to the 1820s for the menswear. Everyday things ready to serve their master, just waiting to be used again!

These are mid 18th c "sleeve links". They are just one of several pair that still reside in their original undersleeves. I guess to compare to something current, they are the ancestor to the common cuff links we know of today. They are very simple, and very utilitarian. 2 mother of pearl shirt size buttons, joined together by a linen thread.

There is a bit of frugality to them as well~ you will notice that the more expensive carved mother of pearl button is to the OUTSIDE, the inner link that wouldn't be seen, is totally plain. The linen thread is passed thru 4 times each, and not knotted, but wound round itself several times to the outside of the inner button, as seen here

Linen thread has been wound around the connecting threads, to reinforce the link between the two buttons, and to regulate the width to allow for the thickness of the materials they are to hold together. The bulk of the threads have shifted to one side over time and use.

I thought this very interesting, that the original buttonholes in the sleeves have been 'narrowed' by overstitching, to accommodate the smaller size of the sleeve links.

Done on both sides, as you can see. I know my living history readers will very much enjoy this post~ an easily made period correct detail that should be incorporated into your wardrobe. Just think how much money one could save, having a single pair of sleeve links, instead of a pair of buttons sewn to each and every sleeve, collar and breeches.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;

I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.

So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,

Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;

And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood."

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

I had this poem, and thoughts of my beloved Maine home and the rocky beaches in my mind as Shannon was created~ she has kept a very special seashell from a cherrished beach combing to fasten her kerchief~ she would love to meet you Monday next, at 7pm on the TDIPT Mercantile~

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Very Rare Eighteenth Century Paste Wristletts...

I wish there would have been photography in the 18th century~ don't you? If there was, just think of the wealth of knowledge that could be gleaned from looking beyond the focus of the everyday things sitting beyond on a table or in a windowsill. It is sometimes hard to remember that early paintings were almost as accurate as a photograph, but they were.
If we see a ladye, such as Maria Christina, above~ painted by Johann Zoffany in 1776, wearing these jewels, we can most definitely count on the fact that they did exist and she was wearing or not she actually owned them or not is another story, but we need not get into that here and now. Wouldn't it be grand, to see what , say, her bracelets could have actually looked the flesh?

Well, Dear readers, you are in for a special treat today~ and early Hallowe'en T*R*E*A*T!

Look at this beautiful shagreen case. It in itself is worthy of a post of its own~ Shagreen is a type of treatment of leather made from a type of shark skin or ray skin, that is covered with weensie tiny bumps~ little calcifications~ and it is colored from the underneath, usually a very dark green

Just a peek of what is within... Imagine yourself now, a Ladye of much means, with a beaux of even more, wanting to show his romantic intentions with a trifle of affection....

I don't know about you, but I would be sucking in a big gasp about now.....

For within the beautifully fitted, silk lined double case, is a gorgeous, all original set of paste buckles. But yet, these are no ordinary buckles. intended for shoes, these were for the wrists. They test sterling, with 18k gold tooled middle banding, and each is set with 72 huge, luscious heavy paste stones. Even the elite wore past jewels in the 18th c~ there were more paste jewelers and more paste jewels sold in London than Diamonds and precious gems. If the paste was of high quality, such as these, with high lead content, they really did sparkle just as much as diamonds.

On the back, looking on the chape, you can see "1380" stamped into the silver~ this is the patent number

On the reverse of the chape is stamped "Stedman Patent". Most exciting! Both buckles are marked, and made by John Stedman in London, 1783. We know that John Stedman took out Patent number 1350 on 13 Jan 1783 for a certain type shoe buckle....and on 19 Dec 1783 for patent number this pair most definitely dates to 1783.

John Stedman was a jeweler and patent buckle maker who worked and lived in London~ he has documented residence at No 2 Prince Street, Leicester Fields, Middle Temple Lane and 36 New Bond Street among others. What is so very interesting, and most likely the patent feature of this set, is the placement of the prongs~ see above here~ where my fingers are, the prongs are actually attached to the back side of the buckle itself, and not the center of the chape

They are absolutely gorgeous in person, the amount of paste stones is mesmerizing~ imagine how these looked in candlelight~ nothing less than spectacular to be sure.

Buckles such as these would have been worn on a ribbon around the wrists. The ribbon could easily be interchanged to suit M'Lady's wardrobe or even time of day. Simply put, a length of ribbon would have a slit at one end, and a set of 2 little holes at the other for the prongs to catch in. The chape is slipped thru the slit in the ribbon, and turned to make the catch as you see above~ this is actually very secure

The ribbon is then brought around the wrist, thru the hole in the chape, and the prongs on the back side of the buckle catch the ribbon, as above

Here is one of them as would have been worn.

**I must thank Mr Clive Taylor for his most generous help in assisting me with information on John Stedman**

I wish you all could see these in person~ the sparkle is just devine~ I couldn't help but make a little video for you~ I hope you enjoy~

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dolly's help with 18th c undersleeves.......

The Museum was really blessed earlier this year with the opportunity to acquire an entire trunk of early clothing, all from a single, Pennsylvania family. I was both amazed and elated that when it arrived, it was a virtual time capsule of mid to late 18th every day common working folks wear~ both ladies & gentlemans, and I am super excited to share it with you all, little by little over the coming winter months :)

Included in the trunk were several, 5 if I remember correctly, pair of undersleeves. I love undersleeves~ and have several pair, but they all date from the 1820s to 50s, so was a bit puzzled, just at a glance, as to why they were included when everything else was in the 1740-60 era dating. There was so much to go thru, I set them aside and came back to them...and whoa what gems they are indeed!

The above is just one of several pair, but the only ones still connected at their tops. They have been tacked together with linen threads, most likely for washing, as they most definitely have been worn.

This is yet another pair. All are constructed basically the same, a tube of cloth, gathered both top and bottom~ the top bands wider with tabs for pinning to the bodice sleeves, these of which always numbered in weensie cross stitch numbers. The cuff edge is narrower, with 2 button holes for sleeve links, and these are shaped~ the same shape that bodice sleeves of the period are cut with. The sleeve on the left is showing the back facing up, and the sleeve on the right shows the inner arm up, note the curve to allow for the bent position of the elbow

All measure the same, apx 10" from top to bottom of the elbow cuff

All are stitched by hand in fine cotton, which, actually was a sign of wealth this early in the 18th c~ linen was more readily available. The cotton gin had not yet been invented, and cotton was very expensive to produce and procure. This picture shows nicely the cuff shape

Very finely gathered into the cuff end, with 2 button holes for sleeve links

The top bands are wider, and all are marked in cross stitch with matching numbers~ the ones in this collection are numbered up to 12, so we know Mary Wistar had at least 12 different pair of undersleeves in her wardrobe at one time

I was elated to find on a couple pair, that they still retained their original "sleeve links". Sleeve links were common on mens shirts to fasten the sleeve cuffs, which are two buttons stitched together ~ like the cuff links we think of today that are metal and decorative. These are 2 mother of pearl buttons sewn together with linen thread.

So now you ask, how did dollye help me? Well, you all know I love early wooden dolls, and just so happened to have a photo of a c1750 Queen Anne in the Strong Museum's collection~ and look what she wears there, peeking out under her bodice sleeve....

click on the picture to enlarge it if you need to~ but yes, as part of her original wardrobe, she too wears a set of these undersleeves. This is a perfect example of why original period dress should always be kept with our early dolls, and also illustrates the fact that these dolls not only taught little ones the correct way and order of dressing, they have indeed helped us today in doing the very same thing

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I am a Bedstead..... Humble, yet strong.


to rest your weary head,

I wait the day long.

from babies to children to young adults they grow~

my pofsts stand worn & weary with every jump & throw~


To the attic I am sent,

now to wait the days, tired & spent.


Until the most noble of sacrifice is asked.....

for it, a pofst is granted a most honorable task~