Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Linda's Book Reviews - Creating Romantic Purses by Marilyn Green & Carole Cree

Creating Romantic Purses: Patterns & Instructions for Unique Handbags by Marilyn Green & Carole Cree was a perfect choice for the 3rd book to be reviewed for books about handbags, purses, and totes as nothing could be more Victorian looking than romantic purses.

What drew me to this book, once again, was the picture of the two purses on the front cover. They are both romantic and Victorian looking in nature. And readers of my Linda's Blog know how I love anything and everything Victorian.

"Creating Romantic Purses" contains patterns and instructions for making 40 elegant creations that according to the book, "can be worn night and day." And, elegant they all are.

I was intrigued so I began to browse through this book. I didn't need to go any further than the first purse to know that I was going to love this book.

The first purse is in Chapter two which is entitled " Hold History In Your Hand" and is a crazy quilt purse from the Victorian era. History and the Victorian era - I was enthralled. This is definitely a purse that I want to make. It is a Victorian Vignette and is an exquisitely beautiful creation. And, of course, there is all the history surrounding it and Queen Victoria.

Each purse within the book contains information on the materials needed to make the purse, embellishments, patterns and instructions. The patterns and instructions are shown in detail in the back of the book as some of the same patterns and instructions are used to make several different purses in this book.

Flipping through this book I found purse after purse after purse that were just so beautiful to look at. Each and every one of them was a beautiful creation all unto its own. Almost like masterpieces. I wanted them all. However, one can't make 40 different purses now can they? And, where would I store all of them? Knowing me I'd make them just to look at them.

17th, 18th, and 19th Century Wooden Dolls

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

I can't help falling in love the the beauty of the Queen Anne Doll, shown in the picture above, from The Strong National Museum of Play.  She is an exceptional wooden doll circa 1750-1800.

Credits: Queen Anne Doll, 1750-1800, Material wood, Origin England, Style Queen Anne, Object ID 79.451

I would love to see this doll.

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The unbelievable Earliest Queen Anne Doll c. 1690, is also from the Strong National Museum of Play.   How amazing is she?  Just incredible.

Credits: Doll ca. 1690, Material wood, Origin England, Style Queen Anne, Object ID 73.1447

According to their description: A simple, jointed body and carved face decorated with stylized eyebrows and brightly rouged cheeks characterize this "Queen Anne" style doll made in around 1700. Manufacture of these wooden dolls originally predated their namesake, Queen Anne, who reigned only from 1702 to 1714. English woodcarvers and craftsmen began making these dolls in the 1600s, and the craft continued through the 1840s. Affordable only to affluent families, the vast majority of Queen Anne dolls were owned by women, who dressed them in the fashions of the time. Because the clothing obscured the plain wooden bodies, carvers focused their artistic attention on the faces. The dolls' painted, almond-shaped eyes, though distinctly conventionalized, changed to glass or porcelain in later years, and limbs came to be made of fabric or leather. Dolls made prior to the mid-19th century are scarce: some reports note that fewer than thirty seventeenth-century Queen Anne dolls have survived.

Only thirty 17th century Queen Anne dolls have survived.  What a shame.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Linda's Review of The Complete Photo Guide To Doll Making by Nancy Hoerner, Barbara Matthiessen, and Rick Petersen

In doing my research on various doll histories I ran across a doll making book entitled "The Complete Photo Guide To Doll Making" by Nancy Hoerner, Barbara Matthiessen, and Rick Petersen. This book contained information on making several of the dolls I was posting about so I thought maybe I should review this as part of my Linda's Review of Doll Making Books series.

If you would like to take a quick peak inside this book offers one here.  Google Books also provides a look inside here.

According to the books description: This book is a comprehensive how-to book about all aspects of doll making. It serves as a reference and technique guide for making dolls in a wide variety of styles. Full-size patterns are provided as well as artist galleries for inspiration. The organization provides easy access to information with step-by-step directions and color photos. Other doll-making books focus on one particular doll style. Some are purely inspirational, showing dolls made by other artists and crafters. This book provides complete how-to instruction on all types of dolls.

If you are a novice doll maker who wants to be introduced to all the world of doll making has to offer this book is a good beginning as it is filled with all sorts of dolls from simple handmade dolls to a beginner to intermediate cloth art dolls.

The book is filled with over 450 color pictures for the 30 doll project tutorials within the book and also includes lots and lots of tips for making those dolls.

The Maggie Bessie Cloth Doll - A Doll of Simplicity and Grace

Image Courtesy of

Would you pay tens of thousands of dollars for a doll?  Maybe the question should be would you pay tens of thousands of dollars for a beautiful handmade 19th century doll that is the epitome of simplicity and grace?  If I had that kind of money I probably would - especially if the doll kept increasing in value.


According to their description: 13" All-cloth doll with flat-dimensional face, oil-painted complexion, hair and facial features, short brown center-parted hair with feathering details, shaded blue eyes, black and brown upper eyeliner, feathered brows, outlined nose with accented nostrils, closed mouth, stitch-jointed body, oil-painted lower arms and legs....  Comments: created by Bessie and Maggie Pfohl in their Moravian community of Salem, North Carolina, early 1900s. Value Points: the rare American doll is flawlessly preserved with daintily detailed hair, and most endearing expression, with original costume. Realized Price: $13,000.

The A COMPANION AMERICAN CLOTH MORAVIAN DOLL KNOWN AS "MAGGIE-e BESSIE", shown in the picture above, is also from the website.

According to their description: 13"  All-cloth doll with flat-dimensional perfectly rounded face enhanced by chin definition, oil-painted complexion, hair and facial features, short brown center-parted hair with feathering at sides of forehead, shaded blue eyes, black and red upper eyeliner, feathered brows, outlined nose with accented nostrils, closed bow-shaped mouth, stitch-jointed body, oil-painted lower arms and legs.....  Comments: created by Bessie and Maggie Pfohl in their Moravian community of Salem, North Carolina, early 1900s; the hand-crafted artistry and personality of each Maggie-Bessie doll is evident in this and the preceding lot. Value Points: most appealing shy expression with beautifully painted facial details and blush. Realized Price: $9,000.

I found the pair of "Maggie Bessie" dolls, shown above, totally charming and, of course, had to find out more.After all what culd make a pair of dols worth $22,000 collectively?

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Linda's Book Reviews - Artful Paper Dolls - New Ways To Play With Traditional Form by Terry Taylor

As a very young girl I can remember playing with my very first paper doll - Betsy McCall. I would cut Betsy and her clothes out of the magazine ever so carefully. Of course, being a young girl my first attempts at cutting every so carefully didn't go as smooth as I had planned and my mother or grandmother would try to correct for my errors.

I didn't like the paper doll tabs and didn't always utilize them. I quickly learned, however, that the clothes would not stay on the paper doll without them.

I must have a thing for tabs and markers as I also didn't like the triangle placement tabs in sewing patterns when I first started to sew. I would cut them off as well until I learned that for clothing they served a very useful purpose.

Since I had a passion for Victorian dolls from a very young age I loved playing with my Victorian paper dolls. I could sit for hours on end just putting this outfit on or that outfit. When I was finished playing with my paper dolls I would put them back in a cardboard cigar box that my grandfather had given to me for storing them.

Back then I would never have foreseen the enormous explosion in the paper industry that has occurred over the last two decades. Nor could I have foreseen that paper dolls would become and art form in its' own right. Who would have know that altered art and mixed media creations would rule the art world in the 21st century.

One of the books I bought last year was Artful Paper Dolls: New Ways to Play with a Traditional Form by Terry Taylor. Even at first glance I was immediately taken by the visually stunning paper creations of some 22 well known designers.

On every page was yet another beautiful paper doll creation that I wanted to try. Of course, there isn't any kind of doll, paper included, that I haven't wanted to try and make. My problem is always one of time. There are just not enough hours in the day, nor days in the year for me to try everything.

Topsy-Turvy Dolls - Two In One

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Most young girls know what a topsy turvy doll is and want one.  Why wouldn't they? You get two dolls in one.  What's not to like especially if you get a Topsy Turvy: Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf doll, like the one shown in the picture above, from The Strong National Museum of Play.

Credits: Topsy Turvy: Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf doll, ca. 1890, Material fur | bisque | cloth, Origin France, Style multi-head, Object ID 78.1016.

I've always wanted to make a topsy turvy doll and have always been curious as to their origin.  Since I was doing research on rag dolls I thought I'd do a little research on the topsy-turvy doll.  Here's what I found:

The concept of the topsy-turvy doll is easy to understand.  It's two dolls joined in the middle with the skirt pulled down to cover one of the heads.  When you want to display the other head on the doll you just flip the doll over and the skirt will now cover the head you were just viewing and reveal the other head.

Historically, most of the heads had opposite expressions (i.e. happy and sad) or were characters that were polar opposites (i.e. Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf) but not all were created this way.

In researching their history I found several interesting articles about the topsy turvy dolls also known as Topsy and Eva, their ties to a dark past: slavery and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Here's what I found:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Linda's Book Reviews - Dollmaking With Papier-Mâché and Paper Clay by Doris Rockwell Gottilly

When I was doing  my research on various doll histories and papier mache dolls in particular I had the opportunity to review a book entitled "Dollmaking With Papier Mache and Paper Clay by Doris Rockwell Gottilly" that I had bought years ago.

Dollmaking With Papier-Mâché and Paper Clay by Doris Rockwell Gottilly has complete instructions and patterns for making more than 20 figures.

According to her bio: Doris Rockwell Gottilly is a multi-media artist who specializes in sculptures depicting a wide range of characters using history and folk tales as inspiration.

This book is a useful for anyone who wants to learn how to create dolls or sculptures using papier-mâché or paper clay, both of which are inexpensive and air dry. It is filled with tutorials, step-by-step instructions, and tips for sculpting in general and for creating 20 figures out of papier-mâché or paper clay.

In her step-by-step method you first learn what papier-mâché and paper clay are, as well as learning how to prepare it, dry it, and sand it.  From there you learn how to make a doll armature, how to add and sand facial features, how to make the arms and legs, and how to add hair.  Then you learn how to construct the cloth body and make your doll's accessories.

Tips are provided for paper claying over an existing object, using a plaster mold and turning the dolls into sculptures.

She provides instructions for making 20 different dolls or characters.  Included in this grouping is a 22" fashion doll, a 12" baby doll, a 12" child, 2two 12" best friend dolls, a 12" young prince doll, a 15" Alice doll, two 17" 19th century dolls  (which I absolutely love), and a 17" English doll.  There is also detailed instructions and pictures for making a 17" China doll, a 17" Queen Elizabeth doll (which I love), three Beauty & The Beast dolls, a 15" old lady doll, a 22" Milliner's Models type doll (which I absolutely love), a 20" vendor doll, a 20" harlequin doll, a 20" court jester, a 24" Pulcinella, a 20" old Chris, a billy goat, and a 26" rabbit.

This book provides useful tips and detailed instructions for sculpting.  The tips for painting the faces and sewing the cloth bodies and clothes is general in nature and would require a more experienced painter or sewer to finish the projects.

There is an inspiration gallery of some of her dolls as well as some supplies source suggestions.

I just love the two 19th century dolls on Page 54, the Queen Elizabeth 1 on Page 62, and the Milliners Models Adelaide on Page 75. I am definitely going to try making all of them when I get a chance.

17th, 18th and 19th Century Wardrobe or Trousseau Dolls

If you'd like to see an amazing amount of pictures of beautiful 19th century dolls has a wonderful Ensemble The Hanne Büktas Collection of French Poupées, Their Trousseaux, Accessories, Furnishings, and Related Dolls issue on

I just loved the dolls and their wardrobes on Page 20 + 21, Page 30 + 31, Page 42 + 43, Page 44 + 45, Page 88 + 89, Page 78 + 79, Page 82, and Page 109.  Check it out. You won't be disappointed.  The dolls and their wardrobes are just exquisite.

After viewing the gorgeous 19th century dolls with their elaborate wardrobes I couldn't help but wonder what kind of expression a young girl in the 19th century would have on her face after receiving one of these dolls.  I know what my expression would be - pure joy!

So, I decided I wanted to know more and see more pictures of antique dolls and their elaborate wardrobes. Here's what I found and some I'd love to see:

Friday, April 29, 2016

Linda's Book Reviews - Making Vintage Bags by Emma Brennan

Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses by Emma Brennan is a wonderful choice for the 2ND book to be reviewed in my handbags, purses, and totes craft book review.

I have to tell you that what drew me to this book initially was that it concerned vintage bags from the 1920's through the 1950's. According to Emma Brennan's foreword, "A handbag can make a statement as well as being a practical means of carrying your essential possessions around. This book gives you patterns and ideas for making your own special bag, influenced by vintage styles but perfect for modern living."

I couldn't agree more. Whenever I leave the house I am lost without my handbag. It is an essential part of me outside my home and when I am without it something just seems to be missing. The handbag I use all the time weighs a ton with all the stuff I have in it and my Mother was forever telling me to lighten the load. She thought it would put a dent in my shoulder and cause me back problems down the road. Well, after 50 years of carrying around a bag I think I'm used to the weight. Besides whenever I go through my bag nothing is thrown out. Everything seems to be essential - or at least I think it's essential.

So, I always promise myself that I'm going to reduce some of the clutter so I can change bags more often and, maybe, carry some smaller bags. The bags of the 1920's to 1950's were definitely smaller and I would, indeed, need to reduce some of my essentials in order to utilize some of them.

Boudoir Dolls Are Meant For Sitting - No Touching!

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

When I saw the Boudoir Doll, shown in the picture above, from The Strong National Museum of Play I was intrigued and reminded of the dolls I always had sitting in the middle of my bed. They were just some of my dolls and nothing as fancy as the Boudoir doll shown here.  Plus, unlike Boudoir Dolls which were intended for grown-up girls, my dolls were those you would expect from a little girl.  And, unlike Boudoir Dolls which are not meant to be played with, mine were played with and as a result didn't last.

According to their description: In the early 20th century, fashionable women decorated their bedrooms, parlors, and living rooms with large, often elaborately dressed dolls. Called boudoir, bed, flapper, smoker, sofa, salon, and parlor dolls, these long-limbed figures often sported lavish outfits with laces, ribbons, and ruffles. Exotic and a bit campy, most boudoir dolls wore heavy make-up and bore a sultry look as if they intended to steal a boyfriend or cause trouble at a party. The Lenci doll company made boudoir dolls depicting foreign costumes, historical fashions, Pierrot, smokers, and vamps.

Credits: Boudoir Doll 1925-1926, Manufacturer Lenci, Material felt, Origin Italy, Object ID 79.9868

My understanding is that Boudoir Dolls were popular from 1915 until 1940 and made by French, U.S., English and Italian doll manufacturers.  The dolls were used primarily as bedroom decorations for teenagers and ladies and were characterized by painted composite heads, long thin bodies, long extremities, and adult features.

Most of the dolls were known as Boudoir Dolls, Art Dolls, Bed Dolls, Smoker Dolls, Salon Dolls, Parlor Dolls, Art Deco Dolls, Sofa Dolls, French Dolls, Lenci, Poupees, Flapper Dolls and Vamps.

They became very popular amongst wealthy women who often brought their dolls along to their seamstress when they were having an outfit made for them so she could create a mini-version for their doll.

As is the case with most of the dolls that intrigue me, I wanted to know more.  So, I did a little research.  Here's what I found:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Linda's Book Reviews - The Decorated Bag by Genevieve A. Sterbenz

I thought that I might start the review of handbag, purse, and totes books with The Decorated Bag: Creating Designer Handbags, Purses, and Totes Using Embellishments by Genevieve A. Sterbenz.

I have to tell you that what drew me to this book initially was the embellished purse on the front cover and then when I was flipping through the book all the pictorials caught my eye. If there is anything I love in a craft and craft making book it's pictorials. You might find this unusual for a crafter and a reader, but I hate to read the text. I'd much rather look at the pictures and follow them. Now that's not to say I don't read the text. I do if I have to, but I'd rather learn from the pictures. I suspect that I'm not the only one in that regard. I'm sure many, many crafters out there are the same way.

The Decorated Bag has 26 designs ranging from bejeweled evening bags to a Victorian Straw tote to an urban cowgirl saddle bag. There's a folkart bucket bag, Marabou mini bag, springtime pull string bag, girly weekender, mod print tote, and "Miss Kitty" tote. There's even a big-city bowling bag and Hollywood hatbox.

Don't forget the American beauty bag, the blue suede portfolio, tropical demi, blue-boots tote, and buttoned-up hobo bag. And, there's the swingtime shoulder bag, lush leopard hatbox, snow-flurry lipstick purse, and vintage rhinestone purse.

Last but not least, we have the midnight feather clutch, beaded ballerina bag, silver moon satin clutch, pave polka dot purse, tottenham tweed clutch and mini travel valise.

26 bags in total all with wonderful step-by-step pictorials. Some of my favorites were as follows:
1) Bejeweled Evening Bag - This bag just looks so pretty. I'd love to try and make it. Not only does this book tell you how to decorate the bag, it also gives you step-by-step pictorials for making the bag starting on page 114. The pattern is on page 128. Definitely one I want to try.

2) American Beauty Bag - I love to make ribbon flowers and this bag is right up my alley with its folded ribbon roses. It just looks so beautiful and so delicate. It would be a wonderful compliment to a fancy dress. Pictorial step-by-step instructions are given on page 34 and 35 for making all the ribbon roses.

3) Blue-Boots Tote - This bag takes a graphic from page 133 that you scan in to the computer and then re-size and print on transfer paper and then add to the patchwork toe. This method allows you to add any image you want, not just the image they have nicely provided.

There are patterns and instructions in the back of the book for making the bejeweled evening bag, urban cowgirl saddle bag, and springtime pull-string bag. There are also some illustrations and helpful tips for some of the other bags as well.

For all the rest of the bags "The Decorated Bag" provides you with the step-by-step pictorials for converting existing bags. Each bag has a section on materials needed to embellish it, tools required, what the featured bag is, as well as design tips, and a variation illustration.

If you love purses and love to embellish them then this is a great book. There is a lot of variety in the selection of the purses with one sure to please everyone.

I can hardly wait to start my bag. The only problem is which one to choose. There are so many that I just love.

Milliner's Models Dolls - Fashion Model or Toy?

Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

When I saw the "Milliner's Models" Doll Illustration, shown in the picture above, from the Dolls from the Index of American Design at the National Gallery of Art I was curious as to exactly what a "Milliner's Models" doll was.  I'd never heard of them.

Here's their description for that doll: This doll is one of the loveliest of the so-called "milliner's models." The term is actually a misnomer, for such dolls were meant to be used as toys. Many early nineteenth-century paintings show children holding such dolls. There may have been actual milliner's models before the toy doll of that name came into use, but we do not know how close the resemblance between the two may have been. This doll is dated about 1834. The costume is simple and beautifully made; the hairstyle is that of a young girl of the period. Pantalettes are typical for this sort of doll.

Credits: Eugene Croe (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Ruth E. Whittier (object owner), Doll--"Betsy", c. 1937, watercolor and graphite on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15453.

Papier-Mâché Dolls

Slide 23 -  Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

From what I understand towards the end of the 18th century papier-mâché was the doll industries favorite composition and replaced wood and wax dolls. So, when I saw Slide 23shown in the picture above, from the Dolls from the Index of American Design  at the National Gallery of Art I was interested in what these dolls looked like.

After I read their description, shown below, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that this doll's head was used to smuggle morphine and quinine across the border during the Civil War. You just never know what dolls may be up to!

According to their description: Papier-mâché was a widely used substance for making dolls. Papier-mâché itself is a composition made from paper pulp combined with various other substances. Dolls made of this material reached a height of popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. They first appeared much earlier, however. Edouard Fournier History of Children's Toys and Games mentions the use of this product by dollmakers from the time of Francis I of France, about 1540. Centuries later, in 1858, the first known patent for a doll's head in the United States was issued to Ludwig Greiner of Philadelphia for his paper-mâché model. This doll, named "Nina," has a unique history. Behind her innocent-looking face, in the hollow of her paper-mâché head, she smuggled morphine and quinine across the border during the Civil War.

Credits: Renee A. Monfalcone (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Confederate Museum (object owner), Doll--"Nina", 1935/1942, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15538

According to Denise Van Patten's Paper Mache Dolls article on About.comPapier Mache was a good material to make doll heads from because it could be molded and painted. Molding allowed more realistic doll features than carving, and the dolls were lighter than carved wood. Papier Mache was the preferred material by German doll makers until the mid 1800s when China Dolls were introduced.

The page on Papier-Mâché has a section on how papier-mâché is prepared here.

If you'd like to know more about making various types of papier-mâché there is a Paper Mache Recipes article on the Ultimate Paper Mache website.

Also, according to Denise Van Patten's Paper Mache Dolls article on Some of the earliest commonly found Papier Mache dolls are called Milliner's Models today. These dolls were made from approximately 1840 through 1860, and are often found in smaller sizes (9 to 15 inches) and with wooden limbs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Izannah Walker Dolls

I'll bet that back in 1873 Izannah Walker would have no idea how popular her dolls would be for art doll artists and doll collecting enthusiasts in the 21st century.

If you don't know who Izannah Walker is she was the first person to patent a doll in the U.S. It is thought she made or gave away over a thousand dolls molded with multiple layers of cloth and paste then painted.

In 1873 Izannah Walker filed the patent, shown in the picture above, with the U.S. Patent Office - N0. 144,373. Patented Nov.4,l873.

First Presbyterian Church Rag Dolls Otherwise Known as Presbyterian Rag Dolls

Image Courtesy of Toy and Miniature Museum

The beautiful "Little Doll On The Prairie" Presbyterian Rag Doll c. 1880, shown in the picture above, is part of the Toy and Miniature Museum doll collection.

Credits: Little Doll on the Prairie, PRESBYTERIAN RAG DOLL c. 1880, MANUFACTURER Ladies Sewing Committee of the First Presbyterian Church,  MATERIAL cotton, oil, wool

From what I understand the women of the First Presbyterian Church of Bucyrus, Ohio launched a fundraising campaign in the 1880's.  They decided to make and sell handmade rag dolls which  have become known as 'Presbyterian Rag Dolls." The dolls were all handmade with painted faces, gusseted bottoms, clothing, and shoes for both boy and girl dolls.

It seems that many generations of church women made these dolls in the early 1900's, again in the 1950's, and again in the 1980's.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Polly Heckewelder Moravian Rag Dolls - Loved and Made For Over 140 Years

Image Courtesy of the Moravian Church in North America

You certainly have to admire a doll that is so well loved that she is made over and over for 140+ years.  Such is the case with the Moravian Rag Dolls, shown in the picture above, otherwise known as Polly Heckewelder Doll. This doll is the oldest continuously made cloth doll in America.

I think she's just beautiful and hope you would agree.  Based on the picture above it's not hard to understand why this doll is loved so much.

Given her 140 year history, it seemed like there might be a lot of information about this doll so I decided to do a little research. I was wrong.  There's not a lot of information on her out there.  Here's what I found:

According to Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern by Linda Edwards: A charming little doll called Polly Heckewelder has been made by members of the Moravian Church since 1872.  The dolls namesake was the daughter of Moravian missionary John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder.  His daughter Polly was born in 1781 while he was working with the Delaware Indians and she is believed to be the first child born in the Ohio territory.

Also: The Ladies Sewing Society of the Moravian Church Guild in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, first made these dolls for the aid of wounded Civil War soldiers.  After the war the funds were used to help former slaves and eventually to aid moravian ministries for their other charity work.

From what I understand the dolls were all handmade as a means to benefit the Moravian Church sisters, members of the Ladies Sewing Society of the Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem Pennsylvania.  The dolls that were dressed like young girls were called Polly Heckewelder, in honor of Johanna Marie Heckewelder (known as Polly) the daughter of the Reverend Heckewelder.  The dolls have been made for over 140 years.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Wax Dolls, Montanari and Pierotti Dolls - Gotta Love The Beauty of Wax

Slide #24 -  Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

Two of the slides from the Dolls from the Index of American Design  at the National Gallery of Art that I loved were Slide #24, shown in the picture above, and Slide #25, shown in the picture below.  I was drawn to them due to the dresses and when I read their descriptions I found out they were wax dolls, which piqued my curiosity.

According to their description: Wax dolls have been made from very early times — by the ancient Romans, for example, on through the first quarter of the twentieth century. This wax doll was probably made in England, which was noted for its wax dolls in the last half of the nineteenth century. This doll dates from the 1870s, and her elaborate costume is typical of the period. The dress is of blue taffeta trimmed with white organdy lace. The doll's childlike face and hairstyle might seem better suited to a child's body, but the true child doll was not yet common. Not until the 1880s was there a change from predominantly adult dolls to dolls representing children and babies. Many collectors still prefer dolls with features of a child but dressed as an adult.

Credits: Lillian Causey (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), The Baltimore Museum of Art (object owner), Doll in Blue Dress, 1935/1942, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design, 1943.8.7734.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Babyland Rag Dolls With Painted Faces Versus Babyland Rag Dolls With Lithograph Faces

Image Courtesy of

I used to think that there isn't any doll on the planet I wouldn't like. That is generally true except I did run across a few lithograph Babyland Rag Dolls whose outfits I loved, but I wasn't totally crazy with their faces.

Now you might think I'm saying I don't like the Babyland Rag Dolls.  That would be incorrect.  I'm just not keen on the Babyland Rag Dolls with lithograph faces, but love the Babyland Rag Dolls with painted faces like the AMERICAN CLOTH DOLL BY BABYLAND RAG c. 1890, shown in the picture above, from  She is just darling

According to their description: 15"  All-cloth doll with flat-dimensional face, painted facial features, large brown upper-glancing eyes, thick brown upper eyeliner, red eyeliner accents, one-stroke brows, outlined nose, painted closed mouth, blushed cheeks, blonde mohair wig, muslin stitch-jointed body, mitten hands..... Comments: Babyland Rag, circa 1890....

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The Babyland Lady Doll c. 1912-1914, shown in the picture above, is part of The Strong National Museum of Play doll collection.

I just love her painted face and sweet outfit. She is just pain adorable.  Wouldn't you agree?

Credits: Manufacturer E. I. Horsman & Co., Material cloth, Origin New York, NY, Object ID 79.9967

Saturday, April 23, 2016

China Head Dolls - They're Just So Beautiful

Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

I have always been fascinated with China Head Dolls and have always wanted to buy some china heads to make some dolls of my own.  I've always felt that as far as dolls are concerned some of the most beautiful dolls throughout history have to be the china head dolls, like the China Head Doll, shown in the illustration above, from the National Gallery of Art.

According to their description: This china-headed doll has a particularly lovely costume. The dress is plaid silk taffeta; it is worn over a petticoat of tan alpaca trimmed with blue silk bands. The pantalettes are of cotton with eyelet embroidery. The doll's hairstyle makes her a collector's item; china dolls with a knot on the head are rare. This feature, however, is almost completely hidden by the silk bonnet. This doll has a cloth body and arms and feet of kid. The head is glazed porcelain. China-head dolls were first made in Europe around 1750 but did not become extremely popular until the 1840s. This doll dates from 1840–1850. Often the heads were imported to America and used on American-made dolls' bodies.

Credits: Beverly Chichester (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Edison Institute of Technology (object owner), Doll in Plaid Dress, c. 1937, watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, and graphite on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.7814.

Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

The beautiful China Head Doll, shown in the illustration above, is also from the National Gallery of Art.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Missionary Rag Babies - Loved So Much They're Well Worn

Julia Jones Beecher, shown in the picture above,  and the members of the sewing circle of the Park Congregational Church made stockinette dolls from 1893 to 1910 for their charitable missionary fund, which resulted in the dolls being named "Missionary Rag Babies." They were made from stockinette, which is a soft, loosely knitted stretch fabric (i.e. underwear)  and had needle-sculptured and hand painted faces and stockinette bodies.  They also had applied ears, looped yarn hair, and sewn joints.

According to a post entitled "A Virtual Peek at the New Exhibit" on the Chemung County Historical Society blog each doll was accompanied with a note that said:  If you will always take by the waist and never by the arm; if you will give your hand a wash before you play with me; if you will not leave me out in the dust or in the sunshine, and if you will not squeeze my face flat; I will be your pretty baby for a long time.

Also: The Beecher Baby Doll is the most famous locally-made doll.  In 1885, Julia Beecher, wife of Reverend Thomas K. Beecher, was inspired to make a baby doll while she was mending stockings.  The first doll that she made for her niece led to many more.  In the next ten years, Mrs. Beecher sold 950 handmade dolls.  Over $1,000 in profits from the sales were used for projects by the ladies’ organization of Park Church.  

The irony of the dolls receiving such a note was that they were handled so much that nowadays they are very hard to find and if found are usually well worn.  I like to think they were loved so much they just couldn't stand up to the test of time.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Quaker Dolls - Quiet Beauty

Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

I found 7 beautiful Quaker Doll  illustrations in the Index of American Design collection from the National Gallery of Art that I know you're going to love.

I found the Quaker Doll c. 1936, shown in the picture above, from the National Gallery of Art to be totally irresistible.  I would love to see the actual doll and can only imagine how beautiful she must have been.

According to their description: Early American dolls are shown in a wide variety of costumes. This fine doll of the eighteenth century represents a Quaker woman. The doll's head, arms, and legs are made of carved and painted wood. Throughout history, wood has been one of the most frequently used materials for making dolls. For many doll makers, it was both readily available and inexpensive.

Credits: Mina Lowry (artist), American, 1894 - 1942, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Miss Polaire Weissman (object owner), Doll, c. 1936, watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15496.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pioneer & Prairie Dolls, Rag Dolls, Appalachian Dolls, Wagon Train Dolls, Table Cloth Dolls, Pillowcase Dolls, Handkerchief & Prayer Dolls, Folk Art Dolls - They're All Dolls That Were Loved By Early American Colonial Girls

 Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

As a lover of dolls I have been thoroughly enjoying all the rag dolls illustrations and accompanying descriptions that I've seen in the Index of American Design collection from the National Gallery of Art.

The following description accompanied the Rag Doll, shown in the picture above, from the National Gallery of ArtHandmade dolls were among the many crafts produced by people of the Spanish colonial southwest. This rag doll, possibly dating from 1795, was made by a California Indian woman for the original owner, a Mrs. Villa. The doll may be seen as an Indian's interpretation of Spanish colonial women. In the early days of the United States, southwest arts and crafts were often the work of Indian artisans.

Credits: Bertha Semple (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Mrs. F.C. (Vernette Snyder) Ripley (object owner), Doll, c. 1937, watercolor, graphite, and gouache on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15415

Image Courtesy  National Gallery of Art,Washington.

One of my favorite Rag Doll c. 1935 illustrations from the National Gallery of Art is the one shown in the picture above.  I just love her outfit and face.

Credits: Stenzel, Erwin, American, active c. 1935, Rag Doll 1935/1942, watercolor, graphite, and pen and ink on paper, overall: 40.7 x 30.6 cm (16 x 12 1/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 12" high, Index of American Design 1943.8.16825.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Miss Columbia and the Columbian Rag Doll

Image Courtesy of

The American Cloth Doll, shown in the picture above, sold on for $15,500. When I first saw this I wondered why this particular doll was so expensive. What was it about her that drove that price so high?

According to her description: 19" All cloth doll with flat dimensional face, having oil painted facial features and hair, blonde hair with softly swirling curls at the forehead, painted brown eyes with large black pupils and white highlights, single stroke brows, defined nose, closed mouth with outlined lips, blushed cheeks, stitch-jointed body (see photo) with oil-painted lower arms and legs, original costume.... MARKS: Columbian Doll Emma E. Adams, Oswego Centre N.Y.. COMMENTS: Emma Adams, circa 1892, the doll was awarded the Gold Medal at the Chicago World Fair of 1893, the first American doll to be awarded that grand prize. VALUE POINTS: Extraordinary original condition of the rare doll, with outstanding artistry of painting. Realized Price: $15,500. Lot Number: 14.

The reason she was so expensive was she was an original Columbian Doll circa 1892 by Emma E. Adams, whose doll was awarded the gold Medal at the Chicago World Fair of 1893.

I found her face totally enchanting and had to find out more. Here's what I found out:

According to Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern by Linda Edwards: The Columbian rag dolls were first made by Emma Adams in 1891.  They were made of muslin and had flat faces which were oil painted by Emma.  The eyes were painted blue or brown.  Their bodies were stuffed with cotton or excelsior, with an inner core of sawdust in the heads and torso.  The limbs were painted flesh color and were stiffened with sizing.