Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Celia's Doll

I thought everyone might enjoy reading the story of Celia's Doll. Celia is my sister-in-laws Mother. She is a feisty, wonderful, loving, beautiful old soul who has a bit of a wild streak in her. She's in her mid eighties and I get tired just watching her. Talk about boundless energy. I just love her.

Celia is married to Elmer (see my post The Story Behind Elmers Little Boy). They have been happily married for over 50 years and were recently moving into their new home. Since they were downsizing they had to either get rid of a lot of items or throw a lot away. So, they decided what to throw away and what to sell at their yard sale. When you've been married over fifty years there are a LOT of items.

In any event, one of the items Celia had decided to throw away was this old, grundgy, doll who was just plain "a mess". She had lost most of her hair on the top of her head and had one long bunch of strands down one side of her head. Her fingers were all broken and her face was dirty. She had on an old, dirty, prairie dress and bonnet. I wish I had taken a picture of her so you could have seen how she was. Needless to say she was in desperate need of a make over. I think she was considering going to a day spa, but she wasn't aware of any dollie day spas. There definitely weren't any in the yellow pages.

So, of course, I took her home and we pondered her fate together. We decided she should be elegant. She'd had enough of this simple, primitive, country look and wanted to be a real "Lady". So we decided on a bit of a "French" aristocratic look for her. We needed something that would cover up her bald spots while still making it seem like she had a full head of hair. Definitely a twist was in store. The problem, however, was what to do with the rest of her head. I though maybe a combination of a large hat and "Gloria Swanson" type of turban would work. Celia was skeptical. It was a drastic step.

So we twisted the one long bunch of hair strands she had on the right side of her head into a bun over her ear. We decided that some old green velour material that I had would make a good turban, high-waisted jacket top, and part of her fancy hat. The other part of her fancy hat was made out of the same material as her dress. You have to be coordinated, you know, to be an elegant "Lady" from France. We arranged some of the green velour material so that it appeared to be a turban around her head. We put her fancy bonnet together and decided it would look very "elegant" if it was slanted towards the left side of her head and tied in a bow on the right side of her neck.

Of course, she had on all the underclothes and items proper "Ladies" just do not discuss. Celia was shaking and had her hands (or what was left of her hands and fingers) over her eyes. I positioned her in front of the mirror and told her to look. Reluctantly, after 15 minutes of coaxing she finally looked. What she saw took her breathe away. She spent the next week just looking at herself in the mirror. Talk about someone getting a "big" head. Celia wanted to change her name to "Venus" as she was now the most beautiful woman, or should I say dollie, in the world. I'd had enough of this and decided it was time for Celia to go home.

So, we took Celia back to the real Celia. She couldn't believe it was the same doll. So elegant, so beautiful, so "aristocratic", so...... well, conceited. Well, I tell you, when you've been around for 80+ years you know how to tame an ego that was getting out of control. Celia sat Celia down and told her "Enough of this crap! You're a doll named after me. The beauty belongs to me, not you." Celia was humbled, or so we think. She now resides in the real Celia's bedroom, turned away from any mirrors. Once in a while she does, however, manage to catch a glimpse of her beauty in a mirror and she just smiles.

Well, since I had already created the patterns for the undergarments, dress, fancy hat, etc. I decided that I should make a Celia cloth doll and pattern. My version of the Celia doll is shown below. “Celia” is dressed in her Sunday best. She has a fancy double-tiered lace and ruffled trim lined jacket with long puffed up sleeves, very fancy lace & floral decorated lined hat with tulle, fancy lace & double-ruffle tiered dress, lace gloves, lace trimmed and gathered slip, lace trimmed and gathered bloomers, and blonde hair tied in a bun. She has boots tied with laces and her lined jacket has large ribbon ties which are tied in a bow in the front. She also has a fabric covered head and body. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Love of Dolls and Genealogy

Hello, everyone. I hope you enjoy reading my BLOG. Everyone who knows me knows that I have always LOVED dolls, sewing, genealogy, and floral design since I was about 10 years old. I was always making my own clothes (you can never have enough), collecting or making dolls (you can never have enough), creating floral centerpieces (every holiday table needs one), creating Christmas decorations (you can never have too many) and researching my family genealogical tree (the past is vital to who we are today). So, I was so happy when I decided to start my own Linda Walsh Originals webpage which allowed me to combine my love of dolls, sewing, crafts, florals, and genealogy all into one.

My passion is for the fashions of the Victorian Era and I have to credit my grandmother for that. When I was knee-high she gave me a very old print of Godey's Fashions for August 1870 that belonged to my great, great Aunt Flossie (the first female in my family to graduate from college). I was captivated with the dresses and forever hooked. The picture at the top of this post is the Godey's print.

Since I have also been a genealogy buff all my life, I wanted to find a way to honor my family's ancestors and relatives. I decided to name my patterns after them as a way to show that they haven't been forgotten. Hopefully, those who have gone before us are looking down and smiling.

There is a story behind each of the names chosen and why that particular doll which I hope to share with all of you over time. Please come back and visit from time to time and read some of my tributes and to catch up on the news and/or events of my Linda Walsh Originals online store.

P.S. The little girl that is seen in all my banners is from the 1870 Godey print above. She is also what I use for my avatar in the doll forums that I belong to. Isn't she just adorable!!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Story Behind Elmers Little Boy

In thinking about what to write next for my blog I thought it might be a good idea to tell the story behind some of the dolls I have created. I'd like to begin with the story behind Elmers Little Boy. So here goes..... My sister-in-laws parents who are in their 80's recently had a yardsale because they were moving into a much smaller house. Elmer (my sister-in-laws father) had an old plastic kewpie doll that had previously belonged to his deceased sister that he had kept I think in his toolbox (I might have that wrong).

In any event, he had held on to this doll for over many, many years. The only problem with the doll was that it had no clothes. He was going to throw it away but decided instead to give it to me. I was touched as I got the sense that this doll had a lot of sentimental value for him. In any event, I decided to take it home and design some clothes for it. I wanted an early american little boy look so I decided on pantaloons, a vest, shirt, and scully cap. Since I had already designed the clothes for his kewpie I decided to design a cloth doll as well. A little while later I took the plastic kewpie doll (with his new clothes) back to Elmer. Elmer was thrilled. It touched my heart to see how happy he was with my gift. Elmer's kewpie doll now sits proudly on the top of his bureau (I think).

I named my cloth pattern Elmer's Little Boy after Elmer's plastic kewpie doll. Elmers Original Kewpie is shown above and my Elmers Little Boy cloth version is shown below. The clothes for both dolls were made from some of Elmer's old clothes that I had gotten from his yard sale. I hope you like both dolls.

My Version - Elmers Little Boy.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

How Can I Be A Feminist Victorian???

I have to wonder sometimes why I have such a fascination or passion for the fashions of the Victorian Era when I am clearly a feminist (the ultimate feminist according to my son-in-law). My inner self seems to be fighting with itself. Women's rights versus love of a time when women had, basically, no rights, but, wore the most beautiful dresses. So, I thought that maybe I should investigate this further. What is it that draws me to the era when it is so contrary to my basic beliefs.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary feminism is "a doctrine that advocates or demands for women the same rights granted to men, as in political or economic status." Feminists clearly believe in this, so therefore I clearly am a feminist (and PROUD of it to boot). In fact, make that VERY PROUD.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary a Victorian is defined as "Pertaining or belonging to the period of Queen Victoria's reign. Exhibiting qualities usually associated with the time of Queen Victoria, as moral severity or hypocrispy, middle-class stuffiness, and pompous conservationism. A person belonging to or exhibiting characteristics typical of the period of Queen Victoria." Clearly, I am not Victorian. Clearly, their attitutes towards women and society is for the BIRDS (maybe they don't even want to be associated with it). Yet, I am drawn to their fashions. Drawn to their style.


Why do I love to make victorian doll patterns for my Linda Walsh Originals website when I clearly am not Victorian? I am as perplexed as you are. Perhaps, I should explore this further and delve a little more into the rights of women during the Victorian Era.

Maybe if I get so disgusted with their lack of rights I'll stop loving the Victorian Era and Victorian Fashion. Maybe, I'll stop designing victorian doll patterns? Maybe, I'll stop designing doll patterns all together. Maybe, I'll stop loving dolls. Maybe, I'll stop loving history and genealogy. Maybe, I'll turn into a Victorian and start to believe their treatment of women was right. Yeah! Right! In your dreams Queen Victoria!

Monday, August 01, 2005

We've Come a Long Way Baby and Still Have A Long Way to Go!

I love to just browse thru history books, genealogy records, and the encyclopedia. Browsing thru the Wikipedia encyclopedia I came across the women's suffrage stamp (see picture on the left). In looking at the women's suffrage stamp I got to thinking about my great, great Aunt "Flossie" and my Grandmother "Dee." Why did these two women come to mind when I saw the stamp? They came to mind because they grew up during the time that the women's suffrage movement was at its peak.

Little history lesson : American women earned the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. This amendment was finally accomplished after years (actually decades, if not centuries) of effort by women, in general, and the women's suffrage movement, in particular.

My "Flossie" victorian doll pattern is named after my great, great Aunt Florence (who is shown on the left). My great, great Aunt Flossie was born in 1882 and was the first women to go to college in our family. She graduated from Tufts University in 1904. She then went on to be one of the first women to work for the State Department of Corporations and Taxation. She worked for the state until she retired in 1947.

My "Dee" victorian doll pattern is named after my Grandmother Doris (who is shown below). My Grandmother "Dee" was born in 1896, went on to college and graduated with a teaching degree in 1917.

My great, great Aunt "Flossie" was a true believer of women's rights, as was my Grandmother "Dee". Both women were very intelligent and were very strong women. Both were very confident in themselves and both held strong beliefs and convictions. They both were believers in women's rights. Their beliefs definitely had a profound affect on my mother which, in turn, had an affect on me.

As an aside. I just love asides, don't I? The only weakness in my Grandmother as far as women's rights were concerned had to do with the wearing of pants. She strongly disagreed with this fashion statement and was very critical of my Mother for wearing them. I never saw my Grandmother in anything but a dress or skirt. God forbid a bathing suit. Yikes!

In any event, where is all this leading us. In thinking about all of this I came to the sad realization that some of the young women of today don't realize how difficult the path for women's rights has been and how important the right to vote is. Some don't realize how far women's rights have come.

Just the difference in rights between now and 35 years ago when I started working is staggering. While the changes in the workplace are very evident and promising, they still have a long way to go. When I started working "old boy networks" were the norm. Women really weren't wanted in the workplace. Most of the boards of directors of all the companies were men. All of the executives, to be sure, were. All the politicians were men. And so on, and so on, and so on.... A women executive, no way. The men would say "they don't have the skills." I would argue "how can we get the skills if you never give us a chance?"

My grandmother and great, great Aunt lived in some amazing times for women. They would be astonished at the accomplishments of women today. That said, however, we still have not had a female President, the number of females in Congress is still far too little and one of the only two females on the Supreme Court has just retired.

The women in my Grandmothers and great, great Aunts day had to fight for their rights and fight for the right to vote. We've come a long way, baby (how true). Yet, we've still got a long way to go.