Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Innu Tea Doll


In researching my article on "faceless" dolls I came across a type of doll that I had never heard of before who has a fascinating history. The dolls are called "Innu Tea Dolls" and were made by the Innu people from Nitassinan (Quebec and Labrador) Canada. The Innu have been making dolls for a very long time.

According to history the Innu people were always on the move. As such, space to carry items was always at a premium. When the Innu people traveled to their hunting grounds everyone had to carry their fair share, including the children. Innu women would sew the dolls and stuff them with tea. The tea dolls were intended to be carried by the children and would hold two or three pounds of loose tea. When the main supply of tea ran out, the dolls were opened and the tea inside was shared. The dolls would then be stuffed with caribou moss to retain their shape and then given to the children as toys.

The illustration at the top of this article is of an Innu Tea Doll that was given to the Smithsonian Institute by Lucien M. Turner in the early 1880's. According to the Innu.ca website he obtained some of the Innu Tea Dolls from the Innu people who came out of the Hudson Bay Company post to trade. The Innu of Labrador are the last known hunter/nomadic people of North America.

I hope to visit the Smithsonian one of these days. That is, when I'm not crafting or sewing. When I do I'll be sure to look for the Innu Tea Doll.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My Linda's Blog Is One Year Old Today!

Today is June 22, 2006 and my Linda's Blog is 1 year old.

I can hardly believe it. I started my Linda's Blog one year ago today and have written and posted close to 200 articles to date.

I would never have thought I was capable of writing so much a year ago and never would have imagined that I would love blogging so much. It is such a terrific tool for a small business owner.
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Linda's Blog. You're one year old today.


Monday, June 19, 2006

I Just Love These Cards!


Two years ago when my Mother and I were at a Sewing & Quilt Exposition we came across a booth that was selling these wonderful "Quilt-a-Card" kits. The kits contained die-cut cards and envelopes. The cards were pre-cut stencils that you would pop out. Then you would sew your fabric to the stenciled opening of the card using your sewing machine and a zig-zag stitch. Depending on the design of the card you might then add padding or other decorations, such as buttons, ribbon, etc.

They were absolutely wonderful so I decided to buy some of the kits and make some of the cards for Christmas presents for my mother, sister, and sister-in-law. I combined 6 cards together and tied them in a little ribbon and then wrapped them in their Christmas box. I could tell from the expressions on my mother, sister, and sister-in-law's faces when they opened them that they just loved them. We're a "crafting" family and just love getting handmade items.

Of course, they can't compete with my niece Laura's handdrawn Christmas cards every year but, they were nice enough. Laura's cards are so wonderful that I'm going to tell you about them in another article.

My sister told me that she thought that the cards were so beautiful that she wanted to keep them all herself and would never send them to anyone. I told her that wasn't the purpose but, they were her cards. She could do what ever she wanted with them. To this day my mother, sister, and sister-in-law have all kept their cards. Unfortunately, none have been mailed to anyone else. What a shame. No one else gets to see them. But, hey that's their decision.

Last year when my mother and I went to the Sewing & Quilt Exposition I looked for the "Quilt-a-Card" booth. I was sadly disappointed as they weren't at the show. I had wanted to buy some more. Foolishly, I hadn't kept the original packaging so I didn't know what the company name was or if the designer had a website. I didn't even bother to search on the web as the paper/scrapbooking business is too huge now and I would have gotten thousands of results in a Google search. I resigned myself to never finding the kits again. I left the show disappointed.

This year when my mother and I went to the Sewing & Quilt Exposition (which I wrote about in a previous article on my Linda's Blog entitled "We've Got Sewing In Our Bones!") I was pleasantly surprised to find the designers had a booth again. I was ecstatic. I know. I'm a little crazy!

Plus, they had some new designs. I was in definitely in heaven. Hey, that's me. I love anything related to dolls, genealogy, florals, and crafting. So, I decided that this year some of the Christmas cards that I would be mailing to my family and friends would be my handmade "Quilt-a-Cards." At least this time they would be sent out.

While I was paying for all my card kits (and there were a lot of them) I told the owners that I was thrilled they had a booth again and that I had missed them the previous year. They told me that they hadn't been able to attend the previous year due to some personal issues. I told the owners that I just loved their card kits and wondered if they had a website. Of course, they do. It's called "Paper Creations" and is at www.papercreations.com .

Of course, when I went home I had to go on the internet to check out their website. I shouldn't have as I'll probably be ordering more kits. They have a wonderful website called "Paper Creations and Atlas Coffee Mill." The "Quilt-a-Card" kits are on the website as well as "Quilt-a-Tag" kits, which I'm going to order next. They also have scrapbook kits and paper supplies, etc.

PLUS, they offer online classes almost every day of the month. How GREAT is that! I want to take a class. Of course, I'd never have time to take the class but I do want to. Maybe I can fit one in before the end of the summer.

So, I left the Sewing & Quilt Exposition happy as could be. I'd found my card kits again. All was right with the world. Yeah! I know. It doesn't take much to make me happy. I hope the owners don't mind. I just had to tell you about these wonderful Quilt-a-Card kits.

Graphics courtesy of www.papercreations.com .

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My "Dollie Sewing 101 - Tips and Tricks"



I have been sewing, crafting, and designing floral arrangements for over 40 years now and have learned a few tips and tricks along the way. So, I thought I might share some of those tips and tricks with you. SHHHHH!!!! They're secrets so you have to promise not to tell anyone. Is that a deal?

They might be tips or tricks for beginners or tips and tricks for more experienced crafters and/or sewers. Maybe they'll even be some for all of you who are in between. I promise they will be interesting and informative. You might get a chuckle or two. They may not be the way everyone else does it either.

So, stay tuned. Don't forget. They're our secret. SHHHHH!!!!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Our Victorian "Faceless" Poll Results

I've posted a couple of articles on my Linda's Blog during the last year concerning the poll I am running on my Linda Walsh Originals website.

The poll concerns my Victorian "Lady" series of faceless dolls. The question is "Should our Victorian Dolls remain faceless?" For awhile we were running in favor of faceless. Now we are running in favor of faces.

Out of 56 votes, 21 or 37% feel the dolls should remain faceless. That means 35 or 63% feel that they should have faces. Of the 56 votes 1 vote was from a male and 55 were from females.

For those of you that love our "faceless" Victorians I have good news. We will continue to carry "faceless" dolls and I will continue to design "faceless" Victorians. Personally, I love the "faceless" Victorians and love to design them.

But, for those of you who like Victorians with "faces" I also have good news. I'm currently in the process of designing some Victorians with "faces." Something for you to look forward to. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind and decide that I like "faces" better. Nah!!!!! That will never happen!

Thanks to everyone for taking our poll.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

The History Of Faceless Dolls


If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know that I just LOVE research. In thinking about my recent post on my Victorian "faceless" dolls I started to wonder exactly what the history of faceless dolls was. So, of course I had to find out.

I figured that there had to be a history of faceless dolls or, at least, some cultures and norms. Believe it or not but there isn't a lot of information on either the history of faceless dolls or cultures and norms that started such a tradition.

There is some information on two of the most popular and widely known faceless dolls - Amish dolls and Corn husk dolls. And there is the legend surrounding Raggedy Ann and "faceless" dolls. I was also surprised that there wasn't more information on "faceless" dolls throughout history. I thought for sure that they had to have been around for a long, long time.

In doing my research, what I was pleasantly surprised with was the application of "faceless" dolls for so many current charities or organizations. More on that a little later.

Probably the oldest legend has to do with "faceless" Corn-husk dolls. Some say they are the oldest form of doll known in America. The corn-husk doll shown to the right is a picture of a corn-husk doll that is in the USU Museum of Anthropology.

According to Iroquois legend the Iroquois people had three sisters - corn, beans, and squash or the "sustainers of life." The corn spirit wanted to do something extra for her people so the Creator allowed her to create a beautiful doll from her husks which was to roam the earth and bring brotherhood and contentment to the Iroquois nation. The doll went from village to village playing with the children. Everywhere she went everyone would tell her how beautiful she was.

One day this very, very beautiful doll went into the woods and saw herself in a pool of water. She saw how very, very beautiful she was and this caused her to become very vain and naughty. Kind of sounds like my "Celia" doll, doesn't it? Anyway, the dolls vanity and attitude did not sit well with the people or the Creator. The Creator warned her that this was not the right kind of behavior. She paid attention for a while (as all dolls do) but caught sight of herself in a pool of water again and thought to herself how beautiful indeed she was.

Suddenly out of the sky came a giant screeching owl that snatched her reflection right out of the water. When she looked again at the poll of water she saw nothing. This was her punishment. She would have no face and would roam the earth forever looking for something to redeem herself. Iroquois mothers passed the legend and "faceless" corn husk dolls down to their children to remind them that vanity is a bad thing and that they are not better than anyone else.

The Amish have strong religious beliefs which influence their daily lives. Their dress is plain and simple and so are the dolls they make for their children. According to the Amish tradition, the Bible says that you are not supposed to make anything that is in the image or likeness of a male or female. For that reason the dolls are "faceless."

In some Amish homes even "faceless" dolls were forbidden. Instead of a doll the children were given a piece of wood wrapped in a blanket. Since very few toys were allowed in an Amish household, boys and girls both played with the dolls. Both boy and girl dolls were made.

If you were to examine an old Amish doll you might see 4 or 5 layers of cloth on the head or the body. If the doll became too dirty, ripped or worn then it was covered with a new piece of material.

Most Amish women have been making dolls ( faceless and with faces) for their children for generations. This tradition has become a cottage industry for the Amish community. The picture top and left is of a popular "faceless" Amish boy and girl doll.

Over 20 years ago I bought a similar set of "faceless" Amish dolls. My dolls had on burgundy and black outfits but, pretty much, looked like the picture. I would have included a picture of my two "faceless" Amish dolls in this article but I can't remember where they are right now. They're here somewhere.

As far as Raggedy Ann is concerned, one of the legends surrounding her creation is that a little girl was rummaging around her Grandmother's attic and finds a faceless, battered old doll. She brings the doll into her fathers art studio and tells him all about finding it in the attic. He looks at his daughter and the faceless doll and decides to draw a whimsical face on it and then tells her to see if her Grandmother would sew two button eyes on. And so Raggedy Ann was born.

In doing my research on faceless dolls I was delighted to run across some websites concerning the application of "faceless" dolls today and why they were chosen or made "faceless." One of the websites concerned the Children With Aids Project (CWA) which was created by Joy and Jim Jenkins. CWA offers a variety of services to children infected or affected by AIDS. One of these services is giving "faceless" dolls to the children infected or affected by Aids. Why did they decide to make and sell "faceless" dolls. Because AIDS is a "faceless" disease. According to their CWA website, by buying one of the dolls you can support their mission to recruit families to provide loving, caring permanent homes for the HIV infected, affected and orphaned children.

Another article about "faceless" dolls concerned the dolls of Gloria Larocque. She has created 100 or more "faceless" dolls based upon the Iroquois legend that warns young girls about the dangers of vanity. According to the article her purpose, however, is different. Her dolls represent Canada's murdered aboriginal women, a group made faceless not by vanity but by neglect. Her project has helped draw attention to the plight of the murdered aboriginal women.

On the Girl Scouts of South Jersey Pines (GSSJP) website there was an article about a Girl Scout who made and donated 32 faceless dolls to the Pediatrics Department of the Salem Memorial Hospital to help ease the childrens fears of being in the hospital. The dolls were made out of muslin with bright striped and tye-dyed polar fleece t-shorts. The faces were left blank. Attached to each doll was a piece of paper that told the child to "give the doll a face to make it their own."

And, finally, there was article by Brenda Tobias on the Cornell University website concerning Hurricane Katrina and something the alumni did to help the children affected by Hurricane Katrina. A group of 100 alumni got together to sew "faceless" dolls for the children. Doll decorating kits and coloring books were assembled and sent to the children to comfort them.

I think you all know that I, personally, love faceless dolls. Victorians, primitives, country style. It doesn't matter. I love them all.

Why do I love the faceless doll so much? Because I think be being "faceless' the doll can be anything you want him or her to be.

You create the dolls personality to be exactly what you want it to be.

And, as we've seen from the above mentioned articles the application can be heartwarming, meaningful and beautiful.