Tuesday 21 April 2009

Dolly days

Meet Louisa. Isn't she a sweetie? She's the oldest member of my little doll family and dates from the 1860s. I found her on Ebay a few years ago. She was seeking a good home and my heart was lost as soon as I saw her.


Her head is wax over composition (hence the hairline cracks) and her eyes are glass. I adore old dolls but perfect condition is never important to me. I prefer the loved and played-with look and Louisa would surely have lots of secrets to share if only she could talk.


She has a cloth body stuffed with straw and carved wooden hands and forearms that adjoin cloth upper arms attached to her body at the shoulders.


Her boots and lower legs are also made of wood and are attached to upper legs made of cloth. Her pretty muslin dress and underwear are in excellent condition.


Over the years I've spend many happy hours reading about old dolls and have a varied collection of books about them.


Vintage prints of little girls and their dollies appeal to me greatly. This gorgeous woodcut dates from the 16th century. I often dream of owning a REALLY old doll but they are exceedingly rare and if by chance I ever found one I know I wouldn't have sufficient funds to acquire it, so I dream on.


By complete contrast let me show you a doll I made at school when I was eight years old. Funny little thing isn't she! All the children in my class were asked to bring 'scraps' from home to create a dolly from a wooden peg (clothespin). Just look at her funny little blue arms! They are wire from a vintage TV my dad was repairing at the time. And guess what! My little peg doll won 'first prize'. The teacher gave me a silver sixpence which she said was 'for luck'. In England sixpences have been given as tokens of good luck for over 400 years.

Being given a silver sixpence must have ignited my love of doll making because I've been making them (large and small) ever since .


I like making small things best so peg dolls have always been a favourite.


Recently I experimented with polymer and paper clays as I wanted to try putting larger heads onto the pegs and give each face a tiny nose. I wanted to try making tiny arms as well.


And here is the new head viewed from the back. You can see it is quite a bit larger than the original peg head. After several coats of paint and varnish I added...


.... the eyes and mouth.Then came the hair and the tiny clothes.


And here is the finished dolly enjoying a cup of tea in the dolls house. I'm very pleased with the way she turned out. She has a pert little nose and her little (sculpted) arms are attached to thin wire so they will bend. Her legs remain 'peg-shaped'. I made her a Kate Greenaway style dress, petticoat, pantaloons and apron plus a mop cap to protect her curls.


Here she is again with a tiny lace bag in which she keeps.....


 .....a shiny sixpence 'for luck'.