Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sophie in her 1840 dress

Sophie up in her club house, contemplating life,
or at least how on earth she got up there in that skirt.

These photos uploaded backwards, it seems...
Sophie, just recovering from a spin and twirl session


That's her very special cow she's holding.
There was not too much cooperation in store for me in attempting to get photos of her today. I took some in color, but they came out even worse than these! Her dress is red, her stockings cream with red diamonds, white bloomers with tucks and ruffles at the hem, and her brown velvet maryjanes are trimmed with ruched brown polished cotton and antique buttons.
She was so cute. I just love her.

A silly little girl

Sophie's Civil War Cross Dressing Elmo

Made this dress for Sophie, here at age two

It's a little big for her...but does wonders for the Cinderella effect!

She actually thinks this is FUN. I'll allow her to follow this disillusion as long as I can get away with it.

It's been almost a year since these photos were shot of Sophie helping out around the house...oddly, she has developed a sudden aversion to picking up after herself, but she still likes to 'mop' and 'clean' windows. More work for someone else later, but it's totally worth the entertainment.
Today I will try and get some more photos of her in this dress, it should actually fit her by now, and I made her another long sleeved one that is more 1840's-50's. That one's a little close fitting so I need to get photos of her in it because it won't last too long on her.
Still working on my little Hope doll....Alice is now in a box so I don't see her giving me dirty nasty looks from across the room because I dissed her in favor of a new project. Hope has her head on her body, all primed and ready to paint, will try to get photos of her 'naked' before she gets a face and an outfit!
Finally not so sick anymore, but that's only temporary, I'm sure. When you have a green slimy nosed tot climbing all over you all day, you are sure to be reinfected in no time flat.
But, ahhhhh.....they're only little for a short time, and you've gotta enjoy it as much as you can, boogers and all!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Guilty pleasures

My newest eye candy addiction!

Man, being sick on a Saturday is the pits. Got sick early last Sunday evening, thought for SURE that I'd be feeling better by the bloody weekend. Guess this is the flu. So, since my Saturday has been stolen from me by disease carrying toddlers out to destroy the planet, I felt that I needed to spoil myself today.

Started the day with a late breakfast at my favorite Saturday watering hole, Hob Nob Hill. I go every weekend, and if I am too sick and spreading germs, I don't care. Their breakfast is totally worth it. I mean, they spoil you the old fashioned way....if you order an iced tea, they bring you a little plate with a doilie and a chilled ice tea spoon. If you order soup, you get the plate and doilie with a hot spoon. It's like having your grandmother fuss over you. The waitresses all wear their oldie uniforms. They all know you by name...but when you are someone like me who insists on showing up and bothering them every Saturday, they get used to you. They will be on the Food Network (channel 67) this Monday night at 7pm on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I am setting my DVR. If you live in San Diego, you HAVE to try this restaurant, it's been there forever.

Since I am feeling like #$%&, I came home from breakfast and took a nap. Got up at 4pm and sat my fat self down in my pj's for a dose of my newest guilty pleasure, "Cranford"...BBC period production. Hilarious, and eye candy to boot. I love love love the BBC. I love British television, British people, British accents, British history....everything but their food probably. Except the scones. And tea. Had some hot lemon tea with honey to go with my Cranford. Did a little tiny bit of work on my Alice, but she's been a persnickety teenager this last week and doesn't want her 'mother' pestering her. She just wants to be left alone, damn it. Found a chair for her on ebay but some other needy soul feels they also need this same exact chair and is annoyingly driving up my bid.

So I did what I always do, when my dolls get moody and don't want me touching them. I leave them unfinished and start another one just to piss them off. My newest child is one I haven't tried before, she's a little African American girl who I have already named Hope in honor of our new leader. I have her little face pretty much worked out, and her dress fabric is Civil War reproduction white with blue and red print. I think she will be sort of like an Izannah, but not quite. I don't think I could pull off an Izannah. I have a feeling she will be done before I get Alice done. But that's Alice's problem, not mine. I think she forgot I am the queen around here and she should be super nice to me and not cop an attitude if she wants to be completed.

Anyhooos, hopefully I will get a substantial amount of work done on one of these girls I have decided that I will feel better, even if I don't. I am the queen of denial and this has worked pretty well for me so far.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Resurrecting Alice

Mr. Carroll's Muse

Well, it's a lovely summer-like Sunday morning here in Sunny San Diego where we apparently no longer have a cool 'winter' season. This morning I am working on Alice Liddell, the 'real' Alice in Wonderland. She's been in cold storage for a couple of years now, and she looked pretty unappealing to me when I got her out. As I mentioned earlier, I ripped off her hair, sculpted new 'hair' and have given her some actual shoulders! Her body was unstable and wonky, so I decided this is simply because she is tired and can't stand anymore. She is over 150 years old, after all. No wonder she's unsteady on her feet. So I altered her legs, she can sit now, with legs bent and new 'knees'. But she keeps falling backwards, so I am in the process of giving her some junk in the trunk. This gal needs a booty and bad. Unfortunately, no matter how big it gets, it still isn't letting her sit up quite like I'd like.

Also, I have to start a search for a suitable chair, since she is a lady and doesn't want to sit criss cross applesauce on the floor. I tried Tuesday Morning, which always USED to have lovely miniature upholstered chairs there when I didn't need one. I suppose ebay is my next step. Wish I knew how to make and upholster furniture.

Still trying to work out a color combination for Alice's new clothes. I have some lovely antique silk faille in a gold color from a dress made around 1870. It had turquise blue silk trim, but that's too decimated to use. I have some vintage silk from Japan that my Dad bought for my Mom in nearly the same shade, so that would probably work. Alice has red stockings, but I think she wants something a little more jazzy and whimsical now that she'll be sitting and her ankles will be more noticeable. I am considering thin red and white stripes.

The original doll depicts Alice as an adult, contemplating her that was possibly taken advantage of, one that became public view, and the fantasy created from it. She was holding the pocket watch, to represent the White Rabbit, and to show that time stands still for no man, even famous little girls who must grow up. She wore dark clothing...not mourning clothes exactly, there was some red in them to attach to the many themes of red in the book. She held the original Alice book in her hands (I replicated the appearance of the original first edition), with the grinning Cheshire Cat at her feet, and the Red Queen staring up at her, holding a portrait of Alice taken by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) as a child...sort of a 'remember who you were...who this man MADE you' sort of thing. They all stood on a chess board, and there were some cards lying at her feet as well. Had to squeeze the Queen of Hearts in there somewhere. Copied early playing cards to do this.

This time, I am trying to make Alice more of a teenager, who isn't quite so serious (but her face still is, because she was a serious girl) with more colorful clothes, sitting down with the book and perhaps the Cheshire Cat in her arms. I might keep the pocket watch in there somewhere, too. Don't know if I'll keep the chess board base or not. But I do want her to be a little more whimsical, and not too dark. I think the Red Queen has to go...I never liked her anyway!

When I get Alice looking like she's getting somewhere, I'll post some pics. For now, just the one I have that exists from the IOLCC show will do. And any ideas would be welcomed!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Debbie, these are for you!

Lafayette Cemetery
Garden District

New Orleans Cemeteries are known as "the cities of the dead"

Jackson Square
French Quarter

Bourbon Street
French Quarter
( I got quite a kick out of this sign!)

Abandoned French Quarter Creole Townhouse
Esplanade Avenue

Garden of same mansion

Side view of abandoned mansion

Laura Plantation Slave quarters

Builders and Original Occupants of Laura Plantation
Formerly called "l'habitation Duparc"
Guillaume and Nanette Duparc nee Prud'Homme
(Doesn't she look like a sweetheart? Just don't get on her bad side;
she had a tendency to have her intials branded on both cheeks of slaves who ran away)
She got hers in the elderly invalid during the Civil War, the family left her behind
in her bed while the Yankees were shelling the house. There was nothing left of her.

Front of Laura Plantation
'maison principale' or "big house"

Front porch of Laura Plantation

On our recent Christmas vacation to New Orleans, we stayed in a Victorian House bed & breakfast fronting Louis Armstrong park at the edge of the French Quarter. Nice place! A former Storeyville bordello, our room fronted the house on the second floor. 14 foot ceilings. 'Six over Nine' windows that slid from the floor into the walls above, allowing us to walk through onto the private balcony. Floor to ceiling lace curtains. Fireplace, original hardwood floors and oriental carpets. Four poster bed, extremely high. Clawfoot bathtub in bathroom, with it's own 6 over 9 floor to ceiling window! HEAVEN!!!!!

Nice room, if you don't have to stay in it. Being very short and very stout, I had an extraordinarily difficult time hoisting myself up into the bed, and the first night I slept in it, when getting out in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I forgot I was about 2 feet higher than normal. The trip to the floor was MEMORABLE, and not in a good way.

Eventually, I began to remember to slowly slide down to the floor when getting out of the bed.

A Bed and Breakfast that has 14 foot ceilings, has a staircase of about 10 steps more than a normal contemporary staircase does. 25 extremely steep, narrow stairs to climb every single damn time you think you are ready to head out the door and realize you forgot some random but necessary thing waaaaaaaaay up there, in your room.

After we finally remembered everything we needed for our first day out, and spending an entire day walking throughout the French Quarter we drug ourselves back late that night. Standing at the foot of those stairs, exhausted....looking up to the second floor landing, so far, far away, I cursed myself for being too good to stay in a damn Ramada Inn where they have ELEVATORS.

But then again, who was more deserving of a long, hot soak in an old, deep clawfoot tub, looking out through the lace curtains down onto the street below enjoying a glass of wine? Forgot to buy the wine at the market three blocks away. The water came out of the spigot with the speed of a thick hot lava flow. Ice cold and barely warmed up. No way to keep the water in the friggin' tub. Shoved a washcloth down the drain but that doesn't quite work.

You'd have thought I'd have learned a lesson about Victorian scale furnishings and equipment from the night before when I fell out of the bed. But NO. Forgetting that clawfoot bathtubs are by their nature much deeper than a normal tub, and that this itself is yet another 6 or 7 inches off the ground, trying to get in was it's own adventure. But it was the getting out that was nearly fatal. Totally ate it, wound up nearly going through the 6 over 9 window right next to the tub. I can only imagine the show the 15 cab drivers parked along the opposite side of Rampart Street got that night through the lace curtains.
The charming antique toilet, with it's oak tank cover and pull flusher up near the ceiling, ran all night long. The lights from Rampart street blinded us in our room all night long. The drunk people emerging from the French Quarter looking for cabs, whooping and yelling ....all night long. I just HAD to stay in a French Quarter historical B & B.

Next time, screw the charm and history. I'm staying at the Hilton.

We mostly did the historical sights, toured the 1850 House in the Pontalba Building on Jackson Square. Toured also the Beauregard-Keyes House and the Urseline Convent. Visited the Cabildo and Presbytere museums on Jackson Square, the Mint, took a buggy ride, stopped in to visit with pirate Jean Lafitte for a drink in his old Blacksmith Shop. Didn't do too much partying on Bourbon Street, we're too old and had to be in bed by 10pm. Plus, we knew we'd never make it up the steps to our room alive if we were drunk. And if the trip up the stairs didn't kill us, some piece of furniture in the room would.

Took the St. Charles streetcar into the Garden District, and me, who'd been there before 12 years ago and therefore didn't need to do any planning...couldn't figure our way around. But we did find the Lafayette Cemetery, and Ann Rice's former home.

Got wise and rented a car in order to visit some plantations. Saw Oak Alley first, pretty much like going to Disneyland, where they sort of forget about the people that made that lifestyle possible, the slaves. Middle aged women in polyester 'period clothing' that if made correctly, only young teenagers would have worn. Being somewhat educated on historicity of what their clothing should have looked like, this nearly drove me over the edge. Didn't take any photos of Oak Alley because I was not impressed.

Next stop, St. Joseph Plantation. Newly restored by original family who's always been there, this was pretty primitive and my favorite in it's simplicity.

Last stop, Laura Plantation. Under restoration during my visit 12 years prior, I was thrilled to be able to finally see it. Lovely place, and they acknowledge to some degree the reason these people were able to live the Creole lifestyle...the slaves. A little honesty goes a long way.

Since we had a car for the night, we decided to venture into the Garden District to go out to a nice dinner, after a week of eating in the Quarter. I was to select the restaurant, from the passenger seat of the car and nothing else to go on. Saw a well lit, fanciful fun looking place called the something or other grill. Went through hell finding a parking spot. Turned out to be a Mexican restaurant. Which is okay, if you don't work in Old Town, San Diego and are surrounded by the best Mexican cuisine all year long. And New Orlean's Mexican food is NOT like the goods you get in San Diego. Somebody was NOT very happy with me for selecting, through no fault of my own, something very NON New Orleanian. Geez. Then we got lost going back to our B&B. Somebody didn't pay attention to the backseat driver next to him in the passenger seat and we wound up in a very, very, very NOT OKAY part of New Orleans in the dark of night. I suppose if I hadn't goofed up on dinner, he'd have listened to my directions and we would have had a very uneventful, unmemorable evening. ( I think somebody was still grouchy from the 2 hour time-share promotion I let us get suckered into earlier in the day)

All in all, the mix-ups and misunderstandings made our trip more fun, and we did get to sneak into a French Quarter abandoned house for sale, which was the creepiest thing in the world. I think we had a fabulous time, and I wouldn't change a minute of it. Except for the view the cabbies across the street got of my fat naked self hurtling against the window as I stumbled out of the tub.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Marie Laveau, The Voodoo Queen of New Orleans....the real one, and my mini Marie!

The Family Tomb of Marie Laveau
Infamous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans
Portrait alleged to be Marie Laveau
Painted in 1837 by George Catlin

My interpretation of Marie Laveau
complete with pet snake Zombie, and a rosary to reflect the Catholic
influence on the Voodoo faith (somewhere I lost her bag of gris-gris).
(sorry, but my photography skills are non-existent!)

Marie's also known as The Widow Paris

First husband Jacques Paris mysteriously vanished
after most likely fathering the first two of Marie's children,
both of whom likely died as young children. It's whispered that Marie
hexed him with some voodoo, but the reality is, he was just one of those guys who ran
away from his responsibilities.

Marie's second husband, Christophe Duminy de Glapion stuck around quite a bit longer, fathering several more children, though likely NOT the 15 that is normally reported (more like 7, hmm...just like in my family!) There are many legends about Marie that are not based upon fact, such as that she danced in Congo Square with her pet python "Zombie"... writhing, conjuring, etc....tabloid reporting didn't start in this century, folks. It's always been around!

At any rate, Ms. Laveau was a woman ahead of her time, a Free Person of Color in a time of slavery in the deep south, who made her own living, raised her own children, and owned her own slaves. Much of her reputation is undeserved, she seemed to be a compassionate person, visiting condemned prisoners, helpful to her neighbors, and generally misunderstood by outsiders fearful of the uniqueness and differences of those outside their own culture. Perhaps she took advantage of these fears held by the Old Europeans and New Americans in her city. Maybe she played it to the hilt and had the last laugh. Can you blame her?

Her lineage is that of African, Native American and French. In making my doll, I attempted to depict these features, and also her age at about 1837, which would have been her late 30's to 40. In those days, women aged more quickly so I tried to show this in her face. I hope I came close to accomplishing this.

Marie's clothing is made from antique cotton mourning fabric in an appropriate scale print, and she wears the typical 'ballet' style slippers made from black antique silk ribbon. I painted her stand to simulate the early floorcloths popular in the early 19th century. She wears the popular 'tignon', a wrapped head piece to cover the hair of Women of Color in New Orleans in the 1800's. While these head wraps were a cultural identity...they were also used as a means around a nasty little law enacted against Women of Color due to the jealousy of the Creole French and Spanish and American Caucasian women in town. The Women of Color were just a little too pretty, a little too exotic and a little too tempting to the menfolk for these ladies' liking, so all Women of Color, Free or not, were required to cover their that was going to keep the men from noticing how lovely they were!

Unlike most of my dolls, Marie does have a mohair wig instead of sculpted paperclay. It is center parted, with braids looping over the ears, typical for the style of the time. I wanted to give her hoop earrings, but they pushed the hair loops straight out to the sides and this gave Marie a decidely undignified, dorky appearance. Just not acceptable for the formidable, renowned Voodoo Queen!

I really like Marie, and I hope that someday, someone makes a really fabulous Biopic on her. Queen Latifah would make a wonderful Marie Laveau!

By the way, I just got back from New Orleans, spent my Christmas vacation there, so that visit made me reminisce on this subject. Will write more on my trip in the next days.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Resurrecting old dolls

Marie Laveau, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans
2007 IOLCC (Imitation of Life Construction Company) International Doll Challenge

Spent a glorious day in sunny San Diego going through my depressing, crammed to the rafters storage unit, pulling out a few of the dolls I made for past doll challenges for the wonderful artist group IOLCC (Imitation of Life Construction Company). I never really took photos of them, so I figured I might as well do that now! It's so strange to look at something you made a long time ago, that you worked really hard on and thought was pretty good....and now suddenly every flaw jumps out at you and slaps you in the face! I still like my Marie Laveau, but she got scratched on her nose and needs a touch up. Her snake Zombie has a hairline crack. My Jenny Lind has mysteriously broken a finger. Finger not to be located. My Theda Bara (the Vamp of the silent film era) has ALSO mysteriously lost a finger. Not to be found. Where in the world did these two little, tiny fingers crawl off to? Something tells me something went horribly awry in the return packaging of the dolls from the show. There are probably two tiny fingers rolling around the San Diego Convention Center...What a disappointment. My Alice Liddell suddenly let me know that she's completely out of proportion...big head, narrow shoulders, short waisted, long legged...I could go on and on. In hindsight the ONLY thing I like about her is her face. Soooo, I have some repair work to do on the others and a complete overhaul of Alice. She got new shoulders this afternoon, and I trashed her homemade wig (first attempt and a lousy one at that at wig making). I am doing what I normally do for my dolls, which is handsculpt their hair from paperclay. Her dress of course will no longer fit, so I have to make her a new one. But she's a nice girl and deserves one, and never really liked the one I forced on her in the first place. I'll post photos of these gals as soon as I get them out of the doctor's office. Ironically, the one I think is the most disappointing, Alice, is the one who won an award. Ain't life strange, how we see our work so differently than others do. Haven't gotten too much done today as I am now addicted to these blog sites, it's like going into a candy store where they locked the door and won't let you out! I am in heaven visiting all these wonderful sights with the fabulous dolls and artwork!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some of my Paperclay dolls

Paperclay over cloth, Sophie reflects the 1830's aesthetic in hair and dress. Her dress is an 1830's Reproduction cotton print, and the lace trim is antique, along with her petticoat and drawers. Her dress features the really large gigot sleeves popular in the era. Sophie is named after one of my most favorite people, whose precocious little face will most likely appear on this blog someday.

Paperclay Doll

I am embarrased to admit I forgot her name! That's very naughty of me, I know. What I do know, is she's Paperclay over cloth, styled in the manner of the late 1830's. I was inspired by the papier mache dolls of the time. Her dress is a muted brown sateen in the style of the 1830's, with the shorter waist, tight upper sleeves and billowy lower gigot sleeves, and pleated front bodice treatment. Her dress, as well as the garments of all my dolls, are completely handsewn in the period correct manner. Her skirt is gauged, and there is tiny self-fabric piping in the appropriate seams.

Victoria Regina

Queen Victoria (or Miss Vickie, as I like to call her) is made from Paperclay over cloth, with fore-arms and legs of Paperclay over cloth. I originally tried to make a cloth Godey's Lady doll, but the pattern was quite complicated and the cloth doll just didn't hold up like she should have and was really wonky looking. So I laid over her head with Paperclay and hand sculped it, adding the clay to the arms and feet. As a result, this little gal has limited movement, so her rigidity fits her role as Mother England. I let her fester abandoned in a drawer for a couple of years trying to determine if I should put her out of her misery and leave her out in the alley to become an unwilling mistress of feral cats, rats and opossums. But I really liked her face so she was saved at the 11th hour. I figured I'd put so much work into her, I might as well give her a dress and see if she improved. She did, enough to rate a new adopted home with someone who loves her, so she was worth the effort. I know she looks much prettier than the real Queen Victoria is generally depicted, but that's okay. I tried to place her at her nicest looking decade, the 1830's. She is wearing an 1830 Reproduction fabric, in the style appropriate to the time, with the slightly higher waist, tight upper sleeves and large lower gigot sleeves. Her daycap is antique striped silk organza, and she sports scarlet slippers under her antique fabric and lace petticoats and drawers. She has a 'dickie' of antique silk organza and a 'mantel' of antique lace which is removeable.


I made this doll for an ebay Rags To Riches Dolls challenge this past Christmas. She is made of cloth with a Paperclay head, arms and legs. She represents the Civil War period and is dressed in a garment typical of children in the early to mid 1860's. Her dress is made from Civil War Reproduction fabric from Rosie's Calico Cupboard in La Mesa, California (what a dreamy place that is!). She wears a period correct bonnet made from vintage Scalamandre velvet, with antique cream soutache trim, with embroidered silk strings (ties). Although you cannot see in this photo, she is wearing a petticoat and bloomers of antique fabric and lace, and striped 'stockings' with deep red Balmoral boots with black 'patent leather' foxing at the heels and toes. She carries her own Nutcracker, when she's in the mood to tote him around. She was lucky enough to find an incredibly good foster home where she is as happy as a clam!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Robin's Egg Bleu
Fine Artist Dolls
Custom Period Correct Clothing for Antique Dolls
Period Correct Custom Clothing for Living Historians
Member of Ebay Groups: Rags To Riches Dolls
Coffee With Tea Dolls
I am a One of a Kind Doll Artist with a focus on Historicity. I have combined my love of history, art, portraiture, sculpture, sewing, design and dolls into a unique hobby that is extraordinarily fulfilling and gratifying.
I am a self-taught artist, spending every spare moment in my childhood on drawing, reading and dreaming. One of those kids that was labeled a chronic 'daydreamer'. I spent hours as a child, quietly loitering behind a sofa or chair listening to the grownups discuss times gone by, fascinated by "the olden days". Lingered over a set of books my parents had...the Time Life series called "This Fabulous Century", pouring over each decade covered volume. Still have those books and would never part with them! They fostered the beginning of my curiosity of history.
Having no prior interest in sewing what-so-ever, I suddenly caught a nesting bug and taught myself to sew at the age of nineteen, when I found myself in a little 'trouble' and figured I wouldn't be able to afford 'off the rack' clothing for the next 18 years or so! The trials and errors of self-teaching have served me well over the years, and I went from sewing McCall's basic fashions for myself and toddlers, to unexpectedly learning the craft of period correct sewing two decades later.
I have two beautiful children, a son and a daughter. While they were little I discovered a little magazine called "Doll Reader". Having been addicted to dolls since childhood, and playing Barbies well into my teens, I was all over that magazine like a cheap suit. Collected every Effanbee celebrity or character doll I could get my hands on. Looking back, I think they were somewhat tacky, but I loved them at the time.
Beginning to read more magazines on Dolls, I discovered a new trend: the Doll Artist. I liked the artists who created limited editions, but fell in love with the idea of 'one of a kind'. Something that would not be replicated is a very special thing. I began to educate myself on the concept and Susanna Oroyan became my new best friend (in my own mind). I wrote her once and ordered her first book, and she was extraordinarily sweet to write back in her own hand with some suggestions. I still have this book and letter, and will never part with them. I think she was a really wonderful lady, and the doll world has lost a very special person.
I discovered the 'craft store' and began to experiment with Sculpey, something a novice like myself could afford to use and set up in my own little kitchen, dispensing with fancy equipment like kilns. I played around with heads, figuring that since I had been drawing portraits with great success since my teens, sculpture should be a piece of cake for untrained little ole' me. Not so, however I did see that my work showed promise of a sorts.
Life and kids took me away from furthering this interest in dollmaking until only recently.
I had begun to volunteer at a historic house museum on weekends. The curators put in place a period clothing program for their docents and when they found out I could sew, they were very, very happy folks. My sewing skills took a new direction as did my interest in historical fashion. Costumes were not good enough, these clothes had to be the real deal. With much encouragement from a highly educated mentor, I began pouring through Victorian fashion periodicals, CDV's, Daguerreotypes, and contemporary books from authorities on the subject of period clothing.
I have now outfitted countless Museum Docents, Living Historians and Civil War Reenactors. I specialize in Civil War clothing for women and girls, but do create the occasional Gentleman's Waistcoat and Shirt. Had great ambitions to teach myself to make the Gentleman's Frock Coats and pants...those plans on hold in favor of 'girlie' projects. I hate making the men's shirts because they are white and boring in contrast to the vivid colors of the reproduction fabrics used for dresses. Proper waistcoat fabrics aren't that easy to come by, so I don't do too many of those.
While working at the Museum, an antique china doll was the NUDE! This was just not acceptable so my services were requested to make a decent lady of her. I figured I didn't need a pattern, I knew what the pattern pieces looked like in real size so I was able to custom outfit dolly.
This triggered a new interest, that of becoming an Ebay addict, searching for my own early antique china dolls in need of love and a wardrobe. Soon I developed not only an addiction for Ebay china doll pursuits, but an addiction to Rosie's Calico Cupboard, San Diego purveyor of fine historical reproduction fabrics. Next thing I know, I had hoarded dozens of yards of fabrics, made a few too many dresses for dollies that can only wear one at a time.
I decided I'd better figure out what I was going to do with this to manage and feed it at the same time with justification to limited space and money. It dawned on me how many antique china dolls I saw for sale on Ebay...naked or horrifyingly clothed.
So I began to list some of my china doll dresses on Ebay. Have had good success with this so far! This supplied me with the funds to support my newest sickness....collecting Civil War era CDV's. CDV's are Cartes De Visites...small, calling card sized photographs. I collect whatever images I can afford which depict girls with dolls (so far only china, cannot afford that special rarity with an Izannah Walker), or outerwear, or spectacular garments. So far, I have had the best luck with the CDV's from Paris or London. The German CDV's are pretty good too!
I then figured that making a doll to wear one of my little dresses would be more rewarding than just fitting a dress to an existing one. So I began to play around with Sculpey again, then PaperClay. I don't care much for the Sculpey, I just have too many problems with the material. But I LOVE PaperClay!
So far, I have made only dolls with a historical focus but still sew custom dresses for early China dolls and I really enjoy custom dressing antique French Fashion Dolls from the 1870's & 1880's.
For the French Fashion dolls, I only use antique fabrics, notions and trims...and boy, finding brown polished cotton to line these dresses is a bear! But they must look like a genuine antique in style, fabric and construction, in order to look appropriate to the doll. This is very fulfilling to me, because I get to design a bit, with respect to what was appropriate historically.
My interests have created a sort of attention deficit monster, in that I can't decide which to stick to; making dolls, dressing antique dolls, and dressing living historians.
So I do them all!
I have never created a blog, so this will be a work in progress even more to the umpteenth degree than one would consider all blogs are by their nature a work in progress!
Bear with me and I will try to get photos uploaded, try occasionally to insert words of wisdom (if I can think of any) and God willing, this will be not a horrible thing for a reader to navigate!
By the way...having tooted my own horn quite loudly here, I must add that I have a bevy of beautiful and talented sisters who have their own blogs here, and as soon as I figure out how to link them up I shall!