Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Made this dress for Sophie, here at age two
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Side view of abandoned mansion
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 end....an 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.
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!!!!!
Monday, January 12, 2009
Infamous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans
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
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 hair...like 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
Thursday, January 8, 2009
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!