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 donated....in 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 addiction....how 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 reasonable...as 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!


  1. Welcome to the world of blogging! Can't wait to see photo's of your work. I will add you to my blog list.

    Happy Blogging,

  2. Thanks so much Doreen...not sure how you found me but I am glad you did! Trying to upload some photos this evening. Wish me success...not having too much so far in figuring out layouts!

  3. Wonderful wonderful work~ your one talented artist for sure. Blessings~ Suzy

  4. So very nice to meet you, I think we have a lot in common!~

  5. I think I missed this post when I came over to visit you the first time. So nice to read about your background, and how you became interested in doll making.