Sunday, December 26, 2010

Newest Izannah Walker style doll

 Here is my latest Izannah Walker style doll!

 She's 18 inches tall, completely hand made from cloth and paperclay.  I never use molds, and she's hand sculpted using photographs of original Izannah Walker dolls.
 She comes with TWO dresses! Both are completely handsewn in the period correct manner. No shortcuts taken on clothing.  Both dresses are made from early 19th century reproduction cotton, which has been treated to convey an antique patina.

Her blue dress features three growth pleats in the skirt, and short puffed sleeves.
 She comes with complete underpinnings; drawers, petticoat and chemise.  All are removeable.
 She's available for sale through this site.  If you are interested in purchasing her, have any questions or wish to see additional photographs, please email me:  
Thanks so much for taking a peek at her!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Well folks, Turkey Time is nearly upon us, and this little gal is going to take full advantage of all that Thanksgiving brings; family, friends, love, delectable delights and yes, that good old overwhelming need children have to speed up Christmas.
 She's stuffed her pretty little face with carbs, specially potatoes, stuffing, corn and bread, bread bread.   Oh yes, let us not forget pumpkin pie.  Slathered with homemade whipped cream.  Being so young, and that she will never grow any larger, she can get away with this.  I am green with envy and living vicariously through her. 
 She's wearing her special 'coral' necklace, which was commonly worn for good luck by Victorian children.  She's also gearing up for the holiday mood by reading her little first edition 'copy' of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.  
Oops...looks like she's overdosed on tryptophan (either that or carbohydrate poisoning) and she's about ready to tip over and pass out.  Smelling salts, anyone?

She is available for adoption this evening on ebay for anyone who'd like to revive her!

Tried to put in my ebay link and it does NOT want to cooperate.  If you're interested in this little gal and take a trip over to ebayland, my user name is: robinseggbleu

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Finally, another dolly!

 Well, after what seemed an eternal summer of not doing anything fun creative wise...I finally got to make another dolly!  And yes, she's another gal inspired by my favorite Victorian dollmaker, Izannah Walker.  Who was likely, as am I...inspired by early 19th century primitive portrait paintings of children.

In the spirit of autumn I whipped up this little gal.  Actually, whipping her up is a bit of a fib.  I made her a year ago and submitted her to "Prims" Magazine.  She finally got into the fall 2010 publication, and recently arrived back home in my mailbox.  After not seeing her in so long, I was a bit shocked to see her again.  She was, I hate to admit, a rush job, and it showed.  Honestly, I didn't think she had a snowball's chance in hades of getting into the I wasn't too worried about not handing in my best work.  Oops.  If you get a chance to peruse this edition, I highly recommend it.  However, she's hiding in the back and doesn't want to be found.  She's embarrassed that I let her out of the house in that condition.

To make amends, I gave her a new face that she and I both are much, much happier with.  I haven't named her, but "Autumn" wouldn't be a terrible choice.  Not too historical perhaps, but hey...I'm feelin' lazy this week.

 As always, she's completely handmade (cloth and paperclay), handsculpted, her clothes are handsewn in the period correct manner.  And she just got finished feeding the chickens.  She's equally at home on the farm or in the city.  She doesn't eat much either.  With a sweet countenance to boot.

This little gal is now up for adoption and available on ebay

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Whaley House

The Whaley House in the 1860's

One of my very favorite places in the world is the Historic Whaley House Museum here in San Diego, California.   As Halloween approaches, I thought it'd be a nice idea to share my favorite haunt with you all.  I have loved this home since driving past at the age of six (well okay, my mom was driving).  It was the very first 'old fashioned' house I'd ever seen, growing up in a 1960's modern subdivision.   It had me at first glance!  I recall saying..."Mommy, what IS that place?"  She shared with me a bit of it's history, and I knew I just had to get in there.  I still recall what I wore on my first visit at the age of 12.  The house was different then than it is now; it was a victim of midcentury restoration practices.   But at least it was saved.   Gone now are the early American reproduction light fixtures, the historic San Diego Trolley that sat in the yard, the ferns and hedges, the wagon wheel rose garden, the Woolworth Mannequins in Antebellum clothing frozen in a life size diorama behind plexiglass, and the dozens of lovely dollies in the nursery.

                        The Thomas Whaley Family in 1860: Thomas, Anna, Francis and baby Anna Jr.

 The Whaley House is a pretty unique place.  It was built on a site occupied by a ghost.  It was built by ghosts.  It was saved by ghosts.  The Whaley House is in itself a ghost.   I're saying that's just not possible.  But it IS! The house was built on property which had been San Diego's execution grounds, just outside 'town.'  Really, a hop, skip and a jump from the main plaza.  A new San Diego resident, young  native New Yorker Thomas Whaley witnessed the hanging of "Yankee Jim" Robinson here in 1852.  A somewhat botched hanging.   A few years later, the property was available for purchase and Whaley, knowing what a good piece of land this was, went ahead and bought it.  He probably didn't tell his bride to be that he'd be building their dream home on the towns hanging ground.  You know how men are sometimes.  What she didn't know certainly wouldn't hurt her...would it?

                                                                          The Parlor

So, Thomas began construction of this home in 1856.  He built a two story brick Greek Revival 'showcase' home in the little dusty frontier pueblo...quite stately among the typical adobe style of construction. Thomas was a merchant, and was very good at making money.  For a short while.  He built this home for his bride, fellow New Yorker Anna Eloise De Launay.  They had six children:  Francis, Thomas Jr., Anna Jr., George, Violet Eloise and Lillian.  They had the best of everything; a Rockaway carriage with a span of sorrels, brussels carpets, mahogany furnishings, etc.  They also had a ghost...Yankee Jim Robinson apparently liked to stomp around in his heavy ghostly boots. 

Now, perhaps it's not a good idea to build upon bloodstained ground.   As quickly as the Whaley's dream lifestyle began it came to a careening halt. The Whaley's lost their store to an, they lost their second son Thomas to Scarlet Fever at 18 months in the house.  Employment continued to elude a bitter, depressed  Thomas Whaley. Son George fell into alcoholism.  Their daughter Violet Eloise committed suicide, shooting herself in the outhouse and subsequently dying in the same room her brother baby Thomas died in.   The Whaley's granddaughter Theresa Eloise died at the age of 10...their 3 year old great granddaughter Marion Eloise ingested ant poison at the house which was fatal.  Lots of family tragedy.   Was the property cursed?  Was the family name of Eloise cursed?  Who knows.  But at any rate...there's been ghostly goings on and bumps in the night in the place since it was built.

The home was the most unique in southern California at the time.  It was the County Seat; the north annex of the home housed San Diego's courtroom.  It was the site of San Diego's first commercial theater, home of  "The Tanner Troupe."  The home housed Thomas' general store.  For all the work Thomas put into the house, they certainly didn't live here much.  They moved to San Francisco in 1858 after the death of little Thomas.  Returned in 1868 and left again in 1885.  Returned to live out their years after the turn of the 20th century.  The home sat alternately rented or unoccupied during the Whaley's absence..

Thomas Whaley passed away in 1890 in another home he'd built in "New Town" San Diego.  Anna Whaley, the matriarch, died in the Whaley House in 1913, followed by her eldest son Francis a year later.  Their daughter Lillian resided primarily alone in the house until her death in 1953.  The house sat abandoned and slowly decayed. 

The Whaley House was slated for demolition in the late 1950's.  Thankfully, this unique home was saved at the 11th hour by a fledgling group of preservationists.  It was opened as a museum in 1960.  Unfortunately, Old Town San Diego was 'the other side of the tracks' at the time and business was NOT booming. It appeared that the Whaley House Museum would have to close it's doors. 

Once again, at the proverbial 11th hour, the home was again saved.  By GHOSTS.   Suddenly, little ghost stories began slipping out and appearing in the San Diego Union.  Predictably, interest in the old brick house picked up.  A San Diego television personality named Regis Philbin agreed to do a fluff piece on the house and spend the night there.  And the rest is history.  Famed ghosthunter Hans Holzer further publicized the house.  The operators even came up with a claim that the California Chamber of  Commerce had declared the Whaley House an 'official' haunted house.

Who is haunting this house, you may wonder?  Well, there's the builder, good old Thomas Whaley himself, his wife Anna, their daughter Violet, possibly the baby Thomas, and of course that scurrilous scoundrel Yankee Jim Robinson.  The original operators apparently made a deal with the Whaley descendants not to discuss either Violet's suicide or little Marion's poisoning.  Instead, they put them in the ghostly witness protection program and came up with alternate identities for their spirits.

The apparition of a suicidal woman holding a knife became 'someone affiliated with the theater', and the ghostly little girl who runs about the property became a neighbor child who ran into a low lying clothesline. 

The Tanner Troupe Theater

 The Whaley House is now operated by the Save Our Heritage Organisation, and among the restoration and improvements they've made to the property, they've also been able to provide many missing puzzle pieces and tell us the truth about the Whaley family...their accomplishments, their joys, their tragedies.  So we know much more now about the spirits who seem to continue to reside within the house's walls.

Many people come to the Whaley House to see a 'ghost'....and walk away thinking they haven't.  But they have.  The Whaley House is in itself a ghost.  It's depicts a way of life and a time that we can glimpse but not fully get our hands on.  No matter the quality, authenticity and beauty of the restoration, in order for us to visit this wonderful place... there are velvet ropes keeping us out of parlors, docents instead of residents, spectators instead of gracious visitors. There is no cashier in the general store, no judge pounding a gavel in the courtroom, the theater stage stands empty.  The organ and guitar are unplayed.  No dishes or laundry or babies being washed in the kitchen tin tub.  No laundry drying on the line in the sunshine outside.  The stove stands ice cold.  No plump little hands to propel the dolls in their carriage.  The pitter patter of little feet have disappeared; replaced by the running stomps of  teenage ghosthunters.  The flicker of candlelight has given way to camera flashes. 

The Whaley & Crosthwaite General Store

I don't know if the Whaley House has ever experienced peace...except when abandoned.   I know there were some happy times in the place, and I prefer to imagine the family in their rare moments of bliss.  Others like to focus on the tragedies.   Or the furniture...the wallpaper, the antiques, the architecture...or the spirits.

Whatever your interests in an old place, if you are ever in San Diego, please do come visit this awesome home.  And while you may not see the can be sure they are probably watching you!  For more information on the Whaley House Museum, it's history and it's restoration, please visit:  and  it's operators, The Save Our Heritage Organisation:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where've I been? In a sweatshop of my own making.

I haven't been able to post anything in a while, and it occured to me that perhaps one or two of you may wonder if perhaps I've perished and am now floating about on the other side of the veil.  Sometimes I wish I were, but not as yet....I've merely become a self-imposed hermit hunched over a Dickensian dimly lit sewing machine in my own little magical sweatshop of my own creation.  And I am completely, positively burned out.

Why, you ask?  Because though I appear to be made of human flesh, my atoms consist primarily of jute and rubber.  What I really am, is a doormat.  And while I am thought to possess a rather broad vocabulary for something one wipes their feet upon...there is one word I have not been able to master vocalizing:   "NO."

Lets just say I've been inundated with requests for large scale custom sewing projects over the last few months that have taken up literally every free moment of my time.  I work 60 hours a week in my 'day' job, so what precious little free time I have, I prefer to spend on my loved ones and my dollmaking.  But...there's that inability to say 'no' to friends and family that prevented this.  I know, I's my own fault.

I spoke with three costumers yesterday, and I find I am in good company.  Seems any one who has worked hard to master sewing skills is literally inundated by constant good natured  requests for favors.  And to keep their sanity, they've all had to learn not only to edit what they do, but also to firmly state the word "NO."  To family, friends and foes alike.  Specifically so that their family and friends do not become their foes.

I have come to the conclusion that in order for me to be able to live a remotely happy life, I need to start making some big changes.  My time is so very, very limited and precious, and I really don't get anything out of sewing slipcovers, pillowcases, sanitary napkin belts or custom clothing.   Slipcovers and gowns take up too much real estate in my 400 square foot cottage.  It's a pain to have to try to lay out fabric for these and crawl around on the floor pining pattern pieces to fabric.  Furthermore, I rarely get paid for these 'favors'.  Sure, there's the occasional treat to lunch or trinket in a lovely little bag.   And that's very sweet.  I do appreciate them.  But a much needed paycheck in a bad economy, these are not.

Most of these individual 'favors' each require about 45 man hours of labor on my part.  I need to think about my retirement and I will be on the streets in a few years if I continue to give up all my free time for free. I find it has become a burden I no longer wish to deal with.  It makes me cranky.  This causes residual crankiness on the part of my husband.  It's affecting my marriage.   At some point, something has to give. 

I realize that most if not all of my loved ones will still love me and  keep me around when I finally tell them the dreaded "no".  And anyone who disappears upon hearing it...well, I suppose they aren't worth keeping around anyway.

So, I'm condemning my sweatshop and closing it down.  No more sewing favors, no more freebies.  No more sewing services, period.  I just don't have time.  Unless, of course, I raised you from infancy.  I've raised six of these gals so I need to limit even them, cause that can add up to a lot of halloween costumes, prom dresses, wedding gowns and christening gowns.  I'm seriously banking on them only wanting designer gowns and taking their business to a showroom floor and not my front porch.  Seriously.  Thank goodness their ages are pretty evenly staggered.

What I want to do with my spare time now is focus on my dollmaking.  So that's what I'm going to do.  And I'm going to love every minute of it! 

By the way...Stampington has been gracious enough to include a bit of my older work in their new publication "Prims", the October 2010 edition.  Eh...I don't make dolls like the ones you'll see in this issue anymore, and truth be told, at this moment I am currently giving them each a new face!  But it's nice to be included among the company of the really great artists you'll see in this magazine!

They were sweet enough to ask for more submissions for their Spring 2011 issue, and since there's a fairly close deadline for that, I'm going to have to really hustle.  So...clearly I don't have time to make those pillowshams for my husband.  Sorry honey...I don't sew pillowshams anymore.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New little cabinet sized friends!

Here are my two newest little friends!
They are 10.5 and 5.5 inches tall and come sitting in their own comfy little windsor arm chair. Yes, the windsor arm chair that blended in so well with my black background that it appears invisible. But it's there...I swear it. While at one time I was head docent in a haunted house museum, my dolls can't levitate. Not yet anyway.

These gals are, as is the usual case, looking for a new home!

They're both made of paperclay handsculpted over a handsewn cloth body.

Their clothing is, as alway, completely handsewn in the historically correct manner. Their frocks are documented 19th century reproduction cottons, stained to convey an aged appearance. Their underpinnings are vintage linen with lace.

You can pay them a visit at:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So sorry to be redundant with my posts, but....

I am not the best photographer, and I took the prior photos of this doll set in the evening. Got a request on ebay that I shoot some more photos of the doll in real light. Can't figure out how to post them on ebay because there's a bid on the doll now and ebay said, "No Robin, you don't get to post additional pictures!"
So, I figured the next best thing is to stick 'em on here in case anyone wants to see the daylight versions. These were taken late afternoon, because well, I work and can't bring dollys with me to take photos of during the middle of the day. They do look a bit different in differing light sources.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Izzy in Pink

I love pink. Not "Barbie" pink, but sweet pinks! I've been wanting to use this fabulous 19th century reproduction cotton for ages, and finally made a dolly to wear it!

This little Izannah is bigger than my normal dolls, she's 18 inches tall. More or less, the standard size for the original dolls that inspired this one. She comes with her own itty bitty Izzy too!

She's paperclay over cloth body, clothes all handsewn in period correct manner.

I have to say, I think I like this doll best of all the dolls I've made.

She's available on ebay tonight if anyone else out there likes pink as much as I do!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Newest Primitive Izannah Walker style doll

Here is my newest Izannah Walker style doll. She's hand sculpted from paperclay over a cloth body. I never use molds. I went a little grittier this time and aged her a bit more, along with her clothing to give her a more primitive appearance.

She's 16 inches tall, and can sit or stand. She likes to read, and has her own little first edition copy of "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland."

Her little blue gingham handsewn dress has been stained to give it an aged patina.

She's got on nice little underpinnings, which include a pleated lace petticoat and drawstring drawers.

Her little balmoral boots are sculpted onto her feet, and she's wearing her favorite (I mean MY favorite, because all my dolls wear these) handpainted striped stockings. No self-respecting Victorian gal went out without her striped stockings! She comes with her book and a stand, hand painted to copy a carpet/floorcloth depicted in several early American primitive portraits of children. She was created in a smoke and pet free environment.
She's currently listed on ebay, looking for a good home! Please pay her a visit at:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Little Boy Bleu

It's Memorial Day today. Many of us have lost a father, brother, husband, partner, daughter or son in the line of duty to our country. I lost my father. He was a United States Navy fighter pilot, and he was killed in 1973 when I was 11 years old.

I don't usually make 'boy' dolls, but in the spirit of this day, I decided a month or so ago to make a little boy. Every young man who has fought for this country was once just a wee innocent little boy, playing with his toys, blissfully unaware of what would be expected of him in just a few short years...and unaware of what he would be willing to sacrifice for future generations of little boys and girls. Because of my dad, who was once just little Dickie Dan...riding his tricycle and making paper airplanes, I made Little Boy Bleu in honor of the thousands of little boys who had to become men too soon, and who, like my dad gave up their lives for us.

I took my inspiration for this doll from an old primitive folk art portrait, painted I presume about 1850. I really immediately connected with the naive simplicity of it. And while I realize that many will think this is a girl, he definitely is not. We can tell from his side part and the whip he's holding. Most little boys in the Victorian era were dressed nearly identical to little girls.

It's most likely this little fellow, who was approximately 3-5 years old in the painting, found himself on one side or the other of the bloodiest war this country has ever been involved in. He'd have been about 15 years old at the time of the Civil War. Whether he was from the north or south, he was old enough to fight, and it's likely he did not came home in one piece, if at all. He was scared, exhausted, starving and sick, and wanted nothing more than to go home, hug his mama and be a kid again.

In this painting, the little boy is holding a whip and a pull toy. The image of the pull toy is obscured so I took creative license and decided it must have been a horse, which was very popular during that era. Plus, you'd need a whip for a horse, wouldn't you?

I made Little Boy Bleu's dress to emulate the dress in the painting, from reproduction cotton fabric in use from 1820-1860. It's completely handsewn in the period correct manner. I made him with a cloth body and head handsculpted from Paperclay, a clay form of papier mache.

I made his horse from Paperclay as well. I don't 'do' animals, and thus far have made one snake, a Cheshire Cat and this horse. It's handsculpted and painted to give it some aged patina. My wonderful husband was nice enough to help me construct it's little pull base. Difficult to tell in this photo, but I painted the stand base to emulate the carpet the little boy is standing on in the painting.

Since I don't have room for Little Boy Bleu, and in hoping that someone out there has a special place for him in their heart and home, he's available on ebay: