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:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dolly Blasts from my past.....part 1

I've been pretty busy lately with non-dolly things. Feel bad about not posting anything. The other night, I started reminiscing about my childhood and the close friends I shared it with, and thought it might be nice to document them while I can still remember who was who!

I know I received dolls from about age 3, but do not recall nor have photographic evidence of any dolls in my 'toddlerhood.' But I DO recall vividly at age 4, that my parents stuffed me and my two little sisters into a station wagon, to go see our very first movie. "Mary Poppins" was my first movie, my first drive-in movie, and my first doll of memory. I was madly in love with Mary Poppins. In 1965, I remember receiving her for Christmas, and while there IS a photo of me with her, I cannot for the life of me locate it at the moment. Favorite doll EVER. I'm still in love with Mary Poppins.

Betsy Wetsy

Santa brought Betsy into my life in 1966. I snuck downstairs in the middle of the night to see what Santa left me, brought my precious Betsy back upstairs and into my top bunk. I must have snuck too many of the Christmas cookies adorning the tree that my mother had made...for I lost those cookies in the middle of the night, all over Betsy's face. Her 'crying' eyes were filled with barf. They rusted and never worked again.

Tutti and Todd
I got these two little sugar lovin' tots when I got my tonsils out in 1966. Like Tutti and Todd, I too enjoyed many ice cream and gelatanous treats to soothe my sore throat.

American Girl Barbie
My first Barbie doll ever. Dad brought her home from Westpac in Japan in 1967. I think she was one of the first with the 'bendable' legs. My dad always brought home special treats to his girls when he came home from overseas. He got a big kick out of the Japanese toy stores and loved shopping there and playing Santa Claus.
Got a few more old friends to share in the next couple of days.