Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat....

It's that time of year!  I've been awfully busy, though you wouldn't know it from this blog.  You know me...I mean well, just keep procrastinating.   I did manage to get my Christmas Izannah off to a fabulous new home, and I imagine she's quite happy there.  I made Mr. Whaley a smoking/lounge cap for the Whaley House Museum, an item that had been on my 'to do' list for quite awhile.  Also finished up that reproduction papier mache doll I made for the museum, specifically to wear a dress that I made from the innards of Mrs. Whaley's supposed wedding dress. The gown disintegrated in my hands this summer while cataloging it, and the only parts salvageable were the lace and polished cotton lining.  It lent itself to an 1850's style of wedding dress, so that's what I made out of it. Thomas and Anna Whaley wed in 1853. So I figured it was appropo. Originally, it was a late 1880's early '90's we know it wasn't really Mrs. Whaleys, nor that of her daughters.  Just too late a period and besides, the gown was for someone at least 4 inches taller than I am...and I'm about 4 inches taller than any of the Whaley women.  So no way could they have worn it.  Just a donation from the '60s to the museum and touted as something it wasn't.  But...the doll dress came out great.  Dolly and dress are under a little Victorian tree swathed in strung popcorn at present.

We got the Whaley House and Marston House museums all dandied up for Christmas, had our big SOHO Holiday Party.  Did some Christmassy this'n'that events.  Currently I'm awash in pink and green glitter.  The two little angels in my life asked Santa for a pink princess gown and a Tinkerbell costume.  I'm 'almost' done with the princess gown, just finishing up the lining.  Next comes the Tinkerbell costume.

Now, I know...I haven't taken any photos but I swear I will.  Hopefully Friday I'll get pictures of at least Whaley House all decorated, along with the smoking cap and the papier mache repro doll in the 1850's wedding gown.  And by next week, some pretty girls wearing glittery pink and green costumes!

It's been an eventful year, particularly the last few months.  Some losses...the good kind and the bad kind.  Lost 3 friends to cancer in the last month.  But there's more angels in Heaven to look after us.  Lost 60 pounds since September, so I feel much better, that's for sure.

Trying to keep up momentum of creative activities.  Working on another doll, but not sure when she'll see the light of day!  Hopefully by the end of January at the latest.  Will sure try and get some photos posted on here of my handiwork.  Till then, if I don't make it back on here before...

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Izannah redo

Well, I went shopping in my cupboards for some more festive fabric and made my Christmas/Holiday Izannah a little...okay, a LOT happier by sewing a new frock for her.  I must say, her demeanor has miraculously improved.  She just needed a little color, poor thing!  At any rate, I finally got her unmentionables finished too, and she's a very happy camper and has been a dreamboat to live with.  I almost wish I could keep her....almost.  I put her up for adoption this evening on ebay, you can pay her a little visit if you wish!

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Christmas Izannah!

A New Christmas Izannah In The Works!

She's not quite done yet, still working on trimming her unmentionables, which she's angry at me for mentioning.  She's very embarrassed that it's taking me so long to finish her, that I've dilly dallied on finding just the right antique fabrics for her foundation garments (talk about ungrateful).  She found out the hard way that I am a first class procrastinator.  But hey...I've been busy.  Really super busy.  She's new, so she doesn't realize that we're smack dab in the middle of the Holiday Season and... I have things to do. 

Hopefully, I'll get her undies done by Sunday so she can quit giving me the stink eye.  I hate when they do that to me and it just furthers my resolve to sell them right out from under myself.

When she's fully presentable, I'll post more photos that are taken in decent light.  It's a crappy day here today in what used to be sunny San Diego, and I'm a crappy photographer.  Two crappy scenarios equal really crappy pictures.  For instance, you can't tell from these images that her dress is the identical shade as this carefully selected text color.  Perhaps no one's noticed yet, but I do that a lot.   Her dress doesn't look brownish red.  Just brown.  In fact, now that I focus more clearly on this text color, it pretty much just looks brown too.  Hmmm.............I may have been too hasty in my fabric selection.  It's vintage polished cotton and I thought it'd look so fabulously deep, rich and Christmassy.  Might have miscalculated.  Might change my mind on the dress.  Might take me longer to finish her. 

Ho ho well,  it'll just be a surprise then.  By the way, she's the one in the photos that's bigger than the other.  She's my largest Izannah thus far, and at 25 inches she's what we facetiously refer to as a "big boned gal."  Really, she's her petite little sister's nemesis.  She uses her girth to get her way on the shelf and I have found the little one suspiciously face down on the floor on more than one occasion.  I hate to say it, but this one's a bit of a bully.  Don't let her confident smirk fool you.  Notice the concerned countenance on her little sister?  There's a good reason for that.  You can see from her body language how she's leaning away and doesn't want to get too close.  Poor little thing.  She's very sweet so I'll let her live with me longer (I have to because she's on an extended layaway).  The big one's getting kicked out as soon as I can get rid of her.

You can see in the bottom photo that she's calmly plotting her next move against the little one.  And as you can see...the little one is fully aware of this.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dia de los Muertos Catrina Doll

For the upcoming Dia de los Muertos Celebration here in Old Town, San Diego, I decided to 'revamp' a few of my  old dolls into "Catrina" characters for altars.

This is the first one I've finished.  She's been reincarnated a couple of times, this is her third manifestation.  Originally, she was an adult Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.  Got tired of her pretty quick, she had some proportional issues, so she was recreated as Emily Dickinson. 

When I decided to throw Emily under the bus, I chose to Halloween-ize her into a vampire.  That was last year, and she was never finished.  So this year, I am working on a Day of the Dead altar for the Old Town Saloon and I thought...hey, I know what I can do with this dead in the water vampira. 

Truthfully, I was inspired by the absolutely amazing artist, William Bezek.  He is THE master of all things Halloween and Day of the Dead... and I worship him.   Plus, my sister, who also worships him, just purchased his majestic Vampire creation, "Luca" (with his own glass windowed coffin!!!!) and we felt that Luca needed some female companionship from the other side.  So after Catrina is done watching over the souls who've passed on at the Old Town Saloon, she's going to live with Luca.  Whether he likes it or not.

For her costume, I used an antique mantilla that I beaded for my "Vamp" doll (who got reincarnated into Debbie Reynolds), and an antique Victorian cape.  Thank goodness I'm a packrat and save everything.  Because San Diego is an early Spanish settlement, I chose a less "Late Victorian" Catrina look, and went for more of an early California look for her.

As always, I am a lousy photographer,  as particularly evidenced in the second photo.  Nearly every single photo I took of this doll has weird haze and 'orbs' swirling around her.  Normally, I wouldn't appreciate that.  But in this case....'spooky' works for me!

I've got a couple more reincarnations going, and hopefully, I'll be done with them before November 1st. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

San Diego Celebrates Dia de los Muertos!

Old Town San Diego Celebrates
Dia de los Muertos!

If you live in the San Diego region, please do stop by and participate in this amazing two day event!  Dozens of fabulous Memorial Altars,  Food,  Music, Costumes, Face Painting, and our incredible Candle Light Procession!
(Procession takes place Wednesday, Nov. 2nd @ 7:00pm)

The Whaley House Museum is a major participant and will be open for evening tours, offering face painting and fun activities! 

I'm pretty busy right now, painting sugar skulls, converting some of my old dolls into Catrinas for altars, and creating an overhead banner for the Procession!  Also working on an altar for the Old Town Saloon, right across the street from the Whaley House, where one of my Catrina dolls will be keeping her eye on do stop on by for a 'spirited' libation if you are kid-less!  Photos to come!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Couple new project I'm working on!

Here's a couple of dollies I've been working on:  another little Izannah and attempting a papier mache from 1850 for the Whaley House museum.  We're a little low on dollies in the nursery there so I thought I'd try to perk it up.  Alas, the empress as yet has no clothes, just a humble chemise.  A fabulous gown is my next project!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Whaley House Lambrequin

Well, I finally got my camera chip to talk to my computer!  So I've got a couple of very lousy, out of focus, badly taken photos of that lambrequin I created for the above rather naked original mantel in the Whaley House Museum!

   Eh, it's okay without a lambrequin, but I like it better WITH one!

 Used some of the antique Scalamandre silk drapery created for the dining room of the museum over 50 years ago, along with the guimpe braid and tassels to trim it off.   We found an antique silk embroidered with chenille yarn and beads that was probably intended to be a bell pull that was never finished and used that as the center panel.
Unfortunately, my poor photography does not do it any favors!  But it does pick up the colors in the Brussels carpet and the wallpaper quite nicely!  It really looks nice in the evening when the lighting picks up all the gold in the wallpaper and the fixtures.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I know.....I'm a blog slacker.

In case anyone is curious, I'm still around!  It's been a crazy time for me these last few months.  Lots of family issues, some health issues and working two jobs.   It may not seem like I've been productive based upon the lack of posts but I have been a busy gal.  If only my camera was cooperating with my computer I could show and tell.  For now, I'll just 'tell'.  Not very exciting, I know.  I LOVE blogs with pictures. 

Well, I made that fireplace lambrequin for the Whaley House Museum.  I am extremely happy with it.  Wish I could show it to you, along with some other goodies.  Mrs. Whaley recently received an 1860's sewing machine and I'm anxious to get her some sewing supplies to go with it.  We got Mr. Whaley an antique 'gout stool', which is a bizarre footstool in the shape of a big, fat rolling pin.  It arrived with an unimpressive 50's needlepoint, which was removed in favor of an 1860's Berlinwork piece I was fortunate to come across.  The difference is amazing, and I hope Mr. Whaley's wraith is enjoying sitting in his slipper rocker relieving his poor, downtrodden piggies.  It's a lot of work haunting a house, just because he makes it look easy doesn't mean it is and he's generally very cranky.  Now I have to get working on a smoking cap for him.   We're on a serious budget so if I can make a reasonably foolproof reproduction of something, I'm going to.  Maybe for Christmas if he's real good and doesn't show up in front of me anytime soon.  I don't like surprises.  He has a tendency to stand up on the stair landing staring down at long term docents in a rawther superior manner.  I don't care for people who put on airs.  Especially people made of air.

Revamped a display in the Whaley House General Store this week.  The Whaley's personal items were housed in a make do sort of vintage homemade glass case propped up on scrap wood and casters for the last 50 years.  Not attractive.   So we can finally lose the old case and I designed a display for the 1860's storefront window case we've got.   I'll get some photos of that too pretty soon.  Came out nice I think.

The operators of the Whaley House, the Save Our Heritage Organisation currently operates 4 historic site museums and will acquire another pretty soon.  So they keep me busy.  Got plenty of curatorial work to do in a few of em.  Works in progress every one.  I love it.  I've got canning to do for Whaley House, drapes to make for another house, etc.  Lots of 'busy' work.

My dolls?  Oh yes, that's right, I almost forgot.  I'm supposed to be a doll maker according to my header and the photographs on the left side.   Yikes, haven't made a doll in a loooooong time.   Got one laying around here and another in progress and have abandoned them temporarily.  Gotta say, I've lost my interest in making the Izannah's that I focused on for the last year or so.  I still love them, but realistically....everybody's making them.  Practically can't give them away.  And doing the same thing gets boring for me.  I devoted an alarmingly lengthy time period to making them, something rare for my attention deficiency.

I've got some ideas for some new dolls, still with a historical point of view.  Just haven't got all my ducks in a row.  Did lots of sculpting the last few months in "clay" clay, not paperclay.  Just for practice and keeping my skills in existence.  We'll see.  Hope to have something around for Halloween.  

Soon as I get a new camera I'll get some pictures loaded up here so you can see what I've been up to.  Much more satisfying than just reading about it!  And for those of you who haven't stopped following me due to my inactivity, I thank you!  I log on here about once a week and do a quick stealth drop in on many of the blogs I follow here just to keep up with everyone.  Sometimes I'm able to leave a comment, and there are occasions where I am but a mere ghost.  But I'm still thinking about you all!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

                                                                       Little "Dicky Dan"

                                                             August 3, 1934 - June 18, 1973

                                                    Happy Father's Day Dad, we sure miss you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My New Baby..................

Many of you probably think I fell off the face of the earth this last couple of months, my New Years resolution to post regularly flying right out the proverbial window!

I'm still alive and well, just super busy.  I started a new job, that's kind of like an old job, but not.  I began working for the historic Whaley House museum about 11 years ago, beginning initially as a volunteer docent...since my nest was newly emptied, I needed something to keep me off the streets.

I promptly was hired as a docent, then sort of a Jill of all trades.  Worked on their historical clothing program in it's infancy, made most of the clothing they continue to use today.  I was there for several years, then pursued other interests, such as dollmaking...although I've haunted the place pretty regularly since!

Now I am back again, no longer docenting, but working on the curating aspect instead.  More fun I think!  It's left me zero time for posting, let alone dollmaking.  But I am having fun, nonetheless.

I'll be sharing some of the work I'll be doing there, as well as trying to get a doll or two out.   The museum, though it has made amazing strides in the last decade still needs some fine tuning, so I'll be working on some projects that are a bit new to me.

My first is creating a lambrequin for the parlor mantel.  After that, a smoking cap for Mr. Whaley (even though he's not allowed to smoke in the house...but he takes advantage of the fact that we can't see him), then I want to try to get really ambitious and figure out how to make berlin work slippers!  Why do I have to make these things?  I don't...but they'd be a great addition to the museum, and I'd like to learn how, because I think I can do a halfway decent job of it.  Secondly, historical textiles appropriate to the period 1856-1870 don't drop into your lap every day.  They tend to decay, and those that don't, are very very expensive. We're on a serious budget.  Like most everyone these days.

In a few days, when I get my house vacuumed of all the thread that's currently felting the carpet, I'll take some photos of the lambrequin I'm making and post my progress here.  And when it's all done, and installed, you'll get to see that too.

(I'm trying to entice you into visiting the museum...can you tell?)

  The lovely parlor....but it needs a few something somethings!  Like a lambrequin for the mantel, a footstool, a wardian case, I could go on and on!

The Tanner Troupe Theater, San Diego's first theater upstairs in the Whaley House.  Gorgeous, no?  But, it needs some sprucing up.  Those lovely drapes are disintegrating and need major help.

 The Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store, in the house at the same time as the theater.  Busy place!  Right now, we have sort of half general store, half this n' that museum room. Working on getting it into a complete 1870's general store that Mr. Whaley would be proud to allow customers to enter!
Here's a shot of the house when it was almost brand spankin' new.  It's always been near and dear to my heart, it'll always be my baby.  So I'm going to try to take very good care of it.
For more information on the Whaley House Museum, visit  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

More Carte de Visite doubles!

I've been a bad girl and broke my 'sort of' New Years resolution to try to post more you can see it's been a month since my last post and I apologize for my laziness!  
I just recently began an exciting new job and it's taken up an awful lot of my much so that I haven't even gotten much done in the way of making dolls.  I've got one large unfinished doll head sitting here staring at me for the last month and she's not pleased with me at all.  But to try to make up for being so blog lazy I am posting a few more of my Carte de Visites that I have found over the years, miraculously of either the same family or the same person!

Three little sisters who desperately needed to be kept together!

I cannot figure out if these are all the same gal or if they are sisters, but I recognized this face and the very distinct hairline and knew they belonged together.  All the images were taken at the same studio.  I'd like to think they appreciate the reunion I gave them!

These two little girls were purchased at different times and it was perhaps a year later that I even realized they went together.  A total accident.  I purchased both of them because they had dolls and unique dresses which are nearly identical.

 The same situation occurred with both of these CDV's....I bought them both because they had many young ladies in them, and you don't often find that.  Eventually I realized the same girls are in both images, although what threw me was the fact that in the second one they've added two more people and changed their positions.

Two sisters that accidentally showed up in the same way!  I thought, boy, these are awfully alike...same photographer, same town....they might not be related to each other, but the cameo style and their resemblance to one another in face and hair tell me they are sisters.

I thought these two girls looked an awful lot alike too....both photographed in the same city, although not the same studio.  At first I thought that they were sisters, but upon examining the clothing styles, I think they are in fact the same girl at different times.

Another happy accident!  Obviously by looking one can tell this is the same studio, VERY distinctive and lovely...and that's why I purchased the second cdv...I put them together because they 'went' so well together, then I realized that the baby in both images is the same child.  I'm not sure why he appears with two different women (although they do indeed strongly resemble one another) and two different girls, one older and one much younger.  I think perhaps one is the mother and one is the aunt and cousin.  It's fun to try to figure out their lives!  These two are from England.  I find the European Carte de Visites often have more detailed studio backgrounds and often the clothing is very expensive.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Double Takes

I collect Cartes de Visites from the mid Victorian era.  I am addicted to these little gems!  I have lost track of how many I have, and have purchased nearly but not all of them from ebay.   Once in a while I'd come across a seller selling cdvs of the same person or same family members in a combined lot, but not very often.  Most cdv's I purchase are singles, and I've found matching people from different sellers at different times, which I find amazing.

On occasion, I've come across a cdv listing on ebay and thought, hmmm....that face looks awfully familiar!  And lo and behold, I do indeed already possess that same person in my collection.  Needless to say, I have an intrinsic need to keep these poor people together, so I give it my all in the bidding process to bring them home.  Sadly, there have been some that have gotten away that I truly regret losing out on.  This is the situation in the case of the images below.

They are of Amelie Beaufour, a little Parisian girl between 1861 and 1866.  I lost out on her Confirmation photograph and her older sister's Confirmation photograph.  I'm still peeved about it!  The first four images you see here are the front and back of the Amelie Beaufour cdv's I have in my possession.  The following three I found amazingly in a recent book purchase.  I tried to contact the writer of the book and got nowhere.  I really want these last three cdv's to keep them all together.

 The following images of Amelie Beaufour are found in "Hats, Caps & Bonnets: 1855-1875; 12 Patterns for Dolls & An Illustrated History"   by Marianne Burke.

Mademoiselle Beaufour was obviously a young lady of upper class, and her parents were able to have her portrait taken every year, and she's dressed to the nines in each image.  Lucky girl!  I do have more 'double takes' that I will post during the next few days.  Amelie is my very favorite, because I am able to some degree watch this little girl grow up in another lifetime.  Oh how I wish I were able to find more of her.  I might get lucky!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, new goals!

Given that I am "post challenged" and have only posted lately when I've completed a little dolly, there's quite a span of time between posts!  I'm a bad blogger and my resolution (meaning for about a week) is to be better about posting more frequently.  In going over my blog and trying to see what's lacking, I realized that I neglect to share some of my other little hobbies and activities, which could certainly increase the number of posts between doll completions.  

I've got about a million fabulous Cartes de Visites I've collected over the years, rotting away in their albums that I could dust off, and dresses made for antique dolls and for big people too!

However, in order to accomplish that goal, it's necessary for me to go trolling through my files and 'stuff', where I tend to get waylaid and forget why I'm there in the first place.  When I 'snoop' through my own forgotten stuff, I could be gone for hours, days, weeks.  So again, you might not hear from me till next month.  But I'm trying, I swear to that.

I decided this Christmas vacation to relax and finally got a chance to go explore some amazing blogs I hadn't seen before, and that's so addicting!  Like being in a candy store with nobody telling you to pack it in and go home already.

I have to spend a little time today on self-maintenance, meaning I can wait no longer to henna out the full 3/4 inch of gray hair that's crept up on me.  Back to my real job tomorrow and I don't want to scare anyone. Heaven forbid they actually figure out I AM as old as I look.  Of course, while I'm waiting for that henna to set, I'll be back exploring all the goodies you other fabulous bloggers have to offer!  Should only take a few hours.  Got another dolly drying out in the oven so I can't work on her, and I might as well enjoy myself this last day of vacation.

Thank you so much to all you wonderful people out there who take the time out of your day to keep up with what I'm doing, I really appreciate it!  Have a wonderful, fabulous New Year, and don't kill yourself over those pesky resolutions.  Before you know it, it'll be 2012 and you can make them all over again anyway.  That's what I do.