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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Ancient Greek Games

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Ancient Greek Games: Ancient games and past times in Ancient Greece.

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Kewpies

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Kewpies: Collectors' Concerns; KOVELS Kewpie Dolls Q: My daughter found these adorable Kewpie dolls at a church rummage sale about eigh...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another Definition/History of Dolls

From Dolls in the Attic, What is a Doll? Webster's New World Dictionarydescribes a doll as - "a child's toy, puppet, marionette, etc. made to resemble a human being." *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* How long have we had this love affair with Dolls? A History of Dolls Dolls have been a part of humankind since prehistoric times. Used to depict religious figures or used as playthings, early dolls were probably made from primitive materials such as clay, fur, or wood. No dolls have survived from prehistoric times, although a fragment of an alabaster doll with movable arms from the Babylonian period was recovered. Dolls constructed of flat pieces of wood, painted with various designs and with "hair" made of strings of clay or wooden beads, have often been found in Egyptian graves dating back to 2000 BC. Egyptian tombs of wealthy families have included pottery dolls. Dolls placed in these graves leads some to believe that they were cherished possessions. Dolls were also buried in Greek and Roman children's graves. Girls from Greece and Rome dedicated their wooden dolls to goddesses after they were too "grown-up" to play with dolls. Most ancient dolls that were found in children's tombs were very simple creations, often made from such materials as clay, rags, wood, or bone. Some of the more unique dolls were made with ivory or wax. The main goal was to make the doll as "lifelike" as possible. That ideal lead to the creation of dolls with movable limbs and removable garments, dating back to 600 B.C. Following the era of the ancient dolls, Europe became a major hub for doll production. These dolls were primarily made of wood. Primitive wooden stump dolls from 16th and 17th century England number less than 30 today. The Grodnertal area of Germany produced many peg wooden dolls, a type of doll that has very simple peg joints and resembles a clothespin. An alternative to wood was developed in the 1800s. Composition is a collective term for mixtures of pulped wood or paper that were used to make doll heads and bodies. These mixtures were molded under pressure, creating a durable doll that could be mass produced. Manufacturers closely guarded the recipes for their mixtures, sometimes using strange ingredients like ash or eggshells. Papier-mache, a type of composition, was one of the most popular mixtures. In addition to wooden dolls, wax dolls were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Munich was a major manufacturing center for wax dolls, but some of the most distinctive wax dolls were created in England between 1850 and 1930. Wax modelers would model a doll head in wax or clay, and then use plaster to create a mold from the head. Then they would pour melted wax into the cast. The wax for the head would be very thin, no more than 3 mm. One of the first dolls that portrayed a baby was made in England from wax at the beginning of the 19th century. Porcelain became popular at the beginning of the 19th century. Porcelain is made by firing special clays in a kiln at more than 2372 degrees Fahrenheit. Only a few clays can withstand firing at such high temperatures. Porcelain is used generically to refer to both china and bisque dolls. China is glazed, whereas bisque is unglazed. Germany, France, and Denmark started creating china heads for dolls in the 1840s. China heads were replaced by heads made of bisque in the 1860s. Bisque, which is fired twice with color added to it after the first firing, looked more like skin than china did. The French "bebe" was popular in the 1880s, and it has become a highly sought after doll today. The bebe, first made in the 1850s, was unique from its predecessors because it depicted a younger girl. Until then, most dolls were representations of adults. Although the French dolls were unrivaled in their artistry, German bisque dolls became quite popular because they were not as expensive. Kammer & Reinhardt introduced a bisque character doll in the 1900s, starting a trend of creating realistic dolls. For centuries, rag dolls were made by mothers for their children. Rag dolls refer generically to dolls made of any fabric. Cloth dolls refer to a subset of rag dolls made of linen or cotton. Commercially produced rag dolls were first introduced in the 1850s by English and American manufacturers. Although not as sophisticated as dolls made from other materials, rag dolls were well-loved, often as a child's first toy. Dollmaking did not become an industry in the United States until after the Civil War in the 1860s. Doll production was concentrated in New England, with dolls made from a variety of materials such as leather, rubber, papier-mache, and cloth. Celluloid was developed in New Jersey in the late 1860s and was used to manufacture dolls until the mid-1950s. German, French, American, and Japanese factories churned out cheaply produced celluloid dolls in mass quantities. However, celluloid fell out of favor because of its extreme flammability and propensity to fade in bright light. After World War II, doll makers experimented with plastics. Hard plastic dolls were manufactured in the 1940s. They resembled composition dolls, but they were much more durable. Other materials used in doll manufacturing included rubber, foam rubber, and vinyl in the 1950s and 1960s. Vinyl changed doll making, allowing doll makers to root hair into the head, rather than using wigs or painting the hair. Although most dolls are now mass-manufactured using these modern materials, many modern doll makers are using the traditional materials of the past to make collectible dolls. This summary was created by using information from the following sources: Britannica Online; "Doll," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 96 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. (c) Funk & Wagnalls Corporation, The Ultimate Doll Book by Caroline Goodfellow; and Dolls: A Collector's Guide by Olivia Bristol

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Followers, Folk Dolls, and other Good Things

I would like to welcome my new followers. I will continue my histories with a discussion of older books about dolls and doll collectors, and with summaries and commentaries of Laura Starr's The Doll Book. Here are some photos to enjoy. Don't forget to check out Dr. E's Doll Museum, Dr. E's Greening Tips for the Commoan Person, Memoir, Writing your Life Story; Miss Charlotte Bronte meets Miss Barbara Pym, and An Apologia for Countess Erezebet Bathory; these are my other blogs. There are tidbits and photos of dolls on all of them. I'd like to cover folk dolls a little more in this blog, following up with later with sources mentioned above. Dolls have been made literally of every material imaginable. Folk Dolls are technicall dolls made by artists with no formal aritstic or industry training, but the category has expanded to include dolls made by hand, various costume dolls, folklore figures, artist made dolls. Wherever a lot of handwork is involved, the doll becomes a folk doll. Wendy Lavitt's American Folk Dolls is a great place to start researching them, as is Loretta Holts, The How to Book of International Dolls [please forgive spelling and inadvertent typos; my eeys are allergy ridden. my arthritic hands bad]. Also, my book, A Bibliography of Doll and Toy Sources, available from me, also has many, many listings for folk dolls and handmade dolls.
Other authors that cover the subject very well include all of Mary Hillier, particulary her class Dolls and Dollmakers, Eleanor St. George in her books Old Dolls, The Dolls of Yesterday, The Dolls of Three Centuries, All of Clara Hallard Fawcett's books, Helen Young [also an artist], The Complete Book of Doll Collectin 1967; Carl Fox The Doll, Laura Starr, The Doll Book, Lesley Gordons' books on dolls, with her own illustrations, Gwen White's books on dolls, Janet Pagter Johl's books, Catherine Christopher's The Complete Book of Doll Making and Collecting, and Evelyn Chisman, Small Dolls and Other Collectibles. Karl Grober's book on toys and dolls, 1928 has some great examples, and my friend R. Lane Herron covers the subject well in Much Ado about Dolls.
I have dolls made of paper derived from elephant "Poo", cornhusks and cobs, taxidermied allegators, taxidermied frogs, fur [mink]; animal skulls, bone, ivory, rocks, bottles, baby bottle nipples, corkscrews and spoons, wooden spoons, soap, newspaper, glasses, clay, bowling pins, bricks, wax and candles; grasses and woven grains, mud, cloth, dried apples and dried prunes and fruits, gingerbread, breads and cookies, candies and marzipan, rice kernels, insect parts, pecan resins, coal, yarns and fibres, flowers and other seeds, wood, dried fish [heavily varnished!], seashells, lobster parts, paper, clay, pencils, found objects, skin and leather, precious and other metals, semiprecious stones, you name it. Many Native American dolls I bought outwest and on other trips show the mark of skilled folk artists. Ethnic dolls often are mde this way. A good article covering them is in the 1956 Volume D. of Worldbook Encyclopedia. [I also like to collecti encyclopedia volumes D,dolls, T, toys, C, Costumes, P, Puppets, etc. Libraries are only too happy to give away the print copies!] I am still looking for a set of dressed Mexican fleas and will follow any leads.
Some of these dolls began life as ritual figures; others were meant to be toys. I made dolls out of broom straws and Kleenex to amuse myself when I was little. I took a broomstraw, and bent, but did not break, the top to reach half as much to the bottom. This was a tiny fairy girl with long hair. I made dozens of yarn dolls, and figures for the doll houses with playdough. Many of these still exist in my collection. My little friend R., who now lives 2 houses down from me, and I live in her sisters old house, made me a doll using nails, an old ruler cut and fitted like a cross, with hair made of strips of old bed sheets and clothese to match. I've also used pins and nails, a well as nuts and bolts. My dad carved us dolls out of twigs one summer after he mowed the lawn. They were named Brook and Ellen, for me and my best friend. I made baby dolls out Marshmallows impaled, as it were, on toothpicks, and many dolls out of Xeroxed photos of dolls built up with cloth and playdough. These had cloth bodies, and often extensive wigs and wardrobes. I made Joan of Arc in her armour out of a doll mask, foil, and cardboard. These exist today, and were recently refurbished and exhibited in a Christmas display at church. They got rave reviews. Pillow dolls and handkerchief dolls are easy to make, and often fun to display. They also serve as a comforting object to a little child, especially late at night. There are many handmade examples of the dolls of poor children, including one made of a shoe in one museum, The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh. The Benaki Museum in Athens has handmade clay examples and other examples made of dough and traganth. Grober talks about traganth dolls, too.
Starr devotes chapter after chapter to fence post dolls, ritual figures, sign post dolls, etc. Many shell covered dolls and pinchushion dolls were handmade objects, too.
Cornhusk and apple dolls enjoy periodic Renaissances, and some were even reproduced in porcelain. Clothespin dolls are great, and my friend Deb Ritter of Uneek Designs on Etsy makes terrific artist verisons of historical and literary people. I have a Tin Man made of strung cans, and flower pot people. Our neighbor has one of these life-sized. I love scarecrows, and making puppets out of newspaper papier mache as well.
Frozen Charlottes and their accompanying ballad have entered the realm of folk dolls in Helen Young's book. There is even a song about them in Natalie Merchant's album, "Ophelia." My artist Friend Jeanne O'Melia creates wonderful figures and dolls from all sorts of found objects. OOAK dolls and Barbies fit this category rather well, as do some of the early reborn babies.
Somerset Studios has lots of ideas for handmade assemblage dolls, and their Art Doll Quarterly is a revelation. Ancient Children in Greece and Egypt often made their own toys, and the stuffed linen rag doll that is 2000+ years old is one example.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Metal Heads and Musings

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Metal Heads and Musings: Today's blog is an excerpt from my book on Metal Dolls. I hope you enjoy it. I am still looking for clear photographs for this book, and y...

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Of Auctions and Other Pleasures

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Of Auctions and Other Pleasures: Now and then I like to share my emails and newsletters of doll and antique auctions. Theriault's is very good about sending these. I have ...

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Of Auctions and Other Pleasures

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Of Auctions and Other Pleasures: Now and then I like to share my emails and newsletters of doll and antique auctions. Theriault's is very good about sending these. I have ...

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: An Auction; At Play-Worth a Look

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: An Auction; At Play-Worth a Look: Beautiful Spring days and the summer fun ahead brings to mind happy thoughts of cheerful dolls and their playthings. Here are some wonderful...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Collector v. Voyeur

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Collector v. Voyeur: It's been one of those days; the bridge was closed, I took the wrong bill to pay with me, the phone died on me midconversation, everyone...

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Doll Book Again

I will follow with a series of posts on Starr's wonderful book. It is available as a free eText on the web. I don't find the writing archaic at all, and I personally think anyone interested in doll history should read it.

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Because we never Know!

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Because we never Know!: Just when I think I'm going to give it all up and have a new eBay career, something happens to motiviate me and inspire me. I have my "aha"...