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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Human Doll Cloning?

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Human Doll Cloning?: A lot of artsts have donet his for years, but the Japanese have a special interest in dolls. They have temples devoted to them, and doll...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cloth Dolls

The oldest example still extant is probably the 2000 + year old Rag doll found in an Egyptian tomb with other toys. This doll is featured in Mary Hillier's Dolls and Dollmakers, in my book With Love from Tin Lizzie, and it "lives" today in the British Museum. Those who watch The Ten Commandments with Charleton Heston note that a little girl travelling to The Promised Land, is holding a rag doll. Rag doll often appear as props in all kinds of films, including Pioneer/Wagon Train Sagas. The Young Elizabeth I holds one at the end of Anne of the Thousand Days, again RIP to her mother, Anne Boleyn, executed on May 19th. Raggedy Ann stars in her own films, but also appears as a prop in many other productions including soap Another World, and in works by Mary Higgins Clark. An alleged "haunted" R. Ann is featured on the web Haunted Doll Museum. In Nuts, Barbra Streisand's doll was R. Ann. Visit the Strong National Musem of for more examples and blog posts. Emily Jackson in her book of 1908, Toys of Other Days, found on Google books for free, disucsses other rag dolls, too. There were others in the Ancient World, no doubt, but as Mary Hillier poitned out, they could not withstand the elements. Cloth, especially left over rags, is a simple material and easy way to make a doll. Laura Ingalls Wilder's first "real doll" was Charlotte, a doll her mother made, to be compantion to Nellie, Mary Ingalls' doll. Popular collectible dolls in Cloth are The Izannah Walker doll, and early patented US doll, with a whole blog devoted just to her. These can now sell for upwards of $20,000. The Chase dolls, Martha Chase lifesized hospital dolls, or the toys. These were inspired by Izannah Walker, and there is a tie with Izannag and the Woolrich clothes company. I found a Chase doll for $50.00 ten years ago on eBay. A red letter doll day that was! Dorothy Heizer needle sculpted cloth to new dimensions, as does Lisa Licthenfels. There are other artists who do the same. Bernard Ravca and his wife Frances needlesculpted as well. Lenci used flet, as did Raynal, Norah Wellings, Chad Valley, some Kathe Kruse, and Steiff. Edith the Lonely doll of literary fame is a Lenci. Stuffed animals like Winnie and friends who life at 10 Downing Street, the PM's home in England, are distant cousings of cloth dolls. Native American dolls are often leather or buckskins tuffed with grass. Many doll bodies are also stuffed cloth or leather, with heads of other materials. Successful modern cloth dolls include Holly Hobbie, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Brite, The Levi Strauss Blue Jean Doll, Mme. Alexander's Little Shaver, perhaps her first doll, My Child, Baby Beans,Shrinking Violet, Raggedy Ann and Andy, etc. Many patters have been made over the years by Vogue, Butterick, and McCalls. Folk cloth dolls enjoyed great popularity in the 80s and 90s, and companies like Rantin Raven made great primitive cloth personages. A cloth doll was featured as a family antique on Bewitched. Rag dolls are a staple of craft fairs, and make good projects for Home Ec classes. Dolls of hankies, scraps, and pillowases are also popular. Pre printed cloth dolls like the boy from Arnold Print works, c. 1880, and the various cats, Palmer Cox Brownies, Little Girls, Buster Brown and Aunt Jemima families are found in all great doll collections. Uncut versions are really desireable. Many advertising and celebrity dolsl like The Eskimo Pie kid and Mr. Peanut are pre printed cloth dolls. So are The Ceresota Flour Boy and The Brachs Candy Clown . Living Dead Dolls has made teddy bears and voodoo dolls, both by Mezco. There has been a soft bodied Barbie that "sleeps" and Barbie and Disney pillow dolls. A few years ago, the Wenham Museum featured an exhibition of cloth dolls that included those discussed hear as well as The Columbian Rag doll, possibley The Moravian and Presbyterian Rag Dolls, Bruckner and Alabama Rag Babies. These dolls were also featured on The American Doll Stamps. Rag dolls are always individual in character, and indeed, many are one of a kind. They can be soft or rigid, but are appreciated as homemade objects, comfortable in a rustic or elegant setting. Applause, Sugar Loaf, Mattel, Kruse, and other companies continue to make rag and cloth dolls, and stuffed animals are as popular as ever. Raggedy Ann is still made by various companies, and there is still a festival in her honor. Even Kewpies have been, and are made in cloth, witness Ragsy Kewpie. Cloth is a vital medium for doll makers. Patterns still abound, and Lauura Walsh's doll blog is an excellent place to look for them. eleanor peace baily makes wonderful cloth art dolls and teaches courses in them. Quilt societies make them, too. Even in a techy age like ours, there is room to admire the age old rag baby.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Composition Dolls

Much of this post is indebted to Helen Young's excellent book Here is your Hobby Doll Collecting, GP Putnam's, 1964. Many collectors are also familiar with Ms. Young's The Complete Book of Doll Collecting and with dolls she made for Kimport Dolls. I have found her to be extremely knowledgeable and well-documented about dolls. She also shares ideas for display, repair, and doll making. I share her philosophy that a good doll collection should contain as many different types of dolls as possible, or at least one type of each available doll as possible. She gives directions for making wax dolls, cloth dolls, and wooden dolls to round out good general collections. Young discuss composition dolls in her chapter "Heads of Paste nad paper," Chapter 5. She first gives the history and recipe for paper mache, and the English translation for the French, literally, "chwed paper." Young also gives us the exact language of the first doll patent, that of Ludwig Greiner, March 30, 1858 (57). She credits Lazrus Reichmann of new York City with inventing a composition of sawdust and glue, but without using paper (59). Therein lies the difference between the two materials. As late as 1964 when Young wrote, composition was being improved with resins and toher strenghtening ingredients (59). It is interseting that she writes as late as 1964, there were still compo dolls in the store, something I don't remember at all. According to her Patsy and Shirley Temple are compo dolls "well worth looking for", and she states good compo dolls are nearly as "time proof" as plasic or vinyl dolls. For years, Pat Schoonmaker has been the expert on compo dolls for Doll Reader magazine, and she has authored many articles on the subject. Books by her, Johanna Gast Anderton, Patsy Moyer, Pat Smith, R. Lane Herron, Jan Foulke, and many other authors have excellent sections on composition dolls. These were among the first vintage or old dolls I collected. My first was Arranbee's Little Angel baby doll, bought in 1967 for $2 from The San Jose Flea Market. I was very little myself. My next was bought the next year ni Old Spanish Town, Albuquerque. She is jointed with red boots, painted, a brown mohair wig of braids winding her head, painted features, about 9 in. She wore a severely dirty and faded China Poblana outfit, the woman's national costume of Mexico, based on a story of a Chinese princess brought to marry a native prince. She was so homesick, she created a dress with the colors and embroidery of her native land, which became known as The China Poblana, still worn today. My doll now wears a dress my grandmother sewed for her. It is a pink blend Calico trimmed in gold sequins. Her name is Mrs. Birdie Plantaganet, of Godden's The Dolls House fame, and she lives in my own Plantaganet house with the rest of the family. I had a floor to ceiling wooden cabinet at my parents' home for all the large composition dolls, some of which date to the Greiner period, but which are not PM. I have some very large examples, and some small Frozen Charlottes made of compo. Several Shirley,s Patsies, and Jane Withers make up part of the museum collection. Coleman's walking doll has a composition head, as do three dolls that came as old store stock from a dept. store that closed in Herrin, IL in 1932. Over the years, my dolls have stopped crazing, though some were in pitable shape. My mother used to love to dress them, and one Shirley look a like was her favorite because it was like the doll she had to leave behind in Europe during the war. She had her drying on the bushes after a bath, and my little girl friends and I never noticed. There are many fine miniature doll house dolls made of composition, and even some Steiff hedgehog dolls. They are still plentiful, and will prices went sky high in the late 70s, they seem to be coming down now. I have at least a couple examples over 80 years old that are in mint shape with their original tags. Since many of these dolls are over 75 years old, they are often considered antique, not vintage. Dolls from the 20s and earlier seem to withstand the weather and crazing very well. I am told it is a myth that cold cream, will preserve them, but I used it on my dolls once a year, just a thin film, and few of them ever continued to flake or craze.

Wild Horse Runs Free; a Romance, with a doll or two in it!

My romance about two Apache teens and their Apache and White families will appear tomorrow on Kindle. There is oer 20 years of authentic research in this book, which has become a labor of love in many ways. One of the characters, Red Feather, took over the story, and then ovetook the hero! I hope my readers will find the story enjoyable, and they will enjoy the hero's journey from the Southwest of the 19th century to the cobbled streets of New Orleans and back. Also, the cover for the long awaited book on Metal Dolls is here. The book will be in print within two weeks, and will be available through me, and eventually on Amazon. I have been writing and research dolls and other topics heavily, and hope to have a productive summer. Recently attended a fantastic estate sale of a long time collector, artist, and seamstress. I was amazed at how many things there were and at how clever she was at storage and organization. The newest dolls date from around 2000. All items were labelled, sometimes with the donor's name, but also with date, year, and occasion for the givt. To paraphrase Carl Fox, it is amazing what people quietly collect behind the quiet walls of their homes. I wish I could have had a dialog with this lady. All her dolls were cherished and well-kept, and must have give her hours of pleasure. She had made miniature wedding gowns that had darts and linings where applicable, and tiny shoes and doll clothes for all kinds of dolls. She favored collectible Barbies and modern porcelain dolls, with some vintage artist reproductions of antiques like Hilda by JDK, and other Kestner and German bisque dolls. Many of these were over 30 years old, from a doll show which is no longer held. Also, am beginning research on a writing project involving Hugo and various automatons. We are studying them again in my intellectual property class as well. It is fun to show them to my students, and to tie them in with patents, technology, and robotics. I would love to hear for your doll collecting and writing adventures any time. Look for Wild Horse on Kindle free days as well.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Too Long!

It has been too long, but many things have gone on, and many disappointments. I will be doing a paper on The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Automatons, and my Book on metal dolls, pictured here, is nearly publshed. I am reviewing proofs. We have had illness and disapointment do deal with, as have many of us. I have one romance novel on Kindle, Wild Horse Runs Free, and Ihave entered serveral books in contests. Even in tough times, I try to b productive. I've also started my second YA novel, part II in a series. Last week, I attended a fantastic estate sale for a woman who was an artist, collector, seamstress and doll maker. There were hunreds of Barbies, porcelain artist dolls, Xmas, Halloween, yards ofm aterail and yarn, thousands and thousands of beads, findings and trimmings, all in jars, sorted by color and type, and labelled. The lady's sewing room overlooked a window imn her attic, and there were pink shelves, cupboards and cubby holes every where for her treasures. Her specialty was wedding gowns, doll sized and human sized. They were lovely. She also embellished sweaters, and I found three with exquisite lacework and beads. Her spirit was both kikndred and kind. I felt at home with her house and her things, and I am honored to have been able to bring home so many. Several will be shared with my audience when I give lectures on dolls next year. Perhaps someone will be inspired to collect. I also found paints an miniatures for my crafts, and miniature garage items for my Fisher Price auto garage. There were those who sneered and denounced her as a hoarder; I corrected them when I heard,as did my husband. I looked up the lady's obit; she lived to a ripe old age, was married, and had children and grand children. I met some of them. She was a gardner, golfer, made lawn ornaments of cement, read quite a bit, and was very, very talented. I should be so lucky. The dolls had been organized in large glass fronted china cabinets. I would have loved to see her collection presale. Estate sales sadden me; I hope I'm not seeing the handwriting on the wall. Yet, I feel it is a tribute from one collector to another when some of her dolls can join our museum. Will talk about composition or cloth dolls next for our web exhibits. Thanks for making us nearly 16,000 strong. Anyone interested in the book on metal dolls may contact me. Thank you.