Doll Clothing · Izannah Reproduction Doll Class · Izannah Walker Reproduction Doll

2012 Izannah Walker Doll Making Retreat is Confirmed for September 28th – October 3rd

This year’s retreat is now a sure thing, it is definitely going ahead as planned!   If you were hesitant to sign up before the classes met their minimum enrollment requirements, wait no longer 🙂  There are only a couple of spaces left!!!

I’m really very happy and excited!!!  I can’t wait to welcome all of the retreat participants to my home and studio.  I love teaching, so this is going to be a treat for  me 🙂  I’m also looking forward to talking with everyone about Izannah, dolls, doll-making and mid-19th century clothing non-stop for six days!  What a perfect way to observe the 195th birthday of one of America’s most beloved doll makers.


Session 1 – Friday September 28, 2012 from 10:00-4:00, Saturday September 29, 2012 from 10:00-4:00, and Sunday September 30, 2012 from 1:00-4:00.

Session 2 – Monday October 1, 2012 from 10:00-4:00, Tuesday October 2, 2012 from 10:00-4:00, and Wednesday October 3, 2012 from 10:00-4:00.


Part 1: Making Izannah Molds, Pressed Cloth Heads and Bodies

A three-day condensed version of my Izannah Walker Reproduction Doll Class starts on Friday morning, September 28th.  Students will need to order my doll class and sculpt their doll head, plus gather their materials ahead of time.  Once you get to class we will be making two types of molds, forming pressed cloth heads, and constructing the doll’s body. This is a wonderful class for anyone interested in antique cloth dolls, for those who would like to learn to incorporate pressed cloth heads into their own doll designs, and for doll makers who are interested in learning how to make and use molds.  Tuition is $300 for 15 hours of classroom time, which includes plaster, plus $250 for the doll class(Current Class by Mail Students will not need to order the doll class, just pay the tuition.)

Part 2: Painting Your Izannah, Constructing the Doll, and Reproduction Dressmaking

For those of you who are interested in learning how to paint and finish your reproduction Izannah Walker doll, I will have an additional three-day class on Monday October 1st – Wednesday October 3rd.  In this class you may finish the doll you started in the first part of the retreat or you may paint, construct and dress a reproduction Izannah Walker doll using pre-molded and pre-sewn body parts that I will make for you prior to the class.

I will cover complete painting instructions for using traditional oil paints on your doll and we will also discuss the pros and cons of water-soluble oils.  After your doll is painted you will learn how to assemble the doll and the “second skin”.

After completing your doll, the focus of the class will switch to the fine details of making reproduction mid 1800’s doll clothing suitable for Izannah Walker dolls.  We’ll start with my Izannah Walker Reproduction Doll Clothes Pattern for an 18- 1/2 Inch Doll and move on from there to explore some of the intricate and exquisite techniques that make 19th century dress making so beautiful.  You’ll have the chance to see and examine numerous garments from my collection of antique doll and children’s clothing. Attendees will need to purchase one of my doll clothing patterns and do some prep work prior to 9/28, so that we can make the most of our class time.   Tuition is $375 for 18 hours of instruction, which includes painting supplies, plus $29 for the pattern (the pattern comes with the doll making class instructions, so if you are taking both classes, you do not need to buy the pattern for the second session). If you want me to make all of the parts for your doll prior to class, add $450 to the cost of your tuition.

Doll # 1
Doll # 2







Choose from head style # 1 or # 2.


It was pointed out to me that at Gail Wilson’s A REAL MOLDED CLOTH IZANNAH (17″) RETREAT attendees were not expected to sculpt their own doll heads and make their own molds 🙂 (Gail provides the heads of an Izannah inspired doll that she has made in metal molds).

The main focus of my classes has always been to teach you how to make dolls as accurately as possible , from start to finish, in the same manner that Izannah Walker made her dolls*.  I consider my class to be a Master Level class, and I want the people who take it to acquire some serious doll making techniques and skills.  I’m not trying to hand you a kit (there is nothing wrong with kits – I think there are some marvelous kits on the  market – they are just not what I’m offering) to assemble, I want you to learn how to do things for yourself and the reasons why certain processes are done the way they are.

However I do realize that there are some people, that desperately want to try their hand at making a reproduction Izannah, who lack the confidence or experience necessary to make the doll without significant assistance.  So for everyone who does not feel that they are a Master Level Doll Maker, for those wanting to make a doll made from a mold taken from an actual antique Izannah Walker doll, or for people who want to relax and enjoy the retreat as a bit more of a social occasion, new this year is the option for you to have me make a head and body parts for you prior to class!  Selling unpainted, unfinished doll heads, bodies and limbs is not something that I normally do, and certainly not something that I want to do on a regular basis.  They are available to retreat attendees only.

*It is not known how Izannah Walker acquired the heads from which the molds for her dolls were made.  She may have hired someone else to do the sculpting, used a commercially available dolls of the period, or done her own sculpting.


Classes will be held at my 18th century farm.  We will be working out of my studio building and a tent**, so that you can enjoy a bit of autumn splendor, if the weather cooperates.

Students will get a tour of my antique doll collection, which features cloth dolls including Izannah Walker originals, and early papier-mâché milliner’s models (plus more), as well as my c.1790 house.

Classes run from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. each day, with the exception of Sunday, September 30th.  On Sunday class will start at 1:00 p.m., so you will have a chance to go to church, sleep in, have a leisurely brunch, or go shopping at The Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market, one of the best flea markets in New England.

On Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday I will whip up something simple for lunch, using fresh produce from my gardens, or you may choose to bring a lunch with you.  Tea and coffee will be available all day, because I work best with constant infusions of caffeine :).

You will need to bring supplies along with you, as they are not included in the classes.  A supply list will be sent out well in advance of September.  The exception to this is that I will provide all the plaster you need during Part 1 and all painting supplies for Part 2.   If you are flying in and weight is a consideration, you may make arrangements to have silicone mold putty sent here directly.  You may also choose to purchase an optional material kit at an additional charge. It includes enough of nine historically-correct reproduction fabrics, six antique buttons, antique lace, cotton or wool tape and cotton stuffing to make one complete, fully-dressed 18-½ inch doll. Fabrics may vary from those pictured.

I have numerous sewing machines that you can use; you are also welcome to bring your own portable machine.

Due to space limitations, class sizes are going to have to be kept fairly small.  Sign up early to avoid being disappointed, especially if you want me to pre-make a head and body parts, as I will only have time to make a few of these.

Tuition is non-refundable.  What is the reason for this policy? Once you book space in the class, it will potentially keep other people from being able to sign up and also will affect whether or not the class will meet the minimum number of required students. People need to be able to make their travel plans in advance, so if you register and then cancel it creates huge problems.

** I regret that the classes are not handicap accessible, because of the terrain and antique buildings.  Please note that the messy, smelly parts of this class will be held in tents :), weather permitting .


Simply place your order  on my website; or call me at 860-355-5709 or email me at, to sign-up or to ask questions.  Payment is due when you register.  You may send a check, money order, or Paypal payment.  Lay-away of a limited duration is also an option.  Lay-aways must be completed before the start of the retreat.

5 thoughts on “2012 Izannah Walker Doll Making Retreat is Confirmed for September 28th – October 3rd

  1. Dear Paula
    As I am coming in from Australia I will need all the help I can get with weight. I am bringing a sculptured head. The rest I will pay you to acquire for me. I am here to learn the traditional way. I am at your mercy. What ever I need please get it for me and I will pay you when I arrive.
    Looking forward to meeting all the Izannah doll ladies.
    Kindest regards

    1. Vicki,

      Not a problem. We will work it out. Charlotte is coming from Canada and I’m doing the same for her 🙂 I’ll be sending out more detailed information soon to all of the class participants.


  2. Hi Paula,
    I am still trying to decide on which doll to pick for the seminar and was wondering if the dolls pictured in Painting Photo Part 2 are from doll # 2 on the left (girl with scalloped hair) and doll # 1 (boy)?
    Thanks so much, Charlotte

  3. Hi Charlotte 🙂

    Both dolls in that photo are made from Doll #2 and they are actually both girls 🙂 One with curls and the other with the short wispy hair that Izannah did on some of her girls. It doesn’t really show in this photo but the way you can tell girls from boys is the part. Girls have center parts and boys have side parts, this holds true for Izannah’s dolls, as well as children’s portraits and photographs from the same time period. Here is a link to some great photos of the Izannah Wallker doll owned by the Little Compton, Rhode Island Historical Society that has lovely wispy hair .


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