and now my tale continues… Today it is time for Emmaline’s story. It’s a rollicking adventure of coincidence, fate, and love!
In June, 2014 one of my doll club members told me that a friend of hers who lived in Wilton, CT was putting all of her dolls up for sale at the Withington August auction. She then showed me a photo of a doll that her friend called a “Nantucket Doll”. Imagine my surprise when the “Nantucket Doll” was actually an Izannah Walker doll! The doll was dressed in a pink and white calico morning dress and had been repainted, but was clearly an Izannah Walker doll. It just so happened that another Izannah Walker doll was up for sale in the same Withington auction. I didn’t go to the auction, but several of the members of my doll club did. When our club met in September, the one other Izannah collector in the club brought the doll she bought at Withington’s to show me. No it wasn’t the “Nantucket Doll”, it was the second doll, a tiny 16 inch Izannah Walker.
Sometime later I happened upon the “Nantucket Doll” on eBay. The winner of the Withington auction had listed her for sale. Fast forward to the Autumn of 2015. A very good customer, and dear online penpal, contacted me. She had purchased an Izannah Walker doll. Would I take a look at photos of her and see if it was possible to do some restoration work on the doll? Low and behold, there was the “Nantucket Doll” again, now stripped of much of her repaint by a restoration professional (at the behest of the eBay seller). The little Nantucket Doll had been named Emmaline by her new mom, Anita. Anita had a wish list of restoration areas that she would like for Emmaline. Were they possible? Would the restoration be a good idea? She had conscientiously had the doll evaluated by fine art appraisers before writing to me. Together we worked out a minimalist plan for Emmaline that would help her look more like the truly beautiful doll she once was, but still show her age.
So after traveling far and wide during the intervening year, Emmaline once again returned to Connecticut. This time her destination was my studio, a mere 31 miles from Wilton where she had made her home for many years!
The first thing I did after Emmaline arrived was to ohh and ahh over her, introduce her to all of my resident Izannah Walker dolls, and then thoroughly document her condition.
Emmaline was remarkably intact for a doll of her age. Her only real issues were on her face. Her body was sound, with a bit of reinforcement stitching on the toes of her painted boots and fairly well matched over painting on one arm. Even her pale pink linen second skin was still in good shape!
The biggest challenge I faced with Emmaline, was getting all of the many skin toned paint colors on her face to blend into one another. During her lifetime her face was at least partially painted several times. Much of the overpaint on her face had been removed. What was left was a combination of her original paint that had faded and at least two other colors of flesh-tone paint. Fortunately the original paint on her shoulders, chest and back was intact, with areas of slightly yellowed varnish. The original non-faded paint on Emmaline’s shoulders told me what color her face should be, which was very important. When I started painting Emmaline’s face, I was very careful not to paint over any of her original paint. I did very sheer layers of paint over my reconstructed areas and the stubborn remaining overpainting. Because her original paint was chalky looking due to sun fading and cleaning I fed it several times with a very small amount of cold pressed linseed oil. The linseed oil helped bring the old paint back to life and also made it blend better with my new in painting. As my last painting step I wore away a smidgen of my newly applied lip paint. I wanted to make sure that nothing I did stood out or looked new.
Once I finished painting I moved on to dressmaking. Emmaline came with many layers of underclothing, so all I needed to do was make her extra dresses to augment her wardrobe. Sewing for Emmaline was a joy! It was a lot of fun to dress her up in her new clothes and see her in more fitted dresses.
After her new clothing was complete Emmaline was thrilled to be heading back home! Who wouldn’t be with such a loving and caring mom? Clearly Emmaline was fated to find such a perfect new home. Anita was so thoughtful when it came to deciding what was right for Emmaline. There could not be a better care taker for this early example of Izannah Walker’s work. Anita was also amazingly generous to me! She kindly allowed me to tell you about Emmaline, share photographs of her and is letting me make reproductions of her, so that other people who love Izannah Walker’s dolls can add an example of this lovely early girl to their doll families and keep Izannah’s legacy alive. ❤ Thank you Anita!!!
Good-bye Emmaline, we miss you little “Nantucket Doll”…
And they all lived happily ever after!
(*** Move your cursor over the photos to read the captions, click on photos to enlarge.)