Thank you so much for coming by to see Sophie and Mae. Both of them are now sold.
Sophie and Mae, the two portrait face New England rag dolls that were in my article in the Winter 2014 issue of Prims are back home, in all their Sunday finery, just in time for Easter! Sophie and Mae are two of the five flat face head variations that I made for my Izannah Walker doll making students. Class members can use the five different heads with their Izannah class patterns. The bonus patterns are available to class members through the class discussion site free of charge. Follow this link to read more about my Prims article.
Now that the girls are back from California, they are ready to find new homes. I’ve just listed them for sale on my website. If you are interested in buying either of them you can go through the secure automatic checkout at http://www.asweetremembrance.com or you may call me 860-355-5709 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Shipping is free to any US address and lay-away is available with terms to fit your budget.
SOLD Sophie is dressed in a pink and black print dress made from antique late 19th century fabric, a petticoat with lavish pink crochet trim and a cap made from antique crocheted cotton lace. Her face, head and shoulders are painted with artist’s oils.
SOLD Mae’s face, head and shoulders are painted with artist’s oils. She is wearing a silk plaid dress with cartridge pleated skirt and velvet ribbon trim, a white scalloped petticoat, black hand knit socks and handmade brown leather shoes with purple silk laces.
I have long dreamed of finding a late 18th century doll to live here with us in our 224 year old home. Last year, more or less by accident, I happened across a c.1790 English Wooden doll for sale on Mary Ann Spinelli’s website. I had an immediate crush on her! She was just what I was looking for, a plain everyday English wooden that could have been found in a New England farmhouse such as ours. Mary Ann is gracious enough to offer lay-away, so I have been paying her off over the intervening months since I first saw her photo.* Today I finally got to meet her in person!
When my life calms down a bit, after I host a meeting of my doll club in May and return from selling at the UFDC convention in July, I’m really looking forward to pulling out my tiny stash of 18th century fabrics and sewing a new wardrobe for my English wooden doll. I’ve decided to name her Sophronia after Sophronia Guild Ferris the first woman known to live in our house. (You can read more about the original Sophronia and the history of our house here.)
I received my advance copy of Prims Winter 2014 issue right before Christmas. Today I finally found a few moments to sit down with a small friend and look over my article, while we shared a cup of tea and a slice of the wonderful nut roll that Mary sent me for Christmas.
You can read all about my portrait face New England rag dolls when this latest issue of Prims goes on sale January 1st. The dolls featured in the article are ones that I made for my Izannah Walker doll making class. They are variations on the class patterns, that allow class members to create additional types of cloth dolls. All told I made five different variations of my patterns for my students. Two of the dolls with painted cloth faces appear in the magazine. The patterns are free for class members and instructions for making the dolls are posted on the class site.
Today would have been my mother’s 84th birthday. Happy Birthday Mom!
I have always loved dolls, and as far as I can tell my mother did too, although I don’t think that she had an abundance of dolls when she was growing up. As a child of the depression, born just 10 months prior to the stock market crash of 1929, she had a somewhat stark childhood. I have the Shirley Temple doll that was the last doll she received as a child and the only one she kept. Later in life my mom began collecting dolls. She had one large bisque doll, quite a few composition dolls and a whole armful of vintage dolls in international costumes. She even bought a fair number of hard plastic dolls.
When I was five, Mom bought me a composition doll at Goodwill for a quarter. She was my very first vintage doll! I was only allowed to play with her in the house, because my mother was afraid I would drop her on the concrete driveway or sidewalk and break her. I still have that doll, who survived my childhood and remained unbroken until my husband stepped on her and cracked one of her legs. If I was especially good I was permitted to play with Mom’s Shirley Temple!
The dolls that I love best are older than my mother’s favorites. I rather think that she wouldn’t have liked the antique painted cloth dolls that have captured my heart and I’m positive that she didn’t share my passion for early wooden dolls. But in the best motherly tradition, she was happy to go with me to doll shops and was excited for me when I bought my first true antique dolls.
I don’t have much time these days to work on doll projects of my own, but one of the things I have wanted to do for several years is to make a pair of reproduction 18th century wooden dolls. I’m hoping that 2014 is the year I get to make this dream come true. I plan to name one of the dolls after my mother and make her wig from some of my mom’s hair that she cut off when I was a baby (she got tired of me pulling on her long hair ). The second doll will be smaller and her wig will be made with my hair that I’ve cut and saved (doll makers don’t throw anything away). Working on the dolls will be a nice way to spend time remembering my mother and all of the things we liked to do together and a keepsake that reflects our shared passion for dolls and memories of long ago childhoods.
Today marks the 196th anniversary of Izannah Walker’s birth. She was born in Bristol, Rhode Island on the 25th day of September in 1817. You may read more details about Izannah’s life in this post. I wish I could invite you all over to my house for cake and silly party games, but since I can’t, I’m doing the next best thing and having a SALE to celebrate the occasion and to say thank you for being such wonderful customers, students and friends. It is such a great pleasure to know other people who love Izannah’s dolls as much as I do!
From 9/25/13 – 9/29/13 all of my reproduction Izannah Walker dolls, additional custom made dresses and accessories for your Izzy, Izannah Walker doll clothes patterns and Izannah Walker Doll Making Classes are 10% off. This sale applies only to items ordered from September 25th through September 29th, 2013, the discount is not available on prior orders. As always, all items may be placed on lay-away with terms to fit your budget and shipping is free to any United States address. I generally just have two sales per year, my Izannah Walker Birthday Sale and my Christmas Sale 🙂 So don’t let this one pass you by.
Three Finished Dolls Available
I have three very special dolls available for this years Birthday Sale. One of them is created from a brand new mold that I made from my friend Mary’s Izannah Walker doll, Anna. Thank you Mary!!! Anna is 17 inches tall, so she is a smaller size than my other dolls and has the look of a younger, chubbier child. All three of these dolls have very aged appearances, befitting young ladies that were made early in Izannah’s doll making career. They each come with two elaborate dresses, full of wonderful little details to delight the heart of any dress maker, a chemise, pantalettes, petticoat and necklace.
Isabeau #1 SOLD – Thank you so much for stopping by to look at her! Please contact me if you would like to order a custom made doll similar to this one.
Isabeau #2 – SOLD Thank you!
Anna #2 – NOW SOLD THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR LOOKING. Even though this one is sold you may order a custom made Anna style doll, and if you love these dresses I have enough fabric to make another set just like them.
Are you wondering where Anna #1 is? In the very near future she is going to be living with Mary, her older sister Anna and all of her Walker cousins in Vermont. Members of my Izannah Walker Doll Making Class may read about my adventures in making Anna #1 in a continuing series of posts on the class member site.
To see photos of the original Miss Anna, follow these links:
I am a much better doll maker than I am a photographer. All of the girls look so much nicer in person. If you would like to see more photos of any of the dolls before placing an order, just ask. To purchase any of these dolls please visit my website ASweetRemembrance.com or alternately you may email email@example.com or call 860-355-5709.
Time worn, well loved dolls are the ones that kindle the fiercest love in my heart, but I know that some of you dearly love newer, more pristine dolls. Don’t despair, I would be happy to make you the Izannah Walker doll that inhabits your dreams and has captured a place in your heart. Call or email me to place a custom order, 860-355-5709 ( 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time) or firstname.lastname@example.org. I do have a bit of a waiting list for custom work, so the sooner you order the better.
Email (email@example.com) or call me (860-355-5709) about prices and available fabrics for custom made doll clothing and accessories. Simple dresses made from antique fabric start at $200 apiece. More elaborate dresses with a greater number of tucks, fuller skirts, rows of ribbon or lace trim, embroidery or more costly antique fabrics run from $250 -$275 and may go upwards. Handmade leather shoes are $75. Any custom order is 10% off during the sale. Scroll up to see the new style of dress that I made for Anna #2. The fully lined dress has a slim cut bodice and sleeves, with a cartridge pleated skirt and velvet ribbon trim. The cost of an identical dress is $295, if the dress must be fully lined, or $275 for one with a lined bodice.
I don’t have a pattern available yet for smaller size clothing to fit Anna.
To read more about my Izannah Walker Doll Making Class by Mail follow this link to my website, where you may also order the class. The class comes with unlimited support, plus a class member only discussion site that features extra bonus material and patterns, including five different flat faced heads that work with the rest of your Izannah class patterns so that you can create a variety of different cloth dolls as friends for your Izzys! Sophie and Mae, two of my dolls that I made using the flat faced patterns will be featured in the Spring 2014 issue of Prims magazine.
Time For A Party
After trying on all their new clothes and posing for their photo shoot, the girls and I spent some time in the kitchen baking Izannah a birthday cake. We all agreed that it was the perfect treat to celebrate the birthday of our very favorite doll maker!
The recipe for the cake came from The Best of Shaker Cooking by Amy Bess Miller and Persis Fuller. I chose this recipe because it is one that would have been in use during Izannah’s lifetime and is filled with apples, the perfect seasonal fruit for an autumn birthday. I picked apples to use from our oldest apple tree. It is a very firm, late season cooking apple that I have never been able to positively identify. We grow our apples organically, so they are not picture perfect, but I’m sure apples just like these would have been a familiar site to Izannah.
from Shirley Shaker Village
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup currants or raisins
Cream butter and gradually add 1/2 of the sugar, beating well. Beat egg with remaining sugar, add to first mixture. Sift in flour, salt and baking powder alternately with the m ilk. Flavor with vanilla. Add apples and currants or raisins. Beat well to mix and turn into a well-buttered 9 inch cake tin, square or round.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon, and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes. Makes 1 cake.
I’d like to say thank you to all of the wonderful members of the Jenny Lind Doll Club who made me feel so very welcome yesterday at their meeting! I have been thinking for some time of joining the UFDC and I was finally pushed into action by all the glowing accounts of doll club meetings and conventions that I have been hearing from some of the members of my Izannah Walker class 🙂
I went to the UFDC website and contacted Margaret Vitale, who is the Regional Director in my area, and among other things helps interested people find a local club. Margaret was great. She put me in touch with the Jenny Lind club, one of the oldest clubs in the UFDC. Shelly, the Jenny Lind member in charge of membership has been wonderful and I can’t thank her enough. She has been very attentive, welcoming and even arranged for me to car pool to my first meeting!
I greatly enjoyed the afternoon spent in the home of Jenny Lind president Pixie, and her interesting program on Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, plus the delicious lunch she served. I could not have asked for a better beginning in the UFDC!
🙂 As a footnote somehow I wound up agreeing to host the May meeting at my house!!! It should be fun, as Pixie is planning to speak about Izannahs!
I had a whirlwind week last week. So much so that I’m still not caught up and only getting around to posting this now 🙂 Last Monday I had the chance to visit with Rainie Crawford, she is a wonderful artist and doll maker, who designed an entire line of cloth doll and teddy bear patterns. You may remember seeing her ads for mail order patterns in many women’s magazines over the years. My friend Joy and I spent an entire day with Rainie. She gave us a tour of all of her collections and we had a lovely time talking about doll and bear making, among many other topics. The day just flew past. I took lots of photos of Rainie’s collections and dolls which I will be sharing in a later post. Rainie is going to be selling her prototype dolls. They are all of the models used in her magazine ads. She has not worked out all of the details just yet, but if you would be interested in adding an original Rainie Crawford prototype cloth doll to your collection, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly put you in touch with Rainie.
On Friday, a group of friends and I braved the rain to go to the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY. We had a fun, but very wet, day and came back home with a head full of ideas and bag full of treasures. I have been wanting to go to a Country Living Fair for several years, but hadn’t been willing to drive to Ohio to attend.
The rain finally cleared enough on Saturday for me to go to an antique show in Harwinton, CT, which is held at the local fair grounds. That meant I was traipsing around poultry and livestock buildings two days in a row 🙂 I’ve been going to the Harwinton show, which was previously held at the polo grounds in Farmington,CT, for twenty years. Unfortunately the show is much smaller than it was in it’s heyday. The show has been plagued with bad weather for quite a few years, which may have kept some dealers away. Even though there was less to see, I did enjoy looking at the offerings presented by some great long time antique dealers, and managed to unearth a few wonderful bits of doll clothing and accessories.
On Sunday morning it was back to the Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market for my weekly antique fabric hunt. I shop all summer long, searching for enough antique fabrics to tide me over through the lean shopping months of winter. At times I feel like a busy squirrel, frantically burying seeds in every possible nook and cranny. Needless to say, my studio is now piled high with stacks of tattered quilts, bits of lace, well worn linens and the surviving remnants of once beautiful antique garments. All of them waiting for me to gently take them apart, wash and air them, then fold them safely away and store them on the shelves in my studio, where they will wait until I bring them back to life as part of my dollmaking.
I promise to share photos of some of my best finds in upcoming posts. Until then I wish you all luck with your own summer treasure hunts!
As you might suspect, I have never met an antique painted cloth doll that I didn’t love. This is especially true for Ella Gauntt Smith’s Alabama Indestructible Babies. They are lovely toys, just the right size and weight to cuddle in a young girl’s arms.
Ella Smith was an art teacher who created her Alabama Babies to be sturdy, unbreakable play things in an age of fragile and easily broken dolls. She was an interesting and enterprising woman, with a fascinating biography.
Early in 2007 I was asked by Doll Crafter and Costuming magazine to write a three part article about Alabama Babies, that included full instructions and patterns for making a reproduction doll. The series appeared in the March, April and May 2007 issues of the magazine.
The following is an excerpt from the March article. I’m running it here especially for Martha, one of my Izannah class members, who is also keenly interested in Alabama Babies and for anyone else who loves them as I do.
Making An Alabama Indestructible Doll
by Paula Walton
Level of Difficulty: High
Alabama Indestructible Dolls were made by Ella Smith and a small group of women employees in Roanoke, Alabama from 1905 until 1932. In 1904, Mrs. Smith traveled to St. Louis, Missouri to show her dolls at the St. Louis Exposition. Her dolls won a first place classification at the Exposition, and the following year on March 31, 1905, she filed an application for her first doll patent. Her patent number 800,333 was granted on September 26, 1905. Mrs. Smith went on to obtain a number of additional patents for improvements and changes to the design of her dolls.
This is the first in a series of three articles that will give you patterns and instructions for making a 22-inch tall Alabama Indestructible doll in the style of Ella Smith’s earliest dolls. The following is Miss Ella’s (as she was commonly known) description of her dolls as printed in one of her catalogs in her own words:
“My dolls are all made of the best white goods – no dyes used, as they rot the goods and cause the dolls to wear out sooner. They are all carefully Hand-made. Hand-painted with pure oil paints and can be washed like children. There is no glue or paste used in them. They are stuffed with cotton and sewed with the best thread. No cheap stuff used in the make- up of these dolls. They do not break from being dropped or thrown about. They have been tested by five years’ use. When they are worn and need new hands or feet or painting again, they may be sent back here to the shop and made to look like a new doll for a small sum. Our dolls may be provided with glass eyes, but we prefer the painted eyes – they look like life, and then there is no possible chance of a child to pick the fabric from around the eyes. If we were to use glass eyes we would have to cut the fabric from over the eyes and that would leave a new edge, and when the dolls faces were washed the edges would become rough and ugly around the eyes: and the glass eyes are only a shell and so very easily broken. These dolls are just what the people want if they are looking for something good and substantial, and every child is so glad to get one of these dolls. They look so much like a baby when dressed in long or short clothes, and when the dear little girl drops one of these dolls she don’t have to cry her little heart out because dolly has a broken head. She can just pick her up and go on happy and gay, because these dolls do not break from being dropped. Any one of these dolls may be provided with a wig, but most all people like the painted heads – they look so neat – and the wigs become tangled after a while; but they may be taken off and the heads painted the same as the others. These dolls are painted to represent all races of people. We mean to try to please all people as near as we can. We want our dolls to give perfect satisfaction.”
Up until now I haven’t sold individual patterns for my Alabama Babies. To start with, just after the articles were published, I didn’t want to infringe or compete with the Doll Crafter and Costuming articles, even though the magazine only had limited rights to the articles and patterns and I retained the copy rights. Later I hesitated to make the patterns available because the dolls and the pattern pieces are large enough that they require printing on oversize paper, which makes producing the patterns more difficult and expensive.
However I began to rethink selling copiesof this pattern after I advised Martha to look for back issues containing the articles. I’ve done a little checking around and it doesn’t look like it is easy to find these issues. In the intervening years Doll Crafter and Costuming has ceased publication. A quick look on eBay showed other Doll Crafter and Costuming issues (but not March, April or May 2007) for sale from $9.99 each. Another issue is that the patterns included in the April 2007 and May 2007 issues of Doll Crafter and Costuming were printed at 50%.
So I have updated and revised my original instructions to include an option for making bare feet, as well as the iconic painted shoes that Alabama Babies are so well know for. I’ve added more than twice as many color how-to photos to the step by step guide and had full size pattern pieces printed (so you won’t have to go to the trouble and expense of making enlargements).
Full support and unlimited questions and answers are included with this 30 page tutorial, as they are with all of my patterns and classes. Making a reproduction Alabama Baby is easier than making a reproduction Izannah Walker doll, but it is still a complex and challenging undertaking, so it’s nice to know that you will have some help along the way if you need it:) I have also started a class member only Ning site, with bonus materials, extra photos and the opportunity for you to interact and “converse” with other class members.
Read More About Alabama Babies
The Alabama Baby Indestructible Doll 1899-1932 by Bonnie Gamble Ballinger
Freeman’s Dolls For Collectors – Encyclopedia American Dolls by Ruth S. Freeman
American Rag Dolls – Straight From The Heart by Estelle Patino
A Celebration of American Dolls From The Collections Of The Strong Museum by Dorothy A. McGonagle
A short Alabama Baby love story: As a romantic footnote to this posting I have to add that my husband, Brian, gave me my first Alabama Baby as a Christmas gift. I was so utterly captivated by that original doll that he searched for others, which he presented to me on subsequent Christmases and birthdays, interspersing them with several Martha Chase dolls. Just another reason why Alabama Babies are dear to my heart 🙂
I was very excited to find strands of bone beads at the flea market. They are going to make wonderful Izannah necklaces and are available in more colors than the coral beads I have been using. The bone beads are also just as historically accurate as the coral. So now you will have your choice of both types of beads.
I’ve been frantically stocking up on all of the appropriate antique fabrics I can find. It’s going to be a long winter with many fewer shopping opportunities. I’m trying to make sure that I have enough fabric on hand to dress the dolls I will be making from now through early spring. The only drawback is that it’s making me feel a bit like a squirrel putting away nuts for winter 🙂
My shopping list, when I headed out to the doll show, consisted of one item – hand knitted doll socks. Upon arrival at the show I very virtuously purchased numerous pairs of lacy knit stockings (they are the one and only item of apparel that I do not hand make for my reproduction Izannahs). But then I got a bit sidetracked! I happened upon a fantastic German wooden doll, dressed in indigo prints.
Her clothing is old, though not as old as the doll herself. I’m estimating that her current ensemble dates to 1890-1910. Her pantalettes and chemise are probably original to the doll, which was made in the first part of the 19th century. Soon the wooden doll was carefully wrapped in tissue and residing in my shopping bag. To make sure that she didn’t feel lonely, I added a pair of tiny bisque pincushion dolls, a 1920’s Japanese bisque doll, a vintage spun cotton ornament, two tiny wooden Noah’s Ark dogs, and a pair of vintage evergreens to keep her company.