Well, I hope everyone is doing good and working, despite the terrible heat. I mentioned this before, but, even though it doesn't effect the doll making, it sure does make all other jobs harder. Making a good deal of progress on several dolls, I am showing this new doll today, even though her photographs aren't the best. the lighting wasn't right, but I wanted to show her anyway. She is very serious looking, more than the antique I copied her from. The other doll was dark eyed with very dark hair, but a sweeter expression. this girl is sweet too, but not as much. This particular mold is probably one of my favorite ones. It is a nice size and has that great Izannah shaped head. She had a lot of different head molds, and I have never seen anyone try to make a copy of this doll, but me. Among the different dolls I have been working on are two new Alabama babies. I am making them like the early ones with the big flappy ears. these old black dolls are never seen up for sale. You see lots of white Alabama dolls, and a few of the newer black molds Ella Smith made, but not the very early black ones, I am here to tell you that making these Alabama babies is pain staking work, probably more than the Izannah dolls. Another set of dolls in the works are three of the tiny Izannah dolls about 9 to 10 inches. These little dolls are also tons of work. I have just about hand sewed two dresses so far. My new Izannah plaster molds are made, but no cloth heads from them yet. Hopefully I will be wrapping up some of these dolls that have taken so long and can move onto the new heads, I am excited to see how they turn out. Making the dresses for the two black Alabama dolls is something I do look forward to. Happy doll making and a happy summer to everyone.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
When I made this doll I immediately decided she needed a pink dress. Everything about her said " Pink ". I hope every one in doll making land is doing good and working on their dolls despite the terrible heat. Along with working most days on the house, I have been steadily working on the dolls too. Finally finishing two of the larger dolls, I have gotten around to trying to finish two of the small 9 inch Izannah dolls. These little ones have been in the works for over a year, but kept getting passed up, but now is their time to get their clothes. Fortunately, I found some antique calico fabric in bright colors to make the dresses. Wanting to make their pictures today, they said no, better to get them all dressed up. Can't say I blame them for this. The heat is really bad here in Mississippi. Almost 100 degrees on the thermometer, and we can expect it to stay this way until mid September. Hopefully we will have rain so the grass doesn't burn up. I have been seeing some pretty dolls being made and shown on facebook. One of my new molds didn't pan out as I had thought it would, but I am fixing to make the other mold and see if that is better, I really don't understand why the first head was a failure, as it looked good to me, but that is how it goes when making something new, you just have to keep at it. Getting back to the doll in the pink dress, she is big, about 21 or so inches with new legs and feet by a pattern I got from Margaret Flavin along time ago. The legs and the feet are made seperate and then sewed together. I can really see why the old Izannahs have trouble with the feet coming loose from the legs. I have made a solid leg and the seperate leg and feet, but the solid leg and foot is a much stronger construction. Our pink girl has a dress made of antique double pink calico which has the most starch in it. I washed it and it is still stiff. I guess the sizing or whatever they used on it will have to have several washings to limber up some, but I will not wash it again. She also has a very pretty slip which is part of an old antique ladies slip that was cut down, some voile pantyloons and a voile chemise with lace on both. the bonnet is a little frilly for the Izannah dolls, but what can I say, I just have to make a few things to suit myself, and the clothes can always be changed to suit any one who might buy this doll. The forth of July will be here soon, so I wish everyone a happy holiday and as always happy doll making.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
I have a new red dress says dolly. It is very pretty with a matching bonnet and I am told it is made out of antique turkey red cotton fabric. Yes, dolly, as she has no name yet, the dress I made for you is very fine, I think , with a lined bodice, a nice sash, and the cap like bonnet with the frills on top. Making a red dress is not any trouble if it is, say, a Calico with some designs or contracting colors in it, but I found making the solid red dress very difficult because there was nothing to save it from being too plain, nothing to give it a wow factor, other than the style of it in the end. A simple change in the sleeves, or even the length of the hem affected whether it would be pretty or not. I did find, after trying out several things, such as a contrasting sash, or collar that nothing worked. I finally settled on unrelieved red, a very full skirt, dainty sleeves and the frilly cap was what I needed to set the dress off. I have looked at dresses made by famous designers and when they make a solid color dress, the shape and some special detail to the dress is just the touch needed to make the dress work and be spectacular. My dress is not spectacular, but I think it suits this doll just right, and it is really, really red. Trying to finish several dolls, this doll is a little different as she has a childish look, not like the Izannah's, but rather a little girls's doll. After the last auction of the antique Izannah doll on ebay, I went back to the sculpting table and have made two more heads, this time concentrating on the distinct shape and features and body of that doll. I came up with a new mold that I am making a cloth head right now. In this mold, the doll has the bulging forehead, and the really fat rounded cheeks with the flat nose that I think everyone loved about that doll. I will post the head to see if I have a likeness. Wish me luck on this. I hope every one will have a good memorial holiday, and maybe have some time for doll making. Oh, I almost forgot, I have added a new feature to the clothes, a label, this is a fun new touch, and I think it adds to the over all doll.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
This is the second doll I have made that I modeled from a particular antique Izannah Doll. This particular doll is my model doll, but I have made a plaster mold from her and now she can travel to a new home. In all ways she is made like the antique Izannah dolls, having a pressed cloth head, attached, but stockinet covered ears, muslin body with a sateen aged body suit, stitched fingers with applied thumbs, bare feet with stitched toes, and the head, lower arms and lower legs are painted in oil paint. however this doll is just a touch heavier in the head than other dolls. Her dress is made of antique black calico fabric I took from a antique dress I bought on ebay. Happily I have been able to make three outfits from the dress. As you see she has a pretty bonnet of the same black calico fabric with a dyed quilted liner. The shoes I made her are my cloth shoes, which are doubled so as to have a liner and extra strength, painted, polished and given ankle straps with snaps for easy removal. They are plain polished black and do resemble soft leather. I worked on this doll a long time and she always rewards me when I pass by and look at how pretty she is. My blog is being used today, not only to just show everyone this doll, but to show her to a person who is interested in her. You can up load more photos quickly here and it is easier than sending pictures on a email. I have made a third doll like this one, but she of course, will not be exactly like this doll. The black is so pretty, but be warned, it will be really really hard on your eyes to sew. I suffered alot trying to see stitches here, but, it is truly a pretty old fabric. As I have said many times, the old fabric is nothing like what you get today. How many dolls like these have I made, I have lost count, but I never took good pictures of them and put them in a book, so we bought some very expensive high gloss photo paper and today we started making atleast one picture of each doll, so that I can look back on these dolls some day. I hope to see some work from other doll makers as I enjoy seeing what others are making.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Time is passing pretty fast, and we are busy with lots of projects from doll making to house renovating and up keep. In my last post I said I would show pictures to follow the development of the three Izannah like dolls I am making, and here they are. Why not just show the finished dolls? Well, part of doll making is the process, not just ( BOOM ) here is a finished doll for sale. Alot of the enjoyment is actually working on the dolls, from the beginning until they are all dressed up and waiting for people to see them. I discovered along time ago, as much as I like to buy ready made things, including dolls and doll clothes, it is more fun and interesting to be able to work and create them. The techniques used to make these dolls also works for other type dolls too, such as, the Alabama Babies, Philadelphia Baby dolls, French Fashion, and even the Martha Chase dolls, I finally found pictures of the black Martha Chase dolls, which I am going to try my hand at this year. When these dolls are finished it will be time to do some black Izannah dolls and finish my two alabama baby dolls. It is funny that people seem to prefer the white Izannah dolls to the black ones, because the black ones are rare. The earlier black Alabama babies and the black Martha Chase dolls would be rare too and probably more valuable. I like making all the dolls, but the black ones hold a special interest for me. For a long time I couldn't find pictures of the black bisque Jumeau dolls, but I have found them now and since I have a Jumeau mold, I will be making ( or finishing ) two of the dolls I have already made with cloth heads. Putting glass eyes in my cloth heads will be a fun experiment. I wanted to make a real bisque head, but if you spread yourself out to thin, you can't really focus and make anything, you just drift from one thing to another, so best to finish out a few dolls at one time, before moving on. These Izannah dolls still have some finishing work, ageing and so forth to do, but I will post them when they are finished. Each session at the paint table makes a noticeable difference.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Finally, I have finished this smaller ( about 18 inch ) boy doll I have been working on for awhile. A very sweet lady I know and have made other dolls for wanted a boy to go with her other Izannah dolls, so here he is. This doll is slighter and smaller than the stockier Izannah girls I have going on right now, but he is perfect in his size to me. This doll is the first one to be finished of the three new molds I made. I am making pictures of three other girl dolls that are being made now, and I think will be very pretty. Two of these are new molds, one is a older mold, but I think she will be nice too. In the past, I have showed the first stages of the dolls development ( past the mold making ) starting with before the gesso is even applied. It is fun to me to see their progress, so I thought I would do the same for these three girls. It always surprises me to see what the final doll will look like, because, the white serene face will change so much. You see the face and say ( I know what she will look like, but when the first coat of paint goes on, she will probably, no, make that surely, look different than you thought. the shape of the head and features determines alot, but the paint has just as big an impact. I made a black calico doll dress out of a antique dress and it is super hard on the eyes, and I had a good bit of this, so I made the boy's suit out of the same fabric, plus I used the dresses brown sleeve lining to make the shirt and bow tie. The brown color is so pretty, wish I had a bunch more. I love the dark colors, but they will just about blind you trying to see the stitches. The new molds were copied from pictures of antique dolls, and if the likeness is not exact, the resemblance is seen. I don't know how Izannah Walker got her molds made, but in a time when metal was used more and plastic didn't exist, it is probable that she got metal molds made, as I have seen pictures of other metal molds not attributed to her, but if they existed in the same time as she was making dolls, it makes sense to me that she could have had them, and that many of her dolls have the same features because they were pressed in metal. I say all this, because when you use a plaster mold, over time the molds can deepen from cleaning, and this would not happen with metal, thus the slightly different faces. Come back and see these girls develop
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Recently I have taken an interest in trying to make a high collar Dress and a interest in making rags dolls out of old flour sacks. As you know, anything old in fabrics is costly, the old flour sacks are no different. Winning a bid on 27 old flour sacks has provided me with lots of fabric to test out dolls with. Some of the sacks are smooth, but don't have any stains or writing, several of them have lots of staining and very faded writing and pictures, but you can make your dolls, or animals, as I have also make some standing rabbits with the sacks, to be posted later. Not only are the dolls made of flour sacks, their body suits, and some clothes are being made out of the sacks as well. The dress I am showing is made out of civil war reproduction fabric, but the bonnet and shoes are flour sacking I have dyed, These particular dolls have a very long neck, and I see I can shorten the neck on the dress a little. This pattern is very old fashioned looking, but the dolls are super light weight, even though I did use real rags in the bodies, arms and legs, not all rags, but some. As I have said before, the faces are a problem for me, but I put on the dolls the best simple face I thought looked good, it is very easy to go to far with color, or pencil, or ink. Once you have gone to far and are not happy with the look of the face, you can turn the doll around and start again on the other side, but I didn't, as I knew I would not be happy with that, and you would have to cover the back of the head. Right now, cloth dolls are popular again, especially antique ones, but to costly for me. If I was going to make a more classical old cloth doll with a pencil face, I would choose strong smooth muslin and probably a different color or material to make it look old. It is my thinking that some folks are using real dirt to stain the dolls, as I can see no other way to get the look of dirt, as grunge doesn't look that way., but for now I am happy with my experimenting and the dolls are very pretty just sitting around. If there is any way to use antique fabric for these dolls, or atleast a fabric that you have dyed yourself, or aged I would stay away from new or even reproduction fabric, it doesn't suit these dolls. They need older, not necessarily ragged clothes, but definitely clothes that look like they have been around a long time.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
Things have been slow in the posting. I imagine everyone is busy, either working on their dolls, plus everyday work, or trying to recuperate from health issues, or just things that come up that require all, or so much of your time. I have had alot of that, as we are continuing to work on our house, and take care of problems and up keep here at my mama's house. While not working on needful things, I have been devoting all my available time to working on my dolls, which included some flour sack rag dolls, which I forgot to take pictures of tonight, but will post them soon, but here are a few of the dolls that I have been spending time with. As you know, I made some dolls out of old doll heads to use as mold makers for new doll heads. I completed this., but as I worked so long and hard on these models ( for that is what they are, as the heads are a tag to heavy to sell, I wanted to finish them out to keep, plus I might need to make some more molds of them eventually. As I went on with them, I have lavished much time and good antique fabric for their clothes. I have made a black calico dress from antique calico and a set of so pretty vintage lace Chemise and panty loons for one, I liked this so much, I went out and found some more lace to make several other dolls the same unders. My model is my little odd doll which I have kept to consider some more. Also, I made a girl doll in the likeness of the Izannah antique picture that I have had for a long time, but not sure of her fate as yet. The new molds include the small boy doll, who is the first cloth head out of the plaster mold, I did make a cloth head out of the other two new molds, but they are just in two pieces as of yet, so I didn't show them tonight, but they show great promise. It is hard to tell all that a person is working on, but I hope the summer will prove fruitful in making some nice dolls for people. I meant to make improvements in my new dolls, and I think I have in several ways. Lighter cloth heads, a better body with good weight distribution, better feet, barefoot or with shoes, which I also hope to make improvements on. Also the hands need to be slimmed down, as I make them to fat. I wanted to talk about my observations on the paint jobs on the real antique Izannahs, but I will run out of time,so a discussion for another day. Thanks for coming by. Come back and we will visit and learn together. Martha
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
As promised, here are the results of my first time trying to dye fabric with real indigo dye. First of all, let me tell you how it works. You get a kit, or you buy the dye and chemicals and a dye vat, which in my case is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid. For someone who wanted to dye large pieces of fabric, I saw that a 5 gallon bucket isn't really big enough. A larger deeper container would be better, as you have to swish the fabric under the water for several minutes without letting it go to the bottom of the bucket. All the pieces I am showing here were actually dyed twice. the first time some spotting occurred, or I decided to try to get a darker color. It is amazing to see the fabric come out of the bucket green and then when it hits the air, it starts to turn blue. it gets bluer and bluer. I think the color depends on several factors. the type of fabric, the time left in the vat, and the amount of dye you put in. I posted several pieces of fabric to show how they fared. The flour sack fabric dyed lighter blue and a dark blue too, so there is a factor unknown to me how this occurred. The first dress is modeled by Miss Rag doll. Her dress and bonnet were white with black designs. The black designs can still be seen under the blue. The second dress is modeled by our headless black honey child doll, who the dress was originally made for. Poor Honey Child's head is waiting to be worked on and repainted if I can find the right paint. This dress was a super faded out flour sack fabric, and that is why I dyed it. It is very pretty now, even without any designs at all. The dark plain blue is nice to me and rich looking. I haven't had time to investigate how to get designs in the fabric that the blue doesn't cover, but I think some kind of sizing is used. I can only imagine what the old factories used to be like. All those huge dye vats, and after a week the indigo vat starts to smell, as it is organic, but I think the vat will stay alive for atleast two weeks. I let mine die, because I couldn't really find more to dye right then. Not to worry though, I have another kit. HaHa Another concern is in a dress or piece of clothes that has lots of pleats, or a very full skirt, you have to be sure to get all of the cloth soaked under the water and try to seperate the folds some, otherwise parts of the folds might not get dyed. This caused me to dye the solid blue dress twice. Drat, running out of room again. Hope this helps any one wanting to try to dye fabric.