Thursday, April 28, 2016

Izannah Walker Style Doll Finished.

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

Painting the Izannah Heads

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

An Izannah Boy Doll

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

. It should be interesting.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Flour Sack Dolls

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

New Izannah inspired dolls and finishing up, ( making a high collar outfit.)

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

Indigo Dye Dresses and fabric. First Results

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.

Friday, February 5, 2016

New Doll Molds, making pencil face rag dolls, and experimental hair styles

As I haven't yet learned to space my pictures and underline what they are about, folks will have to figure out what I am saying about different dolls here and what I am doing to them. Firstly, my new molds, I have made 4 new ones. They are not all pictured here as one is plain white and you would not be able to see much. I can't see much either at this point, until some paint is applied. Two of the dolls are of the same antique I tried to copy. The  one in the red is my favorite, but the other with dark hair is closer to a true likeness of the antique doll. The other Izannah girl mold whose hair is not painted and has no eyebrows and is incomplete in the painting is a doll that is very pretty and I believe will make a beautiful doll. I tried to copy another antique doll, but failed, and this doll is the result. If you notice the silk knit stockinet has deeper ridges and I made a serious mistake putting it on her. I thought I had the grain going up and down, but got it sideways. ( Never Never Never Never Ever do this. You will have to paint so many coats of paint to fill in the ridges, it's terrible and a stupid mistake I shouldn't have made. This doll would have been painted long ago if it hadn't been for my ( apparently not paying attention to what I was doing ). Alot of my time has been spent in trying to make a new rag doll with a smaller, older looking body and with a pencil face. These dolls will have body suits of a old faded material, and calico dresses, probably just alike, as sisters. These are my first attempt. I also added some slight color to the faces, but don't know if this was a mistake or not. I will make some more with out color and see if I like that better. These old dolls are all different and I think any way you fix them would be alright. Lastly, hair styles. I have once again changed my doll that I have had so much trouble with to a new hair style. I made short bangs. I see I need to darken my distressing, so it doesn't stand out as much, but I like this hair do. This doll will be dressed in a black calico suit. Well,  that is all for now. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Jinksy has a new dress too. I wanted a super red dress, but nothing I had available was red enough. I already had a pretty red dress with black dots, but it was to plain, so off to the store to see what could be had. I managed to find the really red fabric in a fat quarter to make the bonnet and embellish the dress some. I love the bonnet fabric, but couldn't get any yardage, only 5 fat quarters, so I made do. This doll will also get some socks and shoes. I included a couple of pictures of us working, while we were sewing for Jinksy. You will have to excuse our ragged

y clothes and un combed hair, as this was spur of the moment, and I didn't have time to get beautiful for the camera. HaHa.   I had to take a break from doll making to go to the doctor. She congratulated me on loosing 10 lbs. I have a long way to go, but we are all working on our figures and our health issues as well. I have a ton of work to do, and it seems no time to do it all, but like every one else, I just go a step at at a time now and do as much as I can. Another picture I put up this time is another, (yes, another re- do ) on the paint on my last Izannah doll. This is the last one though. I do love this doll and will not be making another like this, as I have made new molds for the future, and they will have up grades on several fronts. New heads, new body changes, new feet design, and some minor changes with the fingers. Among the other projects I have going is my new rag doll body and changes in the way they look. I am trying out different fabrics ( mostly old flour sack ) to make the old looking dolls. They say we are in for a big snow storm the end of the week, and if that is true, more time for dolls, more me time. Well tonight on our strick diet we have atleast two cups of steamed cabbage to look forward to, as well as a little flat bread pizza that will fit into the palm of my hand. Gone are the days of ( Oh lets go get some fried chicken and potatoes ), and forget the bread. It  is a good thing they give us lots of oatmeal in every thing else, I do like it dry. Hope all is well with everyone and look forward to seeing others creations and activities.