After a long and hard time making four of these Alabama babies, also known as Alabama Indestructible Dolls, or Ella Smith Dolls, I am finally finished with them. Two white with matching outfits and two black with matching outfits. The other two, my first two are in an older post. I will have to work on the first black baby just a touch to bring her up to what I think is a better version of an antique black doll. I have said many times, the black dolls are harder to paint and still show details, but this last black doll shows up very well. There are lots of antique Ella Smith white dolls to be had, some are I would say prettier than others, but the old black ones are hard to come by, and I imagine much more expensive, that is why I wanted to make them in the first place. I have a white antique Alabama Baby, and have recently refurbished her some. I did only what must be done to save her. Her right ear was missing and her arms were in danger of falling off, and her right hand also in danger of separating from her arm. I did put new leg covers on the upper legs too, as they were very weak, but did nothing to the feet. I had to re glue some deep cracks in her face and apply just a touch of paint, but absolutely as little as possible. Soon, when I have had an opportunity to make her some clothes, I will post her pictures. These dolls are for friends in Mississippi who love all sorts of dolls, and have huge collections. Now that I have got my feet wet, so to speak, I feel that I can go on to make some really nice pretty accurate copies of the Alabama babies. they are really sweet and a good size. I do want to try to make the tiny Alabama baby I saw on ebay, and will tackle this eventually.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
In the last month I have turned away from my Izannah's somewhat, to make some primitive rag dolls, a lot of this is because they are easy to make and mama can work on them too. She is enjoying time with her sister and going to Florida for a few days, and so am I. We will go to Pensacola, Fla to see my brother and then on to pick up mama in Apalatchacola, Fla. These rag dolls are a little different. We have been experimenting with color, different noses, and putting in seed teeth. They look just a little scary at first, but they grow on you pretty quick. I think when I get the whites of the eyes put in and some fine dresses and bonnets on they will be cute. The summer is moving along pretty fast, but the doll work is going good. Lots of big Izannah's to come out in the next few months. We are making 27 of the tiny 8 inch dolls,
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Finally I am finished with this little about 18 to 19 inch doll. She gave me a lot of trouble while I was making her, I'm not sure what the real problem was, except my perception of depth from right to left must be a big part of what happened, and I think as we get older, and probably to some degree always was a little off, becomes worse. On a plain white surface it is hard to judge if everything is pretty even. On this doll, I was way off, to far off to just leave her alone and call it ( quaint charm ). She is quite beautiful now. We had a test of wills and while I say I won, she definitely won, getting her pretty face for her dolly life. This doll is not perfect, nor would I want her to be. She has some scratches on her shoulders, that I didn't plan, but in time that would happen anyway. She has a lot of distressing that was put there on purpose and I am well pleased with this. The fabric her dress and hat are make of, I got at Silent Stitches, it is Civil War Blue stripes reproduction calico, and I made her bonnet with the quilted osnaburg from Jo Anns Fabrics, it is really nice. Not much else to say except I am grateful to be done and not in danger of disgarding this doll as has happened in the past when fixing problems seemed to big to overcome at times. Moving on now to primitive rag dolls with my mama helping me. She is having fun making stitched faces and quite proficient at grunging. Mama stitched this dolls unders, and is a quick study at making dolls. I hope everybody has a chance to work some with their parents on things, it is very rewarding and certainly times I will always remember.
Friday, July 4, 2014
Hi and Happy 4th of July to everyone. I hope your day is going great. I have spent my day relaxing over my doll work. Lots of people read, or do various hobbies, but making the dolls is very enjoyable and calming for me, so it is natural that given the opportunity, I would choose to spend my day this way, however, tonight I will get rewarded with a good supper on the grill. Here are a few pictures of dolls in the works that are close to being finished, some finished and some with still along way to go. I took a picture of my 2nd pair of Alabama babies, even though they are far from finished, because you can see a lot of form and detail. The black one is hard to visualize finished, but I think she will be super cute. I have already made their matching outfits to the 1st pair that I made. The rag doll is finished and drying. I have picked out some pieces of pretty homespun and nice fabric for unders for her, which will be made into a beautiful dress by a sweet friend. The Izannah doll is my Trouble doll, which I have corrected. I had to carve her eye down and build up her right cheek and then re stockinet. Now she has a new paint job. I think she is pretty and will be outfitted in Civil War reproduction blue calico which I bought from Silent Stitches. She will have black boots with red scalloped tops. Work is going along steadily and peacefully. To all those folks headed to the UFDC Convention, I hope you will have great success and super fun, and a little rest from all your hard work getting ready to go. I will certainly be thinking of you all and hoping to hear some of the outcome of the convention.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Making dolls entails a lot no matter what kind of doll you are making, and some are much more trouble than others. Here are three dolls I am trying to finish, but each of these dolls has had a serious problem of one kind or another. I don't think experience saves you from making these mistakes, because I certainly know what to do, so why am I always plagued by crazy things like the right side of the heads always are fuller than the left side, or the shoulders are almost always uneven, or the right eye is always fuller and turned slightly outward than the left one. Sometimes these things don't present a big problem, but I believe it is the way my eyes are focusing on the unpainted white heads. It is hard to see, if you have one side a little fuller than the other, however, even on a cloth molded head, you can make slight corrections. The third doll here is the worst problem. You would think I could tell she had almost no chin. HaHa. Poor thing, this will cause me to let her dry, sand her down to within a inch of her life, and add a chin, then put on a new stockinet, and begin the painting over again. All this occurs even if you have a whole cloth head right in front of you. They do come out wonky, but making a few corrections should suffice. There is only one solution to all this, and that is to just be patient and go back and fix things, but this cost a lot of time. The trials of the doll maker are many, and not being able to see mistakes closer up front doesn't help. As for these three, I am whipping them into shape, and I believe getting them close to what I need. On Izannah's molded heads, I can see why she could not fix the problems, and if they are not to severe, I try not to fix them either, but a doll has to have a chin. thanks for letting me vent my doll troubles and here is hoping you are sailing along in your
Sunday, June 8, 2014
These Izannah dolls are being made for friends. I have already painted the first coat of basic features and let dry. I then went back and distressed these dolls and then painted them with antiquing liquid, and then wiped off. At this point you can do two things, first is to immediately re-paint on top of your antiquing stain, or you can wait and let dry and come back later, but I have found it is better to go ahead and paint on top of the stain, that way, you can make corrections right then and get a better idea of how your doll will look in the end. Now, you ask, well, is this the end. No. There is still a lot to be done, inspite that I have said this method is 3 stages. I have yet to paint the dolls for the third time, then there will be the Tweek out. Tweeking just means you are putting finishing touches to your doll. There are tiny details to adjust, and the smallest changes will make a difference to how this doll will look for her life. They are starting to bloom out for us and soon we will have two new little people to dress up. I think this part of the doll making is my favorite. The second doll in this post is rough in appearance, but this will change, both will be smoother with additional paint I will put on, so bare in mind these are in progress and not a finished doll.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Pin Keeps are totally useful and pretty ways to hold your sewing pins and needles. I have seen so many fine ones, and ones with animals and dolls and fruit, and well, there are countless ways to make them. I have made a pin keep doll for my friend Barbara. It is a shame it has taken so long to finish it, but at last, here she is. I like dolls for pin keeps because they are not just still objects, they have personality's and sewing with them in the room is such a pleasure. They serve you well and are pretty to look at. I hope this pin keep dolly will be a trusted and faithful holder for Barbara's sewing things, and that she will enjoy just having her around.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Included in these pictures are several dolls I am working on, trying to finish. They are an old fashioned painted head rag doll for a dear friend of mine, two Alabama babies for two more of my good friends, two Izannah dolls, a pin keep doll in a can, who will have a brown homespun dress for a friend who once apon a time bought a painting from me. Lastly there are several Izannah dolls, I am showing 4 of these here. I love these dolls in this stage, it seems to reveal their character and give you a tiny look at what they will become. We ( my mama, husband and me are also making about 25 tiny 6 inch Izannah dolls. these are to keep my mother busy with things to do and I hope she will enjoy working on them. Over the last two weeks, we have undergone lots of changes, but I hope we will see a brightness in the future, where we can share things with each other and make sweet memories. I appreciate all the very sweet notes I have received. Life has twist and turns that we can never expect or comprehend, but we have to move forward, giving our selves to each other. I will post some more pictures when there is a little more to show. Mama
Friday, May 23, 2014
On Mothers Day May 11, 2014 my mothers husband went to the grocery store as usual, and bought a few things, on his way out to the car, he was stopped by a 16 year old boy and asked for his money. Billy refused, and went on to get in the car. the boy ran around to the car door and opened it and shot Billy three times in the chest. We buried Billy last Thursday, he was 87. My mother is 84. This has made us go through huge changes, trying to move back and forth between mama's house and ours. She is unable to stay alone, so our lives have changed in such a way, that my doll making is slowed down for the present. I am training my mother how to help me, partly, because I enjoy her company, and it keeps her busy. I won't be able to respond to comments right away, I will try to do that as I can, but appreciate your understanding of those who are waiting for me to finish special projects for them. I am still making progress every day, and will complete all my dolls that I am making for my friends. I'll post again soon, and appreciate all the good thoughts that I know will be sent our way. Love to you all. martha
Friday, April 25, 2014
Back awhile ago the Maida Dolls Group had a Alabama Baby Doll or ( Ella Smith Indestructible Doll ) challenge. I had wanted to learn to make these dolls for a long time, so this was a golden opportunity to get started. I really like these dolls and admire Ella Smith's creative talent and determination to make a doll like this. I imagine she borrowed from other dolls in certain ways, but there is no other doll out there that looks like a Ella Smith doll. A few years ago, I was able to buy an original antique Ala. baby, she was in sad repair, but all there. I have leaned on her to help me make my copies. I made a face mold of her face, and studied her body, and the way she has been painted. I hope I was able to transfer some of her uniqueness to my dolls. Now, these are my first ones, so don't laugh at the extra big hands or the necks that are a tad to long, or the ears that I didn't get right this first time around, to name just a few of my mistakes, but all in all I like them a lot. Also, I have been trying to make a high collar dress, and this is my first attempt. The collars on these two dresses are not finished, but just tucked in place. I will have to go back and stitch them down and perhaps add a little lace. I wanted the dolls to be dressed plainly, but with real dresses and I think these fit the bill. One dress is floral flower sack that is stained pretty much all over, but gently, and the other dress is made from a very old futon cover that is very light weight cotton and is naturally faded and does have some little holes here and there. After I made these two, I went ahead and made two more, making my improvements and will post them eventually, they will be dressed in these same clothes. Hope you enjoy seeing them.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Here are five Izannah style dolls finished. the 18 inch dolls still are waiting for their shoes and socks, but they will have them soon. the smaller dolls are as done as I can make them. Making and finishing five dolls like this has been a big undertaking, but I am glad to be finishing up, as we are behind schedule on finishing some bigger Alabama Babies and some Old Fashioned Rag doll dresses. If I had to choose between the two 18 inch dolls, it would be such a hard choice, also I would have trouble picking one of the small dolls over the others. Each one has her special little personality and pretty outfit. I hope you enjoy seeing them.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
There are so many pretty bonnets to look at. Several people I know can make the most fabulous bonnets, but my own experience has been to just make the simplest of little hats for my dolls. I decided to try to go a little deeper into hat making and have made these bonnets you see here. They are not much of a departure from my regular little bonnets, but they are some different because I have made them fuller and I also quilted them. Eventually I will make a bonnet with a gathered back, like the prairie bonnets, but for now this will do. If you look close, you will see we didn't get the quilted lines perfectly straight, but I like them anyway. they are substantial without being to heavy, as I used a very light layer of batting in them. These little models are Pinky in her pink hat and she will have a full skirted double pink dress, and Sissy, who has a reproduction fabric calico blue hat and she will also have the same blue fabric full skirted dress. These dolls will also have ( Martha shoes ) because they are barefooted. Back last summer I found a bedspread ( I guess that is what it is ) of a floral thin flannel material and this time around all 5 of the dolls I am finishing will have a chemise slip made from this material, instead of white. We are working hard toward finishing all 5 dolls, the tiny 11 1/
Monday, March 17, 2014
More small dolls underway right now. I am trying to finish 5 dolls, which include two 18" Izannahs and three 11 1/2" Izannah dolls. It takes a long time to make and outfit this many dolls, but I am working pretty hard on the project. The legs are on and body suits ready and the last of the arms was made yesterday, so we are going down the home stretch to having these little people finished. I now have to try to pick fabric for the dresses, which is sort of hard, as I like a lot of the choices, but each will get a dress that I think suits her best. the larger dolls are barefooted and the small ones have booted feet. After these are completed I want to take time to learn how to make a proper shoe. My Martha shoes are cute, but, I need to learn how to make a basic little leather shoe that I can easily change sizes. One of the things about making leather shoes is the sewing and the liner. I tried to hand sew some leather for shoes, but you really need machine stitched seams. When I make any progress on this I will post my findings and show you what I did.