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  The second dress is modeled by our headless black honey child doll, who the dress was originally made for.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.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Great Experiment

Well Folks, welcome to my super big day of experimenting with dyes. As you all know who make dolls or clothes, or quilts, or anything to do with cloth, indigo blue is a color used for dyeing blue jeans, fabrics, and I am sure lots of other things for ages in every country. Not only has it been used for so long, it is a prized color as well. The cost of antique indigo fabric has gone through the roof. I know this as I have bought some when I could afford to, and bought it because it is getting harder to find. I decided, ( with my big brain ) that I should try to make me some fabric using this dye. Well, you will see some of the results. It is fairly easy to do a dye, just dipping the fabric into the vat, of course you will just get a darker piece of clothes, as I have no idea how to get the markings like they did in the old factories, or new ones for that matter, but it is a beginning. Light bulbs are beginning to turn on in my head. I have to read up on it more, but I think they used wax to keep the dye from settling into all the fabric, and of course they would have had huge machines to do this. As I only need smaller amounts, I can experiment with this, after I do some home work and try to figure out the exact process on a small scale. Tie dyeing is not the answer, it would have to be a regular pattern to be usable for clothes making for the dolls. I did find out that the Japanese do tie dye and have for heaven knows how long, not only them, but so many countries down through the ages. If you have ever seen the movie ( Troy ) with Brad Pitt you will see the most  beautiful blue fabrics they used in that movie. So blue it just made you look at it as long as you could. Have fun looking at the pictures and me trying to do this. I think the first session of dyeing was great and the clothes I dyed I will show in the next post. Who says you can't go back in time. HaHa We will see what can be done to reclaim some of the beauty of the past without going to the poor house. Oh, yes, thanks to my best helper, my husband who never fails to jump in and try to make my experiments work.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Look at Me

Look, look at me, see what I got today. I got the pretty blue dress and bonnet.  HaHa  I also got the pretty under ware too.  Martha said I could have it as I was so sweet and such a beauty that I deserved a fine outfit and now I am very pleased, except for the new shoes I am yet to receive. Martha says that I will get a pair of pretty Mary Jane shoes and some extra nice socks. I saw her looking at some beads on the internet ( yes I am very educated and know about such things ), and I think they will be for me, as she keeps looking at me and the beads. The beads are called Lapis Luzuli and right now I know that Martha is enraptured by their beautiful blue color, I like them too, so pretty.  I don't know what sister Jinksy will get to wear, but it can't possibly be prettier than my new dress. I will have to throw looks at Martha toward a beautiful piece of material for sister, as I do love her and want her to be proud of her clothes too. Generally speaking,  Martha is pretty fair and she does love us and  wants the best for us, so not to worry to much.  Jinksy would look good in a deep red dress, and I know Martha has a very fine piece of ruby red antique Calico she has been saving.

 Jinksy isn't as pretty as I am,  as she has  sort of bad  teeth and frankly speaking, she is not as smart as me either, but a good soul after all. Some of the other dolls around here have cut up and refused certain dresses and such, so their loss is my good fortune. Today has been a good day and I am seeing lots of work going on, Poor Martha works on us every spare minute she can, and tells us how pretty we are and shows us to her family each time we get something new done to us. I ask Martha to sew my name  ( Trixie ) on my new dress, so that people will know my name and see how loved I am to have such nice things.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The New Year and My Favorite ( Rag Dolls )

The New Year is not quite here yet, but I have been busily working away on various dolls. Here are pictures of three black rag dolls. Two full dolls named Sister Trixie and Sister Jinksy. The other doll is one of my favorites, a pin keep doll who has no name, mostly because when I look at her, so many good names would suit her, but, none I can think of capture her character of proudness and patience, waiting to work with you and hold your needles as long as you need. What a great companion at the work table. Along with the dolls, we are undergoing a great transformation on our selves. by going on Nutri System. All the family is on it until each of us has reached their target weight, and in my case, better control of my blood sugar. We just needed to get in better shape so we can do all the things that have to be done this year, and it's a long list. Sisters Trixie and Jinksy are waiting for their dresses,  which have been cut out of beautiful red organdy and full gathered slips of red voile fabric, but, doubt is having it's way with me and I am sitting on the fence trying to decide if that is truly what they need or maybe some quilt patch dresses. I hate it when I waver in mid dress decisions. I have another job to do that I don't want to do, but it must be done, which is to dispose of all my old plaster molds, as I promised myself, I would work on and redo my dolls to a truer depiction of some antiques  and I have re sculped I think a better version of several dolls, but throwing away so much work is hard to do, and maddening, as we  think we see it the way it should look, only to find out, we are off the mark and why couldn't we just see that in the first place. It is a trial and a learning experience to realize how to look at a object and really see it's lines and curves, and depths, and probably ever capture the beauty that drew us to it in the first place. I am sure I will never get there exactly, but I'm gonna give it a shot. I hope everyone is in good health, or working toward it, as we are and making plans for wonderful things in the new year.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Merry Christmas

Recently mama wanted to paint a painting for her great grandson, so we set about to get the job done. One of my favorite subjects and a good picture for a child is Noah's Ark. Lots of animals and a big boat too. He is too young to understand the reason for the painting and what it means, but later in life I think he will appreciate it.
This isn't the right card for the season, but I am using it as my Christmas Card and wishing everyone a wonderful holiday and a safe and happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Re Paint

I have re painted my doll Juliet. As you know she and I were unhappy with her last painting and a few other issues. HaHa  We didn't get the new dress, because, this blue dress was custom made to fit her and the lighter blue wouldn't have been any prettier ( besides that I slaved over making the dress and bonnet for atleast two weeks).  After considering this latest episode of not doing my best on this doll, I now believe I have made up with Juliet and given her a beautiful new face and she seems well pleased. There has been some discussion about cleaning house from time to time and re evaluating  doll making techniques and future projects, as well as discarding dolls or other items that do not seem to be going in a good direction, so I have done this. I took a deep breath and plunged into my work area ( temporary area for now )  and ruthlessly cast aside boxes of tiny dolls that I don't have the time for, some big rag dolls that couldn't be given a good face by me ( right now, maybe never ), some ordinary fabrics, and the most important thing I threw away, is keeping on doing the same things as I first learned to do. This isn't productive, as I know some patterns have degraded into ( the common) and need to be updated into a ( more true ) version of antique doll bodies. I also have taken a new years resolution to try harder to made any reproduction doll closer to the true doll. How can you do this, you ask? Well, it is simple, take more time, look closer, don't give into the temptation to stop ( even though you have a nice doll ) but keep going until you have what you were after in the first place. this takes patience and willingness to suffer for your art. HaHa...HaHa.. Ha. I believe we all do that in some way, but as I get older ( I'm pretty old now, I might not have much good days left to see, paint, or just get out of bed to make some dolls ) but while I can still get around and feel the desire to make things I better batten down the hatches and get going on some new and improved  (old) )dolls. I hope you doll makers are having as good a time as I am. I complain, but it is all so fun,
 and worth  any two weeks of slaving over doll clothes. Merry Christmas to you all. Your Doll Making Friend, Martha

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Heart to Heart Talk

Martha, why didn't any body want me? I don't know Juliet, it was my fault. Let me try to explain it to you. You are as sweet as any doll I have ever made and much prettier than lots of them, but I didn't think out your paint like I should have. What's wrong with my paint? Well, apparently I miss judged how I painted and aged you.  I am brand new, why would you have to age me? Well, because you are the type of doll that would have looked older now, as you are made to look like a antique. Why do I have to look like a antique and what is that any way? Well, antiques are things that were made a long time ago and time,  and wear and tear cause them to fade, or turn dark, or crack, or peal, but people love their dolls and want to keep them as long as they can. If that is true, then why didn't any body like me all aged, cracked and dark colored? Well, HaHa, sorry,  this is a delicate discussion and explanation that isn't funny, I'm sorry, but the truth is that I didn't do a good job finishing your painting. I still don't see why I have to look old Martha, I am very pretty and I don't appreciate you trying to make me all cracked up right off the bat, I think I should be able to be beautiful, atleast until time and ( what did you call it ) wear and tear make me all cracked up and dark colored, plus I might stink too, did you think of that? Yes Juliet, I have tried to think of all the possiblities concerning your welfare and happiness in the doll world. What are you going to do about it now Martha, I want some new things like another fine dress and maybe one of those straw bonnets that you bought instructions to make, and don't even think of putting one crack on me. If you are sorry for making me sort of ugly and causing people to not see the real me underneath all your black grunge and scrapes and ( I am pretty sure you rushed trying to get me on ebay, although, I can't imagine why, as you have all the candy, movies, and tons of your precious old fabric that any body could need, I will forgive you. I will, I really will, make it up to you Juliet. You know I love you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dolls in progress

Here are pictures of two boy Izannah Walker style cloth dolls that I have been working on for awhile.  As you see they are not finished and the hair in particular is just a base coat to see how they would look with this hair style. I saw a picture of  a antique boy Izannah doll that had a widow's peak, and it was just so cute that I decided to give my dolls the same hair style. I like it and of course when I get the hair really painted and aged it would look much more natural. Naming the dolls has two purposes, one to identify them to people, and another to satisfy me to have them named atleast while I have them. Ollie is named after a boy in a movie who was extra sweet, and Jeeb is named after a character in a movie that I liked who was favored by Michael the Ark angel because he was a rare person with a pure heart. The dolls will naturally change with each stage they go through, but they are far enough along to see basically what they will look like. It does surprise me that in the end as I think I am finished painting, I might make one small change in the eyes, the mouth ( usually the mouth ) and the whole character of the doll changes. I need a boy doll for a nice lady, so I have made two in the hopes she will like one of them and I can finish it out for her. There is a picture here also of a old painted head rag doll that I have been working on, trying to get a old look, or any face that is appealing, but a old looking doll would be better. I really think the painted head rag dolls give me the most trouble, because the flat faced dolls are hard to make a good face that draws you to her ( most are to simple, or to over done, or if it is a black doll, super hard to get a face at all with no protruding features to help out. Ollie would not look directly at the camera, but he appeals to me the most, and Jeeb is sweeter and more even and perfect. Who knows in the end how they will look, but I am hopeful, they will be good.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Finishing Touches and Little Extra Touches

  Well....the holidays are practically here. I have been working on a couple of Izannah dolls for the last 6 months and finally I have them done for Christmas. These were made as Christmas dolls so I have made it in good time. Along with the Izannah dolls I have been making various rag dolls and two boy Izannah dolls. The boys are in the early painting stages and show promise, but as usual I see problems staring back at me that I couldn't see when they were all white. Ugly things show up at the most inconvenient time, they couldn't let me see them when I could easily have fixed everything, no, they wait until I am happily painting away and suddenly,  ( there they are ) one eye bigger than the other, one cheek bigger than the other, the usual defects, etc...... These are common problems for me and everyone else who creates, so I settle down, maybe get some chocolate milk, and summon my patience and determination to set things to right and begin again. The little boy Izannah's will be saved and go on to completion. I hope all are looking forward to thanksgiving and Christmas. I have felt more like it this year. We recently had my little grandnieces for the weekend. We went to several flea markets, the fish camp, the steak house, the mall and had a great time. The two girls, 10 and 16 are alot of fun and boy ( they know everything ) You learn alot from them in a short time. HaHa  I have been generous with myself lately and have splurged on some big abstract paintings for the house, very excited to see them put up and things looking new and good. Its funny, I don't know what has prompted the changes in me, but suddenly ( it seems ) I am leaning more to minimal surroundings and a much more modern look ( not space age ) but clean and simple, rather than old and antique for so many years. My love for the old dolls has not changed at all and never can. I think the Tonner dolls are very pretty, but my old dolls will always be my favorite and making the old style dolls is a daily joy to me. Here is Juliet in her beautiful blue calico dress. This fabric is old and so deep deep blue. Here is Bo again with her restyled bonnet, and Bulova, who recently got a beautiful watch all her own. Happy doll making and a early Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Fall Country Festival

The Simmons Wright Store in Kewanee, Mississippi had a Fall Country Festival. The Wind just about blew every one away. It was a dismal affair. I felt bad as many of the promised vendors backed out on the store owners at the last minute, but probably just as well, as there was no turn out to see any of the handmade items that were there. The people that did come were so sweet and brought their hand made things. We were next to the Baked goods table. She of course sold lots of her items.  The store is on the national register of historic places and is in bad shape. Part of the festival was hopefully to  get donations to restore the cotton gin that is in back of the old store. I went and enjoyed talking to the other people. I put a few of the dolls I had made in the store. There were several ladies who suggested I should go to a particular craft fair, but we don't travel much. I was able to do this because it was only 20 miles from home. The Meridian Star newspaper came around and talked to us all, which I didn't mind the talking, but when it comes to taking pictures of me, I try to get out of, making the pictures of the dolls is always good though. I hope to be able to go to some doll shows later on, as there I will see what appeals to me. My husband made a video of the inside of the store and outside during the festival and we will try to put it on here. The family that owns the store and gin, inherited it and needless to say, to keep it up and restore the buildings would be a monumental undertaking, but the place has so much character. It is very run down and I know they don't have the people or the strength to keep the place clean and the artist willing to send their crafts to be sold, as usually only the occasional traveler will buy something, in my case a doll, but the locals, not so much. They have a little lunch business and seem to concentrate on that. I wish them well and hope the store and gin can be restored because it is unique and there aren't many gins left, especially a working one, like the one in Jackson, Mississippi at the Agricultural museum.