Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Painted Head Rag Doll

For a long time, probably all my life, that I have thought about dolls, I have liked the rag dolls. When I never knew who made them, and gave no thought that they were worth lots of money, are that there were all kinds of different rag dolls, they always drew my attention, nothing about that has changed. For about a year now, I have lightly ventured out into making some rag dolls. First I have tried the primitive ones with the stitched faces, with simple arms and legs. These are still a favorite, but I decided, because the dolls were of such interest to me to go farther into how to make them and how to make painted ones as well. If a person wanted to,  they could devote an entire doll making career in just these dolls alone, as the variety is so great, and so challenging. One person that comes to mind is Norma Schneeman who excels in the primitive cloth dolls or rag dolls. To me, she has a special ( very special ) gift of being able to give the quaint, old, primitive quality to her dolls that isn't often found and what is wonderful about her is her long period of creativity in which her dolls have never lost their quality or that special sweetness that she is able to give them. I have made a picture of my first painted head rag doll ( besides the pin keep dolls ). Is this road any easier to go down and learn to make the true old looking painted faces that great rag dolls of the past have. No, I don't think it is any easier, and will require many years of going back and forth to achieve, but worth it. This doll I am showing you could be considered a spoon head doll or pancake head doll, as she had no gusset in her head to widen it out. In my haste to get started, I zoomed past that part, and so she will not be all that she could have been, if I had used my brain and some patience getting started,

but that is the way of things. Lesson learned. Making rag dolls,  what will I make? What will they wear? Will my brain last long enough for me to try to make these great dolls? I hope so.


  1. Martha, I love this doll's face. It reminds me of the beautifully painted faces of Helen Pringle's wonderful cloth dolls. With your incredible talent in painting, the sky is the limit. I will be on the front row cheering!

  2. Spoon head or pancake head dolls were pretty darned authentic, Martha, so your doll here has nothing to worry about. Who needs a gusset? :~) She really does come across as an antique.