Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bonnet Making

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/

2" dolls will be dressed about the same, but with more elaborate tiny bonnets with big ruffles across the bonnet. ( I like to do that ) anyway, here is a little look at something that is new for me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

More Little Biddies - Small Izannah Dolls

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.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Old Beauty - How Many Times is enough Times

 Well.  Here we are again one more time. Mona Lisa is ready, after undergoing a new re-make of parts of her and her clothes. After her return from England, I worked on her and made her a new white dress and new legs with painted boots and  put her on e-bay. She did not sell, so I once again started working on her, re-painting part of her eyes, I gave her a new neck line of curls, a new pair of bare feet, shoes and socks, and her white dress was dyed a pink brown. I have asked myself this question and I imagine you doll makers out there have asked yourself this question too, How many times is enough times to work on a doll? On this particular doll,  three times is enough, because I don't think there is anything else I can do to her, or for her. If I felt I still could do better, then I would probably try, but I am satisfied she is beautiful and has a very pretty dress. The dye was a success as this color of pink brown is nice on her. It would be wonderful if we could get everything right from the beginning, but with Mona Lisa it didn't work that way. She made me labor until she was right.  I don't think experience can always save you from having to re work a doll many times, it should, but trying my best, I still made mistakes that I had to correct, that I couldn't see until the end. I am glad I didn't stop trying  to fix my old sweet girl.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New alabama Baby Dolls

Here they are. My first attempt at making these Ella Smith Dolls. The first thing I would say about these dolls is they are nothing like the Izannah walker dolls, either in looks, or design. I think I worked on these in a way more than the Izannah's.  They have, in the antique Alabama baby dolls a plaster face mask that is applied to the cloth head, but I deviated from this on these. I did make the plaster face mask, but it was super heavy and thick, because my antique doll I took my mask from is very deep, so I made a cloth face mask for these that has no plaster in it, so they are very light. In the future, I will still use the cloth face mask, but before I smooth the mask to the cloth head, I will pour a little plaster into the mask, as much as I think it needs. Since the dolls do not have a second skin, you have to watch and try not to get paint and stains on the cloth parts of the body, this is harder, as I am  ( super messy ). I could go on quite a while on the mistakes I made on these, but I have that under control on the next batch. Make shorter necks, put in plaster, ears shapes need to be made different.  Ella was very cleaver about the ears. they have no stuffing and have a big ark in the center and are cut so that the ears will curl and get that famous shape they have, of course I messed up on  that the first time around.  All in all, I like the dolls a lot. These are super big and fat, I would say about 22 or 23" tall. soft and squeezy. they should be easy to fit for clothes. I will not cover up their feet, as they are really fat and cute. I also am repairing my antique Alabama baby. She was missing an ear, so I scraped off the remains of the ear and made her a new ear which is glued and stapled to the head and then a small bit of paper clay to cover the staples.  There is not another way to repair this problem, that I can see, also I re glued down some cracked in her face and filled in the cracks with paper clay, her arms and legs will need some attention too. She will never be worth a fortune, and I have tried to do as little as possible to her to get her back to some semblance of what she was when Ella made her. Lastly, the black doll and picture taking, he is dark, it is very hard to see him in the pictures. This is  ( painting the black dolls,  like this one ) a tough problem which will require much experimentation on my part, or a timely  ( happy accident ), which I am hoping for. HaHa  I enjoyed making these dolls. It made me happy to do it and see them sitting on the table after I was done. Hooray

Monday, March 3, 2014

Do I like My Rag Dolls

This post is a little different, as I am asking myself the question, why am I not satisfied with the three rag dolls I made? What is it about them that makes me feel they are not good enough, or not what I or other people would want? When I make a doll, I judge it by  whether or not I like it enough to keep it myself, because if I don't, then there is no question, but that it isn't good enough, or I need to work on it some more to make it into a doll that I would hate to give up. Along the way, there are dolls we make, that no matter what we do, or how hard we try, the dolls never work out as we thought they would. Now, I say this, these dolls are nice. They are well made, and I have labored long and hard on them, time after time, with painting, antiquing, and repainting to try to get them to the old fine painted rag doll look that I do love. Sadly, I am still not satisfied. I would hate to try to sell, or give away any of these dolls as long as I have these feelings about them. When you get into this situation, seeing the work before you and not wanting to keep going, what do you do? I considered removing the body suit and putting on a new stockinet, because I know the root trouble I am having ) These dolls are made of muslin. Muslin is smooth and cannot take a antiquing so you don't have the ability to make it look old. You must have a stockinet with some ribbing to hold stain.  My first mistake was not widening out the head, but even this is not the cause of my dissatisfaction, as pancake  head and spoon head dolls have been around for ages. I can live with this. One of these dolls is for my sister, who is not a particular doll lover, so I am holding back on giving it to her until my problem is solved. I can, but would not expect the dolls clothes to turn the tide in their favor and make me see another side of them. Clothes make a big difference, but I don't think they can carry the day and turn my rag dolls into ( magically being what I wanted them to be. ) What to do? What to do? HaHa What to do is to send these girls to the back of the line, until lightning strikes, and I suddenly become enamored with them, or take the hard road and re- do the heads, but what if I do this and realize I was better off in the first place? Maybe the dolls were alright to begin with? I know you think  I have gone crazy, but this is a realistic problem. Woe is me not to be able to figure this out.