Recently I bought an antique Izannah Walker Doll. I had tried in the past, a couple of times to bid on one on ebay, but missed out, so when this doll came up, I decided to invest in the doll for several reasons. I wanted one, plus, I wanted to see a antique one up close and personal. This is what I would call a very standard Izannah Walker doll. She is about 18 1/2 inches tall. dainty and in very good condition. I made pictures, some are not really clear enough, but I wanted to show various parts of her that I saw, that I needed to change in my own doll making. One of the worst things about this doll is the overpainting on the hair someone did to her in the back of her neck. The person I got the doll from stated that the doll had belonged to her mother and that she had, had her for 50 years. So the old painting was done long ago, so we will never know what her neck line really looked like. In time, I might try to see about taking off the old paint at the base of her neck only, as it is really bad now. there are no other changes that need to be made. Her side curls are really beautiful and I hope will be a help to me in trying to make them on my own dolls. This has been a difficult thing for me to do all along, is the curl making. The other area that has, ( you might say ) damage, is the skin at the back of her shoulder plate. It is stitched and looks stretched a little. Someone had to sew her up a little in the past. Who knows what her doll life has been through so many years. I will make her some new clothes, as the things she came to me wearing were not what I thought she needed or what I think will be pretty on her. I have to tell you, that buying this doll was a huge decision, because of the large amount of money, and also I wondered if she would really help me in the doll making in the end. I have other old antique cloth dolls, and even though you see them close up, that is not a guarantee that you can duplicate them. After examining her, which ( by the way) I discovered her upper legs feel sort of crunchy, like dried grass or something, I see a few things which I can improve on while trying to make dolls like her, not a reproduction of her. I am proud I got her. I do feel a kinship to Izannah Walkers family as I know they made her and I am looking at one of Izannah's own dolls she made. Appreciated and well cared for, she will be, and included in my small cloth doll collection which I use and pick up and look at and pet constantly while making other dolls. I have to get busy now to try to make some dolls to help pay back my debt to my husband for buying her. He was generous and supportive of me in doing this. I hope you enjoy seeing her and it helps you. She doesn't have a name, as her former owner said she didn't ever hear her mother call her by name. In due course, I will give her a good name.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Here are a few pictures of some dolls that I have been working on for a while. Some have been put up before and some have been re-worked because I felt I could do better and I think I did. I finally did settle on and make the outfit for one of the Alabama babies. I chose plain flour sacking for the dress and bonnet, as these colors look so good on the back dolls. I did age the flour sack to get a softer more mellow color. The other black Alabama baby will get an identical outfit. I showed Butchie, my black boy rag doll before, but have since made him some shoes and he is now complete. A rag doll that mama and me made is shown here too. She is a simple rag doll with a pretty outfit of vintage flour sack with quilted bonnet and a little flour sack purse mama made her, and a quilted apron that mama made. Making these rag dolls is great for me as I enjoy making and having them to keep. Today I listed in ebay the two Izannah dolls and will be listing all of the dolls I show here today. The house is getting full of dolls and selling some will help me invest in my knowledge to make a truer reproduction of some types of dolls. Glad summer is slowly moving on and fall weather will soon start. I love the fall and it makes me feel better and hopefully will allow us to move a little faster on the house project we have going on. I will start taking some pictures of the restoration before long. Hope everyone is doing good and making something doll related to share. Since yesterday was my birthday, I will mention it and be able to share with you my birthday present in a few days, as I don't have it yet. See you next time, happy doll making to all. Martha
Monday, August 29, 2016
Once upon a time a few years back, I saw a magazine article on black Alabama dolls. I wanted one right away, but the sad reality is there aren't any to be had as I know of, especially the very early black ones with the big ears. The black early Alabama dolls are sort of like the antique black Izannah dolls, which no one has to sell. I think you might find some of the newer molds Ella Smith had in the black dolls, but not the early ones. A friend of mine bought one at a doll show. It was small and not nearly as special as the old ones to me, as it had molded ears, not sewed on ears made separate. These dolls are about 18 or 19 inches tall and chunky. They are very comfortable to hold and to dress. I am making simple antique calico dresses for them and a nice slip ( not to full ). I believe I have made 6 of these dolls to date, and I liked them all, but on these I re- figured the patterns and believe I have a good likeness and a good representation of the early black Alabama dolls. Making the bare feet is a choice I have made on most of the dolls, but not all of course, because they can have shoes and socks, but I might ought to have put the blue or orange painted shoes on these so they would be more readily identified as Alabama dolls. Oh well....to late for that. HaHa I imagine other doll makers are working too on different things, I have lots of dolls in the works, but time is short and it is taking me longer to make and dress them, partly because I have slowed down to take extra time in the out fits, making them out of the old fabrics, which I would want in a doll I would buy, and I have to be super careful not to mess up and waste any of the fabric. I will show you one more doll I have re worked just a little ( a black large cloth doll with lamb skin wig ). I am going to brag about the blue suit he is wearing, as I had to dye it myself after making it and it took forever to make all the ruffles on the arms, jacket, and pants. You will laugh at this, because I had to get out the dye vat and make a batch of real indigo blue dye just to dye the suit, but to use the dye vat and not waste the dye which will stay active for about a week, I now have to scavenge to find any thing else remotely useable to dye blue. I guess lots of my dolls will be wearing blue clothes. My black rag boy will get a pair of shoes as it has become important to me to see the dolls get the full outfit and don't go out into the world wanting. Well.... hoping everyone is doing good and creating new beautiful things to enjoy and to share. I enjoy reading about other folks dolls so much.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Well, I hope everyone is doing good and working, despite the terrible heat. I mentioned this before, but, even though it doesn't effect the doll making, it sure does make all other jobs harder. Making a good deal of progress on several dolls, I am showing this new doll today, even though her photographs aren't the best. the lighting wasn't right, but I wanted to show her anyway. She is very serious looking, more than the antique I copied her from. The other doll was dark eyed with very dark hair, but a sweeter expression. this girl is sweet too, but not as much. This particular mold is probably one of my favorite ones. It is a nice size and has that great Izannah shaped head. She had a lot of different head molds, and I have never seen anyone try to make a copy of this doll, but me. Among the different dolls I have been working on are two new Alabama babies. I am making them like the early ones with the big flappy ears. these old black dolls are never seen up for sale. You see lots of white Alabama dolls, and a few of the newer black molds Ella Smith made, but not the very early black ones, I am here to tell you that making these Alabama babies is pain staking work, probably more than the Izannah dolls. Another set of dolls in the works are three of the tiny Izannah dolls about 9 to 10 inches. These little dolls are also tons of work. I have just about hand sewed two dresses so far. My new Izannah plaster molds are made, but no cloth heads from them yet. Hopefully I will be wrapping up some of these dolls that have taken so long and can move onto the new heads, I am excited to see how they turn out. Making the dresses for the two black Alabama dolls is something I do look forward to. Happy doll making and a happy summer to everyone.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
When I made this doll I immediately decided she needed a pink dress. Everything about her said " Pink ". I hope every one in doll making land is doing good and working on their dolls despite the terrible heat. Along with working most days on the house, I have been steadily working on the dolls too. Finally finishing two of the larger dolls, I have gotten around to trying to finish two of the small 9 inch Izannah dolls. These little ones have been in the works for over a year, but kept getting passed up, but now is their time to get their clothes. Fortunately, I found some antique calico fabric in bright colors to make the dresses. Wanting to make their pictures today, they said no, better to get them all dressed up. Can't say I blame them for this. The heat is really bad here in Mississippi. Almost 100 degrees on the thermometer, and we can expect it to stay this way until mid September. Hopefully we will have rain so the grass doesn't burn up. I have been seeing some pretty dolls being made and shown on facebook. One of my new molds didn't pan out as I had thought it would, but I am fixing to make the other mold and see if that is better, I really don't understand why the first head was a failure, as it looked good to me, but that is how it goes when making something new, you just have to keep at it. Getting back to the doll in the pink dress, she is big, about 21 or so inches with new legs and feet by a pattern I got from Margaret Flavin along time ago. The legs and the feet are made seperate and then sewed together. I can really see why the old Izannahs have trouble with the feet coming loose from the legs. I have made a solid leg and the seperate leg and feet, but the solid leg and foot is a much stronger construction. Our pink girl has a dress made of antique double pink calico which has the most starch in it. I washed it and it is still stiff. I guess the sizing or whatever they used on it will have to have several washings to limber up some, but I will not wash it again. She also has a very pretty slip which is part of an old antique ladies slip that was cut down, some voile pantyloons and a voile chemise with lace on both. the bonnet is a little frilly for the Izannah dolls, but what can I say, I just have to make a few things to suit myself, and the clothes can always be changed to suit any one who might buy this doll. The forth of July will be here soon, so I wish everyone a happy holiday and as always happy doll making.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
I have a new red dress says dolly. It is very pretty with a matching bonnet and I am told it is made out of antique turkey red cotton fabric. Yes, dolly, as she has no name yet, the dress I made for you is very fine, I think , with a lined bodice, a nice sash, and the cap like bonnet with the frills on top. Making a red dress is not any trouble if it is, say, a Calico with some designs or contracting colors in it, but I found making the solid red dress very difficult because there was nothing to save it from being too plain, nothing to give it a wow factor, other than the style of it in the end. A simple change in the sleeves, or even the length of the hem affected whether it would be pretty or not. I did find, after trying out several things, such as a contrasting sash, or collar that nothing worked. I finally settled on unrelieved red, a very full skirt, dainty sleeves and the frilly cap was what I needed to set the dress off. I have looked at dresses made by famous designers and when they make a solid color dress, the shape and some special detail to the dress is just the touch needed to make the dress work and be spectacular. My dress is not spectacular, but I think it suits this doll just right, and it is really, really red. Trying to finish several dolls, this doll is a little different as she has a childish look, not like the Izannah's, but rather a little girls's doll. After the last auction of the antique Izannah doll on ebay, I went back to the sculpting table and have made two more heads, this time concentrating on the distinct shape and features and body of that doll. I came up with a new mold that I am making a cloth head right now. In this mold, the doll has the bulging forehead, and the really fat rounded cheeks with the flat nose that I think everyone loved about that doll. I will post the head to see if I have a likeness. Wish me luck on this. I hope every one will have a good memorial holiday, and maybe have some time for doll making. Oh, I almost forgot, I have added a new feature to the clothes, a label, this is a fun new touch, and I think it adds to the over all doll.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
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.