Saturday, March 10, 2018

Looking at the past work

This blog post is mainly to share how I now have two of my old dolls I made many years ago. About two months ago,  a fellow doll club member and friend died suddenly. She was so friendly, generous and kind. She loved dolls and had a huge number of them of all kinds. She left instructions that on her death each member of the doll club could have a few of her dolls. This past week the members went to her house and we selected a few dolls each that we liked and I took the two dolls she had that I made, along with a few other of her dolls. The larger doll with the somber face and hardly any color was a doll I sold to my friend at the doll show in Meridian, Ms. 5 years ago, and the second small doll I made for the same lady a year later. I had forgotten exactly what they looked like, so it was a surprise to me to look back and see what I had made. I never expected anything like this

to happen, but I know that life takes sharp turns suddenly and we can never be prepared for the good or the bad. I appreciated my friends thoughtfulness and generous nature, but feel so sad she is gone. Seeing the dolls now that I made pretty early, just learning how to make them, and being a beginner at sewing, I feel pretty good about them. I always tried to make everything good, neat, and painted the best I was able.  I used to say that when I finished a painting for sell, it might not be a good painting, but it was painted good. It is the same now with the dolls. I also see that I have lost some of the freshness and primitiveness that I used to have. That might be because I have learned how to make a better dress and possibly have learned how to make the heads shapes better, but what ever the reason,  I see some of what I love about the cloth dolls is missing in the newer ones. Each of us evolves in what ever we do. I have changed in style many times and probably will roll around again to the more primitive in painting and doll making. I hope you enjoy a look back at the older dolls and seeing the new ones too. Marion underwent a face lift recently and was rewarded with a new beautiful dress of antique blue calico. I want to put her picture here too, so that she can show off her new dress.


  1. A lovely post, Martha. I am sorry about your friend, but she was surely blessed to have a friend like you. I also enjoyed looking back at your earlier work. You have come a long way in your doll making, but still, there's something about your older dolls that I love, too. I understand what you mean by "I have lost some of the freshness," for that's what I see too when I look at my earlier work. Marion is a beautiful doll, both with her bonnet and without. I love the way you painted her hair. I'm so glad she got this lovely new dress, and I know she is too.

  2. I am sorry for your loss, Martha. You will treasure those dolls, both because of their history and their reminder of your original works. I do know what you mean--our work does tend to evolve, whether we're trying to make it do so or not. But the Martha-ness of it is still there, to my eye...maybe they're not as primitive as they were, but they are still as authentic a folk art as I've ever seen.