Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities.

For more than sixty years I have studied, collected, repaired, and bought and sold antique dolls. They have been back ground music in my life at every stage, sometimes louder, sometimes subdued, but always there with me. To see only the posts about dolls on this blog, click the banner on the right titled Dolls for My Red Cape. Keep clicking “Older Posts” to see more. Some of the posts featuring rug hooking are gathered under the banner For Cathy. From time to time items are offered for sale under the banner “O’Neill’s Antiques” which was our shop name for many years. ~Edyth O’Neill

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dolls everywhere.

What happens next when I want a bevy of compatible dolls to have tea and play together, and I cannot even find any more like my English girl to buy? And when I see them the condition or the amazing prices are a bit off putting.  Just the same I am watching for at least one more to buy.  Meanwhile I am playing with creative paper clay and fabric and a list of crafty things to see if I can make some little dolls to enjoy dressing.  The originals are carved of wood, my hands are not up to that.
 Here is what my dining room table looks like:
The wax doll on the left is from about 1840, old enough to associate with these others.



I am documenting the clothing and fragments of clothing from the wooden doll. And gathering lovely white lacy things to make caps and bonnets.  


This wooden doll dates from 1780 to 1820.  The presence of the older silk dress in an earlier more fitted style suggests the earlier date, as does the fact that her head is all wood, the later ones were often made with a mask of plaster for faces to cut back on carving time.

The sun porch is where I stuff and sew the bodies and model  little heads, around papier mache eggs .  Then they will have legs and arms like Sophie here. 




In the 1980's Jack and I bought a country sofa from Barbara and Don Ladd of Connecticut. Made as it was from an old rope bed, this one needed fresh ropes and to be recovered. After we got it home to our shop in Texas, a full day went into taking off the layers of old fabrics. Jack and I were both curious and excited about what all came out of the sofa! As interesting as the coverings if not more so were the things used as padding. There were many wads of cotton rags, clearly once garments. There were parts of old linsey woolsey quilts, now called whole cloth quilts of hand woven linen and wool. And one beautiful but cutup piece of a small woman's dress. Much of the bodice was in the stuffing of that sofa, I have kept the brown cotton vermicular print fabric of the dress bodice. Over time I have used some of it nicely on Pockets and sewing roll ups and have always intended that a special doll should be dressed in it. I think it is about 1830 or so because it was in the sofa. The brown lining of the dress is twill with a great patina for a cloth doll. So last week I made one, a wild little thing, I may have to applique on another face if I cannot stand this one! She has 5 sisters in the making, all will have layers of paper clay and gesso and proper noses. But this waif gives me a doll to sit by me as I sew. I think her name must be Sophie for all the years she languished in the sofa stuffing, and she must have at least a nice pocket from the brown print cotton.


I painted the first two today, they will look better when they have wigs and mobcaps.    



For reference, here is an antique one I am looking at. I have a nice file on them.   e



Friday, April 20, 2018

Early English wooden doll about 1790


My little doll just came. She was well double boxed and impressively cushioned. I found her last week on ebay.  I love her in person so much more! Her clothing is just a few whisps but I love them too! Her hair is gone but she has the little wig cap where it used to be. The new doll is very friendly with the Mad Alice wax doll of a later time, I knew they would like to be together. Alice has been trying on some nice old unders from my stash. What shall I name these girls? A new doll makes such a happy day. I have never had an old wooden like this, several tuck comb German dolls, but no early English ones. Now I want more! Oh dear.




 Mad Alice is a type of early English wax doll the next generation down from the carved English woodens.
Alice has the daffy expression characteristic of her kind. She was just a forlorn little head when I  got her a week ago, now she is a doll again and hoping for clothing.  e





Saturday, March 17, 2018

Die Kunstler Show and sale.


It was an interesting day here, this was the day our art club had its first outdoor show and sale under one of the Marktplatz Park pavilions.  We had good attendance with great support from the city and the local paper that put our story on the very front page. A man from the city hung our  large banner,  visible from Main street saying art show here today. I was pleased at how many people walked through and there were many sales.

  A group of the members put up a whole row of show panels 7 feet tall at one end, maybe 40 or 50 feet wide, without a lot of Zig to the Zag that holds them upright. The whole thing blew down about 3:45, paintings and all!  At least 50 paintings were hanging on it when that wall went down!  Those artists mostly gave up and left after gathering all their things.  A few had broken frames.  I was at the other end, just on a big Picnic table with a fabric cover on it, and my biggest painting  blew down earlier, so I laid all my paintings flat on the table, they did not look as good by a long shot as they did on the table easels I had for them but they stayed put.   When the wind gusts had come through earlier in the day, and my own large one went down, you could hear loud bangs all around the pavilion, Bang! Bang,  as paintings fell here and there, many times. The first was enough for me, I laid mine right down.  We will all plan a bit differently next year. March is a windy time.




  
Kathy is a photographer as well as a painter.


 Jack and I used to do big outdoor antique shows, even as far away as Massachusetts, so I know about wind.  He would look for a place with a pole or tree of some kind and tie his biggest cupboards to that.  We were showing in a tent one time at the Round Top show and a major part of the tent fell!  Cupboards went down, full of glassware and all such.   Another time we showed here in Marktplatz and a canvas side of the pavilion came loose from ropes and blew in and knocked over a whole row of furniture and stuff. Awesome!   Still nothing compares with the time a tornado hit the little show at Round Rock Texas, Helen has stories to tell about that one. I think the roof may have come off the motel she was in with others.  I remember Zella Tucker the show manager had eyes as big as saucers that morning.  We had great adventures and wonderful trips in our antique business.  e

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A tiny china doll, Sophia Smith

It is always a nice day when  a wanted doll arrives. Opening the package is suspenseful, and then the  happy surprise when she exceeds expectations. This little treasure came to me from Carla Thompson of Oldeclectics  on Ruby Lane.   She is an exquisite 10 inch early china in original clothing and still with her original all leather body. The leather hands are mitten shaped for one so tiny. The little feet are greatly worn from dancing.  At some time she suffered a bashed head but was lovingly repaired.  A  perfect example of this very same Sophia Smith model, (there are several similar) in a little bigger size is on line right now offered for $5000.  So I love this one with her signs of a busy past life!

The thin cotton fabric of her skirt and shawl delights me. The bottom of the skirt is decoratively pinked  instead of hemmed. You can see the brown leather body barely showing  at the neckline. The skirt is flattened so I will place a little roll of fabric under it to puff it out just a bit.




A doll of this mold in the Strong Museum



Sophia Smith as this style of china head is known by doll collectors is one of my favorite styles. Fine China dolls are a pleasure to live with. I have a large perfect one by a different maker pictured below.


The frozen Charlotte below is dressed in her original dress and cape. This example is a covered wagon style.   She is 3 1/2 inches tall and stands nicely in the doll cabinet unsupported. 

Many of my chinas are gathered in  an old cradle. The three small ones are a parian Alice, a Kloster Veilsdorf brown eyed so called Greiner style china, and  another Sophia also with brown eyes. From the shape of her shoulder we know she once had a jointed wooden body.

 Thank you for sharing this special day with me.  e

Monday, March 5, 2018

a Big Sturdy Blond Greiner



With warm bright weather, my sun porch is a sweet place to sit and read or sew.  I spent a nice afternoon resizing a dress to fit a thirty inch blond Greiner who came to me in her old unders and stockings but no dress.  She has a petticoat, a chemise and lovely split drawers, which along with her old stockings seem original for her.


Her condition is overall very nice. Her old body is firm and  sturdy, with a few stains and patches. She has the expected scuffs and wear but has no restoration nor needs any. Unfortunately an area of her Greiner label has been torn away as someone attempted to remove part of it probably saying extended 72.  I have had this mold with just the Pat 58 date, in a smaller size, also blond. This head must have been made in a transitional time as she has the earlier Greiner hair style also seen in dark haired ones with a 58 label.

I shy away from cutting up a period garment in nice condition just to dress my old dolls! This time it was a bit easier because of a significant stain near the hem in back.  The little calico baby dress is certainly older than Miss Greiner herself.   I removed a six inch length of the hem and from that fashioned flared sleeves to extend the original ones.   An alternative if you have a nice dress you do not want to  cut up, is to make undersleeves of a cream colored fabric or lace and gather that in place to lengthen the sleeves. A too long dress hem may be turned up many inches, even 10 or so. At the waist a ribbon or an apron pulls in the fullness.

The dress after shortening it to the doll's ankle length

a closer look at the calico

And look at the wonderful old printed doll apron! This is a very large one fifteen inches long.  The tiny hand stitches on the narrow hem are almost too small to see.   It is a "pinner" type but I certainly do not intend to put any pins in this little top.  If ever needed it will get one small stitch in each top corner holding it against the dress.  Readers are welcome to copy it with a waterproof brown marker. I have spread it out to facilitate this.  


This precious antique bonnet is machine stitched, likely on a  singer featherweight like I have.   My friend EP always hated to put a bonnet on mache's because it hides their hair.  I think of her each time I tie bonnet strings under a doll's chin.


I by no means paint at my easel everyday right now, as I like to do.  But I think and paint and view art in galleries or with friends  or online everyday.    Art is a jealous master, my mind paints 24/7 when I am into it.  I need to take  a day or two sometimes just to enjoy my dolls and sew for them.   e



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