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

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Little Red House, my Mother's miniatures

Aside: The table from the 1600's was one of Jack's very favorite finds ever. It is safe with friend Jean now. 

My mother's dream was to have a salt box house. She raised me to think one should have a dry sink and a pewter collection and a pencil post bed and such to keep house rightly.  Her guide in everything was The American Home magazine, as we lived in the south far from the style of house mama wished for.   She crocheted rag rugs and made ruffled curtains and watched for old ironstone or crocks to turn up at Goodwill where she was a faithful customer for years. 

The time came when she knew she would never have her dream and so she turned to miniatures and much of the rest of her life lived in a doll house when not taking care of real life needs for her family.   Mama made the salt box doll house herself, calling upon my stepfather sometimes to saw something. The chimney was quite a project.  I remember helping hold it as we scored it with a screw driver to make "bricks".  The floor was laid of a narrow old wooden blind.  The shingles were cut of cork and put on one at a time.

She made many of the furnishings herself, using old drawer bottoms for thin wood.  The tiny quilts were a marvel of handwork and eyesight! She saw everything in a different scale from the rest of us.  Do you see the lamp shades of toothpaste lids? Tiny pea gravel became potatoes.

There were several dolls in the house, one a blond German china head doll named "Resurrection".  Resurrection was a little head found in the Comanche city dump, picked up by a junk dealer back in the time when dealers in old iron and bottles and such picked through the dump for merchandise.  I found her in a rusty tin coffee can in the dirt floor of a garage where his grandchildren had played with her. I surely left no stone unturned in my quest for antiques. I was in my 20's and living in west central Texas at that time.   I purchased the little head for  75 cents and made a body for her and dressed her, then Mama claimed her for the doll house a few months later.  From spring in the dump grounds to fall at the Texas State fair with a blue ribbon was a remarkable journey for Resurrection!  Mama entered her little house in the fair in Dallas that October and of course it won all hearts.

At first the little salt box house was not as full as it was in later years, as Mama saw other things to add.  The knickknacks were about half and half, commercial doll house findings and home made things. My stepfather carved a duck decoy to go on the mantel  My brother and I made two ladder back chairs and I wove seats in them.   I made the clay stoneware crocks for the salt box house years later and she added them.  She made quite a number of room boxes, several complete houses and at least two country stores.

We have not kept all of them, they are cumbersome to care for.  But my daughter Beth has three of the nicest ones including the red saltbox.  A small closet is devoted to them and there is lighting and Plexiglas for them.
Sometimes the closet door is opened and my mother's great great grandchildren get to gaze in wonder.    My mother, called Nanny to her grandchildren, is still much in our hearts and minds as many of the family sayings which we banter back and forth are hers.




  1. Edyth, these are beyond wonderful! ...jan

  2. Delightful post, Edyth. I'm reading a book right now that has a "character" in it that reminds me so much of you. :)

  3. the dollhouse and furnishings, accessories are just wonderful. what an heirloom for your family. I called my dear grandmother Nanny too and she is cherished and missed every day. Melody


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