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, October 15, 2018

Cogswell's Grant as inspiration for so many collectors of American Decorative Arts.

The summer home for Bert and Nina Little, Cogswell’s Grant was very inspirational for Jackie and me. We spent precious hours there and studied everything we could find written about that stunning collection.   I have the four main books Nina wrote and the nice hardback books that were Sotheby’s auction catalogs for the Little’s collection from Pumpkin House and many articles clipped from mags about both houses.  

 The Little’s rug collection was one to study in depth.  I designed and hooked a mat named Pumpkin House after the Little's home in Brookfield.   I also designed a traditional bed rugg.  A favorite design  is named Cape Ann,  others bear the names of MA towns, Like Newburyport and Hadley Welcome,  and Ipswich.  They were worked with dark off black back grounds and lots of red like Nina’s favorites.   

The Littles made it clear they were “living with a collection”, not trying to  “recreate a period home”.  There is a vast difference.  Living with a collection allows stone fruit from the early 20th century to mix with 17th century tin glazed earthenware (delft) whereas recreating a period home would not!      We studied the lighting  from C G and so we used iron bridge lamps and for tables had  red ware jugs with simple shades.   In rural west central Texas 40 years ago with almost nothing around us to learn from, Jack and I studied American Decorative arts with tireless  passion.   We made over forty trips to New England to buy for our home and our small antique shop, and saw as many museums and historic houses there as we could.

Absorbing what we could learn from the collection of Nina and Bert Little was so important for us.  This was before there were Google Images, and tours on Youtube and collections of photos on Pinterest.  Then one needed a reference library in hard form and we were unstinting in adding to ours.  All of that burned when the Red Cape was lost, but a great many volumes were gradually bought again, and I have them within arms reach in my little library in this small modern home.  So many memories are also within reach for me, triggered by something like a letter from my friend Joy who wrote yesterday of her visit to Cogswell’s Grant.

Joy Photographed two wooden dolls there and I share a different photo of one of them here.  It is a nice English Wooden  of the late  18th century, about 24  or 25 inches. I judge she was redressed mid 19th century. Not my photo.

Bed rug designed by Edyth O'Neill and hooked by Trisha Travis.

 Above blue basket rug is  taken from an old one. Jack made the tea table, I wish the beautifully carved Spanish feet showed more against the rug.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Apologies for not posting

It is fall and I am mostly house bound, not much to write about, Knee got hurt again, same one. This time I was lifting art supplies into y van and twisted it someway, so now on a walker again almost 4 weeks. Greatly improved now, hopeful to be ok again soon. No more lifting if I can help it.

 No way to travel to Taos this fall, so much there is uneven ground where I go.  The best I know to do about that is to be so grateful I had a lovely long time there last year, and have friends who send me news and great photos with permission to paint from these.

My computer is a great deal of company for me, I keep up with lots of friends I know in face to face relationships and many I know only on line.  I am thankful for all of you!  This helps keep my life full and pleasant, if not quite to the point of happy, till I get my feet back in under me so to speak.   I paint some, have sold a few more small paintings including some onions in a still life two weeks back. sold barely dry, lost someway in priority mail flat rate box, just a little 8 x 10 painting, no frame no glass..  Never had this happen with priority before, still a mystery.  Perhaps Monday will bring some clarity, the internet for my local PO was down this am.

I sew some for my dolls, have a dear old wooden new to me, from an auction up east. I really enjoy this one, heavy and sturdy and full of mischief.  Not a delicate flower.

And each day as the news comes on, there is reason to be thankful for the blessings I have in family , snug home and good friends, and a measure of heath in general.  I care deeply about environmental concerns, but have always tried to keep this blog out of politics so will not change now!  As ever, I repeat that all of us have a stake in this world we live and breathe in and artists have a strong voice for conservation of this beautiful earth and all its creatures.    A few random picture follow... e

My Bailey is back in Wyoming.    e

Saturday, August 25, 2018

English Wooden Doll Susan

I have made cloth replacement legs for a late 18th century English wooden. Paul Robinson suggested that cloth legs are acceptable when the old wooden legs are gone and the wooden joints to hold them are compromised.   The legs are made from a pair of linen slacks I dyed and cut up, very stiff and hard to stitch but with wonderful texture, and I am pleased with them. the legs are fastened to the dolll with heavy cord through the holes that once held dowels for her leg joints. My friend Penny brought beautiful linen for a petticoat.  I pulled a thread for all cuts and another to turn the hem crisply.   I used a bit of 1/8 in tape at the waist.

Now with her replacement legs in place and the linen petticoat to give body under the frail dress Susan is on a stand, The doll stand is wired to the lower part of the wooden torso to keep the stand's waist piece from rising higher on the doll and pushing against the dress. The linen feet are the same color as her original arms and barely show beneath the skirts. Susan is 22 inches tall.  

Her flax braids are appealing.    The first place ribbon is from the UFDC Cincinnati convention in 1964.       Wonder if there are records to tell who owned her then?   I am delighted with her.  She is on top of my cluttered little black desk for safety now.  e

Monday, August 20, 2018

Such a lot of dolls to look after

While my great grandchildren seem bent on demolishing their Barbies,  I spend time now and then making mine neater.  Too hot to work on my sun porch, this is what my dining table looks like.

 A beautiful Voit child with the classic leather body was an expensive doll impressively  dressed  but when I examined her I found that someone had used a dab of glue to hold her wig on, and then later someone took the wig loose and a spot of the dolls' finish was  torn away. I have meant to fix that for years.  My favorite compound for mending papier mache dolls is Elmer's wood filler. It dries a nice color too that matches the doll's composition.    A dab of the filler, left to dry an hour and then sanded, and painted with black  Liquitex artists acrylic tube paint Leaves the black pate in nice order again.

While the pretty but not really proper dress is off, the doll's beautiful white kid body is more exposed and I can see that the gussets of the elbows are very fragile.  After all this body dates approximately 1845. Some would say 1830.   I am wrapping the mid arm with inch wide strips of bias cut muslin, my standard  solution for many dolly ills.  The elbows will no longer flex as I move the doll about and dress her, but neither will the old leather give up and pour out the saw dust which will eventually rot the whole thing.   Wrapping like this does not use pins or glue (horrors) or any thing damaging to the old dolly.  A few stitches hold it in place.

The unders on this doll were never really made for her. The chemise is a full size child's garment, just folded and pinned with safety pins to hold it on the doll.  The waist band of the pantalets lacks a lot of meeting around her chubby middle.  I will look through my stash of doll unders and see if I can do better for her. Meanwhile I can rinse these nice little garments and add them to the stash till needed.

Agnes is another big heavy girl. She has sat around waiting some little touches and finally I have made the changes that make her more attractive. Presentation really  is everything!    She needed shoes which I fitted for her, and a petticoat which was lacking, and I shortened one from the stash  by making a big hand stitched  tuck all the way around, hiding it under the broad band of tucks.  I made undersleeves of old tule for her arms.
While working with Agnes I have to be careful that she does not clap her heavy china hands together and break them!  Jackie found Agnes for me early one morning at Brimfield.

Today a child size dress came from ebay.  Look at the box!  We are glad a doll or a painting was not inside as it looks like it was run over by a vehicle.  The dress is fine and Lucy likes it ever so much.

All in all a pleasant day working on the doll family.  e

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sewing from my pockets and rollups book

This is an old post revisited by request.   I am looking back through a lot of photos to share here, and found these. My friend Penny had a great log house in the country and a while back a group of us met there to make sewing rollups and pockets together, sharing ideas and bits of special fabrics we had gathered for this party. (Actually two parties, a week apart!) To start with, just being a guest at Penny's lovely place with her as the best hostess I can imagine, and serving the greatest foods was a treat among her lovely antiques. And next, we all wore appropriate dress for this, including great bonnets. See Virginia! A number of projects were cut and started on the first session and then at the second session many were brought finished and more done by the end of the gathering. If you would like a copy of this book of patterns and pictures, it is still for sale.

The original soft cover book with full size patterns is available  for $16.50, including priority mailing. Send a check to Edyth O'Neill 609 Courtney St Fredericksburg TX 78624    Or pay $16.50 by paypal to joneill816@austin.rr.com  and be sure to state what you are purchasing.

Sorry, Continental USA only Thank you.

Enjoy these and make your own lovely fabric combinations!

Pockets and Rollups For My Red Cape book

Still available as of August 2018,  postage has gone up so I have too.  Thanks.

The original soft cover book with full size patterns is available  for $16.50, including priority mailing. Send a check to Edyth O'Neill 609 Courtney St Fredericksburg TX 78624    Or pay $16.50 by paypal to joneill816@austin.rr.com  and be sure to state what you are purchasing.

Sorry, Continental USA only Thank you.

Sample page and cover shown here

Friday, August 10, 2018

A new old bonnet

A sweet bonnet arrived in the mail today. Bought from Moira Hatton of Hatton's Gallery on Ruby Lane, it has a cloth back and bavolet with a straw brim. I have saved a vintage straw hat with a very wide closely woven brim for years in my ever bountiful garage, in hopes of making just such a bonnet. A closely woven straw placemat can also be used to cut the brim from. Narrow ribbon, often velvet, binds the front edge of the bonnet and hides the wire that gives it shape. The bonnet is machine sewn in tiny stitches like my feather weight makes. The fabric is silk.

There was quite a stir among the dolls when I unwrapped it. Jessie Lidianna whose name is written in old brown script on her sleeve, and who carries her Merritt Museum auction tag in her pocket, felt she needed it most. But it is a bit small for her and see who got it! Miss Walker from the house of Walton. It is so sweet with her green dress.  The small textiles and accessories for the doll family are an important part of the collection. 

The bottom of the brim should be close to the chin line. It is too small for her.

Jessie's printed apron is a wonder!

A magnificent doll, my favorite in the now closed Merritt museum.



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