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. ~Edyth O’Neill

Friday, December 22, 2023

We pray for Peace and Good Will.


Thanksgiving in my house began with a gift of bittersweet from friends in Connecticut.

Gus in his favorite spot at Daughter Beth's and her husband Gary's house where we gathered for Thanksgiving.

Ten at the table for Thanksgiving.  Christmas already in the cupboard behind us.

My Granddaughter Sarah

At my house only the small tree this year, I could not manage the 9 ft one. Next year I will line up more help!

Under the tree are two books of Arabian Nights that belonged to my father when he was a young boy, over a hundred years back now.  My sister has kept them safe for years. Last year I bought library tape and helped them to a stronger state.

A little wax doll of about 1850. This type is called Mad Alice for their perky expression.
I made wings for her of cotton batting and old tinsel garland. and she is happy on the top of my tree.  Many of the ornaments on this tree are of batting and scrap, some old some new.

The sled was on the dining table for a little while and then the old goose took up there.  The goose is usually high on a shelf where I do not get to enjoy him enough. Time for a change.

Wishing a sweet Christmas to all who read here,  e

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Magdalena Briner Rugs for my Greiner Dolls

 Greiner dolls were made in Philadelphia about the same time period as Pennsylvania rug hooker Magdalena Briner Eby was making her very folky rugs, now highly valued and treasured by collectors. I decided to make some inspired by her rugs for my Greiner dolls. For the shapes I am using old tin Cookie cutters, also typical of Pennsylvania. I am attempting to copy her style but not her exact rugs. 

Horse rug above at top, hooked all with yarn, too solid to be pretty to me.  A better collection of yarn would solve this.

My sister sent me the dear chair, from a Houston estate.  
Making accessories for the antique doll family has always been something Jack and I have done. See the sweet little horn book he made long ago.

One of my full size chairs also has a hooked mat I made showing a horse.

I am having a good time at this, as I have loved Pennsylvania folk art for over 50 years.  I hooked part of the horse rug with yarn but it was too solid so I switched back to regular wool fabric strips. Yarn is so much easier on hands!   I can't do much rug hooking now, but the small pieces are marginally doable. 

Here is a third little rug, using an eagle cookie cutter belonging to my friend Dixie, it has a more faded pastel look with some soft blue. 

I have been guided in making the little rugs by this wonderful book about Magdalena's life and her rugs.

Soon it will be time to write "30" here.  There have been more than 500 posts in this journal.    e

Sunday, April 2, 2023

playing with rag dolls still

 Cloth dolls like Izannah Walker's dolls made in a cottage industry to sell, have as cousins one of a kind dolls made by and for family members. Both are very popular at present. I watch for another Izannah I might be able to add to my doll family, meanwhile enjoying other hand made cloth dolls.  

These three are thought to date 1885 to 1900. Their faces are oil painted cloth, flat without shaping.

Very worn rag dolls have a charm of their own, my friend Joy Harrington is writing an article for a future issue of Antique Doll Collector magazine titled "Dear Survivors."  in it the question is asked "What is worth keeping?"  For many of these humble cloth dolls are almost played to death, patched over and over.  Sometimes an old doll body will show evidence of having had a china head or other manufactured head. Once the fine head was broken, the doll was given a homemade head with a pencil drawn face of perhaps a painted one. The make do was a wonderful companion for a small child. Others were intended to be cloth dolls from their beginning.  

A well-known early cloth doll in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg was made about 1770 for Clarissa Fields, a little girl born blind. Clarissa named her doll Bangwell Putt. 
Having decided I would like to have a basketful of something similar,  I am putting together some cloth dolls myself.  
The one below in brown and blue is a current project.  The old body has been under my bed, headless for a long while, and having stains and patches all over.  The lower legs were replaced at some time back in her story.  The upper torso has been recovered and shows glue and patches that tell of multiple heads. One arm was leaking sawdust, I patched that.  Her beautiful old hands are dear.  Today I have given her a cloth head.  Who is she really? I think of my own long life, it has had such varied chapters,  at one time or another I have had many different roles.
 The doll in very old blue and white is done for now, the one in pink needs arms, maybe today and she will be done.   There are more bodies and clothing stored away, but I want to stop here and make bonnets. This doll in brown and blue would enjoy a shallow bonnet from the brown printed quilt fragment pictured with her in one image. How does one get sepia ink, would it not run? I may lightly add some facial features at some point. So far, I have ruined 3 heads trying with paint.  I want some different head shapes, lollipop for one at least.  At least one must have an apron.    


Friday, February 3, 2023

My 92nd birthday came in like a bear.

My birthday month, January, was full of challenges, among them the end of my old computer system.  I am working now to set up one a little differently and have found my way back to my blog today.  Texas is emerging from a dramatic three-day ice storm which has left many without power or heat still. My own home was touched only lightly because I had only light rain to freeze, but most of central Texas looked like this: 

Heavy ice will take a while to melt, but as for my yard, today I am thawed and have stepped outside a few minutes in shining sunlight.  I stay indoors mostly and am grateful for hobbies.
Added to the doll family here, a late 19th century cloth doll with oil painted face.  Homemade dolls like this have a charm and personality from being one of a kind, made one at a time.   

"Angel", has come to me from the collection of Dixie Redmond.
Angel badly wants clothing, there will be other pictures when she is dressed.

Angel has her name from the circle on the top of her head, the unusual seaming reminds me of a halo.

Her head and hands are oil painted, nicely done.  

   Thoughts and prayers for those friends in northern states facing an onslaught of deep cold.  e 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

looking back at where we were years ago, and on into that new year.

 Fall 2005 Remembered 

After fire took our beloved red cape these were two of my posts to readers here. I will be 92 in January and my sweetheart Jackie has been gone ten years today. Life changes for us all, but I am fortunate to have a different but good living situation at present and much to look forward to still in 23. 

 2005   Starting over in a new house. After several months of searching for a house that felt warm and cozy and welcoming to us, we compromised mightily and purchased a new one in a pretty subdivision of Fredericksburg. After living with 240 year old New England pine floors and wide chestnut beams overhead in the farmhouse, white tile and white carpet along with arches and coffered ceilings seemed hard to accept. At the same time we knew we were lucky to have a good safe house, again comparing ourselves to the people who lost all in Katrina. Our situation is lovely compared to theirs.

Jack and our daughter Beth and son in law Gary worked six weeks to simplify the new house, sheet rocking to level the arches. taking out extreme green countertops in favor of slate gray, removing Italian grape wallpaper, and replacing ceiling fans in the major rooms with candle style chandeliers from Moses Willard. A flying saucer or something like one covered two large florescent fixtures in the kitchen. It was removed and neat can lighting went in. Gary put dimmers on most of the lighting, including the over counter lights in the kitchen, saying "Mom now you have candle light". Changing nearly all of the light fixtures made an unimaginable difference through out.

We moved no walls, nor made any major changes which might compromise the integrity of the house. Rather we are warming the interior with our collection of earth colored stoneware and red ware, the pewter and delft and newly upholstered furniture, crewel over some of the windows, and the beginnings of a library of books again. It is a comfortable house, with large spaces and ample seating for people and activities. There are guitars and a banjo standing in a corner, and big speakers to sound our favorite records.

Here is a note to my brother during those weeks: Never become involved with wall paper if it can be at all avoided! We are doing the small bathroom this weekend and just suffering death in there. Beth and Gary will return for another shift of it soon and we should be done by tonight. Gary does the plumbing and unplumbing and Jack and Beth hang and cry and I cut paper and match and measure and ring my hands when it all goes wrong and won't stick to the wall which is the worst of it. Someday we will laugh about all this, just not yet!!! Have a great day. Love, Sis

The first thing our friend Helen said when she saw our new house was "Of course you will replace the front door!!!" It was leaded glass and very fancy and we replaced it with a paneled door painted the green of the house trim color.

Jack has made a space for his woodworking tools and is beginning to do woodwork again. I have set up an easel by a north window so I can start back to painting, and have a space for sewing and for rug wool. The early furniture is shocked by its new surroundings, but the crewel swags help over the windows. The new house is surprised at us too, it never expected hooked rugs and baskets of wool and a large spinning wheel, but now has them.

Greatly missed are the twenty oriental rugs lost. We are thrilled to have a large one now for the living room and three small ones to scatter about and cover some of the white floor.

December 2005 Our Christmas Letter

Dear Friends, Now that this year is ending, I look back on many changes for Jack and myself. Among the most heart warming of this year’s events was the tremendous response from friends and family after fire struck our home. Your loving support made the difference. Jack says he does not know how we would have made it through the worst days without the people who came to help us. Thank you also, who wrote to us after the fire with your messages of comfort. At two times this year we suffered serious computer glitches and lost all email and addresses and each time some of your warm letters went into space and were never answered. Many of the letters in snail mail were read and enjoyed but some also went without the full response I would like to have given them. Please forgive me when the correspondence is more that I can manage, I love to get them and do read over each several times. Email is always the easiest for me. The new address is joneill816@austin.rr.com
Life has many storms, and Jack and I have endured our personal one this year. We think of the thousands of hurricane victims and their suffering and continuing displacement, and give thanks that we were not taken out of our very community. Now that we have moved into a clean new house in town, we are unpacking and sorting papers and books and trying to put our lives in order again. The heartbreak of loosing our old house is still fresh but we will hold dear the memory of those years in the little red cape for all of our lives. We are grateful to have a house again, and plan to fill it with grandchildren and friends and music and books and paintings and pumpkin pies and happy memories so that soon the new one will be home to us. This week there is a Christmas wreath on the front door and sleigh bells on the inside so that they sound each time the door is opened. Let us all open the door of our hearts to the ringing of bells and the possibility of joy in the new year.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

September's doll

 Two nice Izannah Walker dolls in worn but original condition are the favorites of my doll collection. I will add another if I have the means and the opportunity. Meanwhile a very rough little waif showed up on Ebay and then came to me. I set about to try to bring the much patched and poorly overpainted doll to a better state, here is her story.  A huge box arrived! The packing would have befitted a princess! Layers and layers under was the doll, in what I believe to be her original dress and three pieces of unders. The perfectly fitted red dress is entirely hand sewn, the unders some and some.  Beyond mending, the dress is melting as is the petticoat, both will be kept in a protected plastic sleeve.  Pictures tell the story. I am lucky enough to have an old dress that fits Evangeline,  also completely hand sewn.  I am happy to have a third old Izannah Walker doll, patches and paint not withstanding.   She danced away her original feet long ago.  Even the replacements have given way, showing she had a long life as a play doll.  Her dark little hands show a life of much work.  What stories she could tell!

New lower legs to make and paint.  

picture before and after  from Dixie Redmond

She has borrowed a dress from one of her sisters, I need to sew more.  Dress below from Robin's Egg Blue.  

Orange buggy ex collection Merritt Museum. 

Welcome, worn little doll, you are still loved.     e

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