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 loved 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.
From time to time items are offered for sale under the banner “O’Neill’s Antiques” which was our shop name for many years.
Here is a friend's house to share. The spaces are gracious and ample for large groups, but warm and inviting for our small collectors club also. Our hostess chose to set several small tables in her kitchen area for us to gather around and then let us wander and enjoy the treasures everywhere. Discussion for the meeting was decorated boxes and some nice ones were shown.
This tree is decorated with old cotton fruit ornaments.
An informal arrangement on the piano brings it into the decorating theme nicely. The hooked rug shown here is a taste of the fine collection of them.
There are many lovely portraits and beautiful old theorems all over the house.
A precious old trundle peeks out from under.
The collection of old ornaments by itself would make a lovely post to study!
A nice touch on an old spoon to enjoy year round. e
Small spots of Christmas are so much pleasure. You can arrange them wherever you like, a candle and a bit of holy on a shelf makes a nice note. Antiques glow when highlighted by these touches. Here is friend Gina's ipad and phone charging station. I love seeing my little ship mat pattern in the mix.
A little Santa on a cupboard at my house is one I made from faded rug wool and a bit of sculpy or similar clay plus cotton to form a beard. A simple three piece cone that any crafter can cut is the base. Front and back are bullet shaped and the base is a circle to fit. Make that hat tall. Curved arms without stuffing are inserted in the side seams. The almost flat backed clay face is on with a bit of glue, then a beard and edging are applied with more glue. The mustache is modeled and painted in the clay face but the beard is applied cotton.
A group of them could be assembled in muted colors and even one in a soft plaid.
When I stuffed him I added a circle of cardboard inside the base. Trim for the coat can be cotton quilt batting cut with crisp edges. e
Music has always been there like sunshine or birds or other
common things we take for granted. But it was the year I was 18 that a whole
new understanding of the language of music opened for me.I was
given a pair of season’s symphony tickets by an aunt and uncle in Dallas
when the orchestra still played at McFarland Auditorium on the SMU campus before
they moved to a larger building in Fair Park.My aunt never considered the acoustics in the new one to be as fine.The gift of the symphony tickets coincided in
part with a class in Music appreciation I was taking in SMU’s night school
along with other freshman work. I had the most wonderful professors! Those starry starry nights of my first college classes were as splendid as if heaven had opened to revealed a whole new picture of life and possibilities. College should be that! I hope it still is for my grand children.
One revelation was that listening to a complex piece of fine music engages the mind
and the spirit just as thoroughly as reading a book or a thoughtful article. An auditorium filled with raptly listening people demonstrates this. Music
has mood and narrative qualities and rhythm and coloration of tone and is a many
splendored thing. It has mathematical and spatial qualities in
the intervals between sounds.Some parts are featured and some supportive
and subdued. The differing themes are introduced with repetition and variation. Notes are enhanced with harmony and counterpoint for the delight of the hearer. There is a swell and an ebb of sound and sometimes dissonance.
In viewing a painting some of the same types of thinking
come into play, but with a painting we can bring our eyes back again to the
passages we are seeing and reinforce the relationships we are absorbing.Music is totally ephemeral and passes though
the mind and out again… we must retain a mental image of it in order to relate parts before and after each phrase and passage for the composition to have
meaning and shape.
Music has the capacity to evoke memories of what has been
and images of what may become.Music can
lift the listener from the present time and circumstance to spend reverie in
whatever place the mind chooses.Learning
to listen to fine music is a skill worth cultivating.Think how valuable this magic carpet can be
in our lives as a release from boredom or pain or stress!
Some who are learned in science studying our brains tell us that being exposed to fine music early in life builds enhanced connections in the minds of children somewhat akin to being raised with several languages.As my little ones pat chubby hands to Ravel’s Bolero I can see the little synapses forming behind bright excited eyes. They will grow to appreciate more sophisticated works in time. Music is a nice gift for Christmas to the people you love. e
I am writing this blog on Dec 13th, Jack O'Neill's birthday. There were so many levels we interacted on, a shared love of music, grandchildren, goats new England architecture, the search for antique treasures and on and on.
Many nice collections of antique dolls are built with the active participation of a caring spouse. Mine surely was. Jack learned them after we married and as he shopped the big shows and antique markets in Pennsylvania and New England for early furniture and accessories to add to our shop inventory, he was also on the look out always for good dolls I would want. He could buy them and know the fine points of what he was doing whether I was with him or not.
I remember the first antique doll I bought after we were married, a great papier mache head only, but a 10 inch one which later made a doll 35 inches tall. Her condition was untouched and beautiful, the doll I named Caroline for the dealer I got her from. Jack was aghast, it really shook him to see me buy this head for $875 which was some money about 37 years ago. "But it's only cardboard" he exclaimed afterward!
From that hour he said he learned what was what in self defense of our pocket book. (Caroline was one of my two favorite dolls ever... neither came out of the fire.)
He was very liberal with me and agreed to the purchase of many fine dolls, sometimes beside me in an auction saying "go on!"
Jack took me to many doll museums and doll auctions and a few shops like Richard Wright's which we visited many times. He understood my passion for them, as he himself loved old guns (and fine new ones too) as well as early furniture and stoneware and paintings and on and on.
Over time Jackie built some wonderful pieces of doll furniture sized for my big papier maches. A very few of our close friends purchased several of his small pieces.
Embedded in a current display in the hall, is this little north shore cupboard, an exact scale replica of our large one in the dining room.
A precious favorite piece Jack surprised me with one afternoon is this little William and Mary style candle stand. The antique portrait on Ivory was a gift from Jack's father, what possible better place to enjoy it than on this little stand!
Here is a mirror Jack made for the dolls.
He also made this gorgeous early chest.
The porringer top Queen Ann tea table is not currently well displayed but it is well loved just the same.
The tea table here is a replica of the one in my living room, exactly to scale. The molded edges are made with an old molding plane. The pieces are mortised and tenon jointed and hand turned and hand planed just as on the old one. Wear on the stretchers shows where dolls might have had their feet for the last 250 years or so.
The settle these Greiners are almost covering is a replica of an old one we once had. I have kept two of these settles.
Probably the finest of Jack's small scale furniture were the two highboys he made with beautiful cabriole legs he turned. I had a red one before the fire and kept a black one he made afterward. The red one is well restored and is still in a private collection.
Cassie shown here on the left was my other favorite doll I have ever had. She had brown eyes and lovely long molded curls, a choice papier mache. The rug in front was a half size replica of my Pineapple Welcome design.
The brown baby dress on this glass eyed Voit doll was a gift from friend Jean.
The dolls have other furniture of course not made by my sweetheart Jackie. Half a dozen fine early child's chairs sit about the house holding sometimes dolls and sometimes grandchildren or a big bear. Most of them Jack restored or wove a seat in or otherwise helped preserve.
An attractive accessory for the large dolls is the Buck's Junior number 2 iron cook stove. It was a costly treasure! Above the stove is a sampler made for my dolls and given by close friend Melanie Z.
Always easy to find are doll cradles. This is not a fine one but holds the Motschmann baby safely.
This clock has battery works and chimes the hours and quarters in a cheery voice. I do not know its maker, but believe it is from a contemporary maker in New Hampshire. A tiny Steiff mouse sits on top.
Foremost among my purchased pieces of furniture for the dolls is this splendid early little desk. I took a wild risk maybe to buy it off the internet, even with right of return. But not really as the seller Carla Thomson of Oldeclectics is a great person to work with. I must say the box this was in would have been daunting to have to return! Jack would have liked the craftsmanship on the desk, as worthy to sit with his own.
To all my friends who read this, Have a sweet Christmas for 2015, e