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. ~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

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