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

Monday, December 23, 2019

Playing with toys at Christmas

Wishing a sweet Christmas to all who celebrate this.  Dolls and Toys are a big part of the season for me.  These big 28 inch cloth children, Izannah inspired, were made this year by Elaine McNally and me on a sculpt I made years ago about 1990. We have 15 of them, our E and E dolls.  It has been an amazing year for me to reach that far back in my journey as a doll maker.  Thank you Elaine.

I like having big old toys to pose with the dolls.

 Taken at night so color  is not good, this shows the bears bringing  the Christmas tree home on their sled.  Three more you do not see are on the other side, so that is most of my bear family.   Merry Christmas from bears and dolls and me, e.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Almost Thanksgiving, Belsnikles are peeking out of boxes, ready to take center stage.

Many favorite pictures were lost in a computer crash in 2012 for me.  So in looking back through my friend Dixie's Maida FB page (private club) for a picture of one of the big cloth Santas I made years ago,  I came across it and also a story of how my doll collecting started in 1953.  So thank you Dixie.

 There he is top left without his coat, among a group of bears and dolls I made in the  1980's

I made 36 of the Santas, all dressed a bit differently, and with quilted beards, in three variations.

This one is still in our family and lives at my Daughter's house.
Collecting Antique Dolls in the 1950’s
Things have really changed!   I was a young woman living in West Texas on a ranch in Comanche county then.   Living nine miles from pavement  I was relatively isolated.  My parents  lived in the large city of Dallas  120 miles away, and I would load my two little girls in the car and make that drive on slower old roads over the hills and through the woods to grandmother’s house every few months.   What an interesting grandmother she was for them!  My mother loved old toys and old dolls and miniature rooms and doll houses which she made with assistance from my father.  A trip home for a visit always included involvement  in her latest project.  Once I returned to the ranch with a fine old Teddy bear to mend, a find from the Goodwill store where mama loved to dig and search.  On another of these trips Mama offered me a doll she had found, needing a wig and restringing and clothing. By taking her home, I was hooked!  

To buy doll elastic I sent for a Mark Farmer’s catalog as advertised in Hobbies magazine. Soon I was reading the doll pages of Hobbies mag each month and sending the required SASE for mimeographed listings of dolls and parts for sale.  Buying from these lists sight unseen with very few of the items pictured was almost a shot in the dark.  In order to describe the item offered, the seller would cite page and book for illustrations from the few doll books available. Claire Fawcett’s Guide was a popular reference.  Collectors gave names to different china heads such as Mrs Bumblebottom or Mary Lincoln or other titles from these early books. In this way you could know about what you were ordering if you sent for a doll with a head called Dagmar. Some of these names persist until today.   Very early on, I desired most an Izannah Walker doll as pictured in Mrs. Johl’s books and an American Greiner doll which I did not own until the 1970’s.

 I had almost no money at all for dolls.  I could manage a bit from the grocery money to buy a china doll head for $2.35 or such.    But I was excited over my new hobby and set out to see what could be discovered locally.   The town of Comanche about 15 miles from me, had as all small towns did, a junk shop or two. In these I asked after china dolls. One shop keeper said he had seen a doll head at the iron man’s place. It was common in a small town for someone to put old pieces of iron in their front yard hoping to sell or swap them. These pieces of old farm equipment or hoes without handles and other iron pieces were often found as the iron man would check the city dump grounds on a more or less regular basis.    When I found the iron man he told me yes he had had a little chine doll head from the dump grounds and sold it to Mrs. Dofloppy  down the street for 50 cents.   The iron man’s grandchild had been playing with the little head in a coffee can in the dirt of the yard.  Coffee cans of that time were wide and squat.

I knocked on the door there and was admitted to the living room to visit this woman, and I soon spied the little doll head sitting on top of a bud vase on a shelf.   This perch on top of the flared vase gave a “body” to the little head, which was without it’s shoulders.   I was able to purchase the doll head for 75 cents.  I clasped my first real antique doll find and was thrilled with her!  She was a little common blond head, needing everything.  Hands and feet were ordered from Mark Farmer, and I made the doll a body and a dress, and named her Resurrection!   I was not to have her long.  My mama came from Dallas on a visit and grabbed Resurrection and announced that She must have the doll. My protests counted for nothing. Mama was building a salt box doll house and intended to show it in the State fair that October and 6 inch tall Resurrection was the very doll she needed.    So in less than a year, Resurrection went from the Comanche city dump to the state fair of Texas in my mama’s winning blue ribbon exhibit. Believe! 

Our family has not kept many of mama’s miniature rooms, and that was not the only blue ribbon she won. But we do have Resurrection in that doll house still.  My mama’s little  great great grandchildren ooh and ahh at it through a pane of plexiglass. And the hobby that began for me in my 20’s has kept a firm grip until this time in my 80’s. Macy and Ramsey, 4 and 8, love dolls passionately. The apples do not fall far from the tree.
         Helen wrote this as a comment :
"I own a "cousin" to Resurrection, the little blonde china of this story. In the 1960s, my sister's family lived in Comanche, and on a visit to a junk shop there locally called M & S (though the faded sign said Mc's), I found a small brown metal object which proved to be a rusted tin doll head, a German Minerva for a 12" doll. I bought it for a few dollars (inflation had come to the doll market there), took it home with me to Fort Worth to a doll repair shop for repainting, ordered china arms and legs and a body pattern from my Mark Farmer catalog, made a body from a pale pink linen guest towel, and muslin pantalettes, petticoat and a dimity dress. The "professional" paint job proved to be amateurish and unsatisfactory, and since I didn't yet know Edyth O'Neill, I couldn't take it to her to fix. So I repainted it myself, not good, but better, and at least my own mess. My dear sister is gone now, but I still have that doll, packed away in storage waiting to see the light of day again. Edyth perfectly named her reclaimed treasure, but mine is still Nameless. Helen Pringle"

Helen and I still play dolls together till this day.  e

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Jackie's Redware

Jack passed away in Dec 2012, This and the three following posts are repeated here to enjoy his pottery collection afresh.  All photos for these have been lost in a computer crash.  e 10 16 2019

Jack loved his early American pottery.  We brought back uncounted pieces of it from Pennsylvania and New England in more than 25 years of trips north to buy for our shop. We kept a great deal of it to live with and love.  He would hold a piece out to me and say "Hold it here, you can feel where the potter's hands were."  Furniture, paintings, early iron and especially pewter were all things he studied and enjoyed, but the pottery he loved. Every piece of it calls his name to me.
I have only parted with one piece of his pottery since he left us three years ago, a small rare cup he would have wanted that friend to have. I believe most of the rest of the pottery is just where he left it, stoneware and redware.
 On top  of a highboy in Jack"s room are two very large black glazed redware jugs from Pennsylvania next to a rarely found stoneware jug from Charlestown (MA) and so marked. 

Somewhere I have a photo of Jack with the largest one of these in his arms the day he found it in a big flea/antique market in Pennsylvania. He was so happy with this one.  They are glazed a deep brown black that iridizes to purple in places. I believe this is manganese.  Some one out there who knows correct me or verify this for us all.

 Like many people do, I have several small pieces of redware wired for lamps.

 Three large storage jars from Pennsylvania are high on a ledge.

This beautiful red milk pan is perfectly set off on a tea towel Penny S wove. I treasure every thread of her weaving! 

Jack's last piece of woodwork was a shelf to go in the kitchen over the sink. When it was done he selected and placed these pieces on it and I have never moved them, just dusted around them.

Also in the kitchen is the cupboard that was once part of our kitchen cabinetry in our red cape. Some nice pieces are here as well as in a corner  cupboard on the sun porch. The redware is all over the house really. This is not all.

The large red cream pot with manganese splotches is typical of Connecticut.

This cream pot stands almost a foot tall and is redder than the camera caught, a rich dark red with the casual glaze that tells us it was everyday ware not greatly important to the potter.   The milk pan in front  has a yellow glaze with a touch of green tint, likely from Maine.

I am enjoying learning to paint some of the pottery.

This small study is in preparation for a larger painting next week.


Happy Thanksgiving 2016

 This Post is repeated from Nov 22 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends who read here.   This is a time to be thankful for so many blessings.  Among these I am thankful my pretty kitchen and think of how Jackie worked hard to leave me in a safe sweet home when he knew he could not stay here long.  Of course we built our red cape with the hope it would be our forever home on this earth, but that was not to be.  So see what a pretty kitchen we made in this modern little garden home where I am grateful to be. 
We used his pottery collection as a theme in the kitchen and all surfaces were planned to compliment the redware and stoneware.
 Onions are gathered in a fine Redware bowl we believe was made in Maine. These onions are in two of my paintings. The counter top makes a strong statement and was not a choice for the faint of heart! 

See the rich and varied glaze on this early Boston marked piece.

This very sought after stoneware is the work of Frederick Carpenter, and Jack collected at least twenty of these pots.  The earlier is marked Boston then the pottery moved across the river and was afterwards marked Charlestown.

Now I have six of my recent paintings hanging in here, and have just finished making a peach cobbler pie for our family Thanksgiving dinner.  All four generations will be there at Daughter Beth's and it will be one to please Norman Rockwell. 

 Friend Dixie went to considerable trouble to secure and travel to pick up and then mail the little ship model from an auction in Maine last month. It is a one off home made model of an actual working fishing vessel I believe.  See that tiny wooden ball on top of the center mast? I lost that in a huge box of peanut packing and it took two hours and three passes through it all to recover the little bit of wood!
Langhorn's Tavern in Virginia was owned by my ancestor Maurice Langhorn. 

Footnote: I have had email from a new reader here, a person very knowledgeable  about early American pottery. He has a great blog on the subject:  http://www.earlyamericanceramics.com/ 
This is wonderful reading!    Go look.     Best, e

Four Early Hartford Connecticut Stoneware Pots in a Texas Kitchen

this post has been repeated from August 4th, 2012

As a fan of early 19th century American stoneware it was exciting to come across a large shapely three gallon crock with an unfamiliar name on it, Peter Cross Hartford, at a local show way down here in the Texas Hill Country. The large open mouth vessel had all of the earmarks of a very early piece: ovoid form, some scars from the kiln as well as extra details around the neck. I estimated the date of manufacture at around 1815 because of those features. Needless to say I added it to my collection. I was able to find it in my reference books (before I had Google) and see that Peter Cross operated a pottery from 1805 until about 1815 in two locations on Front St. in Hartford. Not many of his marked pieces have survived and are quite sought after.

Peter Cross sold his first pottery location in 1810 to Goodwin and Webster and opened another that he sold in 1815 to Benton and Stewart. They employed a potter named Daniel Goodale jr. who later bought the pottery in 1822. Goodale made pottery there until 1830 when Goodwin and Webster took over that pottery as well.

My Benton and Stewart jug was found at Brimfield and came with the story that those were the names of two retired sea captains that decided to go into the stoneware business. It was pleasantly ovoid shaped and had a series of rings around its neck which pretty much dates it 1820 or earlier. My research did show that they were indeed retired sea captains. Sometimes the story does match up with the facts. Very few pieces with that mark show up.

The Goodale crock was also found at Brimfield on another trip. It appears to retain its original lid which is unusual and features a nice bulbous form and Hartford mark which appealed to me.

The Goodwin and Webster pot was found in one of our favorite shops in Willington Connecticut. Although not rare, pots turned out by Goodwin and Webster are usually shapely and stylish. They were probably the most successful of the early Connecticut potters.

All four of our pots are related and were made in close proximity to one another, a fact that I didn’t realize when I bought them. I think it only fitting that they now sit side by side although they are many miles from Hartford.    Jack

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