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

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Phone keeps

There are hundreds of ways to carry a cell phone, I have not been good about keeping mine with me in the past. Now I have an IPhone I enjoy.  Looking on line at the dozens of hard leather bags there, both for over the neck or over the shoulder,  I did not see one that seemed to be for me.   Having studied ladies' antique pockets and sewing  rolls and little bags to keep embroidery scissors at hand, a variety of pretty little keeps filled my head right away!  A pretty phone bag could be made of crewel embroiderd upholstery fabric.  Or one of the little oriental rug copies that used to be given with tobacco products.   How about one for rug hookers or a bag trimmed in wool applique?  As a lover of old quilts, I started with quilt fragments.




I have finished two patchwork phone bags. I wear them around my neck, not cross body. The pink one is snug enough that the phone does not jump out of it, the slightly larger log cabin one has a brown button and a loop at the top.

For my next one I have turned to southwestern inspiration.

Denim and silver are almost a uniform for me. I enjoy the southwestern jewelry I grew up with and have loved all my life. So I naturaly turn to the American Indian's medicine pouch or the mountain man's possibles bag. The medicine pouches are mostly smaller than I need and the possibles bag is slightly larger. Many people wear the leather possibles bag cross body as a purse, or for shooting supplies which it carried in earlier times. A hunter might hold it over his head when crossing a creek, Keep your powder dry! (and patches and dried food stuff.)

A pretty medicine bag made by a Taos craftsman is typical of newer ones.


One with a painted pony was made by my daughter Cheryl and me, and one with a claw on it by contemporary Espanola  craftsman Lynn Canterbury.


On this velveteen bag the ornament is an Apache prayer stone, mounted in leather by a contemporary Indian artist.  Among early trading goods prized by Indians, fabrics ranked high in exchange for beaver pelts.   Velvet was worn with deer skin and broadcloth and soon, calico.  



My brother says "An ancient-styled medicine bag with 21st-century technology. 

Wonderful!"  e



Sunday, July 3, 2022

Blue Corn, just dreaming of it so far.

Fall decorating will be with us before I can blink,  a painting takes me a while to work out and execute and dry and make little changes .. so I have wanted to do some fall still lifes for years and never manage it!  Christmas overtakes me while I am still just thinking about pumpkins.  So yesterday I began to imagine what I might paint,  I love the blue corn of Taos, actually have some seeds from Robert Mirabal but never planted them. The fun of corn husks is unbounded, it can be whatever one imagines!  I have a Taos flute, and a wonderful small drum made about 40 years ago by Red Shirt, a Taos  Pueblo drum maker of note.   Tonight I have sketched a possible arrangement.

 I need a huge cardboard box, or some hinged cardboard pieces like the side of a box,   to contain the light and make nice shadows and set up a clip-on light. Then I will have to work in a slightly dark room with a light above my easel and my chair and paints and on and on, setting this up in a front bedroom, have to move in a long white work table and shove the sofa over,   keeping paint off the bed coverlet and little sofa with plastic covers, and so forth.  This is how I have done my big still life paintings in the past, and why there have not been many for years  now.     



Appologies for dull coloring on these images, the paintings are more vivid and colorful in reality.






My tiny and crowded library where I normally paint from pictures on a screen is intact and ready to use at all times, wonder what I can do to bypass the difficult set up described above.  Photos never catch all the precious reflected colors in the shadows, and reflected light off nearby objects, nor allow one to slightly move this or that over without messing up the shadows.   Still I may end up setting the box up at night on my back porch at night and taking pictures of it.  Then paint off my monitor instead of much preferred  life.  




 My usual painting area is so small there is no room to back up and see the painting as a whole as I work on it.   Jack thought I would clear out his bedroom with its marvelous north light and make it my painting space when he was gone.   Instead I have kept his room very much as he left it.  All the pewter and pottery in the cupboards throughout the house are where he placed them. I just dust them and keep them in place.  He has been gone 10 years this coming Christmas.    Jack told me he wanted me to continue to write and paint and keep on doing things. That seems to have worked well till lately, I am getting lazy. The extreme heat and higher than usual humidity are a factor I think. So let’s think about fall.  e

Friday, June 17, 2022

 

A rug hooking friend, Barb Carroll passed away last week, she is the one to whom I sold my rug designs. She had long since sold them on to Katie Hartner,  A Nimble Thimble in Tyler Texas.   Barb Carroll was a pillar of the rug hooking community. Her enthsiastic use of color was unbounded by convention and her work was marked by exuberant color.  She was also a warm wonderful human being beloved by so many of us.

  I remember the day we met, my friend  Virginia Munroe told me of a class she was taking, and said I must drive to San Antonio to meet that teacher. I went, and at the lunch break Barb came out in the hall to sit down and share her sandwich with me,  and we were good friends for all the years after that.  She is the one who gave Old Spoon the blue checked dress of what I believe is real home woven fabric. The word ‘homespun” is tossed about freely, but this is the  real article, as evidenced by the uneven checks. Sometimes the weaver would put a little more of one color or the other before changing her weft.

  Old Spoon was made, signed, and dated in June of 1983.  She was one of more than 75 cloth dolls I made in the early 1980’s.   Only three were  of this pattern, the rest had faces with a center seam making a nose. I love Spoon the best, as her features rely on paint alone for her features.   At Thirty inches tall and firmly stuffed, she is a substantial doll with an interesting three part head..

 This doll was sold to a local friend who wanted an old fashioned rag doll for her grandchildren to play with.  Spoon played enthusiastically with all the children and has many stories to share now if she could speak to me.  Around 2010, the grandchildren were all grown and scattered and Spoon came home to me, soiled and disheveled but undaunted. There is a tire track from someone’s tricycle across her throat and stains of unknown origin on her stockings and her once sweet antique real child’s frock was torn and needed replacing.  Her white unders were also unusable.  Rug hooking friend Barb Carroll loved Spoon on sight, and sent her a fine blue  checked dress from Pennsylvania, made of homespun fabric.  The doll enjoys clothing for small children of long ago and has several frocks but her favorite is the blue check from her Aunt Barbara.  Spoon has retired now from rough play and gives new meaning to “Hanging out with friends” as she hangs on a wall in my bedroom among other cloth dolls and old samplers and sewing rollups. 
A painting came  to life last week when my sister and brother in law visited and brought their beautiful Sheltie, LanSir, along. He is just an armfull of love! And he accepted me in a friendly way immediately , after Judy coaxed him to jump up on the couch to get at my level. At first I said I will get down on the floor to have a picture made with him and they all said at once "No! We could not get you up!"  I laughed and said true. LanSir has been to school and has beautiful manners in every way and is a much loved member of the family.  I have painted LanSir twice from Photos. I would love to have such a dog in my life!  I could not care for one at present. But I can love this one.



Part of a painting of a bison shows above me, that is one my artist daughter Cheryl painted some years back.





Here is a different gorgeous Sheltie I painted for a friend lately. They seem such intelligent wonderful companion dogs.   In years past I have had several great German Shepherds, and loved them much. I could not handle and train or bathe such big  bears now.
  e



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A doll party in Fredericksburg

 Friends Dixie Redmond and Elaine McNally were here for a wonderful visit, Dixie has written about it and taken a stack of pictures. So instead of trying to write it all for readers here, I invite you to see her post:   Northdixie Designs      Within that post are several other links, also follow those for background.

Antique Izannah Walker dolls are the inspiration for much of our doll making for all three of us. Here are three old ones we studied closely, comparing construction and painting.  



..



  Because of Covid, I try to avoid having people inside my home, but the sunporch with big windows and an exhaust fan has such great circulation of air it is almost like being outside. We had two wonderful afternoons. 



                                                          
e


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Company is coming all the way from Maine!

So, I have cleared away my sewing clutter to enjoy this beautiful table runner, copy of an antique one. This was the last large piece I tried to hook and when it became apparent my hands were not going to finish it, a sweet friend, Debbie, took it home for a few months and brought it back as a splendid echo of an early American folk art treasure.     Thank you Debbie, love it! 


Friend Trisha Travis worked one of the ships. 



Jack made our eight foot table from two wide boards than once were part of the buttry in our 1768 cape from Connecticut.



 I am grateful to have this beautiful hooked piece, mine only because of the encouragement and help from friends.  Barb Carroll printed a version of it and the linen to hook is available from Katie Hartner at Nimble Thimble.   The shape of my whale and a few other small details differ a bit.   e

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Oh Canada!

 



Daisy loves hooked rugs too!


Oh Canada! Hooked rugs are to love too! Marilyn L in Canada adapted my rug pattern "Sea Fever" to commemorate the tall ships of Canada in the Atlantic. She changed the flag and sails to reflect our neighbor's flag and maple leaf symbol. I still get email from many Rug hookers and enjoy them.

What a Lovely thing to be doing in this cold weather, thank you, Marilyn. e

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Bonnets for the Dolls in this cold weather.

I am on a bonnet binge. Here is a sweet old one that fits some of the Greiner dolls, too large for the Izannahs. I hope to make a pattern from it for smaller ones. It is a slat bonnet with places to insert cardboard stiffeners between lines of stitching in the brim. I use it without those. All machine stitched.






Here is a bonnet I made yesterday, from old quilt fragments. (No, I did not cut up the quilt you see!) The bonnet is modeled on a lovely doll made by Paula Walton in 2013. The fabric, indigo with tiny stars, is often found on quilts made in the time frame the old Izannahs were made. I have two quilts using this fabric. The front edge of the bonnet's brim was made from an edge of an old quilt to add a look of age. If I had had a larger piece of the fabric right at hand, I would have made the fall about 3/4 inch linger. All stitched on my fingers, thankful I can still sew some. The ties are tape from Burnley and Trowbridge dyed with natural indigo.






 
Remembering one I made last August and showed here. Also made of old quilt fragments. Different shape to the brim and no bavolet (fall).

Sweet trifles to fill a cold shut in day.   


Old bonnets in my painting, "Whispered Secrets" oil on Canvas, 24 x 18.    e

 


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