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

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.    


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