Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mind is a Wonderland

April is coming to a close quickly and the month just seemed to fly by! Rain and hail came frequently, and in equal measures we had the most beautiful warm spring weather imaginable. Even though the winds prevailed after a particularly warm weekend, this little mouse took her kayak out on Lake Folsom Monday with her husband and we paddled out to the island which is a wildlife sanctuary. High above the trees in the tallest Digger Pine is this large eagle's nest and we always look to see if we'll spot an eagle. Indeed we did as a mama eagle was in her nest with two little eaglets. Such a magnificent sight! So I hunkered down real low so I wouldn't be noticed and become a meal.

As you know, I hosted a mini challenge in the month of April for the Bleuette Sewing Club to make Alice costumes for their dolls. A drawing prize for one of my peg wooden paper dolls in an Alice theme was offered as incentive. The challenge was quite a success and the seamstresses made the most lovely and creative dresses inspired by the various illustrators of the Alice books. This week I put to the task of a second Alice in Wonderland peg wooden paper doll for the drawing. I chose the Tenniel illustrated paper dolls from a Shackman Company poster card. The pieces were intricate and lovely and they turned out beautifully. But what to do with them to make them different from anything I'd done before was a question for me.

I thought to make stands for them, but for some reason was having difficulty doing so. I decided then that they might make nice play dolls as is for the Bleuettes. Then three minutes after I turned out the lights to go to bed in my hole in the wall, it came to me that a peg board, or game board to display them on would be the answer. So I found a lovely garden scene and miniaturized it, pegged Alice and the White Rabbit and drilled two holes in the garden back drop, or peg board. Now the dolls had a place to play and a fine way to be displayed. They could be dressed in thier costumes and chase through the garden on their various adventures through Wonderland. I'll call this the Alice Peg Wooden Wonderland Peg Board. I'm so pleased with it, I may try it again for other little etrennes such as this.

I would also like to share Margie's fabulous Nursery Alice costume with you, expertly designed by a most talented seamstress and designer, Nicki Burley. In the photo Margie shows how much fun it is to have a little doll dressed just like her! If you love heirloom doll clothing with distinction and historical accuracy, keep your eyes out for more of Nicki's work as she's going to be sewing for me and designing her own patterns while creating a fabulous website.

Welcome May and all the flowers the April rains will bring!

Miss E. Mouse

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wonderful Fashion Doll

In each of our lives there is always one special moment, one special toy, or one special book that stands out as having shaped our dreams...or a least made a very memorable impression. Such was the case with The Wonderful Fashion Doll, by Laura Bannon, for children born after 1953, the year the book was published. I wouldn't know about it this treasure until just a year ago, when one of my favorite doll artists, Wendy Lawton, recalled this book to her on-line group, trying to remember its name. After learning about the story, I had to find a copy. I could not believe the difficulty I experienced finding this book, and when I did, it was expensive. Very. I bought it, read it, reread it and enjoyed it for a year. Then I sold it. Sadly, yes, but I needed the cash. But, not before copying out a couple dozen pages! My intent after reading it was to recreate this story, bring it to life in a real doll, naturally in miniature. It was one of those things in the mouse hopper, and it wasn't until I actually parted with the book that I longed to build on this dream.

The story is the tale of a little girl named Debby who moves to her family's farmhouse in the country. Her great-grandmother had left letters about hiding this wonderful fashion doll to keep her safe from theives, and no one ever knew what happened to it, although it was a guess that it may be hidden somewhere in the old farmhouse. Debby's mission then was to try and find the doll...and does.

When I first thought of doing this, I was going to make a miniature Gay Event, the fashion doll, and all her clothing and treasures in the antique trunk. Then it occurred to me how cute it might be to make Debby and her doll. The story is just as much about Debby as it is about the discovey of the wonderful fashion doll. I knew I had the perfect little porcelain doll for Gay Event, a tiny 2 3/4" lady doll, but what was I to do about Debby? After much consideration, I decided I would use Mary Lee of Mary Lee's Tribute, a 9" Wendy Lawton doll, as my Debby. Now, once I've made my mind up, there's generally no turning back. Mary Lee is sweet, but with a different wig, (which I have found and need to purchase), and an outfit made like the one Debby wears when she finds the doll, she'd be perfect. This does however mean that I give up Mary Lee, but if this comes out the way I hope it to, it will indeed be WONDERFUL!
This tiny lady doll's head is even threaded so it can turn. From all the pages I've copied from the book I've a detailed description of all that was in the trunk, and even illustrations of most of the items. I just think this is just super!
Lastly, Marcella's dress has been made and she will be on her way home from the dressmaker shortly. These projects of mine are once again becoming quite elaborate in conception, detailed to the hilt and truly labors of love. How could I call them etrennes if they were not?
Miss E.Mouse

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Beautiful Balloon

When I was a little mouse, my mother used to take my sister and brother and I to our local Sees Candies store where we'd each pick out a beautiful sugar egg with a perfect, tiny little scene in it. She would then save them for our Easter baskets. These sugar eggs with their windows to a miniature world would fascinate me for hours. I never nibbled on them, but also have no idea where they went to. As you can see, I have a very pretty one today with a pink sugar rose on top. I know you can't see her, but there's a tiny yellow chick sitting on eggs inside!

The last few days have been spent finishing up projects, getting them mailed and cleaning up my studio. I simply cannot work in such a mess, but as I do, all these little bits gather around my paper pallette until I can no longer find anything. A paper pallette? Well, I suppose this goes back to the days when I painted more often than not, but you can tear a soiled page away so easily and find a nice clean surface to begin on again.

Oh! Bebe Balancoire has a new silk dress. The white one in the presentation box has been made, and so has the powder puff and folded shawl or kerchief shown above it. The hat is a bonnet and will take a bit of fussing with. There is a white brush I think must be a "tooth brush" and a black brush for her hair. I've found I must remake her beautiful leather gloves, but this is alright. Making the perfect pair of 1/2" gloves takes some doing. There are four napkins, a bar of soap, and what looks to be red curlers. The ball in the net bag was also made recently. So why not share a photo? Because its EASTER!! And, Easter cards must be sent.

I think I've decided on two things I shall be working on along with Bebe, and a commissioned piece I'm painting. I have been wanting to make male and female harlequin marionettes for some time now. Antoinette Marionette was so beautiful and sweet and I must make more like her. (See my website under the gallery Bleuette Collections and The Versailles Collection - I think she was about 2 1/2" long. So sweet. These may be about 3" tall. Just like me! I am also going to finish the second miniature Chinese Checkers set since my marble artist said he'd make me more teeny tiny marbles in the right colors. My love affair with dolls and trunks calls, so I must make a little Jumeau in a trunk with a small wardrobe - or even a presentation box! That's it! Those French presentation boxes were divine. And am I not making etrennes? Oui! I guess that's three, but who is counting?

So, I wish you a Happy Easter, and when next I write I hope to have some wonderful works in progress to share.


Miss E. Mouse