Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome 2012, The Year of Lettie Lane

Just as promised, I am typing one pawed to bring you the last post of 2011. And, there I am! Being tenderly upheld by my new little muse, Lettie Lane. She will be the star of 2012 as her doll house was introduced in The Ladies' Home Journal 100 years ago in the year 1912.

I have long loved the Lettie Lane paper dolls illustrated by Sheila Young, and this particular one, "Pictures of a Little American Girl", just spoke to my heart and I decided she must come to life as a friend for Daisy.

This beautiful antique reproduction was made by the stellar doll artist, Connie Zink, of Land of Oz Dolls, to my exacting specification. Unlike Daisy, she is a German Kestner 174 mold. My intention, and you know I'm good to my word, is to bring to life her clothing from her paper doll page. Just yesterday I ventured out of my little hole in the wall and joined a friend of mine on a journey to San Francisco's Britex Fabrics store on Maiden Lane in Union Square. I bought so many beautiful fabrics in cotton silks, cotton sateens, and cotton velveteens to make these lovely outfits. Ribbons, threads, laces and trims joined the shopping bag and I'm ready to begin 2012 sewing for Lettie Lane.

Is she truly Lettie? We like to believe that the Lettie Lane Paper Dolls depict "Lettie" in all her forms. And, because my Daisy is a blonde and blue eyed little lass, my Lettie had to be her own girl and thusly a brunette with brown eyes. She is wearing a "Lettie" wig purchased from Dollspart Supply, and she will have all the stockings, shoes and hats to go with her lavish wardrobe.

2011 has been an incredible year overall, and it saw Miss E. Mouse add a new dimension to her work as an heirloom doll accessorist, in the form of sewing doll clothing.

So ring in the bells and settle into a gentle winter embracing the beloved pasttimes of reading good books, playing dolls and keeping those little paws busy creating beauty in every corner of your life.


Miss E. Mouse

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Daisy Christmas or Merry Christmouse

It hardly seems another year has come and gone. Its been a very dry and chilly winter solstice, but for a mouse, the dry leaves remain a joy to scurry through. With so much behind us, and so very much ahead, I remain inspired and never tire from one project to the next. Certainly November was a month of very hard work, and sometimes into the night, but Miss E. Mouse is pleased with what came out of it. The December 1911 issue of The Ladie's Home Journal is truly the most outstanding and lovely of the five Daisy issues offered. There were so many pages of gorgeous illustrations of items a girl could make for Christmas, and pages of cut-out paper toys for dolls. One of them was A Christmas Tree For the Dolls, and of this, I made a peg wooden affair in the exact size from the issue.

There were two pages that enchanted me as well, and these were Christmas gifts made in Cretonne, a cabbage rose design. I chose to make the Sewing Chair, The Colonial Work Bag, and the doilly boxes from these pages. But, one of the most enchanting, was the Snow Baby Cake from the "dainties" page. Before I'd even begun making this cake, I had to find tiny snow babies and was very lucky to find a miniature doll shoppe that carried them, made by a lady in England.

The Snow Baby Cake was quite an undertaking as it was made of air drying clay and took a week and a half to completely "bake". The frosting was made from modeling gel, and I made the tiny mistletoe, myself, from scrapbooking leaves and milk glass beads from Prague.

The Colonial Work Bag was yet another intricate challenge. Nada Christensen made the tiny porcelain head on a shoulder plate and even attached it with elastic stringing so the head would turn. The tiny arms are about 1/2" long or smaller! And, just what is a Colonial Work Bag? Nowhere could I find a true definition, so Miss E. Mouse claims it to be a Dolly Work Bag. Much study of the illustration brought me to design the bag "dress" as a drawstring bag opening up under the apron. If you asked me how I did all this, I could barely tell you today as I just fiddled with it all until it came together. Her hair is tiny bits of curled mohair under a silk bonnet. One photo I never took a good one of, details that there is a covered "button" at the bottom of the bag. Girls could use the bag to decorate their dressers or door knobs, too.

The Sewing Chair is a novelty that I think has transcended time. If you look in fabric stores, I believe Mary Englebreit made similar notions. This little chair's base is wood, of course, and I covered in it Cretonne. It even has "stuffing" to feel like a real chair and could be used as Dolly's pin cushion. The chair seat lifts on Shaker style pegging. I included two tiny threaded spools, a needle, and a tiny pair of working scissors.

Two Dolly Varden costumes were made for Daisy. I kept one for my own doll. The one you see in the photo was the first one The Ruffle Queen made. So very many more ruffles than the Pumpkin Costume. This was an original Daisy pattern from the Christmas page of patterns for her. And, who is Dolly Varden? I never found out. So much for Google. I'd like to think she was a lady from the stories and illustrations of Kate Greenaway. The dress pattern and hat is certainly reminiscent of that era. This dress was made from a beautiful new Japanese cloth call Yuwa. Its a delicate cotton with a lovely drape printed from vintage inspired patterns. Pink velveteen bands the hat and makes up the cumberbund and drawstring bag. I even added a little silk embroidery to the hat band. I really love the way the Dolly Varden outfit came out. It was for "a Christmas party" for Daisy.

Finally, I just finished this little apron from Daisy's School Page of patterns. Its the perfect little touch to keep her Christmas finery neat and tidy while she bakes cookies. This pattern was particularly difficult for me since the apron is completely lined. Even the pockets are lined, and 1/2" covered buttons are used on the side tabs, and to close the back. As I teach myself how to sew and put these patterns together, I'm gaining as much useful knowledge as any of the accessories and toys have given me in the past. I've added a new dimension to my work!

One of the nicest gifts I got this year was from a dear friend who sent me a set of tiny Hallmark ornaments of mini sewing mice! The acknowledgment was loving and encouraging.

I promise this will not be my last blog of the year. I have so much to share about where my work is headed in 2012. Daisy's 100th birthday year has been fabulous. She has really stolen my heart, and yet the horizon is bright for someone new and equally wonderful.

Wishing you all a holiday filled with warmth, joy, and definitely a little cheese!


Miss E. Mouse

The Great Pumpkin

Seems like an eternity since I last wrote, and September 7th, may well be in mouse years! So please bear with me while I catch up a little. Truthfully I had this entire entry written in my mind and had hoped to post it in October. Then November came and it was time to make Daisy items for Christmas, and that was a long and tiring month in the process. I so wanted these items to be enjoyed all holiday season long, ready by December the first!

As many of my friends can attest, I was the mouse that did not sew. However, when making the miniature version of The Ladies' Home Journal for October, I spotted these costumes a girl could make from 1911, and had to try the Pumpkin Costume. It was one of those illustrations that cried out to come to life. I'd had plenty of experience with buckram based hats and knew the pumpkin hat would be fun to do, and by the end of this experience, I had to claim myself The Ruffle Queen.

I started with a basic Daisy dress pattern and altered it to make this costume up. Yards and yards of ruffles later, I'd learned so much about ravelling fabric. I'd never intended to sell this costume. It came with the little purse, the hat and a pair of black leather slip-on shoes I'd made. Still, I wanted to see what would happen if I did try to sell it. Curiousity busied the mouse and all. Well, it sold! Not only that, I had to make a second one for a customer. It was about this time that I received a new sewing machine for my birthday (which was September 18th). Its a Juki Pro Quilter, and let me tell you, this top of the line little piece of machinery magic almost sews by itself! While I made the second costume, I had to learn how to use the machine and realized how very delicate computerized sewing machines can be.

Along with five copies of the miniature Ladie's Home Journal, I also miniaturized a sheet of party favors from the original magazine. These were place cards, book marks, and favors all detailed with tiny runes. Oh, to have lived in 1911 when everything was made by hand and cleverly thought out and crafted!

I never got to make the witch costume from the page of costumes, so I will save that for next October, or when the bug bites just to do it. The hat alone would be wonderful to make!

Since the sewing bug has been seeping into my little veins, I've done little else. Its a new craft to learn and the patterns from 1911 came without instruction. One more thing to master I suppose. Its a wonderful challenge, and as a friend of mine, Laurie, who is teaching me by way of email, tells me, its like a puzzle. A puzzle you put together to form one picture.

All Hallow's Eve has come and gone, and Christmas is now two days away. I have one more story to tell you before I wish you happy holidays!

Miss E. Mouse

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Indian Summer

From my little hole in the wall, Missy Mouse presents... This is the verbiage on the little labels I affix to every package going out. And, from my little hole in the wall, I emerge after a long blogging haitus. April? What happened to May and June? The summer sailed by like so many dragonflies and dandelion puffs. I can hardly believe that it is September, and in this month I have a birthday. Miss E. Mouse is yet another year older and what does she have to show for it? Let me see...

Well first of all, I started sewing. "Oh, no! Did she really?" Well sort of. I often think that new branches grow from the creative tree out of necessity. As you know, this is Daisy's 100th anniversary year, and so many seamstresses new to Daisy have been sewing her twenty-five outfit trousseau. I happen to have a "thing" for indian costumes, and wished to give this one a try. It is actually on the December pattern page and the costume, along with a Red Riding Hood costume, were for Daisy's New Years parties. So we learn a little history and understand that children dressed up in fairytale costumes for their New Years parties.

When I was little Grandmother Mouse made me an indian tap dance costume. I still have it and have always treasured the idea of them. So I gave it the ol' one-two try. And, that is what I did, times two, this summer. The costume in this photo was the first one I made. The second has since gone to its new home. While the pattern appears simple, and it is, the dress is made from Ultrasuede Light, so were the moccasins, and this is not the easiest fabric to hand stitch on. First you must understand that all the fringe was hand-cut out of the Ultrasuede. The moccasin pattern had to be designed to look like the illustration, and one had to also figure out the braided belt which is affixed to the dress. The belt and headband are lambskin leather, painted and beaded with real turquoise and coral chip beads. A delicate silver lace trims the headband as well. Real matching parrot feathers complete the headband. For detailed photos, do please visit my website in the Daisy album. Will I sew another dress or costume? Most definitely, but only costumes as I leave the true heirloom sewing of the trousseau to experienced talent.

I also began making hats! Way back in time, Mother Mouse's great aunts ran a millinery shop outside of New Orleans. Perhaps its in the genes. But, I love it! Hats are great fun and quite a challenge. I learned the basics of hat making all at once from Barbara De Vilbiss, who had me make a silk top hat beginning with buckram and wire. These skills I take to heart, so four years later, hat making was more a progression than a beginning. Daisy has lots of hats, so I've been busy with them. She also has shoes. Adding to the moccasins, you can see the teal Oxfords I made on the Daisy pages of my website. This has all been quite a transition from making miniature items as Daisy is an antique reproduction, 18" tall. Oh, and let's not forget the hat stands! A dear customer asked me to make her one, but one would never be enough, so I made three. You can see them in this photo I'll call Daisy's Hat Shoppe.

Finally as school was nearing, the school bag needed to be sewn. Earlier I'd acquired a "lot" of antique school books and music sheets, plays and readers that a teacher used between 1907 and 1912. From these I made miniatures of a few to go into the Circle D school bag. There again, and old skill from the 1970's, embroidery, had to blossom again. Another leaf on the new branch of creativity.

And, what is in store for the fall? Well, there are two last issues from the 1911 Ladies' Home Journals that featured Daisy and her patterns. One is October's, and the last is December's. They will be reproduced in miniature, but along with them, I plan to make some of the toys and items found in the issues. Attached is a photo of the Snow Baby cake. I could not resist this one! I hunted until I was blue in the whiskers, but finally found a miniature shoppe that carried porcelain snow babies for doll houses. I'll make the tiny mistletoe myself and have the pieces I need to do this now. There will be other Christmassy things as well, but we'll save those for a blog when I can share them completed.

This month finds me readying for Halloween. First I must miniaturize October's issue, but there is also Halloween ephemera to make for Daisy's party. And, yes. I need to make her a Halloween costume. One like they wore in the postcards from that era. She did not have a pattern for a Halloween costume, so this is just something I will "throw" together. LOL As if I ever just throw something together. However, she will look sweet in it displaying the items I will make from the issue.

I must thank Diana and Menno for pulling on my tail to get me blogging again. I won't let so much time go by for the next one.

Its that time of year when I make lots of applesause for winter, build corn shocks from summer's last harvest, and begin spreading pumpkins around the yard for color. I expect to have alot of great fun with Daisy items through the end of the year, and lo and behold, I even gessoed the Lettie Lane Doll House so I can begin painting it!!! Finally.

Wishing you all a pleasant transition through autumn.


Miss E. Mouse

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Peep at the World's Fair

What could be more wonderful than attending The World's Fair? Perhaps dreaming of going and having your own special book and souvenir toy to play with. This was the inspiration for Daisy's Library I. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but as I've discovered in the past, one toy naturally leads to another. At the dearest expense, I purchased an 1889 copy of Raphael Tuck's A Peep at the Worlds Fair. The antiquarian bookseller also had two other books I couldn't pass up and one of them was an early 1900's copy of Aladdin or His Wonderful Lamp. This was done with a Chinese theme, and with such gorgeous illustrations that I decided it belonged in my library, too. I knew I wanted to make miniature copies of both for Daisy, but I like things in three so I selected Kellogg's Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures as the third.

While faithfully reproducing the first two books, I was captured by Aladdin's princess on a palm fan on the cover of the book. Bing! A light went off in my head, so I made a little fan for Daisy of this image and backed it with gold paper. The split wood handle was a simple and wonderful bit to add for authenticity. Now Daisy could read her book and enjoy a toy to go with it.

As I struggled under the pressure of replicating a tiny flip page book in Funny Jungleland, I once again gained much respect and appreciation for the genius that not only goes into such silly illustrations, but the concept of being able to flip strips of illustrations back and forth to make hundreds of goofy looking critters. This little book came out marvelously, but naturally after several attempts. It became a toy within itself.

I sat there puzzling over A Peep at the World's Fair. This beautiful antiquarian book was reproduced with such exacting care. The front and back cover were paper boards (or cardboard) and the binding was black cloth tape. There was no wiggle room for mistakes, so with a steady paw and lots of breath holding, I put it together. Aladdin had an unusual binding itself. It was sewn together like a spiral notebook! I had to drill tiny holes down the edge through all the pages to be able to neatly sew the book together. It came out beautifully! I truly thought I was done with this collection, as I troubled over what I could possibly reproduce from A Peep that could be a toy for Daisy. One Thursday morning it struck me like lightening! I would make a monkey marionette and tambourine inspired by the Egyptian page. A street vendor was seated, shaking his tambourine while a little brown monkey danced with a stick, laced under his elbows behind his back. This was too precious! And, so the task began.

First I had to come up with a way to make the tambourine. Although I had 6" wood panels, I wanted a larger circle for the instrument. As it turns out, it was the perfect length for a small circlet of wood and I cut five spaces for tiny brass washers to use as the jingles. Honest to goodness this was NOT easy. At first I used a clear presentation paper for the "skin", but it bowed on me. Later I would use a real piece of pig skin over cardstock for strength, and this became the tambourine.

The monkey took me a slap six days to figure out. Oh, I'd made marionettes in the past, but this was as much a stuffed animal, and a full scuplted figure, as ever I'd done or not done before. The hands, feet and head were sculpted out of paper clay, or papier mache, as is tradition. The fur is fleece, but it took me several thinks and a bit of shopping to come up with this. Fitting the head with fur gave me the fits even though I knew instinctively what should be done. The tail was another matter, but a few stitches down the top end of the tail, and pulled tightly, completed a little curled tail look. He really came out just the way I envisioned! So now Daisy can read about going to The World's Fair, shake, shake, shake that tambourine and dance her monkey marionette!

This is one of the most favorite collections I've ever made. I love antique books and as a wee mouse, I always longed for the books to come alive so I could play with the items in them. Instead of agonizing over the position of so many photos (which I've never figured out on this blogsite), I would encourage you, and be delighted if you would take a look at this collection on my website. There are about fourteen photographs with detailed descriptions of all the items This is not a solicitation, but a chance for me to share this wonderful little toy with you. Look for it in the For Sale album.

And, now I'm onto other treasures while Daisy enjoys a quiet afternoon of play. I wish one for you as well.

Miss E. Mouse

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


March was a busy month, and I spent a great deal of time pulling glue and bits of paper from my little paws. I had this brainstorm to make miniature papier mache eggs for Daisy and I was absolutely determined to figure this out and get it right.

First I tried mashing and forming Paperclay around those 1.5" wooden eggs one finds in a crafts store. I'd wrap plastic wrap around the egg, tape it in places, then form the clay. Well, first of all, papier mache is supposed to formed around a structure that will air dry from both the inside and out! So besides having lumpy shells, the drying stage was not working properly.

I bought egg candy molds and pushed clay into them, then dropped the wood egg sprayed with furniture polish down into the mold (this is what the Paperclay company advised), and THAT was a mess. There were several other attempts at doing this, until I finally went on-line and read up on How to Make Papier Mache. They recommended a PVA glue, which is a book binding glue, and after I ordered a huge bottle of the stuff on, I found out that Aileen's and even Elmers is "PVA" glue. Toilet tissue was used, newspaper was used, torn bits of this and that and let me tell you, its a mess no matter how you look at it. I even tried the cooked flour in water with salt method! What I ended up doing in the long run was use the PVA (from Amazon) with bits of toilet tissue and I molded this around the wooden egg wrapped with clear plastic kitchen wrap. I think I was on the right track from the start, but the Paperclay was the wrong medium.

What I ended up with in the final process was a thin, semi-hard shell because glue is really nothing more than plastic. I lined the insides with a printed tissue paper, then tissued the outer shell with layers of colored tissue to give the illusion of background. The band inside that makes the egg a box is a secret I'll keep, and the ephemera is miniaturized, old-store-stock German Easter scenes. After all, papier mache eggs are German in provenance. The eggs where then trimmed in white Dresden "rick rack" to resember the real ones. ALL this work for three little eggs for Daisy!

The chick was designed from a vintage papier mache egg I saw on ebay. The antique had sold for $113, or I would have enjoyed having it myself for the novelty. The fuzz on the chick's head was made from clipped "fur" from a stuffed toy. Finally I made itty bitty Easter basket grass from green tissue paper and nested, in each egg, three tiny wooden toy animals I cut out on my jigsaw. What a mouse will go through to make papier mache eggs for doll!

The eggs took up much of the month, but I also took on another zither project. A lovely lady asked me to make a zither for her Bleuette and wished it to resemble one that her mother played. We settled on the design of a beautiful instrument I found while researching zithers with dark stain. This one is absolutely beautiful, and turned out to be 4.25" long. Lovely!

Now often we are asked to make another of something we've already conquered, and this was the case for another miniature Daisy doll, and one more Lettie Lane sewing basket. Its funny, but you'd think that it would be easier the second time around?? Nope. In fact making the outfit and shoes for the second little Daisy was like starting from scratch, and I'd wished I'd taken better notes. The sewing basket was a little easier, but I did things a little different as I'd learned from the first effort what and what not to do. Finally, and I'm not sure I mentioned this, I made a second miniature Cracker Barrel trunk. I will not, won't not, never again not, do another. They are much too involved and while I love detailed work, it can become tedious. I did manage to do a better murphy bed with this one though. When my customer received it, she gave me the best compliment you could give a little artist mouse. She said my work was precision. That one will keep me afloat for awhile :))

And, now that all my commitments have been met, it is time to start something new, and also work on the Lettie Lane Doll House. One of the things I'd like to do is make two miniature marionettes, a boy and girl, in French theatre costume in pink and white stripes. These will be created for Bleuette as I haven't done anything for her in awhile. But, mostly, I wish to enjoy spring and run my little paws through the wildflowers in the fields. And, I shall. Every morning before I sit down to work in my sunny studio.

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!


Miss E. Mouse

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Daisy!

On March 15th, we celebrated Daisy's 100th Anniversary. In keeping my priorities straight, I launched into making some wonderful things for collectors of the doll to help in celebrating her birthday in style. I'd had a bit of set back with the Lettie Lane Doll House in that my table saw needed a new blade, and once had, I needed to install it properly and "calibrate" it to perform smoothly and with a straight cut. All of this mechanics work put me in a mood to do something a bit more fun, so I began making party hats and cornucopia favors for the doll.
I'd attended a doll show in a nearby town and found that Harrison Cady, one of my favorite illustrators from long ago, was a featured illustrator and story teller in the Ladies' Home Journal back when Lettie Lane's paper dolls were being made and Daisy, herself, was introduced. I'd found a page of his work, which were cut-out stand-ups that a child could play with to further enjoy the story on the adjacent page. Of course I had to miniaturize them on wood and make Daisy some for her party table. I'd also found another antique wooden puzzle with four complete puzzles, and miniaturized one for Daisy to play with.

A miniature version of an antique linen Alice in Wonderland book was added to the series, along with a die-cut coloring book and a set of real, tiny colored pencils in a reproduction wooden slide top box. I'd offered the coloring book and pencils with the eyelet paper doll party hat, but for some reason this did not go over well, so it will go to convention with me this summer.

Two other items I made for Daisy were a miniature version of herself from a Nada Christensen Petit Bleu, and a miniaturized copy of the Ladies' Home Journal where Daisy debuted. The magazine was one of the most difficult things I've done and I swore off doing another, although I'd made three of them. Then I acquired, luckily, three other issues with Daisy's dress pattern pages by Sheila Young, so I guess I'm going to have to miniaturize them, too. I'm only missing the December issue, and hope to find it this year. The next issue was the bridal issue of April 15th. My intent is to get one "hot of the press" the first week of April.

In the Daisy debut issue of March 15, 1911, there was also an ad on page 44 stating a contest for girls to sew their best and send the outfits in for judging. The prize was Lettie Lane's Sewing Box and $100. I'd been scrolling for antique sewing baskets and boxes and found this adorable woven purse basket with tiny baskets inside holding scissors, a tomato-strawberry and a thimble. Naturally I HAD to miniaturize this! It was one of the cutest things I've made so far for Daisy, and a miniature antique reproduction tape measure followed. It was quite an achievement getting the tape to pull out and wind back up nicely, and at this point, I'm not giving that secret away.
I'd so much fun making the sewing basket, that I made one more sewing accessory to satisfy my creativity. This one was Daisy's Duck Sewing Caddy. I was tickled when someone saw it and said, "I know how you did it, and it is worth every penny". Well she does not know how I did it, but she can certainly guess at how it was done. This one took my three tries to get right and the duck, whose beak holds the scissors, caused me more grief than it was worth. Yet in the end this duck caddy will remain a favorite. I'd made one more tape measure and topped the crank with a tiny wooden duck bead that I'd made. When you pull the tape measure out, and rewind it, the duck spins! This was a happy accident, but it has given me ideas for mechanical toys.

Another process in the sewing accessories was in making the tiny tomato-strawberries. The one in the basket is made from vintage red velveteen, and the other in the duck caddy from cotton. If put to the task, I'm sure I'd try making one in pieces to have a smoother finish, but for these collections, I feel they came out very sweet. There really is no limit to the length I'll go to to create some of these things, but sometimes I wonder just how many hours should be spent on a single item? Well, I can answer that. If I'm intrigued, there is no limit!

One of the things that has troubled me about this blog site, is that I've never been able to figure out how to move photos about on the page. Because of this, I'm afraid they are often just a jumble, but I do hope you'll enjoy them.

Right now I'm working on yet another miniature Cracker Barrel Trunk for a miniature Bleuette and its giving me the fits. I swore I'd never make another, but here I am doing something special for a customer. And, while I'm tearing my mousy fur out over this, when the wood arrives, I'll make a slightly larger one for the Petit Bleu, which is 4" in height (the same size doll as Daisy's mini self). The mini-porcelain Bleuettes are about 2 1/2" tall.

And, why is this mouse working so hard these days? Because she's trying to get herself to the UFDC doll convention in Anaheim this summer. Its rather funny, but most of my customers do not really understand that I have to invest to create, and often have to purchase an item so I can miniaturize in perfect scale. A little goes in, a little goes out. But, its certainly hard to save for events like the convention.

And, what of the Lettie Lane Doll House? Well, the roof sits on my table and I will continue to work on it just as soon as I get a bit caught up.
Tomorrow is St.Patrick's Day and I wish you all a lucky day filled with pots of gold and rainbows. Back to my hole in the wall.

Miss E. Mouse

Monday, February 7, 2011

The square of the hypotenuse is equal to...

...the sum of the square of the other two sides. Ah, don't you love geometry! Well, this little mouse has had it up to her round little ears already in three-dimensional geometry. As my husband puts it, solid geometry is visual, and not analytic. sigh At least he paused a moment to help me get the proper dimensions for the roof of the wee Lettie Lane Dollhouse.

As I'd mentioned, I was going to build it first from cardboard, and then attack the wood pile. Seems I'm having difficulty with my old Jarmac table saw, but I did (pat, pat, pat myself on the back) get the angles right to make the pyramid roof. Of course, last night's cardboard image you see in this photo does not have the basement on it. I only got to the point of creating the proportions of the rooms and floor of the house - enough to tackle the cardboard roof and beg for help from the inhouse mathematician.

I'm posting right away because I had a wonderful visit with my darling father-in-law on the phone today, and we were discussing my new project. I steered him to my blog so he could follow my progress and see the photos as the project continues. Ray is turning 90 next month and has been my dearest supporter in all my endeavors. So today's blog is in his honor so that he can see the Ladies' Home Journal page of the original Lettie Lane dollhouse, and see just what I'm trying to accomplish. More to come!

Miss E. Mouse

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm just a lonely doll, lonely and blue...

February is upon us and thoughts turn to hearts, flowers, valentines red and pink. January, was a busy month and one of the pieces I finished for a dear customer was a special gift for her stepmother.

A few years back I'd made a miniature storybook trunk set, Wee Edith the Lonely Doll, and the stepmother saw it on my website and fell in love with it. So, I was asked to do another. Goodness me! This is alot of work. I'd forgotten how much. But, it was fun to recreate it with new bears, and with my skills in better shape to handle domed trunks - although the first came out lovely, too. Thank goodness I never throw out fabrics as these were handy for covering the trunk and dressing another little doll.

Wee Edith II is 2 3/4" tall, hand-sculpted and painted, and the trunk, if my mousey brain still remembers, is about 3 1/2" tall. Wee Edith in pink makes for a perfect valentine for the collector. Don't you think?

And, now we are in the Year of the Rabbit. The Chinese Lunar New Year was celebrated on the 3rd of this month and we can hopefully look forward to a kind and gentle year. Although, as much as I love rabbits, they tend to chase me if I'm out in the garden.

Currently my paws are turning towards a tiny Lettie Lane doll house, built for an 18" Daisy doll, complete with the furniture and tiny doll. The original was for a child to play with and was 17" tall, built of cardboard, as was the put together furniture. If my calculations are correct, the house would be 5.1" tall in scale for the 18" Daisy. This house would be built of wood and hand painted...the furniture of wood as well, although since the original was all just cardboard sets, I'll paint the details such as plates in the cabinet on the piece.

This project has been twitching my whiskers for a few months now and I finally decided that the best way to approach it is by building one of cardboard first to get the angles and sizing right. Why I hadn't thought of this earlier, who only knows! But, this blog is about the making of etrennes and the creative process, so I will take you though this wee adventure with me.

A bit of history: The Lettie Lane Doll House was offered through the Ladies' Home Journal in the early 1910s. It was for a child to play with, was a 17" tall bungalow house, and a 3 1/2" porcelain doll came with it. Because this is Daisy's 100th anniversary year, her birthday falling on March 15th (that being the issue date of the magazine), and that Daisy was Lettie Lane's most beautiful doll, an 18" doll children could own and sew for, I thought it would be sweet for Daisy to have her very own Lettie Lane Doll House. It will be one-of-a-kind. Not another will be made!

And, so the wee mouse is off on another adventurous project! If you don't hear from me because I'm paw deep in sawdust, Happy Valentine's Day!

Miss E. Mouse

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hibernating in January

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is the last day of January. This month has just flown by and I've been a very busy little mouse. Early on in the month I had decided (once again) to try making etrennes for the French Fashion dolls. After making two French Fashion jewelry boxes, and a lovely little chaufferette (a wooden coal burning box that mademoiselle would put by her feet to keep warm on carriage rides), I thought I had three lovely, and desirable items. Sadly I was wrong! They did not sell, and I'm afraid I'll never know why. The only thing I can imagine is that the people that collect for their reproduction dolls, want antique items for them. I've yet to see an antique miniature chaufferette for sale anywhere, but like much of what I make, it sometimes must wait for the right collector.

While finishing these lovely little items, I was asked to make a Wee P'sich. A collector had seen the storybook trunk set I'd made in the Susan Quinlan Doll and Teddy Bear Museum, and wanted just the little doll. P'sich is a story by Marianna about a lonely little doll that lives in an attic. She doesn't really begin living until the day she discovers self-worth through educating herself by reading and painting. P'sich (pronounced "seech") ends up turning the head of a handsome pirate doll and marries him, living happily ever after.

P'sich is a 2 3/4" hand sculpted doll and carries a book on Greek mythology. In her other hand is the mystery item! When I first did the storybook trunk set, I thought what she held in her hand was a lizard, or a red turtle! I'd borrowed the book from Susan to make the set, and while I had read the story, the mystery of the red turtle was never resolved. So, when I was asked to do another Wee P'sich, I had to find a copy of the book for myself. And, I did. When it arrived in the mail, I reread the story and discovered she was holding a reticule. Well, several years ago, French Fashion dolls were new to me and I wouldn't have known a reticule, from well, a red turtle! A reticule is a little, beaded drawingstring hand bag. I truly got a good chuckle over that. It became the focus of this little doll for me, and while the photo provided for you doesn't show it well, I made an ittty bitty red drawstring purse and sewed black beads to it.

Just when I thought the month couldn't get better, I'd offered to make a friend of mine three tiny wooden dolls for her mignonette doll house. She'd found some teensy vintage furniture for the mignonettes to play with and they needed wee dollies to go with the set. She'd asked for one 3/4" doll and two just 1" tall. The 3/4" dolly needed to be a baby to lay in a rocking cradle and the two others would sit in bitty chairs.

Several years ago I'd learned to carve tiny dolls from basswood with an X-Acto blade. I'd made very tiny Hitties, and discovered I could even make jointed dolls carving toothpicks, which I'd tried. Like making P'sich, I had to recall how I'd made such dolls in the past. I think its pretty much like riding a bicycle, although you may be a little shaky when you first start out again. I realize this post is getting rather lengthy, so I'll try to wrap this up.

I wanted to make three very different and colorful little dolls for the mignonettes to play with. After all, what kind of dolls would a child at the turn of the 20th century have played with? Varied, different and amusing little dolls! I'd also read the wonderful article in Winter Doll News on Queen Victoria's Tuck Comb dolls. I'd planned to make some tiny ones with the French Fashion collector in mind to display with her French Fashion dolls, sales put a stop to that. Here was the perfect venue to try one. What I ended up making was a baby, a little German girl doll, and a tiny Tuck Comb or Penny Wooden as they were often referred to. The only trouble I really ran into was the fact that once the dollies were dressed, they couldn't sit nicely, and the purpose for making them was to have them sit in the furniture!

I asked my friend what she wanted me to do and she requested I dress the German girl, and leave the Tuck Comb undressed. Then I thought, what would a little mignonette dress her Tuck Comb in? A snippet of lace became a shawl and I sewed a tiny blue crystal bead on it for a brooch. The doll could sit, and she could be warm and colorful as well.

So with the last day of January dawning just a few hours from now, I think I'll crawl back into my little hole and curl up tight for the night.


Miss E. Mouse