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

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