Saturday, August 23, 2014

Alice Illustrated

Alice Illustrated
In the beginning there was Alice Liddell, the sweet, curious child for whom Charles Dodgson wrote the story.  It would be years later, after Mr. Dodgson entertained Alice and her sisters aboard a row boat heading out on a picnic with his amazing tale, that the story would be put to pen and illustrated by Sir John Tenniel.  The wait was long, but well worth it.  Today there is hardly a child or adult who wouldn't know something of the tale, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, or as most people refer to the story, Alice In Wonderland.

The image that immediately comes to mind is that of a blonde child in a full skirted blue dress, wearing a white pinafore with red trim.  All too often it is the Disney Alice the person in question thinks of, but Alice was a true Victorian child of means, and would never have left the house for any adventure, even a tumble down a rabbit hole, unless fully and properly dressed in the latest fashions of the day.

Copy of My Book From the U.K.
Our storybook Alice would not be in the image of the carefully protected Alice Liddell, but the image of another child, Mary Hilton Badcock, who sat for one of Dodgson's photo sessions.  The image of a precocious child in a puffed sleeved dress, arms stubbornly folded in front her, with a serious pout on her face, would be the Alice we have come to know and love.

I have Alice dolls.  At one time I collected every Alice doll I could get my hands on, and when I had about thirty, I turned around and sold all but a couple of them.  Each seemed to be dressed slightly differently, and their hair was often styled in any fashion other than the combed back, bandless image Tenniel illustrated.  Black velvet hair bands were actually a fashion accent for little girls in the latter half of the 1860's.  But, as artists, the hairstyles and interpretations of Alice's costuming would be as individual as the creator.

Mary Hilton Badcock
Today I have six or seven Alice dolls, and the latest inclusion, is my Alice Illustrated.  She, like my Alice Liddell, is a Wendy Lawton wood and porcelain doll that I put new eyes in and re-wigged.  This little 12" doll was Wendy's Prim and Proper.  I'd been looking for a doll I could turn into what I'm calling my Illustrated Alice, for the purpose of creating a wardrobe for her from many of the different illustrations of Alice through time.  I've seen her dressed in pink, green, white with black, many different floral patterns, and even one in a red and white checkerboard print.  Back in the early 1990's, Robin Woods, for Madame Alexander, had done the same thing with her Ultimate Alice.  This trunk set was, and is, fabulous, and I have two!  One to play with and one to keep mint.  Her inspiration was the book, The Ultimate Illustrated Alice, that delivered the story with a sampling of Alice illustrations from various artists through time.  In art, there is nothing new.  We only discover and create again, but our way.

Time For Alice
When I set out to make my little Alice her first costume, Jean encouraged me to begin with the traditional costume, so people would instantly recognize her.  I had other ideas as I generally like to surprise, but this turned out to be the perfect beginning for her.

Instead of using the standard blue cotton, I chose a gorgeous blue silk dupioni, and one of my textured Italian shirting cottons for her apron.  She needed a little sparkle, and I find silk does just the trick.  Mini braid was used in red and black for the trimming.  And, I need to order some more.  I must remind myself to do so.

Earlier, I'd found this Canadian artist who was selling little pocket watches for the Steampunk dolls, and purchased two.  One of which I've given to Alice Illustrated - White Rabbit was kind enough to loan her his while napping. 

Side View
Her Boneka shoes were once again perfect for the outfit (as with Alice Liddell), and I made her new stockings.  Her wig is human hair, and her eyes, blue.  The human hair wig was a comb back style, but on this little doll, it looked too big and puffy for her face, so like the other artists before me, I styled it the way I wished to.  Yet, the style can be held nicely in place with a velvet black band, and I will make her one.

On order, I think, because I haven't heard hide nor hair of a confirmation from Catspawonline, is a tiny gold oval locket.  For now, I've sewn a little vintage gold button on the front of her pinafore for "the look".

A Lustrous Human Hair Wig
As will all my creations, I do a lot of research, simply because I enjoy it and learn a lot as I go along.  I found a few images of the styles worn by little girls in the 1860's, to help illustrate how her look came into being.  It was not made up from a Disney drawing board.  Mercy!  But, conceived by Tenniel from the clothing of his era. 

I hope you'll enjoy this little adventure with me, as I create new outfits for her from some of my favorite illustrators.

And, now, its time to work on a very special little travel outfit, for an adorable little boy doll, for a friend of mine.  And, then I think its time for Alice Liddell to get her gold gown for fall.  So, so much to do!   

Miss E. Mouse

Pinafores by Degas

Boneka Shoes

A Portrait Close Up

The Back

Notice the small child's dress and pinafore.

Back View, on left, of puffed sleeve dress.

Alice Illustrated

1 comment:

  1. Miss E. Mouse, This is absolutely gorgeous, you did a superb job! Silk was a wonderful choice for her dress, it adds such a richness to it. What a great job on the remake of this wonderful Lawton doll!