Sunday, August 17, 2014

Katrena Czarina, the Royal Treatment

Dimitri and Katrena
After completing the Storybook Toy Chest last week (see previous blog post), I needed a little creative endorphin boost to kick start my next sewing projects.  For quite some time, I've wanted to do something for Katrena and Dimitri, my 9" Lawton, Russian brother and sister dolls from the UFDC Denver convention in 2002.  Wow.  That was twelve years ago!  And, no, I didn't attend the convention.  In fact I don't think my first UFDC convention was until nine years ago.  Nevertheless, when I began collecting Wendy Lawton dolls, Katrena was one of my first.  She was easily acquired since at least 500 had been made as banquet souvenirs.

Katrena's New Gown and Venec
It was during the Las Vegas convention (four-five years ago??), that I miraculously, through a tip-off, acquired one of the three Wintergarden sets that were auctioned off at the banquet in 2002.  Karen Rockwell was selling hers at her booth and I didn't think twice to make the purchase.  I have no idea why it sat for the two hours it did at the open of the sales floor that year.  I was tremendously thrilled at the find, and lucky to have driven down to Las Vegas.  Since the cabinet is huge, and I was able to transport it home in the car.  Karen was especially kind to me (she's purchased my work, and commissioned one piece), to allow me to pay her over a couple of months for the piece, once I returned home.  Since then, its been one of the centerpieces of my Wendy Lawton collection.

Thank you Karen.  I never forget a kindness.

A Side View
Katrena and Dimitri were originally dressed for the Russia winter, and white with black trim "sailor" outfits could be purchased as extras at the convention.  I acquired these, as with many of my Lawton purchases, on the second hand market.  When Wintergarden came home, the siblings were able to enjoy a much more extensive, traditional Russian wardrobe.

The traditional costuming of Russia is grand and glorious.  The colors rich, the embroidered patterns stunning, and the designs, unique and beautiful to the different regions.  My deep appreciation of the Russian culture is realized by the folktale and folklore books I own, my love of the Russian ballet, my fascination with Catherine the Great (who coincidentally reigned during my favorite period in art), my recent interest and collecting of Genedy Spirin's books, and a noodle "desert" dish a Russian lady I once worked with, brought in for a pot luck.  There is no question that once I hop back on the dream train to St. Petersburg, I'm lost for hours in the grandeur of the Russian culture.  Oh, and let's not forget the little princess, Anastasia, and the tragedy that surrounded her life.


I also recall that one year, long, long ago, when the magazine first came out, Victoria offered a train trip to the central tourist destinations of Russia.  It was aboard one of those luxury tourist trains.  A group of Victoria readers surely had the trip of a lifetime!  Regrets. 

A Back View - Tiny Pewter Buttons
But, yes, I do love the Russian art culture and when I dressed Dimitri in Sterling's little green velvet and silk suit (made by the Lawton seamstresses), I had to make Katrena a matching dress. 

So yesterday I began early in the morning and literally zoomed through the process.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the best way to tackle silk dupioni is to not think about it.  Just handle it deftly and with confidence and it will sew up beautifully.

While finishing the hem on the dress, I'd been contemplating what she should wear on her head.  In a brain blink, I set my work down and rushed off to one of my doll closets and pulled out the Muffy Vanderbear "international" travel trunk I had stored away.  I dressed my 8" Muffy in her Czarina Muffina costume, and there was my answer.  A diadem or "venec".  I had to make one for Katrena's outfit.  I even hand-stitched each pearl on it.  Fun!

A Lenci Doll
These traditional headpieces worn by girls and women had symbolic and mystical representations.  They also varied by regions.  In brief, the rounded ones were worn by maidens, and the pointy ones, symbolic for the tree of life, were worn by girls engaged or married.  The way they were adorned also changed during the cycle of a girl's life.  For more on this fascinating history, check out http://traditionalrussiancostume.com  On this website are also detailed illustrations and descriptions of how the costumes were designed.  So, yes.  I will make Katrena and Dimitri a set of very traditional Russian garb.  Soon.

Czarina Muffina
This little sojourn also allowed me to finally try, once again, to take photos of  the Wintergarden  collection.  It was very difficult to photograph due to its size and high gloss on the cabinet.  There is also a mirror inside that wouldn't cooperate with the camera, but I've done my best to help share with you this enchanting piece.  Over the years I've added other outfits and many miniature Russian "toys" to enhance the set.  I think one of my favorites is a tiny "nesting doll" for Dimitri that I picked up at a Russian gift shop in Sacramento, CA.  On the outside is painted a Russian sea and ship scene, and inside is a tiny wooden captain - that in the last photo below, he's holding.

Doing a little bit of research, I found a fine example of Russian costuming on this beautiful felt Lenci doll.  Examples of other "venecs" or diadems can be seen below.

And so, I am ready now for the next few costuming projects, and will certainly be thinking about what I would like to do for our little Russian 9"ers in the future.

Love,
Miss E. Mouse


A Page to Color - Simple Illustration

Anna Pavlova


Alexandra

Wintergarden Plate

Contents

With Toys

How It's Displayed

Katrena and Dimitri

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