Friday, June 12, 2015

Marigold Greenaway Steps Into Summer

Marigold Greenaway
"In the Greenaway world it is nearly always May and the early summer sun is encouraging apple and hawthorn to blossom.  Children are tempted out of doors to play, wearing their new sprigged muslin frocks and summer bonnets." - Ina Taylor

There are very few people who haven't been utterly charmed by the gentle, whimsical illustrations of Kate Greenaway.  Children at play with hoops and kites and hobby horses, demure young ladies with proper gloves and graceful gowns in timeless English pastoral scenes - these are the images, whether on page or pottery, is easily recognizable as Kate Greenaway.

Kate Greenaway, age 40
When I purchased a second "June Amos" without her "Mary Ann", a 16" Lawton wood body doll needing a little TLC, it took me several months to decide just what to do with her.  Simply dressing a doll for the sake of costuming is not in my repertoire.  She must have a name, character, depict some young heroine from a book or long past child.  Maybe it was the advent of summer that drew me to create a Kate Greenaway child.  Perhaps it was the desire to try this era of costuming.  Either way, and indeed a bit of both, Marigold Greenaway was born inspired by the precious poems and illustrations in Marigold Garden, a book of poems by Kate Greenaway. 

As I sit here and write, I recall that my love affair with Kate's work probably began in 1981 when my mother sent me a copy of The Illuminated Book of Days, with illustrations by both Kate and Eugene Grasset, for Christmas that year.  I would, many years later, acquire a copy of Greenaway's Book of Games, to create one of my miniature trunk sets from.  This can be seen on my website with many little accessories included.  So yes.  I have loved Kate's work for a good many years.   

In An Apple Tree
Kate Greenaway was born on March 17, 1846 in Hoxton north London.  Her father was an artist, and is thought to have inspired Kate to illustrate, but it was her mother, a dress designer who shaped the nature of Kate's work.  Elizabeth began to sew children's clothing to assist with the household, and became so successful at it, her boutique's income would support the Greenaways and raise their status financially.

Kate would claim a childhood so idyllic that she never left it.  She was raised with two sisters and a little brother.  Since her mother ran a successful clothing boutique, there was always plenty of remnants for Kate to dress her dolls with.  By the time Kate was drawing professionally, she was creating all the costuming and bonnets for her models to wear.  The more elaborate costuming she illustrated either came from memory and sketches of clothing she had seen at parties or in the fashionable quarters of London.

The country attire, or more simple smocks and mob caps, were inspired by those worn by her aunt and the workers on their two hundred acre farm in Rolleston.  Rolleston, a place where Kate felt most at home, and spent her summers, became the back drops, the pastoral scenes in most of Kate's illustrations.  It was only when Kate's work was in demand from printers for greeting cards, calendars and the like, that Kate "grudgingly" drew scenes from the three other seasons. 

One of Kate's sketches for a mob cap.
One interesting anecdote I picked up from Ina Taylor's book, The Art of Kate Greenaway, A Nostalgic Portrait of Childhood, was that Kate had a photographic memory of everything she saw and experienced.  Ina tells that while Kate's mother created elaborate dresses for the children of society, she dressed her own three girls in plain muslin gowns.  When they went to parties, only the sashes and ribbons on the mob caps were changed from pink to blue, or blue to pink.  Society being what it was, did not favor children dressed so simply, and they were often not invited to parties.  This didn't phase Kate, as she was more interested in simply watching the children come and go and sketching what they wore.  I would add that this is not the first instance I came across this observation.  Sheila Young, the artist of Lettie Lane paper dolls, did much the same thing.  Sketching what she saw others wearing.

Blue silk slippers.
As I will enjoy creating more costuming for Marigold, I promise to share more on Kate Greenaway soon.  Let us turn now to little Marigold.  Marigold was re-wigged in the fashion of the youngest of Kate's illustrated children.  She also received a new pair of blue eyes since those in the doll had faded to pink.  While summoning a name for her, I asked my friend Betsy what she thought.  Since I was directing my attentions to the poems in Marigold Garden, I wanted to name her after the book.  Many of you might also recall the child, Marigold, from Downton Abbey.  It was then that Betsy called to my attention that Wendy Lawton had made a doll called Marigold Garden.  She did?  Its funny, but I never put two and two together to think the doll was related to anything Kate Greenaway.  Shame on my sense of research!  So I fiddled with a few more names, but I was already calling the doll Marigold, so it stuck.  Greenaway being her last name, she would at least be half original.  If I've said it before, I'll say it again.  "There is nothing new under the sun when it comes to art."  If its been thought of by you, its been thought of by others, and undoubtedly done in some fashion of representation.

I began dressing her in May.  It was only during this time that I'd picked up a copy of Ina Taylor's book and began reading it.  I very much tried to have her first outfit done in May (Kate's favorite month), but it just wasn't going to happen.  I had all but her coral necklace and gloves done, and felt I'd best wait to share her until she was properly attired according to the illustration of the poem In An Apple Tree.  The first stanza of this poem begins, "In September, when the apples are red..."  Oh dear.  A May or June blog with a poem for September?!  We couldn't have that, so I quickly decided to make her one more costume for this journaling.  Type A?  Quite right.  Eccentric?  Ditto.

I'd been also wishing to create something from the poem Tip-A-Toe.  These delightful little girls were dressed in colonial costuming, and the charming illustrations of the children dancing in step, urged me to at least create one of the costumes.  I had, on hand, a blue for the skirt, and a rose Lecien print for the jacket.  Yet, the yellow frock with red and white skirt appealed more greatly to my delight of bright colors - and I do love yellow.  Its my second favorite color, orange being the first.  So now she has two frocks to take her through until I make the third, which will be the other dress detailed in In An Apple Tree.

The first one is made from a white quilting cotton with tiny blue flowers on it.  The green of her ribbons and sash are the lovely double sided silk I enjoy using.  I gave her a pair of blue silk slippers to wear on her feet.  She wears this frock with the coral bead necklace I made for her and a fashionable pair of elbow length gloves which are simple tubes stitched between the thumb and forefinger. 

I spent a good deal more time designing Tip-A-Toe (do click on the poem and read it, its sweet).  Here, her overdress, coat, smock, whatever you wish to call it, is made of yellow cotton sateen.  I chose a sateen primarily because I saw this as a party gown or costume.  It was interesting trying to design this piece.  It is not shown open at the front, so I assumed it would open at the back.  However, Kate has drawn the exact same costume opening at the front in other poems.  This was very confusing to me.  I simply followed what the drawing looked like, and had it close in the back with hooks and thread loops. 

The skirt's fabric was very difficult to find.  I spent several days searching for red and white stripes, floral red and white stripes, etc. and finally decided to spring for this Milk, Sugar and Flower cloth by Penny Rose Fabrics.  I liked the name.  It felt very Kate Greenaway, and looked fresh and summery for this costume.

I made a second mob cap so that each outfit would have its own, yet I also tack stitch the ribbons down so they appear tied on, but stay in place.  Tip-A-Toe's is accessorized with a light blue ribbon and red tinted silk flower.  I used one of the alcohol pens I referred to in an earlier post, to color a large pink and yellow rose.  The same blue ribbons in a smaller width trim the three-quarter length sleeves above the white ruffle.  Marigold also received a pair of white silk slippers with little bows on them to complete her outfit.

& Flower
I designed a nice little pattern for the slippers with a straight edge rather than curved to resemble those in the illustrations.  These were quite simple to make.  The effort is minimal, so I'm sure she'll end up with a matching pair of slippers for each costume.

Two fashions.  Longer journal entry.  One thing I will remember is that when ordering from Farmhouse Fabrics in Florida, its best to expect the delivery (to California) at the end of seven days.  I don't know why it took so long this time, but I normally receive my parcels from them in two or three days.  They always send a little gift of fabric, and or ribbon, so I do enjoy purchasing from them.  They also have an extraordinarily fine selection of silk ribbon sizes, as well as beautiful fabrics.

Welcome Marigold Greenaway!  Welcome Summer!  It surely was a glorious June Moon.

Miss E. Mouse

Marigold in Tip-A-Toe

Wendy Lawton's Marigold Garden
Milk, Sugar & Flower

White Silk Slippers
A Portrait

London and Rolleston


  1. Such beautiful doll and dresses. You are very talented........blessings

  2. Such beautiful doll and dresses. You are very talented........blessings

  3. Thank you so much Shelley. I'll be making more for her.