Monday, October 2, 2017

A September Tribute to David Delamare

Each September the first brings a wellspring of life to my senses.  For me its the beginning of my "holidays", since September is my birthday month.  This is followed by my next favorite event, Halloween, then the excitement of the first rain, the first snow, Thanksgiving, and finally, Christmas.


The four month season was a joy for me as a child since, being an odd little thing, I looked forward to the first days of school.  In my adult years, my mother and I would go out and look for the best autumn card we could find in August.  One that symbolized the season we both loved; something with autumn leaves at the very least.  Whoever could get this card mailed to the other first, to start the four month cycle of the Ber's, would "win".  I know it sounds silly, but we so treasured these months together, and we'd laugh ourselves silly over what we sent to each other.  And, she honestly sent the very best Halloween cards one could find.  She had her secret "haunts" and would never give away their locations.

As I was finishing up my last project with the March Hare, experiencing the last days of summer and anticipating autumn just around the corner, I'd been browsing Pinterest for Alice ideas - or maybe just for the delight of seeing what was out there.  The delightful autumn Tea Party scene that Hudson painted was now a part of my collection, and I was looking for something extraordinary to inspire me when I fell upon the work of David Delamare.

Excited and intrigued by what I saw online, I decided to see if there was a website dedicated to his work.  And, there was!  In fact I'd discovered that Delamare had published his own Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, lavishly illustrated with his surreal and fantastical conception of the story.  I couldn't resist the purchase of this book, and when it arrived, I was overcome with the sheer beauty of its presentation.  The slipcover box it arrived in was exquisite, and even the shipper was a keeper.  I'd already decided that I would have to bring his Alice to life in a doll, and was then set to find what I would do for her prop, or accessory.

Nestled within the first two pages of the book, I found a little slip of paper with a story, a small biography of the book written by his wife, Wendy Ice.  Its began with "In 2008, my husband, artist David Delamare, set off to illustrate this book."  What followed was a brief description of how Wendy put to the task of getting this beautiful book published, then two paragraphs that took my breath away. "At last, eight years after the beginning, on September 16th, 2016, David approved these pages for binding.  It was a triumphant week for him.  He was thrilled with the appearance of this volume and had also just finished the final painting for our next book (a collection of fairy art)."

"In the wee hours of September 19th, David tucked me into bed where we spoke of our gratitude for this adventure and our excitement for the future.  A few hours later, I woke to discover that he had died.  I found him seated beneath his easel where he often played with his rabbits."  I knew then and there, that this doll would be a tribute to his life and his extraordinary work on this book.  And, it all happened in September. 
 
One of the first things I discovered as I was looking for Alice's prop, was that David used anthropomorphic animals, of every kind, to symbolize the human elements of the story.  Sure, we all know that the story was filled with unusual animals, but he did something different, and that thrilled me.  What caught my eye were the paiges that painted the roses red.  They were monkeys!  And, what of that hat she can be seen wearing, and the monkeys, too?  They were chess piece crowns.  Had to do it.  Just had to do it.  Now, I'm not really "into" monkeys, but this little guy had to be made.  I'd never seen a monkey with a magnifying glass in his paws or hands, using it for painting those roses with precision.  This appealed to me equally, as I do most of my detail work under magnification.  So I jumped onto Ebay and looked for a 1:6 scale magnifying glass.  Hah!  I found one.  Accessory before the accessory.  Interesting that I would have to make him the right size to work with that tiny handheld magnifier (and yes, it really is one). But, the other incredible thing about David's Alice work, is that these are night scenes, by candle light, with umbrellas for stormy weather, and gentle moons dancing in the night skies.

Of course, there was Alice to make first, her dress, her boots, that chess piece crown...  I used one of Wendy Lawton's dolls for my Alice, and this time she was the Emily doll.  When I "rescued" her off Ebay, I wasn't sure exactly what I would do with her, but upon discovering David Delamare's Alice, I knew her face would be the perfect representation.  Some people claim her lips are too large, but Delamare seemed to drawn his own Alice with voluptuous lips, so she would work perfectly.  I changed her eyes to a hazel green, then braided a long, blonde, human hair wig for her wavy tresses.

Her boots were next, along with her stockings of large black and white stripes.  I would have to make these boots from scratch, but had the foot bed and pattern size from the 16" Mary Lennox.  Eight tiny black buttons close the sides on each boot.  I am no closer to finding boots easier to do than the last pair.  They simply take work.  Especially if you have to design a unique pair each time.  I got lucky with her striped stockings, finding the right width of stripe in a pair of thin people knee socks.

I used a cotton sateen for her dress. What's interesting, again, is how many different versions of a sleeve the artist will draw for the same character in a book.  After viewing all the paintings, the most recurring "sleeve theme", was a flutter sleeve, instead of the typical banded puff.  White collar, three black buttons down the front...these are common themes, but the black trim on the apron was another difference and joy to explore.   Her chess crown hat was a complete and utter challenge.  I used one of those lovely wool felt sheets from The Felt Pod which sews beautifully under a sewing machine needle.  The Felt Pod even provided the felt balls that top both hers and the monkey's crown.  Alice's dress has a self-half slip edged in lace, and the bodice is lined. 

But, let's talk about the monkey.  As long as I spent making Alice's costume, a good 3/5's of the time and effort was spent making him.  First of all, he is a wire armature needle felt character, but this time, and the for the first time, I made five fingered hands.  I'd tried to make one hand from a Youtube tutorial last June, as I knew that in the future, there would be a Humpty needing hands.  The tutorial I used is NOT Sarafina's.  She makes her hands with four digits.  Why?!  As much as people exclaim and rave over Sarafina, she is not thorough with her tutorials.  And, this other lady did a great job with her own tutorial for realistic hands. Just sayin'.  If you're wishing to try needle felting, look at a variety of the tutorials to find which suits your needs best. 

I must have worked on the monkey's facial features no less than eight hours, and often going back to revise and rework them.  Building a character like this takes an incredible amount of time and patience, but its worth it.  This little fellow even has "fur" on his face as well as long fur for "hair" in the back of his crown.  Several shades of gray were used for his garments, which included, once again. striped trousers.  I just happen to be attracted to stripes.  His shoes were interesting to make as well.  There were a lot of "firsts" creating him.  I'd originally intended for him to stand alone, but with diminishing shelf space, I decided to make him into a marionette.  The nice thing about wire armature is that your character can be posed.  I pointed his feet downward as he is hanging by marionette strings.  That was a fun touch.

The cards, back and front of one, were interesting to do as well.  Every piece of this character was needle felted, which means I had to make the fabric and card pieces from wool hanks.  Every detail is needle felted, like the spades.  I had to be creative in thinking of which card to use, since the illustration shows only one spade over his right chest.  Four seemed a nice balance to the look.  While decorating the back of the card, each area had to be felted then attached.  Two little "hidden" shoulder straps attach the two cards over his shoulders. His little armature fingers folded nicely around his magnifying glass and paint brush.  His own chess crown hat took some "doing", and by the end of it, I as ready to call it quits, although I did make Alice a red felt rose to hold.  I felt as exhausted as Alice looks landing in a pile of leaves at the bottom of the rabbit hole.

I've worried that people who enjoy my work are beginning to focus their attention on these needle felts and dismissing the costuming of dolls that I work so hard to accomplish.  Well, there's a lot of work that goes into both.  I enjoy dressing dolls from illustrations, but needle felting has certainly allowed me to give them more creative accessories and props. 

It was my promise to David's widow, Wendy Ice, that I would share a link to their lovely website.  If you enjoy his work, the art on this website will enchant you further.  http://www.daviddelamare.com/alice.html  Included in the attachments below,  a few of my favorites, are Alice images that would have nicely gone into a volume of Through the Looking Glass, but alas, we are left with the treasury of art David Delamare created before his passing.  It is almost as if this book were the one thing he strived for most in his life, and Wendy made that happen.

Love,
Miss E. Mouse
  







Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Alice Illustrated in Gwynedd M. Hudson - Tea With the March Hare

Finally!  At last!  I feel like I've been away for ages.  Well, in a way, I have.  Early in August, the first week to be exact, I'd flown to Orlando to attend the UFDC summer convention.  Let's be honest...I was sick the entire time, but I had a ball.  It was one of the best conventions that I've been to.  And, one of the reasons was the people; the new friends I made, and the meeting up with the "gold" friends I've not seen in...well, yes, ages. 


Did I buy any dolls?  No.  But, I did come home with souvenir dolls from the ticketed events, and I love them all.  And, what of the Helper Alice and Miss Unity?  Alice has gone home to an "Alice" collector, and Miss Unity now resides at the UFDC headquarters, in Kansas City.


When I got home, it was straight to the doctor's I went, and I spent three weeks recovering.  In the last week, I began to feel well enough to venture into the project that has been in the hopper for quite some time.  I won't say this definitely, but I'm pretty sure that this is the last Alice Illustrated costume I'll do.  I believe this is her fourteenth, but who's counting?

Our little 12" Lawton-make-over Alice is now dressed in the lovely outfit that Gwynedd M. Hudson illustrated her wearing, in 1922. 

Gwynedd M. Hudson studied art at the Brighton School of Art.  She was a figure painter, illustrator, and poster artist.  She exhibited at the Royal Academy around 1912, that we know of.  She is best known for her editions of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which received the lavish gift-book treatment (started with the books of Dulac and Rackham), being issued as a large, elaborate book in both a trade and deluxe edition.  This deluxe edition was featured in the Bookman's Christmas Portfolio for 1922.  Gwynedd's Alice is generally considered one of the finest and has been repeatedly reprinted.  She illustrated, perhaps, half a dozen or so other books, mostly for poetry and religious purposes published for Hodder in delicate Art Nouveau watercolors.  Despite this, more information about Hudson is not easily found. 

While we all immediately recognize Alice in blue, she was dressed by countless illustrators throughout time in what I refer to as the fashion of the era.  This was not the only time Alice would be dressed in white, as Margaret W. Tarrant gave her a white version in 1916, and Bessie Pease Gutmann did one in 1907, among others.  I've always been attracted to Hudson's Alice, and first saw this done on a doll by Robin Woods for her Ultimate Alice set. 

Another reason I was artistically compelled to create this, and at this time of year, was due to the setting she gave to the Tea Party.  Normally done with summer greens, the leaves on her trees are distinctly autumn colors.  I had originally intended to needle felt the White Rabbit with his black fan, embroidered waistcoat and blue silk vest, but I'd just done a White Rabbit for the Korean Alice.  I considered other characters like the Mock Turtle with a soup tureen, but instead chose the crazy March Hare with his pink-iced cherry cake, as the colors would pop the display since the dress was "Sees Candies" white and black.  But, I get ahead of myself, as usual. 

Alice's dress is a micro stripe dimity.  It is textured and finely woven cotton.  The trim is black Petersham grosgrain.  The difference between Petersham and normal grosgrain is the edging.  With the Petersham, you get a ribbed effect, while the other is a straight, smooth edging.

Her pinafore is the Pima Swiss Batiste, all edged in cotton lace with two tiny pockets.

I fussed a bit trying to design this pinafore because there was no clear determination how the back of it looked.  I was told recently by a respected doll costumer that since it is just an illustration, made up in someone's head. that the dress is not real, the pattern not real.  My jaw dropped silently over the phone, and it really made me wonder what she was trying to pull.  After all, every single dress and garment that was ever made, came out of someone's head and a drawing on paper, an illustration!  Yet, this doesn't deter me, and I know better, and always do my homework.  A pinafore is a little apron that goes over a dress for playtime.  It is to keep the dress clean while the child plays, but heaven forbid it, alone, gets dirty.
  
So, I designed one from the 20's with a smock bodice instead of the straps we normally see.  Two tiny buttons close it in the back.  Large butterfly sleeve caps top float above the short puffed sleeves of her dress.  It was really something trying to pull this all inside out through the shoulders.  It is a lined bodice. 
 
She completes her look with a coral bead necklace, short socks, and the cross strap shoes she wears are the same ones I made for the blue and white striped dress by Agnes Richardson in 1923.  Same time frame.  I got lucky.  The coral necklace would be her only bright spot until I began needle felting her tea party mate and cake. 

In the meantime, I scoured Ebay for the pressed blue glass tea cups, and a miniature cake plate.

I began with the cake, thinking it would be easy, but I'd completely forgotten how to needle felt.  It happens.  Its not like riding a bike, I'm afraid.  After a failed attempt at squashing wool and poking the heck out of it, I decided to go back to a youtube of rabbit making, and a tutorial on print that I used for the Korean White Rabbit.  Neither was all that helpful, but they did encourage me.  After all, the March Hare that Hudson drew was anthropomorphic, and had crazy Bug's Bunny eyes.  I was doing a caricature, and this was different. 

As I studied the illustration of the Tea Party under the autumn leaves, I searched through the book I'd recently purchased (a fine copy of the original done by Pook Press), to look for what he wore under that table.  I found an illustration of the March Hare and Hatter stuffing themselves into a teapot, that you won't typically find in a Google search, as its in black and white.  I don't know if the original was enhanced with orange, but let's pretend it was.  What I discovered were a pair of man's legs in striped pants with rabbit feet sticking out.

I decided then that I would do the stripes in royal blue to provide a pleasing palette, and they just happened to match the blue of the glass tea cups. 

I was not confident, at any given time, that I'd be able to "pull off" doing the March Hare.  I really did have to reteach myself how to needle felt again, and it was a good lesson to not let this skill drift away.     
 
I began with his head figuring that this is the main feature of the March Hare.  This also helps gives you an idea, as you go along, how large the body should be.  He is made on thin wire armature, which allows for him to be posed,  however, once you get a good amount of wool felted to build his form, the amount of bending does decline.

I think one of the things I learned with him was how to build clothing on a body for a needle felted character.  To begin, you have to flat felt the wool to begin making pieces of the outfit that can be felted together.  I started with the vest since it went under the jacket, then began with the pants.  Now that I knew they were striped, and I'd selected a color, they went together fairly quickly.  The stripes were something I'd done before when I made the Cheshire Cat.  Still, this was a pair of pants, and I thought, as I went along applying the stripes, about how they would look if you cut out pattern pieces from striped fabric, so they would look natural.

The jacket took some thought as well, and I found that if you do the sleeves first, the jacket front and back can be felted on smoothly at the shoulders.  I felted his head wrap and black bow tie as well...even the buttons.  His whiskers are fishing line.  Why?  Well, it was available at the CVS, and it shows up better than nylon sewing thread.  There's a light green tint to fishing line, but it doesn't detract from the look of whiskers...at least on the March Hare.  The wheat strands, or grasses, are just that.  You can pick up these dried grasses in the floral area of a Michael's.  I colored them with those marvelous alcohol markers and gave them a good chance to dry overnight since they were going under a white head wrap. 

And, just what is a March Hare?  Its a popular British phrase based on a belief about the hare's behaviour at the beginning of the long breeding season.   Early in the season, unreceptive females often use their forelegs to repel overenthusiastic males. It used to be incorrectly believed that these bouts were between males fighting for breeding supremacy.  Could this be why he wears a head wrap?  Like he's been in battle?  Tossling in the grasses and getting wounded?  Anything is possible.

It has occurred to me that I could "do Alice", and nothing but, for the rest of my creative days!  I even have a new one planned that I wish to start right away.  But, Alice Illustrated's Gwynedd M. Hudson will be her last outfit for the time being.  And, I'm even thinking about making myself a yellow cake with cherries in it, pink cherry frosting, topped with cherries!  Doesn't it look yummy?

Love,
Miss E. Mouse
 








Friday, July 7, 2017

Mary Lennox Tells Cousin Colin of India

Summer is a time of day dreaming.  The quiet of the early morning hours, a gentle breeze whispering the heat of rising sun, long afternoons sipping something iced while reading a good book...these and the steady lapping of waves on the lakeshore, are the things of summer.  What are your day dreams of when a canopy of green is your parasol?


When I'm designing and sewing a new ensemble for doll, my mind wanders hither and yon.  Surely there is a good deal of mental energy on the task at hand.  How am I going to get the perfect fit, how many inches long should this be, just what the heck is going on with this collar?!  But, I also play dolls while I'm busy with my needles and thread.  Sewing is how I play with my dolls and creating stories behind them and their costuming is one of the ways I bring the costuming to life.  These are never just another dress for just another doll. 

Mary Lennox has become one of my favorite dolls, and dolls to sew for.  Again, I'll admit that not every single one of the Peck Aubry outfits is to my liking, but a collection, and a complete collection is just that.  So while I'm putting off making the two or three that I least like, this one felt it needed making before I labor over an intricate smocking stitch for the next one (just another thing I'll have to learn).

Finding this fabric was like a breath of fresh air.  This lovely woven and light, airy cotton is a plaid or Madras of midnight navy and white. The dress surely could have been made from silk, but finding this exact plaid was going to be difficult, if not impossible.  Remember, there is always size of the plaid to consider.  Just another reason why I love sewing for the 16" dolls.  There are more options.  The outfit's feature of focus, is, once again, a collar, but now coupled with ivory Swiss embroidered details.

Yes, it is summer, but thoughts of learning and school days are always synonymous with plaids.  As my mind wandered, I was trying to come up a purpose for this dress in Mary's wardrobe.  When we watch a movie or read a book of The Secret Garden, the story appears to take place within a year.  But, Mary's life, to me, was long and full and she would grow up to be a well educated young woman and a philanthropist.  As well as a tender of gardens extraordinaire! 

This Madras pattern, and the light woven quality of the fabric made me think if India.   Authentic Madras comes from Chennai (Madras, India).  Both sides of the cloth must bear the same pattern; it must be hand-woven, and this is evidenced by the small flaws, or slubs, in the fabric.  How could or would a dress like this fit into Mary's story?  At first I thought, Well, she and cousin, Colin, could travel to India.  Then I remembered scenes from the Kate Maberly movie where she refers to him as a Raja.  And also when she tells him the story of the god that swallowed the universe.  In my further story of the hours she spent with Colin, while he was still bedridden, she tells him of the country she grew up in, what it was like to live there, of the people, of the lush and fragrant landscape, of the elephants and the tigers.  For this presentation, she shares a map of the British Raj in India.  Raj means "rule", thus Raja, "ruler".

Certainly, I do love to write, but this blog also gives the reader a glimpse at what inspires me and how I create from that inspiration, and above all, day dream.

As typical, when I start out bringing an illustration to life, I often downplay the difficulties I might encounter.  I initially see "a dress with long sleeves, a collar and a red belted sash".  No biggie.  Hah!  Well, first of all, we're dealing with plaids and I love working with them in the attempt to match up the pattern.  I was doing a pretty good job until the very end when I was alerted that the two back sides of the bodice did not match up.  I swear that I'd cut them properly, but it could be that when sewing this micro and soutached collar on the neckline, the matching became uneven.  I guess it really doesn't matter since, 1) there's a Bertha collar covering it up, and 2) she has long hair, and 3) does it really matter?, and am I being Type A?  The dress is closed in the back with pretty, little navy buttons and thread loops.  Perhaps I'll be forgiven since the details are still nicely done.

There is a small, white placket at the center of the bodice that has five little mother of pearl shank buttons going down it.  The idea of making the back it into a matching point was entirely up to me since the illustration hides this design.  I think one of things I enjoyed most about this dress was the complement of the ivory collar and underskirt.  A hint of cuff can be seen in the illustration, and I developed this into a cuff design.  The lace that edges the Bertha was also used for the cuff, and the cuff was "extended" by cutting up another piece of ivory Swiss embroidered lace that was 4" wide.  Its perfectly okay to piece things together if the outcome is pleasing to the eye.  And, again, it was my interpretation since the illustration shows Mary with her hands behind her back.  So, yes, I do "make things up". 

Another example of this was the back of the Bertha.  I don't think it would have been too difficult to imagine what this might look like, but my version was very difficult to do.   I'm not grumping, but it did take me three whacks at it to create one.  After two attempts with a muslin, I ordered, and had to wait for, a Swiss Ivory batiste from emmarob company.  I use their batistes exclusively.  The turning inside out and top-stitching requires a very fine fabric. 

One of the confounding things about the design of this collar was that the square inset borders are laid atop the gathered and fitted, triangle pointed flounce. (How else would one describe it?)  I worried over this collar for three days, and finally had to call it done.  (It is not a Mary Frances collar, although there was a dress pattern that offered a similar design.  Its one of those "memories" of having done something like this before that sat with me.)  The dress is finished off with a red silk sash, tied with a bow at the back.  I created red thread loops at the sides of the dress to run the sash through.  This helps narrow, or scrunch the sash for the look.  I like the dress.  And with all the research I did on British rule in India, which I've chosen not to share because it isn't Hollywood romance, this will always be the dress Mary wears when she tells Colin of India.  Now I wish to see a rerun of the series, Indian Summers, or pop the 1994 version of The Jungle Book (with Jason Scott-Lee) in the DVD player.  By the way, Lena Hedley was Mowgli's love interest in that version.  Lena Hedly - Cersei in Game of Thrones!  Imagine!

Back to summer and day dreaming.  How very tempted I am to make something new for Alice Illustrated.

Love,
Miss E. Mouse 

India during the British Raj

Just about the time frame Mary would have been born.

An antique map of British India


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Miss Unity - The Emblem of the UFDC

The emblem, or symbol, of the UFDC (United Federation of Doll Clubs) has been an instantly recognizable one for over sixty years.  The image is a stylized version of a wooden doll from the 1830's in a blue gown with two rows of black ribbon at the hem, and a two or three-tiered (depending on how you read the image) white ruffled lace collar at the neckline.  And, the elaborate hair styling is a wonder to behold.


As the UFDC (founded in 1937 by Mary Lewis) was growing into a larger organization, a contest was held in 1955 to create a "distinctive and exclusive emblem".  Ten members, representing ten clubs within the UFDC, entered submissions in the competition.  The winning illustration was entered by Mrs. Charles A. (Ruth C.) Williams of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  Ruth was known in the doll world as simply, "Darcy".  Darcy was also known as "The Wooden Doll Lady", both a carver and collector of wooden dolls. 

Darcy's inspiration for the emblem was an illustration by Charles Philipon (1830), of a toy seller.  In the seller's hand was a polichinelle doll, and to her right (left in the illustration) was a doll in a full and fancy gown with an equally elaborate hat decorated with plumes.  I would imagine that the gown itself, along with the toy seller's hair styling, were the key sources Darcy used to illustrate the emblem.  She added two wooden hobby horses, one held in each hand.  When the emblem was receiving its final touches, the hobby horses were removed, leaving just the doll. 

A full details on the history of UFDC's emblem can be read in a copy of Doll News, Summer 2015.  It was just my luck that someone listed the pages from this issue on Ebay, along with a copy of the history of its founder, Mary Lewis, from a Spring 2013 Doll News issue.  These came in handy for my own research and inspiration, but was also confusing when I began to design one more doll for the Helper Room at the UFDC convention this summer (August 1 - 5).

It was obvious to me that the emblem was of a wooden doll with carved wood hair, but I also noted in the article that dolls like Ginny had been used to symbolize Miss Unity.  Madame Alexander had done the same - with wigged hair, but with not such a fancy style.  Tonner made a small resin one that was 6 1/2" tall - and a tinier resin doll, 2" tall.  Miss Unity had also been designed in a white dress with black lace trim, and one with blue ribbon trim!  And, Peggy Jo Rosamond created an extraordinary paper doll of Miss Unity with a rose colored gown and one in golds and greens.

I suppose all along I knew that when I'd decided to create one, I would be faithful to today's emblem, using the blue gown, but I also wanted to select just the right doll to make her from.  With such a variety of images of her out there, I wanted to do something different, unique.  After I'd finished the nautical dress for Mary Lennox, I was in a "blue" mood anyway).  I'd ordered some beautiful blue silk from India that still has not arrived, and time was at a minimum.  Finding a reasonably priced lady doll to work with was even trickier.  But, I had this 16" wood body Lawton stashed away, and thought I'd see what I could do with her.  Could I make her into a lady doll?  Could I create this hair style from existing wigs?  The answer was, Yes.  At least I'd try.
I contacted the chairman of the Helper Room and asked if she'd be interested in a late submission, and also asked when I'd have to have her done by.  Jill was very receptive to the idea and told me to take my time.  This was good news, and also a relief, time wise  I had my doubts that I would be able to pull off making the wig.  As it is, her wig is one, and pieces from three others.   I also had to begin thinking about an alternative to the silk from India.  But, first thing's first.  If I couldn't make the wig, she would never be Miss Unity.

The wig is one that held pig tails of sausage curls.  I began by pulling each curl away from the others and wrapping them in both clockwise and counter clockwise twists around the band that held the pig tails, then hand stitched these rolls into place.  This wig is completely hand stitched.  I did not trust glue to this effort, and wanted it to look as "natural" as possible.  Earlier, I had purchased one of Tonner's 6 1/2" resin dolls to work from.  I measured the width and height of his hair sculpt and calculated how the dimensions should be according to the doll's head I was using. (See Tonner's little resin to the left.) 

A couple of days were spent trying to figure out how to make the hair piece that is the most recognizable piece to this doll's image.  Let's think about this for a minute.  If hair is parted down the middle to create side rolls, it is also parted down the back.  Where does the hair come from that is on top?  It had to be a hair piece.  So I made one. 

This hair piece consists of three twisted rolls, one on top the other at the base, then a profusion of rolls nestled into the crown.  I tried using a wig cap as the base from which to work, but found that a piece of buckram, dyed dark brown, would work better as it was stiff and could support all that I had to sew to it.  I saved the soft wig capping to sew to the bottom of this piece to provide a base to sew the top curls into.  So its sort of like a little hat of hair that eventually got sewn onto the wig with the side rolls.  I think I put just as much effort into making this wig as designing and creating the clothing.  More, maybe.

After finishing the wig, I did something easy to get the doll dressed.  I made her stockings.  Then I made her slippers.  These little black leather slippers have the same criss-cross strapping as Gay Event's did.  Has anyone made the connection that I took to making this doll since she was from the same year as Gay Event?  1830.  I'm drawn to the styling of the costuming from this era. 
Next I made her pantaloons.  I used a fine Swiss batiste to create them, and edged them in a Swiss embroidered lace with a simple design.  They have a small waistband and are closed in back with a small white button and thread loop.  I don't expect this "cabinet doll" will ever be undressed, but I wanted to make sure that if someone looked, the finishings were all finely done.  I don't know about you, but one of the first things I do when I pick up a new doll, is lift her dress up to see what's beneath.  Why do we do this?  Good question. 

Last week, fed up with India, I bought some very lovely and expensive sateen with which to make her gown.  Upon receiving it, I knew this would have been the best choice after all, since the drape and color were glorious.  I chose a batiste Swiss embroidered lace that would lend itself to three ruffled layers for the collar.  Two just didn't seem quite enough. 

Her billowing sleeves with wrist bands were a delight to create.  The two rows of black silk ribbon were a little more difficult to do.  When I add rows of ribbon or soutache, it takes a lot of measuring and marking on the cloth to stitch them equidistant to each other.  There is a relatively simple design to this dress, but I think you can make it into "more" if you desire.  The back is closed with a hook and thread loop at the neckline and waist, and two little black glass beads with thread loops at the back.  A black double sided silk ribbon is the tie around her waist.   

The last thing I did to Miss Unity, was change her eyes from brown to blue.  I'd originally thought her eyes would be brown considering the color of her wig.  But, after reading about her and studying the dolls and paper dolls done of her, I knew that she'd never be Miss Unity unless she had blue eyes.  I hope Jill will be pleased with her as an addition to the Helper Room.

I have started work on another dress for Mary Lennox and with Miss Unity completed, I'll pick up where I left off.  June flew by.  I did a little traveling at the end of May into June, and it seems that one day quickly blended into the other after that.  Last week, we suffered a horrid heat wave bringing daytime temperatures into the triple digits.  I do plan on having a more relaxed month in July, then its off to convention on August the first.  I hope you're enjoying your summer and getting out to enjoy the sunshine, doing the simplest and happiest of things.  Even reading a book under a shade tree is "summer" to me!

Love,
Miss E. Mouse

 


Tonner's 2" Resin

Peggy Jo Rosamond's Miss Unity Paper Doll

Miss Unity Dolls at the UFDC Headquarters