Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I love those little Milliners

It's been a while since I have posted.  Still here working on dolls as I can, but also dealing with a personal emergency involving my mom who fell on New Years' eve and broke bones.  Tonight I worked on dolls as therapy for the nightmare of making my way through the medical system. 

I bought this little 10 inch tall Milliners doll back in August.  She had damage to her shoulderhead and was missing an arm and leg.  I have been scanning eBay and Ruby Lane since then looking for replacements.  I finally decided this last week that I would make them on my own.  First, here's a photo of the milliners as purchased.

In order to make the missing limbs, I looked for a doll with suitable wooden limbs that I could re-purpose.  I bought this little Shackman Penny Woodern for $10.  She was made in the 1970s or 1980s.  Her limbs were about the right shape and length.

I used the two legs instead of using either arm because the Shackman doll's arms had no shape to them.  It worked out well in the end.  I began by cutting a portion off of the top of one leg and then carving it to match the arm, forming a hand at the end.  Then I used the other lef as the ankle, calf and thigh portion of the missing leg.  I then carved the portion of the wood leg I had cut off the top of the arm piece to make the foot.  After that I used epoxy to wed the foot and leg, and to thicken the thigh area to more closely match the original leg and to create the ips of the fingers on the hand. 
  After this began the process of covering the replacement limbs with wood filler to smooth out the seams and create the fresco-like finish of the originals. 
While the limbs were drying I turned to the head.  I did not want to do a lot to it.  I filled the deep gashes on the breastplate and a couple on the hair, let it dry, and then sanded it to the point where it was even.

Back to the leg and arm then, sanding and smoothing, and then painting; first solid colors and then adding detail like the hint of an orange red shoe. 

I then added - judiciously - paint to the hair and skin of the shoulder head, leaving the features untouched.  (The flash makes the flesh color look mottled.)  And then I used a wax polish to give them all a shine that matched the original.
After that I used the remnants of the old leather arm to make an upper for the new arm and then attached all of the limbs to the body, which did not need any repair.  The bit of blue-green leather that was missing, which was used to bind the limbs to the body originally, I replaced with a bit of old teal ribbon that had come with the doll.  The color was perfect! I painted it with glue to make it hard and so it resembled the leather more.
And here she is complete.  I will work on a costume next and post a few photos of her in all of her restored glory when she is done. 


Friday, October 24, 2014

More Battered Beauties

Our season at the historic site is winding down.  We finish with school visits at the end of next week.  I am looking forward to the time off so that I can catch up with some of the many projects I have shown you over the last year.  I continue to search for and find 'battered beauties' who need my attention.  It is my intention to own one or two dolls of each type to represent major categories of antique dolls so that when I give talks, as I will be doing in February, I can adequately show the history of dolls and tell all the interesting stories associated with their creation and purpose.  In the last few months I have picked up three - two are major projects.  I will share their photos and a little bit about them below.

The first is a really neat china head - and I do mean 'head'.  The doll head is made of pink lustre china and has a molded snood.  She reminds me of an ABG as she is extremely well-made with fine features and individual brush strokes framing her face.  When this one came into our consignment shop, it was attached to a piece of PVC plastic with caukling!  I couldn't bare to let her be thrown away, so I purchased her, removed the plastic piece (very quickly!), and am now in the process of making her 'presentable'.

I decided not to build a new china plate at this time, but am creating a plate out of felt so the dress I put on her will fit correctly.  When I have time - hopefully this winter - I will do it right!
As you can see, I purchased a vintage Goldsmith-type body to place the head on.  It has a sewn-on red corset, cloth hands, and black boots.  I am ordering a custom-made dress for her.  I'll post an image here when she is complete!
My next project is a Parian made by Kling.  I have always wanted one of these, but they are way beyond my budget.  This one came up at auction on eBay.  She has been much loved - which I think it wonderful.  Her nose is chipped and her plate cracked with a piece missing.  I have not done any work yet, but am anxious to get her cabinet ready!  She has such a lovely, stately feel to her.  The photos that follow are from the original eBay listing.

Gorgeous, isn't she? 
And last, but not least, is my new wax-over papier mache.  I haven't done much but clean her face a little.  I love the lambswool wig. 


Keep checking back.  Eventually I will have some completed dolls to show you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

S&H and Schoenhut Carved hair character restored

Over the last few months I had the privilege to work on a beautiful and rare carved hair Schoenhut boy, and a S&H bisque head beauty. Both belonged to the same customer.  The S&H was in the typical state of most 19th century ball joint dolls, with missing plaster, paint, damage to the joints and missing digits (or a hand in this case).  I obtained a new hand from Great Britain and then did the repairs.  You can see the transformation below.

The client wanted only the face of the Schoenhut restored. Due to this, I left his clothing on and covered the jacket and shirt as I worked.  I used a reference I found of the original look of the doll and matched it.  You can see the final result in the last photo where the two are compared.  

The first three photos are of the doll as he came to me.

The restoration process begins with a filler.  

The filler is carefully sanded (and I do mean CAREFULLY).

Once the filler is fixed, the first layer of paint is added.  Note that I left all of the original features untouched. 

The next layer of paint is added, mostly to heighten the skin tone, and original features are defined where needed.

The features are finished and a coating of wax/fixative is added.  These dolls had a slight sheen, so that is what I imitated. 

The completed doll compared to a photo of the original as issued in the early 20th century. 

This one was a joy to work on.  What a gorgeous doll!