Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dolly Madison China Head

It is just about time to get down to some serious repair.  My work at the historic site ended this last weekend and Christmas will have come and gone soon.  Winter is my time to work.

Recently I picked up a few new babies of my own.  The newest one is a Dolly Madison Pink tint china head.  She is gorgeous!  The doll had a cracked shoulder that was an easy glue job and a little missing paint on her head.  As an interesting side note, when I looked in Dolly's head, it was stuffed with fabric and the 19th century advertisement you see in the photos.  No gold or jewels hidden then, but historical treasure!  I am not sure why people did this in the past.  It is fairly common.  A china head is already heavy so it hardly seems like it would have been for weight or to balance the feel of the doll so a little one would not drop it on its head.  I am sure it made that more common - hence the crack!

I am not sure how far I will repair Dolly's body as it is suitable as is, though one arm could use a fix and she has a strangely swollen calf!  Anyhow, here are a few photos of her 'as is'.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gorgeous Girl

My doll repair work has been on hold for a week or so while I completed two paintings for the holiday display at my husband's store.  I'll share them in another post.  I have been watching and bidding on eBay and I won this antique 1850-ish papier mache head with exposed ears and glass eyes.  She is GORGEOUS!

As I have grown older, I have come to love the earlier dolls, especially any made of papier mache. According to the dictionary, papier mache is a malleable mixture of paper and glue, or paper, flour, and water, that becomes hard when dry.  Ludwig Greiner, of course, was the king of the papier mache doll makers.  There were many other makers, some who marked their dolls with paper tags (like Greiner and Superior), most of which have long since been lost. Many were never marked.  I think this beautiful lady is a Greiner, but I will have to do some research to prove it since she has no tag or residue of one having been on her back plate.

Her dimensions are 7 inches tall, with a shoulder spread of 7 inches as well.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Black Islander Doll Heuback Koppelsdorf 399

Another little project.  This one was for me.  This is an app. 10 inch Heubach Koppelsdorf Black Islander Bisque head doll.  

According to www.dollreference.com - Ernst Heubach's porcelain factory was in Koppelsdorf, Germany, they made bisque doll heads on kid or composition bodies.  Ernst Jr. married Beatrice Marseille, daughter of Armand Marseille and one of E. Heubach's sculptors had a brother that worked as a sculptor at Marseille, which may explain why their dolls have similarities to one another.
In 1919 Heubach and Marseilles merged and formed the United Porcelain Factory of Koppelsdorf (Vereinigte Koppelsdorf Porzellanfabrik vorm Armand Marseille and Ernst Heubach).  By 1932 the two companies went their separate ways.  During this union, 1919-1932 dolls are often marked with 'Heubach Koppelsdorf'.

He (or she) needed cleaning and minor repair.  The doll has its original brass earrings and grass skirt. A little grass hat is missing.  I plan to make one some day. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Schoenhut Restoration and Doll Repair rules

This is another Schoenhut I restored.  It is a Miss Dolly type, which is the 'every day' doll the company made.  I did another Miss Dolly sometime back, please check out that post for more info on the doll itself.  While I was satisfied with this restoration, the owner was not completely.  I mention this in order to discuss expectations for the restoration of older dolls.  I have a couple of lines I make in the sand -

1. This is an antique doll.  I will leave all original paint, facial features, etc. that  I can and will not repaint or alter them unless I deem the request reasonable.

2. An old doll is an old doll.  I will not make them look brand new.  That's not what I am about.

3. At times, as the project and the doll dictate, I will leave paint missing, uneven edges, and rough places.  Again, this has to do with #2.

4. I use photos of antique dolls and follow them for repairs - this means I match the antique colors as far as lips, nose dots, etc.  Again, I will not make these look new or use improper colors.

Some of these rules applied to the job where the customer was not completely satisfied.  She did not like the lip color or the unevenness of the fill on the face.  If you intend to have a repair done, PLEASE ask questions before agreeing to it and make clear what your wishes and desires are.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

One Hundred Years of Dolls Program

Most of you who read this blog are not from my local area, and so you probably do not know that I give talks on antique dolls and other historic subjects.  My main doll program is entitled: One Hundred Years of Dolls. It focuses on how both the dolls and the lives of their owners changed over the one hundred year period from the 1830s to the 1930s.  I start with Milliner's Models and end with Lencis and the beginning of the era of the Composition Doll.  I am available to present programs throughout the year.  Please email me at mcumminsfair1@gmail.com if interested.

This talk was given at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center in Troy OH in early 2015.  This was a slightly shorter program that covered the lifetime of the woman the center is named for - Mary Jane Hayner. The program was entitled: Dolls of a Victorian Childhood.

Life 'as it is' and Milliner's Model completed

As I reread my last few posts, I saw that I had mentioned my mother's fall in January of this year.  I was working my way through the medical maze at the time of admissions, brief stays, etc.  The nightmare continued as I had to make the choice to place my mother in a full-time facility.  Not only was I unable to cope with her physical needs, but the dementia she had been experiencing progressed rapidly from there and, in the end, she needed professional 24 hour a day care.  This meant applying from Medicaid. This second nightmare took until the end of February.  In March I had surgery, which took about 2 months to recover from - and then I was back to work at the historic site.  I mention all of this to explain why I have not posted to this blog since last January!

Goodness, time does indeed fly!

Anyhow, I hope to get back to posting more regularly.  This is my season for working on dolls, so I should have some new projects to share soon.

For today, I am going to re-post the 'after' photos of the little Milliners Model I featured in the last restoration post.  (She has been redressed since the last photo was taken.  This was a quick 'mock up' dress to take the photo).

Thanks for reading and for your patience!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Still here....

This week marks the end of the 2015 season at the historic site where I work.  I have been doing some doll repair though this year - more than others - it has been hard to keep up with it while working.  I will be concentrating on dolls for the next 4 - 5 months and hope to show off my projects here as before - 

So....................keep checking back! 


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.