Where is Polly Doll going next?

Polly Doll is going on a trip next month and her regular outfit will not do! She loved Oregon (see here) and San Francisco (see here), but missed the flight to Ireland. For this next excursion, she is determined to go along. She will need to bring  some warm clothes to wear. Can you guess where she’s going?

She’ll be leaving her straw hat at home and will wear her new red coat and hat, warm mittens and Ugg style boots (size 3/4″).

This is a clue: Polly will be heading south from her home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The first person to answer correctly (on this blog) before she leaves in a week, gets a prize. International contestants are welcome!

The prize is…

an autographed paperback copy of my book, Mary Had a Little Lamb. Good Luck! Oh, and I will be tagging along, too. That means my Etsy shop will be on vacation from Dec. 6 to 20, so order early for Christmas!

Mom’s look-a-like doll

When I visited my sister Anne this past spring, she brought out our mother’s look-a-like doll. Mom’s doll was made by our great-aunt, Alma Salley.

Here’s a picture of Mom with her father in the early 1930’s. Mom described him as a kind, gentle man and I love seeing photos of them together. We never knew him, as he died before his grandchildren were born.

 Anne and I remember receiving exquisite doll clothes made by Alma when we were young. We didn’t see our Salley relatives very often, as they all lived in South Carolina and we were in New England. This is an old painted photo of Alma, who was born in the 1880’s and lived through a lot of changes, well into her 90’s.

This photo shows my great grandparents and their five daughters. My grandmother, Louise (second from the left), was the only one who left the south. After 8 years of courting, she finally gave in and moved north to Rhode Island, to marry my grandfather. By that time, she was 35 and he was 45, old newly weds for their era, but common by today’s standards. The “Salley girls” were famous in Orangeburg, SC for their spirited independence and all five of them went on to graduate from college. Even though there weren’t any males to carry on the family surname, subsequent generations have several first named Salleys, like myself. We are descended from Henry Salley, who came to America along with a group of other French Huguenots who founded Orangeburg, South Carolina in the early 1700’s.  

Dr. Michael and Adele Salley and their daughters, circa 1900

 

Anne & Dennis wedding dolls

On my recent trip to visit my sister and her husband in Oregon, I took pictures of their wedding dolls. I made them for Anne and Dennis when they married in July, 1988.

In typical Mavor fashion, the wedding was an eclectic blend of cultures and styles. It would be out of character if any of us had a conventional wedding! Anne wore a dress from Afghanistan, with a Swedish crown of candles. (She spent a college year in Sweden.) Dennis wore a Polish outfit in a nod to his family heritage.

The dolls are about 6 inches tall and I think they were displayed on top of the wedding cake.

The candles on her head-dress are tube beads.

The hat, shoes and boots were made of real leather.

I remember enjoying adding the decorations to their clothing. It was fun to revisit the dolls after 24 years!

Turkish Dolls

I’m guessing that these 12″ dolls are Turkish, or I might be influenced by my recent visit there. (Emily just commented that she has one like the woman from Morocco.) They’re from my grandmother’s collection, which she accumulated in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I don’t remember her telling me about a trip to Turkey, but I know she traveled all over the world with her sisters after she was widowed in her early 60’s.  As a child, I would gaze up at her souvenir dolls, which lived on high shelves in her living room, out of reach of young fingers.

Now, they are mostly packed away in boxes or crowded into my studio display cases.  

The curious thing about these dolls is their hair. What’s with the blondish copper color? They look like Scandinavians dressed up in Ottoman costumes.

The dolls’ faces are sculpted with stockinette and painted. I find the man’s “fake snow” turban a bit bizarre, too. They certainly have a lot of character, but I find these more humorous than beautiful.

Treasures – Shirley Temple doll

my mom, Mary Louise Hartwell, about 1930

I saw the new movie, The Artist (see the trailer here) the other night and walked out of the theater thinking about tap dancing, which is featured at the very end. That got me thinking about my mother’s life as a girl during the movie’s time period (late 1920’s-early 30’s). She took tap dancing lessons and I still have her Bell Tone taps, which I sewed into this little hanging I made years ago. It’s a forerunner to the wedding banners I’ve been making lately, which you can see here.

My Mom was one of the lucky girls of her generation to have a Shirley Temple doll, which I now have. The doll has been stored in her original wardrobe trunk all these years.

Shirley Temple was discovered at the age of 3 and became a hugely popular movie star when “Talkies” began to replace silent films in Hollywood in the 1930’s.

 It looks like my Mom peeled off most of the stickers, but here’s one that’s mostly left.

I found Shirley inside, along with a closet and card board drawers full of clothes.

She looks in pretty good shape. I remember seeing the doll as a child, but thankfully, she was kept away from our grubby fingers.

The pile of clothes includes some home-made ones as well as some outfits with “genuine” Shirley Temple tags.

This doll is a treasure to cherish. I’m glad to have this memory of my mother and times past.

fairy stools

People keep asking, “What are you working on lately?” I have to say that this summer I’m doing everything but making art. I would love to be stitching away in my air-conditioned studio, but there are too many time-sensitive administrative and promotional tasks to take care of and I’ve been traveling alot. It all has to do with my book and touring art show.  And it’s summer, so there’s the garden to tend, friends to entertain and on nice days we go boating. So, I’m planning on getting back to serious art-making in September.

On a recent morning, I saw two mushrooms growing side by side, along my driveway. The next day, I finally was able to take their picture, and they had grown twice their size.

I found a boy and a girl fairy from my bag of wee folk and positioned them on the stools.

One thing I’ve learned to do is take photographs early in the morning, when the light is low. The golden glow of dusk works, too.

The gentle morning light doesn’t create harsh shadows and it’s aimed from the side, not above, like the during mid-day.

This little girl fairy looks like she spilled a chocolate ice cream cone on her dress. There’s some kind of brown stain, but I didn’t wash it off because I was too much in a hurry to get her picture taken before the sun rose any higher and the mushroom grew any bigger!

doll house boxed set

A friend found this wooden box of doll house furniture and dolls in her family’s stuff and gave it to me. I don’t know where they came from or how old they are, but I’m guessing they are northern European, possibly German, from about 100 years ago. It looks like a coffin inside, with padded satin cushioning the furniture and doll bodies. The dolls are about 3 1/2 inches tall.

The woman’s hour-glass figure makes me think these were made in the age of corsets.

I like the man’s baggy pantaloons and formal shirt and jacket.

There are 3 little carved cats.

The dolls’ eyes seem too cutesy compared to everything else in the box. Maybe they are Betty Boop’s grandparents!

The miniature basket  and woven chair seats are perfectly made.

Treasures: 1920’s flapper doll

Among the treasures my mother left me are some well-worn porcelain “flapper dolls”. She was born in 1925, so she must have played with them in the late 1920’s.

my mother, Mary Hartwell (Mavor), age 4

I can imagine my mother’s little girl hands grasping this doll, moving its arms up and down, and dressing and redressing its solid body until the paint wore off.

1920's flapper doll, 3" tall

Even these broken doll parts were saved for me to find 75 years after their useful toy life was over. They are in reserve, ready to contribute to some future piece of art. I cannot tell when or if a leg or arm section will ever be the “right” object to add and have to be careful not to let sentimentality guide my decisions.

porcelain doll parts

For now, it’s enough to have and enjoy my mother’s childhood treasures.

Doll Collection: small wooden folk dolls

This set of standing wooden folk dolls are a mystery to me. I found them in a box of other miscellaneous stuff, while cleaning out my parents’ house. They are small, about 2″ tall and would make fun cake decorations. Helen, a fellow blogger (here) who knows a lot about souvenir dolls, thinks they may be Hungarian or Polish because of the red boots and dark hair.

Since Helen pointed out the red boots, I’ve been flooded with memories of seeing Hungarian dance performances as a child. Besides wearing eye-catching red boots, the dancers’ costumes had full puffy petticoats under their skirts. I also remember seeing the women’s long braids flying out as they twirled. My parents were avid international folk dancers and would bring us to watch and participate in folk dance events. I don’t remember seeing these dolls as a child, but their red boots triggered a memory.