This couple lived on a shelf in the living room when I was a child. My parents probably bought them in Germany in the 50′s.
Their sturdy, carved wooden bodies are about 5 inches tall. I love the way the embroidery is painted on.
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.
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.
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.
For now, it’s enough to have and enjoy my mother’s childhood treasures.
I’ll be signing books at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod’s Holiday Faire on Saturday, Nov. 20th from 12 noon to 2pm. When my children attended the school 20 years ago, this event was our pride and joy. Then and now, parents, faculty and students put months of creative energy into making the day memorable for all who attend. The poster I designed years ago is still being used. I want to see the popular Excalibur Challenge, where children meet Merlin and have a go at pulling the sword from the stone!
There will be craft vendors and lots of activities for children, including crafts and games. The school’s store, Kindercraft, sells the naturally dyed wool felt that I use in my artwork. I’ll be writing more about this felt in a later post.
This year’s fair will be at the school’s new location in Cotuit. Last winter, I helped color the walls with the lazure method of applying paint like watercolor, in graduated hues. Here are some classrooms all set up after we painted them. The whole building will be transformed into a magical environment for the Holiday Faire on Saturday.
Reminder: I will be doing a story time at the Sandwich Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 16th at 10:30am. I’ll also be talking about and signing copies of my new nursery rhyme book, Pocketful of Posies.
I live on Cape Cod, near the village of Woods Hole, where I grew up. With several scientific institutions clustered on a tiny peninsula, Woods Hole is much more than a tourist town or the gateway to Martha’s Vineyard. My biologist grandfather began coming here about 100 years ago to set up a summer laboratory. Later, my father stayed to work in oceanographic research and our family lived in the village year round.
Lately, I’ve been riding my bicycle around the familiar streets, taking pictures of sights I find interesting and memorable, like this series of porches.
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.
Today, we finished framing the Pocketful of Posies artwork and will be ready to hang the show tomorrow! Talk about working ’til the last-minute. I don’t usually do things this way and have everything completed way ahead. The whole family helped out over the weekend, while I sewed the last border together. My studio was a beehive of activity; my husband Rob put the last of the artwork into frames and sons Peter and Ian drilled holes and screwed in the eyes on the back. It will take several car loads to transport all 51 pictures over to Highfield Hall tomorrow morning. It’s a good thing we live close by. Wow, does it feel good to have this project done! You can read about Pocketful of Posies: A Traveling Exhibit and see the schedule here.
After slaving away for most of the summer, Rob has finished all 51 picture frames for the Pocketful of Posies exhibit and they look beautiful! In my last post about the frames (see here) , the partly made pile was stacked up on his work bench.
Rob cut off the excess from the corner ears on the table saw…
and used a planer to smooth off the surface.
Here you can see a before and after, with one ear planed and another still bumpy with glue and wood.
Then the frames were sanded with 2 grades of sand paper until they were really smooth.
Then he carried the frames up from the basement into his new workshop and applied Tung oil, which brings out the natural color and wood grain.
To make a good finish, the oil has to be rubbed off after it has soaked in.
Here’s a frame with the inside slats. I love the way cherry looks with the oil.
But they are not finished yet! The last step is rubbing on paste wax to make a satiny finish.
Now, they are lying in wait for my artwork. The UV Plexiglas will be arriving soon and we’ll start assembling the pictures!
My husband Rob has been spending several weeks in his basement workshop making picture frames this summer. He has made frames for my fabric relief artwork for 30 years and this is the biggest job yet. The frames will look like this, cherry wood, shadow box style with glass.
He is making 51 frames for my Pocketful of Posies exhibit this September and has made good progress. I thought I’d show you how far he’s come!
He first cuts the lengths from cherry boards.
Then he rips the pieces on the table saw to get an L shape.
Then he cuts 45 degree angles and glues the corners together.
He cuts 1/4 inch thick slats that will be placed inside the frame to keep the glass separate from the artwork.
This a special design that Rob figured out years ago to solve the problem of how to display and protect my relief artwork.
For extra strength in the corners, he cuts across the corners and adds slivers of wood.
Here he is wiping off excess glue.
He calculated that cutting and gluing the corners takes 1/2 hours per frame, so just that step took about 25 hours for all the frames.
Now the corners need to be trimmed and sanded. I’ll show the final steps when they’re all done. Thanks, Honey!
My Self Portrait is now on public display at the Woods Hole Public Library. It’s on semi-permanent loan and will hang there indefinitely, except when it needs to be borrowed occasionally for other shows, etc. Since many people have asked where they can see this piece, I decided to find an appropriate place where it could be shared. The library seemed a fine match, with my work in children’s books and a childhood spent visiting this library.
I wrote about Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion on my first blog post last fall, which you can see here.
The Woods Hole Public Library is located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in the center of the village on Water Street. and the hours are pictured below. The Woods Hole Village Quilt, which I worked on and wrote about here, is on display as well. All are welcome to visit! I suggest that you call the library before making a trip, to make sure the piece is there, as I plan on removing it for short periods from time to time.
I’d like to share these Scandinavian dolls from my family’s collection. They were either bought by my parents or grandparents in Europe. I have clear memories of playing with this pair of 5″ tall dolls. They are sturdy, with wire bodies and limbs, so they could actually do things, unlike Barbie dolls.
My blogging friend and official doll consultant, Helen from Dollzandthings says, “They look earlier than 50′s to me–maybe 40′s or even late 30′s. It is very hard to identify some of these costume/souvenir dolls because there were so many talented people making dolls–including souvenir dolls and cottage industries. Your dolls seem to have the cutest traits of all the doll makers combined: great facial expression & painting and great costuming.”
Thank you, Helen for your help. I’ll be seeking your expertise with other dolls from the collection in the future.
Their heads and bodies are covered with stockinette. The clothing is either thin wool felt or cotton. The faces are delicately painted, with some needle sculpting around the mouth and eyes. I love their wispy hair.