I’ve been cleaning up and organizing my fabric stash, which includes some old familiar prints. My mother made a jumper out of this folksy blue fabric that my sister and I both wore.
I remember wearing a dress out of this red pattern in about 3rd grade. It was in the days when girls had to wear dresses to school. We would put shorts on underneath, so that we could climb the jungle jim!
This black fabric was a skirt.
We used a lot of Marimekko fabric in the 60’s. The memories are strong. It’s hard to choose what to keep and what to part with.
Happy Valentine’s Day!I found this cute old valentine in my mother’s things. The pilot and her feline co-pilot are flying over my work table, which is covered with a new project I’ve been working on since the new year. I know its cruel to tease like this, but I wanted to show that I’ve been working. It’s a large piece and will probably take most of the winter to complete. I’m the type who needs to finish a project before showing any one. I’ve been taking pictures along the way, though. I find that I am lost in that magical creative space for long lengths of time and forget to step out of myself in order to take pictures, but I’m trying my best. This project is an ever-changing experiment, something I want to experience, without having to explain what’s happening during the process. That can come later. I’ll tell this much– there are rabbits involved!
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.
I’ve cherished this set of shell decorated place cards since I was a child and remember thinking that they were too special to write on. They are kept in the same cardboard jewelry box I stored them in 40 years ago.
I love the simple scenes using tiny colored shells, with watercolor accents.
This girl with a shell bonnet and bouquet decorates a bridge score card.
This special group of wooden gnomes came from my husband’s family. I love unpacking them at Christmas time because they look ready to jump out of the box, like northern European versions of Mexican jumping beans.
They seem like they are skating or nervously hopping on one leg. They’re tiny, too, about 1 1/2 inches tall.
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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.
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.
Among my family treasures is a doll collection that came from my grandmother, Louise Salley Hartwell. My first name comes from my grandmother’s maiden name. As children, we weren’t allowed to touch most of the dolls, but just gaze at them high up in shelves. She found many of the dolls in her travels and collected them throughout her long life of almost 100 years. Here is a photograph of my grandmother on her Gramma Lou’s lap, with one of her sisters. Gramma Lou lived with the Salley family in Orangeburg, SC and taught all 5 daughters how to sew.
my grandmother, Louise Salley Hartwell, on lap (1892)
Here’s a group shot of some of the dolls from the collection.
from my grandmother's doll collection
This wooden doll is about 10″ tall and most likely has been in the family its whole life. I have no information about her, but she looks very old.
Her face is painted simply, but with an intense expression and it looks like moths have eaten her wool felt hat.
Inside the silk dress hem is a cloth tag that has this written: 35-25:100-M in red ink. Her legs and arms are simple wooden pegs.
She has such a delicate little sliver of a nose attached to the wooden head.
This wooden rabbit has been around since my childhood and may have been my father’s toy in the 1920’s. The front leg joints have been repaired with a knotted cord. At about 4″ long, it’s easily held and manipulated by a child. I love the simple and durable form.
These doll house miniatures belonged to my mother, who was born in 1925 in Providence, RI. In the photograph, she looks like the classic little girl from her era. My sister, brother and I played with the toys, too. The porcelain dolls have been well-loved and are showing wear, but the metal toys held up much better. The mail box is also a bank. I just noticed that the mower (or carpet sweeper?) is named SallyAnn, names my mother would give to my sister and me, only spelled with e’s.
my mother, Mary Hartwell (Mavor) 1928