Tuesday, December 4, 2012

More Christmas decor

As promised, here are some more pictures of my house decorating efforts! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas decor





I can't believe it's almost Christmas already! Seems like it was just July.  I've been working for about a week decorating our house for the upcoming Christmas tour of homes here in my tiny city of Port Gibson, MS.  It is a lot of work, but I throughly enjoy doing it!  The morning temperatures here get you in the spirit of Christmas (low 30's) but by afternoon it will be 70 here.  I was born and raised in Northern Ohio and remember lots of snow, so it is still a bit hard to get used to Christmas when it is fairly warm. It was even worse when we lived in Miami!  Anyhow, here are some pics of the house decorations. I have one more area to complete, the kitchen/family room, and will post those when finished, hopefully today!  One "glitch" i did not really anticipate; my cat Bella is going crazy with the Christmas tree ornaments and loves eating the red berries on the artificial tree and arrangements!  I did buy the shatter proof ornaments, thank goodness!   Anyhow,  I am itching to get back out into my doll studio!!  I have a French fashion doll outfit to complete for one of my customers from New Orleans, and then I will be starting new dolls. Can't wait!  Anyhow, I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Delilah and Flora

Hi everyone!  I'm sorry I haven't posted anything lately, but I've been busy filling the last orders from the show I did in July!  And now with the holidays coming quickly, I am having to stop the doll making a while to start decorating the house. As I have said before, our house was built in 1835, and we occasionally have tours coming through or special events. This December 8th and 9th, we will participate in a Christmas tour of homes so I have to really get busy.  I am just finishing up new window treatments in my breakfast room, and then on to getting the Christmas trees up!  We don't decorate as much as we used to when we had the bed and breakfast, but it will still be pretty.  I'll try to post some photos of the decor when finished. 
   Here are two of my latest dolls. As you have probably noticed, I love everything to do with the Civil War era and most of my dolls reflect that. 

I love this civil war reproduction fabric for Delilah's dress that I found on line.  The design of the dress is very typical for young girls of the era, and for many years to come.  I made her little side-buttoned boots of soft leather.
I found this wonderful little quilt in an antique shop, which blends beautifully with her dress.  Delilah is going to a new home in New Jersey very soon!


Miss Flora is dressed in a homespun plaid dress and also has hand made leather boots. As all of my dolls , her head is paperclay over cloth and is oil-painted and antiqued.  I saw an old tintype of a little girl of this era which inspired me to create Flora.  I imagined her sadly thinking of her father or brother who was far away fighting, and hoping for his safe return to his family. 

A dear friend of mine suggested something to me the other day that I thought would be a great idea.  After the holidays, when I start on more dolls, I am going to post a series of photos and descriptions of the doll making process from start to finish.  I think some of you might enjoy seeing how the doll progresses from the idea to the finished piece.
  In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!  Even though my husband Doug has to in for a little knee repair surgery in the next couple of weeks, we are hoping to drive down to Miami for a few days to visit his two daughters before Christmas.
Doug and I both had careers there; he is a retired Homicide detective from the Miami Dade police department, and I was a forensic scientist doing DNA analysis for 16 years. It was a good career, but I am so much happier now, creating beautiful things instead of seeing the very worst you can imagine.   Will talk to you all soon in 2013!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Nell and Emmeline

We are just drying out finally after Tropical Storm Isaac paid us a little visit last Wednesday night and Thursday!  We had about 8" of rain and tropical storm force winds, but luckily, we only had a bunch of limbs down, nothing worse.  We live in an antebellum home built in 1835, and there are many very old huge trees up here on our property. Of course I was so worried that some of them would come down.  After having lived through Hurricane Andrew in Homestead, Florida in 1992, I must admit I am still terrified of the wind.  We were in the house when that hit, and I can tell you, it was the most terrifying experience of my life. My husband was a detective on the MiamiDade Police Department, and of course they have to report for duty in emergencies like that. Luckily, he pulled the first 12 hour shift, so he was  coming home about 1AM just as the storm was starting to intensify. We huddled in an inner stairwell with our two Rottweilers, a poodle and a cat and those were the longest hours of my life. Our home was left standing, but with a lot of damage.  Anyhow, my heart goes out to those in Louisiana who faced such terrible flooding and loss of their homes. At least the levy in New Orleans held this time. 
    On a lighter note, here are my two latest creations. They have both gone to wonderful new homes in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Izannah Walker type dolls are some of my favorites to make.  These two little pretties have paperclay sculpted heads, and are oil-painted and antiqued. Their dresses are made in the popular off the shoulder style of the 1850's-60's.  I made each of them a little cloth kitty as a companion for their journey. 

   I hope everyone is having a great Labor Day weekend.  Hard to believe summer is nearly over.  Where does the time go??? 

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Orleans NDF

I'm back home recuperating from a wonderful experience at the National Doll Festival in New Orleans!  I want to thank all the ladies who bought my dolls and offered me wonderful comments and well-wishes on my doll making.  It is always so hard for an artist to put their work "out there". We are our own worst critics.  To receive such wonderful feedback and encouragement  makes all the hard work so worthwhile!!  Here are a few pictures of my display.  I look forward to seeing all of you next year!!

I met a wonderful doll artist whose work I have always admired, Robin Thompson of  Robin's Miniature Furniture and Dolls.  Her hand carved Queen Anne style dolls are truly awe-inspiring; the detail is just amazing. 

The experience has left me "fired up and ready to go"  with all sorts of  ideas for new dolls!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Mlle Josette"

"Gone to a new home!!"

Hello everyone!  I hope you are all enjoying the warm weather.  I just got back from a family reunion in Florida, so have to get extra busy now to prepare for the National Doll Festival in New Orleans next month.  Mademoiselle Josette is my latest creation.  She represents a "free woman of color" in New Orleans from the 1830's.  The free people of color, or "les gens de couleur libre"  were a very refined and educated society in New Orleans and the young ladies of this group were reknowned for their beauty and charm.  Most of them had one white parent and white grandparents, so they were known as quadroons or octoroons. They were strictly raised and educated in Catholic schools.  Some of them formed relationships with wealthy white planters.  As Louisiana law forbid marriages between whites and the free blacks, these women were basically mistresses. They were provided with homes, and any children born of the relationship were provided for and sometimes took the man's name.  This unique arrangement was called "placage" and was very common in New Orleans up until the 1850's.  Ann Rice's novel, "The Feast of All Saints" is a wonderful book telling the tale of a family of free Blacks in New Orleans in the 1800's.
    Josette is made of cloth and her face is sculpted of paper clay and then oil painted.  Her hands have individually wired fingers, and are also oil painted.  Her hairdo has been fashioned of wool roving.
Josette's beautiful two piece dress is made of bridal white silk dupionni with arrow-shaped trim of lavendar and white, with pearl gimp.  Her collar is a piece of antique lace, and the front of the dress is trimmed with small lavendar silk bows.  Her beautiful underthings are fine white cotton and cotton laces, and embroidered in a delicate pink design.  Josette's shoes are handmade of soft cream-colored leather with lavendar silk ties.   She stands about 23" tall. 
    Most of the dolls on this blog site are for sale!!  If you are interested in purchasing any of them, please Email me at dollmaker@bellsouth.net.    


Monday, May 14, 2012

Izannah Walker type dolls

"Mariella" and "Mary Ella"

I hope all of you mothers had a wonderful day yesterday!  I wanted to share the story of these two dolls with you.  I live in Mississippi, near Natchez, which is the oldest settlement on the Mississippi river. It is very rich in history as you can imagine, and it has the largest number of antebellum homes in the south.  The Civil War did not really touch the city, as it was not really a vital area such as Vicksburg.  So, the beautiful homes were spared.  One of these homes is called "The Briars". 

The Briars

 It has a magnificent setting high on a bluff overlooking the river, and it is the ancestral home of Varina Howell Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.  I recently met Kristy Atkins,  the delightful new owner of this property, which is a B&B.  She commissioned these two dolls from me; one for her beautiful home to put in her little daughter's room, and the second to donate to another magnificent property in Natchez called "Longwood". 


Longwood's story is very tragic.  Just before the war broke out, a wealthy planter named Haller Nutt began construction on what would have been the most lavish, elaborate home in Mississippi and perhaps the whole south. He studied books on architecture, and worked with a famous architect of his day to come up with the final plan for his palace. It is a blend of styles, vaguely Moorish looking with its "onion" dome top and it is octagonal.  The highest skilled artisans worked on the details, and it contained over 10,000 square feet!  Unfortunately, the war broke out, and many of the workmen who were from the North, literally threw down their tools and traveled back to their homes.  The exterior structure was finished, but not most of the inside; only the ground level was done.  Therefore, The Nutt family lived in this one level, believing the war would be a short one, and the house could be completed after it was over.  Unfortunately, as we know, the war raged on for four long years, and before it was over, Mr. Nutt died, leaving his widow Julia and their eight children to fend for themselves.  She was never able to afford to finish the house.  Even though her husband had signed documents from the Yankees promising him that they would not destroy his other plantations and cotton fields, they were burned, ruining them financially.  So, she lived out her life in one level of the home that was to be her dream house, now never to be. The house is now a National Historic Landmark, and will always remain unfinished. 
     Kristy had recently taken a tour of Longwood, and was touched by its tragic story. In the children's room, there is a wonderful oil painting of two of the Nutt's daughters, one named Mary Ella.  Kristy has a daughter named "Mariella". Therefore, she wanted two dolls named after her daughter, one to be placed in the children's room at Longwood.  It was a real honor for me to be able to create these dolls, and to have one in such a wonderful site.

    I photographed one of the dolls in her "underpinnings" but she also has a dress identical to her sister.  They were made from Civil War era reproduction fabrics. 
    These are "Izannah Walker" type dolls, the originals of which were made by Izannah Walker, the first female doll artist to obtain a patent in the 19th century. These dolls are cloth, with paper clay sculpted heads painted in oils and then "antiqued".  For those of you who are not familiar with this type of doll, I suggest the "MAIDA" website.  Dixie Redmond  makes wonderful Izannah dolls, and thanks to her comprehensive course on making these dolls, I got really interested in making them and reading their history.  


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Hello everyone!  We are in the middle of another "project" in our antebellum home, but that doesn't stop me from making dolls!  Just when I think all work is done and we can just relax and enjoy the house, we think of something else.  This WILL be it. We decided to enclose a big porch off our kitchen and make a larger family room. Doug is painting the woodwork now and we should be able to move the furniture in within a couple of weeks. Of course this means I have to now make drapes for the room.  I love sewing and picking out the fabrics, but it will have to wait until after July when I am home from the New Orleans National Doll Festival.   Here are some pics of my latest French Jumeau reproduction, "Danielle" .  She is 24" tall and dressed in icy mauve dupionni silk,  plum velvet and vintage lace.  It's been a while since I did the French dolls, but researching those delicious costumes and then making them is a real pleasure.  I have a "stash" of antique laces that I love going through, and finding just the perfect piece for each costume!

                      I have gone to a new home!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mademoiselle Lilliane

Another glorious spring day, although here it seem more like summer already!  I am scurrying around putting the finishing touches on the dolls I will be selling at the Bagwell Antiques Show in Jackson, Mississippi this weekend.  We had a small catastrophe yesterday; my cat Bella jumped up on the counter and knocked our digital camera to the floor.  It bent the case, and now we can't turn it on.  Doug was totally upset until I told him he needed a new one anyhow, right?  So today he is happily off to check out a replacement!  I need one by Friday to take pictures of my booth at the show.  I also take pics of all my dolls for sale.  Since this is an antique show, I have chosen to showcase my porcelain antique repro dolls and some of my sculpted dolls that look like the antique cloth dolls.  I had to dust off my porcelain doll making skills!!  It's been a while since I poured greenware, fired and painted from scratch, but it's like riding a bike; it all comes back to you.  The French repros are the most difficult to paint, but I LOVE making the elaborate costumes.  Mademoiselle Lilliane is 24" tall, and is dressed in the height of fashion for her time, in the 1890's.  She is dressed in a yummy celery green dupionni silk Victorian garden party dress with hand sewn appliques of re-embroidered lace, and a fabulous big picture hat trimmed in silk florals, ribbons and even a tiny bird!  Her underwear is blush colored pure fine silk trimmed in vintage laces, and her shoes are handmade as well.  Sorry, I didn't get pics of the shoes and underwear before the camera catastrophe!

Her hair is in the typical "Gibson Girl" style, and she carries a lace parasol.  Don't you wish we could still dress like this????  Although it today's world it surely would be impractical!  So, I can do the next best thing and create the outfits for my dolls.  More pics later of the show; wish me luck!!
                            Gone to a new home!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Miss Celie

It was such a glorious Spring day, that Miss Celie wanted to sit outside beneath the century old azalea bushes.  She is my latest creation, and  represents a young girl  from the  antebellum South with quite a story to tell.  She and her family were some of the lucky slaves who were able to escape to  the north via the Underground Railroad.  Many sympathetic Southerners and Northerners  risked all to help slaves on their perilous journey .  Celie has with her a quilt square in a pattern called "Jacob's Ladder".

There is quite a controversy surrounding  certain quilt designs and their role in the Underground Railroad.  Some believe that certain designs were actually secret "codes" that the slaves could  follow on their road to freedom.  Quilts would be hung out on fences or in the windows of those  houses that were considered "safe houses", and supposedly the design would tell the slaves that it was safe to stop there, or other valuable information.  Many researchers do not believe that this actually occurred, but I find it very compelling.  Regardless,  Celie  loves her little quilt, especially since it matches her outfit.  She is about 26" tall and is made of cloth.  Her facial features have been sculpted of paper clay, and she has been oil-painted.  Her dress and pinafore are of Civil War era reproduction fabrics, and her boots are antique baby shoes.  Celie was a delight to create, and I hope you enjoy   her!

                Gone to a new home!!