Columbian Cloth Doll by Emma Adams

The pictures of this Columbian Doll were taken by me in 2008 at Lucy's Doll House in Camden, Maine. She is a large doll, measuring about 30" in length. Columbian dolls are interesting to look at, coming a bit later in time than Izannah Walker dolls. I love their chunky bodies, and the texture of the oil paint laid onto the cloth.

The red ankle boots are
charming with the pink dress.

Here are some closeups of the doll:

The construction of the dress shows that cartridge pleating (or gauging) was used to attach the gathered skirt and bodice to the waistband.

This picture below shows the connection
of the shoulder to the torso.

Arm attachment detail below:

The picture below is (ahem) a bit indelicate,
but I took it specifically to show that
even these old dollmakers we admire didn't
always match their seams. Plus it shows how
Columbians have a nice base for sitting,
as well as the attachment of the legs
at the bottom front of the torso.

Columbian doll heads are interesting in the way the head was gathered rather than using darts to make a round head. This adds to their charm, and to the texture of the face. For those of you who like to make dolls inspired by Emma Adams' creations, here is a closeup of the face.

Isn't she sweet?

~ Dixie Redmond

China and Mache Molds

Many times dolls were made in the same mold for either a china finish or a bisque, often parian untinted bisque. Sometimes too, we see the same mold used for china and mache. Such is the case for this one. Several examples of huge china heads in this mold are in Art of Dolls by Merrill.

Pictured in a chair is a huge doll, with an 11 inch tall shoulder head. This mold always has a sleepy eye on the doll's left eye. This mache head in this size was in Gerkin's book on maches. It is owned in a blond version by the Shelburne museum. It has been found and documented in one of the doll books as having a Superior label from Muller and Strausberger.

This doll I called "Abby" has gone to live with Rachael K. The little dashes under the eyes, so typical of M and S superiors further confirm her origin. I now own lovely little "Hannah" a 9 1/2 to 10 inch tall mache shoulder head which I plan to sew a new body for. Her good old cloth hands are still intact and will stay with her. Can you see the same sleepy left eye? It is also on the painted eye china head doll beside Hannah in one picture. A doll of this mold is in the Richard Wright auction coming up soon. Now here is the puzzle: The mache heads are documented and beyond a doubt by Muller and Strauseburger. But the china heads are attributed to Kloster Vielsdorf, as stated and pictured on page 125 of Mary Krombholz's new book on chinas. I wish I could ask her and learn more about this mold! In either China or mache they are unusual finds.

~ Edyth O'Neill

It's a Wide, Wide World

I was talking with a friend I've never met yesterday by phone, and when I mentioned this site I've started he said, "Because you don't have enough to do, right?" It's true that I can always find something interesting to think about and do. But gosh I would rather have too much to be interested in than to be bored.

In my Izannah study trips occasionally my camera turns to the right or left because there is something wonderful next to an Izannah doll. At the Skinner Richard Wright auction in October of 2009, I fell in love with this doll that was standing to the right of an Izannah Walker doll in the glass case. I was there to see the Izannahs, but in true distractible fashion my mind saw that red dress contrasting with the white Izannah dress and said, "Oooooh, pretty red fabric!"

And then I looked up and saw this amazing lady doll. She was quite large. I wish I had taken many more pictures and had done a rough measurement of her.

Isn't she amazing? She has a kind of expression that says, "I know all about you and you amuse me."

She is a cloth doll, but to me looks as if someone had spent quite a bit of time studying wooden dolls. Look closely at the neck construction. Where you see the wear in the cloth at the base it looks like there is a wooden square and perhaps a dowel connected. Or maybe it is a wooden finial or porch balustrade with a round top underneath the head? It would be fun to know, wouldn't it?

She has a lovely curve to her arm.

Amazing hands with individual fingers.

I'm guessing this doll dates to mid to late 19th century. If you have ideas, please leave a comment.

~ Dixie Redmond

Beyond Izannah Walker Dolls

My name is Dixie Redmond, and I am an artist. For over three years I have been studying Izannah Walker dolls. These studies have inspired numerous trips to a special doll shop in Camden, Maine, a family trip to visit the National Museum of Play (The Strong Museum) and a quest to make an Izannah Walker pattern true to the original dolls. Izannah's creations have the top spot in my artist's heart, but I still find other antique dolls charming and worth studying. In a world where most things are made by machine, these creations remind us that making things with our hands is one of the unique gifts we have as humans. The focus of this site will be to share the work of others' hands from earlier times, as well as share tips & tutorials for making antique inspired dolls with our own hands today.