Saturday, June 7, 2008

Linda's Review of Artful Paper Dolls - New Ways To Play With Traditional Form by Terry Taylor


As a very young girl I can remember playing with my very first paper doll - Betsy McCall. I would cut Betsy and her clothes out of the magazine ever so carefully. Of course, being a young girl my first attempts at cutting every so carefully didn't go as smooth as I had planned and my mother or grandmother would try to correct for my errors.

I didn't like the paper doll tabs and didn't always utilize them. I quickly learned, however, that the clothes would not stay on the paper doll without them.

I must have a thing for tabs and markers as I also didn't like the triangle placement tabs in sewing patterns when I first started to sew. I would cut them off as well until I learned that for clothing they served a very useful purpose.

Since I had a passion for Victorian dolls from a very young age I loved playing with my Victorian paper dolls. I could sit for hours on end just putting this outfit on or that outfit. When I was finished playing with my paper dolls I would put them back in a cardboard cigar box that my grandfather had given to me for storing them.

Back them I would never have foreseen the enormous explosion in the paper industry that has occurred over the last decade. Nor could I have foreseen that paper dolls would become and art form in its' own right. Who would have know that altered art and mixed media creations would rule the art world in the 21st century.

One of the books I bought last year was Artful Paper Dolls: New Ways to Play with a Traditional Form. Even at first glance I was immediately taken by the visually stunning paper creations of some 22 well known designers.

On every page was yet another beautiful paper doll creation that I wanted to try. Of course, there isn't any kind of doll, paper included, that I haven't wanted to try and make. My problem is always one of time. There are just not enough hours in the day, nor days in the year for me to try everything.

Artful Paper Dolls is not just a compendium of project after project, it also includes a little bit of history on various paper dolls and paper doll artists. So, it's a perfect book for me as it offers a little bit of history as well as project after project after project.

It is divided into four chapters: Figuring It Out, Playing Dress Up, Playing House, and Learning From Books. Each chapter has a multitude of sections and a multitude of paper doll creations to try. I, of course, loved them all but was especially taken with the Disjointed Figure, Elisabeth's Doppelganger (which is a life-size paper doll), My Memory Doll, Secret Messenger Doll, the section on playing dress up, Old Woman In Purple, Stitched Paper Dolls, Sunday Best Dress, and Paper Doll Magnets.

I also enjoyed the chapter on "Who Is Betsy McCall" and "Tom Tierney's World Of Paper Dolls."

If you love paper dolls, mixed media art, and altered art images then you will love "Artful Paper Dolls." Several of the corners of the pages in my book have been turned over as a reminder to me that I want to try that project. I know that I shouldn't do that to the pages of my books, but sometimes childhood habits are hard to break. You could also say that sometimes childhood loves last forever. For me a love of paper dolls certainly has. Now where are my scissors?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Linda's Review of Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern by Linda Edward



If you are a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know that I just love dolls and books about dolls, especially cloth dolls.

One of the books that I bought last year was Cloth Dolls: From Ancient to Modern : A Collector's Guide (A Schiffer Book for Collectors). It is a collectors guide of cloth dolls and their values and I was especially interested in it because it contained cloth dolls, which up to this point in time were often overlooked by the doll collecting society as a whole.

I never understood this as I always thought that the category of dolls would include dolls with cloth heads as well as dolls with wood, china, bisque, clay, or cernit heads. Fortunately cloth dolls are gaining in popularity amongst collectors and especially amongst the ever growing segment of people who love "primitives." Unfortunately, cloth doesn't always survive well over time so there are not a lot of examples of really ancient dolls made solely of cloth around.

Cloth Dolls: From Ancient to Modern : A Collector's Guide (A Schiffer Book for Collectors) starts with a small chapter about cloth dolls of long ago. Unfortunately, not a lot survived.

Chapter 2 contains homemade rag dolls of the 19Th and 20Th century and has several pages of wonderful pictures of dolls and a brief history of cloth dolls during that period along with mention of the 1st doll patterns. Looking at the pictures of the dolls I couldn't help but wonder who the creator was, who the recipient was, and why the doll was made.

Chapter 3 covers the cottage industry dolls of the 19Th and 20Th century. What captured my attention was a line from the 1st paragraph that stated, "In the world of cloth dolls it is very interesting to note that most of these companies were started and run by women." My guess would be that a LOT of these women were mothers who had started out just sewing dolls for their children.

In Chapter 3 you will find information and pictures of Izannah F. Walker who started making dolls around 1840, Roxanna E. Cole, Moravian Rag Dolls, Martha L. Wellington, Presbyterian Rag Dolls , Columbian Rag Dolls, Mother's Congress Dolls, The Alabama Indestructible Doll, Kathe Kruse, Martha Jenks Chase, Missionary Rag Babies, Philadelphia Rag Babies, Anne Maxwell, Gertrude F. Robinson, Wold War I Paris, Tynietoy, Kamkins, and Regional Dress Doll.

Chapter 4 covers big business rag dolls in the 19Th and 20Th century. These are large scale factories and whole sellers including: Montanari, George Hawkins, Carl Weigand, Worsted Dolls, Steiff Dolls, Babyland Rag Dolls, Bruckner Dolls, Dean's Rag Book Co., Krueger Dolls, Jane Gray Co., Farnell-Alpha Toys, American Art Dolls, and one of my favorite sections - Raggedy Ann and Andy.

It also includes Chad Valley Dolls, Bing Art Dolls, Lenci, Messina-Vat, Madame Alexander, Norah Wellings, Liberty of London, Nelke Dolls, Georgene Novelties/Madame Hendron, Averill Manufacturing Co., Mollye Goldman, Poupees Raynal, Venus, Gre-Poir, The Blossom Doll Co., Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., and Hallmark Dolls.

Chapter 5 is a lovely chapter devoted to dolls by the yard - cut and sew dolls. It includes E.S. Peck, Arnold Printworks, Cocheco Manufacturing Company, Gutsell Dolls, Art Fabric Mills, Horsman, Dean's Rag Book Co., Saalfield Publishing Co., and The Toy Works.

Chapter 6 is devoted to 20Th century advertising and personality dolls. These include The Chase Bag Co. whose 1st advertising doll was "The Jolly Green Giant", Miscellaneous Advertising Dolls, Personality Dolls, and Knickerbocker dolls like "The Campbell's Soup Kid."

Chapter 7 is devoted to doll artists of the 20Th century such as, Grace Dayton, Celia and Charoty Smith, Dorothy Heizer, Frances and Bernard Ravca, Dewees Cochran, Annalee Mobilitee Dolls, WPA Dolls, Dianne Dengel, R. John Wright, Xavier Roberts, and Current cloth Doll Artists - of which there are many pictures.

If you are a lover of cloth dolls in particular or "primitive dolls" then Cloth Dolls: From Ancient to Modern : A Collector's Guide (A Schiffer Book for Collectors) is a fascinating read and a must have for the serious cloth doll collector. I especially loved the section on Raggedy Ann and Andy as it contained several pages of information on the history of these dolls that I was not aware of before.