Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What comes of an Empty Cradle.....

I love this little dollye cradle. It is an antique, c1830s~40s. There was just something about it, I just had to have it when I saw it. It spoke to me

The bottle green paint is fabulous, and it is stenciled on all sides in gold paint~ a star on both the head & the foot..

And the sides each have their own wonderful leaves. I bet these were made with a home made hand cut stencil...

There is just no comparison to the 'age' patina something of years acquires.

It came with its original little hand stitched straw filled tick, and two wee little pillows, all hand stitched in the weensiest of stitches~ with both their matching, removable pillow cases

Here it is in front of my life size real antique cradle, you can see how small it is, made for a very special dollye I'm sure. My cradle is from the late 1840's, early 1850's, and I have joyfully rocked all my little babes in it.
Do you see her??? I just couldn't have an empty cradle HERE! I love my babies...really tho~ ANY babies~ I adore them all. I would love to be the olde lady who lived in a a shoe with hundreds of little ones zooming around....but my favorite time is when they are so sweet and small, so innocent~ just little lumps of cooing Heaven! I had all along decided to make ME a dollye for my cradle, and she was going to have a sweet little white frothy dress on, c1840, to fit just perfect.
And then.........
I was reading and saw a portrait of Elizabeth Freake and her little baby Mary, painted in 1674
I had to make my own little version, so along came my baby Grace

She fits just perfect, and is dressed as a little 17th century baby would be. She is already come out of her swaddling bands

When I was sculpting her, I had my own 4 little babies in mind, all of them at once. I remembered what I adored and cherished most from the very first moment I set eyes on their little faces~ and it was their own little precious black beedy eyes looking up at me.
I blushed Grace's eyes to give them a sort of new, just squished out of the womb sort of look

Baby holds a weensie rattle I made from paper and little rusty bells........and NO, a child cannot choke on little weensie bells if they are being watched like God intended......

Grace wears a little pinned on pilch, or diaper, little reproduction baby shirt, knit stockings with silk garters, gold silk dress, lined bonnet, false sleeves, collar and antique mull bib. I had so much fun making her up, like I was making a layette for a real baby.

She is just 8" tall, and all of her clothes come on and off so I can make her new things as she grows.
I just love my little Baby Grace, can you tell????

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Day at the Plaza......

No...not the Plaza Hotel....the 'Madrid Plaza'. Our property here in Southern Colorado sits directly ON the Santa Fe Trail~( there are spots of the trail visible here and there)....and our house is directly in the center of the Olde Madrid Plaza where the olde Adobe Commissary stood in the 1860's. It is such a gorgeous Autumn day out today, I thought Id share some pictures I took while we were enjoying the sun. Isn't my lil Pip getting B*I*G! Still Mommy's baby tho

What a ham bone~ I cant even keep the dolly's inside today! Jug is out talking to his crows again........

This is Milo....one of the new barn kittens. We 'had' 4 roosters....well that was just too many so we sent Hootie to live with my MIL. Jayson went to give Bud, the big Buff Orrington, to our neighbor up the canyon, since he had decided Pip and Emma were evil that must be spurred out at all cost.....so he, (husband) comes home with OUT the rooster, but WITH 2 kittens! Somebody got a good deal there..............(if anyone knows a secret recipe to feed a man so he will STOP bringing things home that eat & poo, let me know)........now I have to go find the other kitten...

Akk! Nope~ not Otis! LOL....This is Mr. Giving~ so ugly~icious, don't you think? Ohh he's a sweetie tho, my favorite boy!

Nope, this isn't the new kitten either~ wonder where he's off to? The girls are enjoying scratching around in all the fallen leaves today....I love their foofy heinies!

Here he is! This is Otis. Can you guess where we picked the names, 'Milo & Otis'? They are best of friends, litter mates, and golly if they get out of sight of each other they just meow and meow and meow!
Here is Squeak. She is my little Mallard female~ she's had a big week this week! At 6 & half months old, she started laying eggs on Friday. Strange enough, they aren't green tho~ nice medium size white eggs. She has made a nest between two bales of grass hay on the floor in the corner of the chicken pen. I love the waxy coating of duck eggs, they are so baby soft~ much softer than a chicken egg. MIL loves to use them for baking. Maybe this spring I will let her sit and hatch a few lil babies.....but for right now, we are ALL enjoying this wonderful Autumn day!

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Mourning

For today, October 16, 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette would be taken to the scaffold and executed. Born November 2nd, 1755, she was just 37. A devoted Mother, sister, friend & wife, she would finally be set free from her earthly torture.

Marie Antoinette holds a special place in my heart- I have great admiration for her. So wrongly accused and from the start of her rein as Queen of France, she was surrounded by those who wished to see her fall.

On August 10th, 1792, an angry mob stormed the Tuileries and massacred the Swiss Guard that was protecting the Royal family. It has been clearly reported that the women found their
way straight to Marie Antoinette's bedroom & wardrobes, and what clothing they did not rip to shreds, was taken home for personal use or resale. I believe it was on this night, this precious
relic started on its long journey to venture thru the centuries, carefully preserving fond remembrance of its owner...

It is also very well known that as Queen, MA would wear
something once and then give it to charity....she would also give
accessories away- like fans and purses, at the spur of the moment
while attending events. I doubt she would have given away such
an intimate little trifle as this tho, especially since it was
embroidered in silver with her initials.

This precious little reticule (purse) was once carried by Marie
Antoinette. Hand stitched of fine silk, it is embroidered with a
quaint floral motif with the Queen's famous monogram in silver,
with silver spangles that have now tarnished to black. The fine
lace edging is also silver.

*please note that this rare & priceless piece is not stored on the
Museum premises. 24 hour notice is required in advance of

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Nice Fit
Need I even say that I really do love making dollys? There is nothing I like, or can appreciate more than a well fit! Ladye Jane quietly said that she would 'prefer a new set of stays to match my pet en l'air, as Suzy Bellingham is having one made up in Rochester, and it would just be very nice to have the latest' .......how could I say no? I patterned the hand stitching on the front from a beautiful mid 18th c corset. I was going to cover the seams with a teensy lace trim, but I like the stitching to show, so I left it plain.
Robings all done, Ladye Jane is ready to receive her afternoon guests~

Friday, October 10, 2008

Progress & Pricks...

I have had many requests for 'work in progress' posts, so I
thought I'd show you what I'm working on today. Before I start
tho- I DO always appreciate any suggestions of post topics you all
may have in mind, or be interested in seeing! I want my Blog to
be of use and enjoyment to all who take their precious time to

That being said- I would like to make a quick disclaimer that
there will be no comments allowed about the pokes on my fingers!
They are actually looking pretty good- I am always stabbing
myself in the thumb with the needle....and today even, as I have a
bad habit of holding my needle and thread temporarily in my
mouth, I stabbed the heck out of my bottom lip...so bad my needle
stuck in there and I had to actually pull it out!! I'll spare you a
picture of that nastiness......

So here is dollye, so very charming and quaint, standing in wait
for the fitting of her new Pet en L'air. We have just made her a
fine new silke 'coat in a warm autumn shade of gold.

I am making this Pet en L'air from a just absolutely D*E*vine
steele blue silk charmuse. Being 150% honest here, it is THE
absolute WORST fabric to try and sew on, in my opinion- I dare
say I even hate it! But....it is so beautiful, and such a heavy
weighted hand to it, all the while having a water fluidity and
drape that is very hard to come by in making small dollye clothes.
At the scale I am sewing, it is a perfect rendering of a life size
satin....so... slippery as it is, here I sit stabbing away at my fingers.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a Pet en
L'air is an 18th century loose fitting jacket of sorts...I say loose
fitting, as it looks like it is, but actually there is a lining on the
inside that has it to fit nice and snugly against the body.
Anyway- like most all 18th century clothing, the cut is SO
simple, yet so blasted hard to get looking right- its all in the
'drape' of the textile. This entire piece, less the sleeves, is a single
piece of fabric. Here I am starting to pleat the back

I just had to take a picture of my needle...not just any ol needle
mind you- its my favorite! Its bent just ever so perfect from
hours of being used...people say "how can you sew with that bent
thing???" To which I always reply, "To see a straight needle, is to
know it has NEVER been used"

When I am stitching down pleats in particular, and at this small
scale, I like to sew directly on my ironing board. I can pin directly
into the board, and especially with this slippery fabric, it just
makes things much easier! You can see another tool I can't be
without in sewing....

My tweezers! I guess I am getting older and not as agile, or my
fingers are getting so fat I can't hold a needle well, so alot of the
time I hold my needle with tweezers, and yes, I do sew with both
right and left hands.

AKKK! What a MESS! This fabric is so fine, and it snags
easily with my regular pins, so I had to use my extra fine silk
pins, and they are very long and pointy....(more stabbing). This is
the armscye all pinned into place before stitching

See- this charmuse has such a nice drape to it- I have stitched on
both sleeves, and all that is left are the robings down the front,
and some sort of a tabbed false front, or I could lace over a

I will let Ladye Jane decide what she prefers.....

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Coming to TDIPT Mercantile on Oct.15.........

I LOVE the dollye that will be offered on this months TDIPT update~ she is so sweet! Ladye Catherine Swift stands 18", and is a special member of my Elite "Grande Dames" , which makes her, and her new owner, eligible for special occasional parties and offers, only available to these dollys. AND~ they are the only dollys I accept back at the Inn for redressing~(prices differing, depending on the detail and number of pieces of the new costume) . Ladye Catherine is also special in that she is somewhat anatomically correct(if you want the particulars, you'll have to email me!).

She is stuffed with excelsior straw and rags for a nice weighty feel. Her eyes are c1840 antique glass, and her hand stitched wardrobe of undress will include: knit stockings with embroidered clocks, silk garters, leather soled slippers, bumm roll, reproduction shift of antique linen & embroidered with her initials on the front, calico pocket bound in silk, little wee pocket watch(nonworking), stays and antique mull & lace cap.

Being a Grande Dame, all her clothes are finely hand stitched reproductions of pieces I either have here at the Museum, or have taken pattern from original extant garments. She will also come with her own cloth covered dollye box. I hope you will stop by the Mercantile on the night of the 14th and take a peek!

Goode Week to Y'all~ Rachael

Monday, October 06, 2008

So many of my readers and patrons have shared their Holiday plans with me already! I never start to decorate for the Christmas season until the day after Halloween at least...but I'll tell you~ our weather is getting cold and nippy, and I'm really getting in the festive mood! As you all are planning your Holiday decor, I hope you will include the wonderful bayberry scent~ either in greens or candles, or oils or something! My Christmas just wouldn't be right without it.
Bayberry candles were a cherished prize during our Colonial Ancestors' Christmas seasons~ they were very hard and tedious to make, and very expensive! True Bayberry candles are made from the wax coating of the berries~ these were boiled (and still are today) , and when the wax floated to the top of the pot, it was skimmed off and saved. It literally takes thousands of berries to yield enough wax for a single taper. Keep that in mind, next time you go to the market and buy an oil scented bayberry candle.