Saturday, August 28, 2010

Exerpt from 'Mundus Muliebris' , 1690

Whoever has a mind to abundance of Trouble,

Let him furnifh himfelf with a Ship and a Woman,

For no two things will find you more Employment,

If once you begin to Rig them out with all their Stremers.

Nor are they ever fufficiently adorned,

Or fatisfy'd, that you have done enough to fet them forth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Late 18th & Early 19th c Basket Purses.....

Earlier this month, I received this email request :
darling pip looks just like a tasha tudor child in a painting! can you please tell your readers some facts about that basket? i have never seen anything like that - some photos of the smaller ones but nothing like that huge basket! i would love to learn more about it and i am sure many other readers would also. it is amazing!

your work seems to just get better and better!
thanks, priscilla miller


(Priscilla is referring to the basket that Pip is holding in the Fundraiser Drawing Giveaway post earlier this month. ) First of all, thankyou for your email Priscilla! This is a great question, but not one that can be answered easily, or hastily in a few sentences. My research, and views on these baskets, goes absolutely against 'the grain' of modern collectors, who are content to believe what they read in a few published books, that specifically refer to these baskets as "Chinese Export", and nothing more,
and also include not one reference note as to where they have gleaned their information. I promise to answer your question about the adult size baskets, but first, a little history....

I have admired and collected these baskets for over 15 years now, as well as any related materials, including period photographs of them with both their young, and adult owners. Engravings, paintings, I search them out everywhere. Currently, the Museum has over 100 fine examples of these baskets, both painted and unpainted, along with about 150 period images including them. These were used as fancy little purses, sewing baskets, doll baskets, bonnet baskets and lunch baskets from the late 18th c, to around the late 1860s. Trying to research these wonderful trifles, is like seeking out an ice cube in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I think these are the perfect example of something very common and that was used every day, so much so, that they were never really written about. They are from an era before collecting, before mass production and cataloguing....a hand made art, that when the Master was gone, so was the craft. They are extremely fragile things, which can attest to why so few of them have survived. All of my information I have gathered, has been from period sources~the baskets themselves, and the images they are contained in, be it photograph, painting, or engraving. One thing is certain, that by the 1870s, these gorgeous things were no where to be seen in any contemporary images. They are a lot like the Baltimore Album Quilts, that were so spectacular and thriving in Baltimore Maryland between the 1840s and late 1850s....and absolutely GONE by the 1860's (by gone, I am meaning no longer produced).

I am in total absolute disagreement that these are "Chinese Export" baskets. Nancy Shiffer's 1984 book 'Baskets' shows several, and labels them all "Chinese Export", and "Oriental" they are sitting directly beside another similar, that she labels as "Shaker". Makes absolutely no sense, and not one reference is given as to where she got this information. So do I think these Shaker? No I do not. I have kept meticulous records of where I have found my baskets, and as well, the locations listed on the back of CDV's and related images, and the majority of them come from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York & New Jersey. Over 90%, with a few scattered up in Maine & New Hampshire, Kansas and Oklahoma. If these were indeed 'Chinese Export', well, they would be scattered the world over, not just in a few states here in America. I do have a cdv of what looks like a Chinese immigrant selling a low quality doll size basket, along with other toys....

For a fleeting time, I thought perhaps the rumor could be true...tho I could find NO similar baskets made by early Chinese, in neither form, or materials. I felt like I was stumbling thru the dark...until one day, the light was switched on before me, like I was standing directly in front of a Freight Train!

Does this gentleman look Chinese??? Certainly not! This is a late 1850 stereo view of an English Basket Maker....just look at his baskets~ very fine indeed. Note the basket directly above his head, at apx the 1:00 position....a wonderful adult size basket purse!

And this wonderful 1860s stereo view of a little Ladye purchasing a woven cradle for her on this and enlarge it~ there are many of the wonderful shaped finely made purses hanging above her, and behind her is a fine example with the common double swinging handles. The basket directly above the sellers head, shows the intricate hex weave, with woven handle. None of these are painted though, so my quest was not yet complete.....until I was introduced to "C. Hoyle, Basket & Seive Maker".....

Finding this 1850s stereo view was like finding the missing link to where the baskets I love come have originated. This fancy Basket maker has a variety of woven baby rattles, furniture and baskets, but look. Just look at the one I have circled for you... It is a wonderful, gorgeous footed basket purse, either painted, or decorated all ready with wool embroidery! This is a gem, as it proves that the makers of these early baskets were English or European, and that they were sold both decorated or plain.

To be continued Next week........

Monday, August 23, 2010

Drowning my selfish sorrows.....

Can you believe it? The first day of school was today~ where the heck did the summer go??? Today I was home all alone for the first time in 15 years...nope didn't like it at all. Tressa is in high school, Josh & Em are in Elementary, and lil Pip in preschool. I was actually doing very well this morning, as I have been given the family crying gene, and cry at the weirdest things....anyways, I was holding it all together until a little fellow came and sat beside Pippy and was just a crying his little eyes out. That was it. I couldn't help it, I started to cry, so gave her a kiss real quick and left before I made too much a fool of myself....and yes, I cried the whole way home....while I was doing the dishes....while I swept the floor, and I had to stop reading my emails for a bit, cause I couldn't see to write. How pathetic. I had made a whole list of things for me to do today, to keep me busy, so one by one, I did them all and then some, crying the whole blasted time! I spent about 6 hours finishing up Abby's dress~ what a patient girl! Would you like to see how she came out? I'm really quite smitten with her

Doesn't she look FABULOUS!? This is a very special dollye of mine~ she is a HUGE MS Superior Mache head~ (Edyth, shes a wonderful and very proportionate 51" tall! ) This same mold was used by the German firm of Kloster Veilsdorf and can be found in china heads~ I love her bubbly curls all over hear head~ short little things, not sausage curls....Anyways, I'm getting off the point. In order to truly appreciate her, as I do, I need to share a bit of her history with you. Abby was one of my Dearest friends dollys, Edyth O'Neill~ we both like the larger dolls, and she held a place of honor in Edyth's lovely Cape, sitting by the window in this gorgeous Windsor rocker.

One stormy day in 2005, lightning struck her precious home, and so many dollys perished in the fire, it was devastating. Our Abby was drenched and burned as the heavy sooty smoke billowed out from her window. The firefighters saved as much as they could, including our Abby. Here she is afterwards, resting.

To save what she could, Edyth removed the heads and hands from so many, and set them to dry out in an o-zone chamber for many many months. Here you can see our Abby girl, heavily smoked, in the upper left of the picture below. Her original painted features blackened by the smoldering smoke

But our girl is a trouper! Her & Edyth weren't about to let some flames snuff out her spirit, so Edyth lovingly repainted her, and I think she looks just as good, if not, dare I say, better than she did before the fire.
She has been patiently waiting for me to make her a dress....and I have been looking for just the right fabric for her~ we both are quite picky! I wanted to make her gown from an antique fabric, but she is so big, I couldn't find what I wanted, in enough quantity, so I went with this repro~ washed it a few times, and it worked really well. Matter of fact, I really like it, I mean, really. Its all hand stitched, and lined in antique polished cotton, with a very wide 8" hem facing of the same, makes it drape perfectly.

She is always helping me, and as time has passed, she has picked up some things here and there, to wear for herself. I let her borrow the early child's mull undersleeves~ they fit her perfectly.
The pantaloons are really great, c1850, with wondrous hand made Van Dyke edgings. She is borrowing them, but they fit so well, I don't think I will get them back. The shoes, however, are hers permanently! I had pulled some things of later 19th c to sell, and she snapped these up quick as a whistle. They are c 1870 red wool side button shoes. She has always told me she wanted another red other color would do, and these would match so perfectly.

She is happy to model an early, 1840-60 child's inked apron over her dress. It ties in the back, and the bib pins in place on the bodice. I was elated to find this earlier this year, as so many early Izannah Walker dolls wear dolly sized ones...but I had never seen a child's size one. It fits her so well, it was like it was made for her.

I love this picture, of her hands~ doesn't she look just so happy? This is a great example of how you can dress a dollye in a period style, using both modern and antique clothing together. I was really glad to have gotten her dressed today~ heck, I may be able to get a lot done with the children at school...I keep telling myself its a good thing, but I'm selfish, I want them here with me forever.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Little Giveaway..... Don't you love this little paper shoe? It's just a little trifle, made of paper from an early watch pocket pattern in an 1850's Godey's Lady's Magazine. When life's shoe doesn't seem to fit, and no store carries your size, or style you like, well then, I say, just go make your own shoe, to travel your own path!
I am honored to be asked to post on Where Women Create's "The Creative Connection" Blog, you can see my little post here ~


Just click on the link above, and then click on the "In Your Own Words" at the top header, and leave a comment on my post by Monday Aug 23rd, to be entered to win this precious little shoe! Comments on this post don't count, so skip on over to TCC and check everything out! There is so much going on , if you need a direct link to my post, here it is :

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Hallowe'en Dollys A Comin' Tomorrow!

Hope you will stop by and take a little peek at my updates Saturday, Aug. 14th, 7pm CST. Just a few cunning creatures to brighten your spirits, even if they not be too bright themselves ;)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Are You Ready????

Pip is ready this morning, I snatched her inside for a moment from making her famed mud~cakes outside....its been so wet here lately!

Drawing today for the 2010 Fundraiser Giveaway .......

............And a custom made, one of a kind dollye of their own favour...

CONGRATULATIONS PAM!!!!! I cant thank all of you enough for your support of my art, and in turn, the Lady's Repository Museum. Thankyou , Thankyou, a zillion times, over, THANKYOU!