Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Exploring an 1820 Mache Doll

A Most Uncomfortable Bunching.....

   Underneath her blue petticoat, dollye wears a comfy linen calf length chemise. Here we can see dainty hand stitching at the side seam and hem. In many cases, girls learned how to sew stitching clothes for their dollys~ exactly what they would wear themselves, just smaller.
  Unpinning the top of her dress bodice, just look at what this poor girl has endured for so many years.  This bunching is the sleeve of her chemise...its fullness too bulky to fit down into the bodice's sleeve. I have often thought this would happen in real life, as the armcyes of the gowns in this era are set so far up tight under the armpit...even with full gigot sleeves, the actual arm opening is not large, quite tiny actually. Poor girl~ the chaffing she must have!
 With bodice back open, the chemise can now be seen fully~ there is no front or back opening~ just a really wide boat neck, with no tape ties or drawstring to gather the fullness. Her bodice fits so very tightly, I am not comfortable removing it, so have decided, since I can easily get to the waistband of her pantaloon now, I will leave her bodice and chemise right where they are.
 Pulling back the fullness of the chemise, the bottom of the back cloth torso covering can be seen just above waist level.
 Her chemise is full and loose enough that I can easily unfasten the hammered hook and eye closure at the waistband of her pantaloon.
 Carefully shimmying them down to knee level reveals a clean leg break just above the left knee.
 Her kid body is all hand stitched, and stuffed hard as a rock with wood chips.
 Carefully removing the pantaloon further, reveals that her right leg is literally hanging on by a single tiny bit of leather. The red pinked edge is a paper strip. This covers the joint between the wood leg and kid body. On all the original dollys I have examined, I have only ever found paper over this joint. Our dollye has an added dark blue cloth strip with scalloped edge~ still well down onto the wood of the leg, so I think it is original. Over the top of this, is a blue kid strip, which must have been a period repair.

  Some refer to stuffing in these old bodies as sawdust...but clearly this is far from being 'dust'. Tightly packed in a circular fashion, little wood chips are so absolutely jam packed in there, that thankfully,  hardly any have fallen out.
Her pretty blue shoes with gold decoration on the throats. Now to get these legs back on our girl.....


Jan Conwell said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed your shared exploration of this doll. Thank you.


It looks like it's time for a delicate surgical procedure - Thank you for sharing the inner workings of this lovely girl! Of course, I hope you will allow us to accompany you into the operating room :-D