Jan 21, 2016

Plain ol' rag dolls...less plain.

I made these two rag dolls in early 2014.  Apparently the heavy linen I made them from is too course for the average doll collector's taste.  The ones I'd made of muslin sold right away, but these girls just languished until I had to do something. 

Since I've recently been bitten by the painted doll bug and the cloth/rag doll bug, (I can show you the bite marks!) I figured I'd make an attempt at the sort of portrait painting the old oil-painted dolls have.  They're not bad--but I'll get better.  I do like the rough wool I made their hair from, and will have to try this again on other dolls.

My inspiration for these girls has almost no face left--she's a doll I came across a couple of years ago.  I had to sell her, because the AC went out and the antique dealer's offer was good, but to this day I still regret it.  So I try to imagine that Magda (I hope she's being taken good care of, wherever she is) started out as a painted portrait doll.










15 comments:

  1. I like these dolls. The faces have some texture to them, not totally smooth from what I can see. I like wool hair too. I can see why you would miss your old doll. She is nice even in her condition. I have a lot of trouble with the painted head rag dolls, some sort of block about getting a good face, even one I might try to make look like a old one. Yours are great. Making the rag dolls is fun and you learn alot in the making. I think they are really my favorite dolls. Once you get making these dolls you appreciate the fact that a simple rag doll is anything but simple. They have vexed me many times and sent me in circles to finish them. Wonderful dolls.

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    1. What are you talking about? I LOVE your painted face rag dolls! You have the softest touch with colors and they looks so beautifully old and portrait-like(that's a technical word, you know). I wish I could paint them like you do!

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  2. I love rag dolls too and these dolls are lovely, their faces are so nice Jan. I have a Kay Cloud pattern for a painted face doll (very primitive) and I've had it on my bucket list for ages and hope to do it one day. I feel sad you sold your "old girl". Great wool hair. I've used wool before but never thought of using a patterned wool, I'm gonna borrow that idea someday! You are so right, simple they are not!

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    1. Now I have to go look up Kay Cloud. I totally got the wool hair idea from you. Looking around the studio, I wanted dark brown wool roving, but didn't have any, or any good real wool yarn, so tweedy wool it was. :~)

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  3. I am loving the direction in which you are going with your dolls. Rag dolls are probably my favorites too, especially the ones with oil painted faces. These lovely girls remind me somewhat of the wonderful Helen Pringle dolls.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I finally admitted to myself that while the bright colors and sparkly dolls are fun to make, they don't really make me as happy as the softer, "older" and more primitive looking dolls. I'll still do lots of sculpting, but it feels good to have at least a hint of focus now.

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  4. Some of the most interesting cloth dolls I have seen over the many years of my doll making search have worn and faded fabrics. The African American historic rag dolls were really made from every thing that would make a child a doll-even shoes...
    I look forward to J D Conwell art dolls, they are so representative of a age that is dead 1891-1994 so few here in my town speak about... yet the old fashion dress is still around in rural area. Old fashion hair that falls beneath the knees, calico and jean skirts with length to the ankles. There is something that the old fashioned rag doll represents. For Children it is found in children's books that offer struggles and glimpses into a very hard life of farming and days of walking to school 14 miles away. The doll follows this life in some regions of the rural USA. Thanks for the wonder of drawing and creating rag dolls so representative of the USA. atk

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  5. Thank you! (I wish I knew who was atk, though. :~)

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  6. I enjoyed the rag doll with the wool hair. That's such a clever idea. Thank-you for the glimpse at the antique rag doll, she must have been very well loved.

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    1. Bethann, I thought I saw a post of yours for a new doll, but couldn't open the link. Hope I get to see it soon.

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  7. Jan... so tell all: The wool that you used for hair on these two delightful rag dolls looks to me like wool herringbone fabric, as opposed to spun wool or wool yarn. Yes? Your "Magda" has become someone else's treasure... Sigh, we've all had to "let go with later regrets" of something, huh?

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    1. Yes, indeed. The wool is that very piece folded on the red trunk behind them. I didn't have plain brown, but I kinda like this anyway. I still miss Magda.

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  8. I sold a book once that I really regret. It was a very rare book. I love the doll with the tweed herringbone hair. I mentioned that in MAIDA, too. :-)

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  9. Jan, Your rag dolls are just amazing. Her face is perfect, so soft! Did you use acrylics or oil ? I use acrylics, I am still trying to get a softer look with my painted faces. I LOVE her hair, rough wool I have never heard of, would you share with me what it is ? Your doing a fantastic job kiddo!! Maybe some day I could be a proud owner of one of your girls !!

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  10. It's fun to see the different styles and the processes that you use. I am intrigued by the wool fabric used for hair. Thanks for sharing!

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Thank you for taking time to comment! I love hearing your perspectives and ideas.