I Just Love The Victorian Era!

I have loved dolls, history, and the Victorian Era since I was little and can credit my grandmother for that. As a young girl she gave me a Godey’s Fashion print for August 1870 from my great, great Aunt Flossie. I was captivated by the dresses and became hooked. I just love to research everything and anything about the Victorian Era. Their history, their etiquette, their fashion, their hopes, their desires.... I also love to design my own Victorian dolls wearing those beautiful dresses. I hope you enjoy my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions,The Victorian Era, and Me blog.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Victorian Hand Embroidered and Embellished Dress Ornaments



I have spent the last few weeks blissfully hand embroidering and embellishing 16 Victorian dresses on BOTH sides using my Victorian Cut and Sew Custom Fabric Designs Dress Collection. I had been anxious to create these dresses and finally had a chance to do so.

I also decided that while I was creating each of them I would create tutorials for each to show you how to hand embroider and embellish them yourself. The tutorials will be available on my Free E-Patterns, E-Printables and E-Books page and Google Drive shortly.

Two sets of my hand embroidered and embellished on both sides Victorian dress ornaments are available in my Linda Walsh Originals Shop.  Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Set #1 is here.  Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Set #2 is here.

I had created six Victorian Christmas dresses.  One each were include in the 6 dress sets.  The remaining four are available in two sets of two pairs each in my Linda Walsh Originals Shop.  Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Christmas Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Pair #1 is here.  Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Christmas Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Pair #2 is here.

Two 6-Victorian Dresses Group Cut and Sew Ornaments Kit are available in my Linda Walsh Originals Shop, too so you can create your own sets.  For more information please CLICK HERE.


Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Set #1

A beautiful set of 6 Victorian dresses that were hand embellished with embroidery, ribbon, lace trims and beadwork on BOTH sides.

The Christmas dress is 5 1/2" long and the remaining five are 6" long.


Each dress is perfect as a decoration for any shabby chic, Victorian, or cottage style home.

For more information please CLICK HERE.



Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Set #2

A beautiful set of 6 Victorian dresses that were hand embellished with embroidery, ribbon, lace trims and beadwork on BOTH sides.

The Christmas dress is 5 1/2" long and the remaining five are 6" long.



Each dress is perfect as a decoration for any shabby chic, Victorian, or cottage style home.

For more information please CLICK HERE.


Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Christmas Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Pair #1

A beautiful pair of Victorian Christmas dresses that were hand embellished with embroidery, ribbon, lace trims and beadwork on BOTH sides.

The Christmas dress is 5 1/2" long.

Each dress is perfect as a decoration for any shabby chic, Victorian, or cottage style home during the Christmas season.

For more information please CLICK HERE.


Victorian Embroidered and Embellished Christmas Dress Ornaments Finished On Both Sides Pair #2

A beautiful pair of Victorian Christmas dresses that were hand embellished with embroidery, ribbon, lace trims and beadwork on BOTH sides.

The Christmas dress is 5 1/2" long.

Each dress is perfect as a decoration for any shabby chic, Victorian, or cottage style home during the Christmas season.

For more information please CLICK HERE.


6-Piece Victorian Dresses Group Cut and Sew Ornaments Kit - Creates Six 3 1/2" by 6" Cotton Fabric Dress Ornaments 

Cut and Sew Kit Contents: Six (6) pieces, as shown above, consisting of our Victorian Dresses cut and sew cotton fabric piece designs and instructions for finishing the ornaments. Kit DOES NOT include sewing thread, poly-fil, warm and natural or batting, iron-on interfacing, ribbons, beads, lace trim decorations and DMC color coordinated embroidery floss needed to create the ornaments.

Instructions included for finishing the ornaments via blanket stitch embroidering the edges of the ornaments. Kit includes how-to tutorial for blanket stitching. Kit does not includesewing thread, poly-fil, warm and natural or batting, iron-on interfacing, ribbons, beads, lace trim decorations and DMC color coordinated embroidery floss that you will need to buy to finish the cut and sew dress ornaments.

The Victorian Dresses cut and sew kit contains 6 of the Victorian Dresses cotton fabric pieces.



Copyright © 2004-2015 Linda Walsh Originals—Designs by Linda Walsh - Kit and Contents For Personal Use Only

Designer-Linda Walsh Originals

For more information please CLICK HERE.


There are ten design panels in my new Victorian Cut and Sew Dress Ornaments Fabric Collection.  Two of the design panels are for my decorated cut and sew Victotrian dresses.   The remaining six, shown above, are the ones I used for my Victorian hand embroidered and embellished dress ornaments and which you can use to embroider and embellish your own Victorian ornaments.   For more information on my Victorian Cut and Sew Dress Ornaments Fabric Collection please CLICK HERE.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

There's Something Very Endearing About Wishbone Dolls


Before doing my research for faceless dolls I would never have thought about making a doll from a turkey or chicken wishbone.  However, knowing the history of the colonial period and the pioneers and using materials on hand I shouldn't be surprised as to wishbones being used to make playthings.

Some of these dolls were faceless, but most had faces.  Even though they didn't fit the criteria for my "faceless" dolls research I was intriqued and had to know more.  Here's what I found:

They were also known as pen wiper dolls that were used about 150 years ago.  In Colonial times people kept them on their desks to wipe away extra ink from their pens.

The wishbone doll shown in the picture above is for sale on Ebay by abclovell and can be found here.


Page 205 of The Doll Book written in 1908 by Laura B. Starr under the Homemade Dolls chapter talks about the merry-thought doll which is made out of wishbones from turkeys, chickens, ducks, and birds - with all the different sizes being perfect for different family members.

According to the chapter, "The merry-thought doll affords no end of pleasure and amusement.  The wishbones from turkeys, chickens, ducks and birds offer various sizes for a large family of these dolls.  The head may be molded of ceiling wax, black, white or colored; here is a chance to show skill and artistic ability.  Again a head may be penciled on the flat surface of a cork and each end of the wishbone thrust into or glued on to the other pieces to give the manikin necessary stability, and make it flat-footed enough to let it stand alone unaided."

"Doll pen wipers are made from a wishbone and dewssed like a ballet dancer.  They usually wear a card around the neck upon which is printed the following epitaph:  

One I was a wishbone and grew upon a hen,
Now I am a little slave amd made to wipe your pen."

From my research I discovered that most wishbone dolls had cork heads, walnut heads, cloth heads, or wax heads.  Most had faces, but there were some that didn't so I gave some thought to including them in my History of Faceless Dolls but decided not to.  

So I decided to write this blog post about them - mainly because I find the wishbone dolls so charming.

If you would like to see a picture of fourteen folk art wishbone dolls please click here.


The pen wiper "I'm So Fancy" doll pictured above is from the National Museum of Toys & Miniatures website. According to their website, "We’ve got to hand it to the Victorians: they were recycling and reusing a century before the country had heard of Al Gore or Earth Day! Everyday objects like wishbones, spools and nut shells were all given a new life as fanciful, yet functional art objects. All the rage in the 19th century, this crafty trend of turning trash into tiny treasures resulted in Victorian fancies."

"While T/m’s  Victorian fancy doll isn’t exactly winning the beauty contest amongst the dolls in our collection, she certainly gets high marks for functionality and being “green.” Her body consists of a wishbone wrapped in muslin and plaid fabric scraps; and her head is painted cork. Her dress is actually intended to be used as a pen wipe, a desktop necessity in the days of the dip or nib ink pens. The tag pinned to her reads, “Once I was a wishbone, And grew upon a hen. Now I am a ‘Spinster,’ Made to wipe your pen."


Monday, May 18, 2015

I'm In Love With Penny Wooden or Peg Wooden Dolls


As you all know I absolutely love dolls of all kinds, shapes, and sizes.  However, while doing my research on the "History of Faceless Dolls" I read an article about Penny Wooden Dolls, like the doll pictured above from Wikipedia.org, and fell in love with them.

According to Wikipedia.org, " Peg wooden dolls also known as Dutch dolls are a type of wooden doll from Germany and the Netherlands. They originated as simple lathe turned dolls from the Val Gardena in the Alps. These dolls were sold undressed. Young girls would then make their clothing from scraps of fabric."

"Other similarly constructed wooden dolls, using a jointing technique where the arms and/or legs are attached to the body with pegs, are some of the oldest surviving dolls, and were made worldwide. Sometimes a peg wooden doll's arms or legs are locked together by the jointing system, so if one arm is moved the other will move. An advanced form of peg joints is where the body pegs are "split" and attached separately allowing independent movement."

"Tuck comb dolls are a special style of peg wooden doll, named for their carved hair comb. The head and body is turned as one piece. The hair is usually painted with curled bangs and with a painted comb. Early tuck comb dolls had elongated, graceful proportions, nicely carved details, painted slippers, and sometimes with wood pendant earrings. Some dressed as merchants were called pedlar dolls."

I was intrigued by the picture, shown here, and wanted to know more.  So, of course, I had to do some research.  Here's what I found.


Page 146 of the Information Please Girls' Almanac by Alice Siegel said this about Pennywooden Dolls, "These are English dolls carved out of wood.  The joints are moveable and fastened by pegs. These are also know as dancing dolls."

My question was whether Peg Wooden dolls and Penny Wooden dolls were the same thing.  I had to find out.

According to an article on eHow.com entitled Penny Wood Dolls History by Christy P., "Penny wood dolls were known by a variety of names, including peg wooden dolls, penny woodens and wooden poppets. These dolls typically resembled wooden clothespins with simple peg joints."

So now we know they may be called Dutch dolls, peg wooden dolls, penny wooden dolls, pedlar dolls, and tuck comb dolls.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Perhaps It's Time I Made An Apple Head Doll - Maybe She'll Have A Victorian Outfit!


While doing my research on the "History of Faceless Dolls" I ran across the Wisconsin Historical Society website that had an amazing collection of 23 apple head dolls, including the beautiful applehead doll shown in the picture above.

She is described as, "Applehead doll, woman, black dress, white apron, USA, 1952-1956." I loved all the dolls in the collections and think it is well worth seeing. If you would like to see all 23 of the apple head dolls in their collection please click here.

According to Wikipedia.org, "An apple doll is a North American cultural phenomenon where the doll's head is made from dried apples. The apple is peeled, then carved with the facial features of the doll. Next the apple is left to dry for several days or weeks. When completely dry, the apple is positioned on the top of a wire frame which is shaped into the rest of the doll's body. The rest of the wire frame is covered up by the doll's clothing, which is usually sewn by hand. In modern times, apple dolls are mostly used as decorations or to display craftsmanship, rather than as children's toys. Because of the different effects drying produces, no two dolls are alike."

That latter statement is definitely true and all you have to do is look at the 23 apple head dolls in the Wisconsin collection above to see that no two dolls are alike.

Viewing this collection got me to thinking about apple head dolls and their history.  So, of course, I had to do a little research.


According to the Encyclopedia of American Folk Art, "Unlike corn hisk dolls, which have dual origins in  the European and Native American cultures, nuts and apple dolls were largely indigenous to American soil."

"Americans made the first apple-head dolls.  As pioneers came into contact with various tribes, they began to copy their dolls.  Traders persuaded Native Americans to dress their apple-head dolls in bright costumes with elaborate ornimentation, for sale to tourists. Their apple faces were either carved or pinched in, to create the features before they shrunk as they dried."


The Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri website had a Bittersweet article in 1974, Volume II, No. 2, Winter 1974 by Verna Lucas entitled APPLEHEAD DOLLS.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The White House Doll


In doing my research for the "History of Faceless Dolls" I ran across several articles regarding a historical doll named "Sally" (shown in the picture above from the National Museum of American History) that is now in the Smithsonian and was otherwise known as "The White House Doll."  She was described as a rag doll, but from the picture above you'd think she was a china head doll.  So, of course I was intrigued and had to find out more.

According to the "Creating A Private Life" section of "Life and Death In The White House" this doll was made around 1829 for Mary Louisa Adams, grandaughter of John Quincy Adams.

  

According to Child Life in Colonial Days, Volume 1 By Alice Morse Earle - Published 1909, "The White House doll spent the days of her youth in the White House  at Washington,with the children of the president, John Quincy Adams and is still cherished by his descendants."


Section VI of  Our Early Presidents, Their Wives and Children: From Washington to Jackson By Harriet Taylor Upton published in 1890 contains a section about the family of John Quincy Adams and his grandchildren, including Mary Louisa Adams, shown in the picture below from a painting owned by her husband, W. C. Johnson, Esq., Newburyport, Mass.

In Chapter 3 we learn from Mary Louisa's cousin, William, that, in his opinion, she never really had a young life.  "Notwithstanding that it is certain that "Mary Louisa" had a doll who is "still living;" "a big rag baby 'Sally,' the first and only doll," writes Mr. Johnson who owns and cherishes "Sally;" "a personage," he says, "who has served each subsequent childhood in our family." She had it in the White House days.  Her great-aunt, Mrs. Thomas Boylston Adams made it for her just before entries in the bridesmaid dairy...." which were February 26th, 1829.

The section on John Quincy Adams and his family starting on Page 292 of Our Early Presidents, Their Wives and Children: From Washington to Jackson By Harriet Taylor Upton is an interesting section to read and provides a lot of insight into the lives of John Quincy Adams, his wife, their chidren, and grandchildren.


On Page 29 of The Doll Book By LauraB. Starr published in 1908 we learn that "The descendants of John Quincy Adams treasure a shapely rag doll who spent the days of her youth with the children of the President in the White House in Washington."


The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia By Smithsonian Institution includes the picture of "Sally" shown above.

I know the dress is pink and white, but was hoping to find more information on the dolls face.  At first I thought she was a china head doll, but some of the descriptions say she is a handmade rag doll so she probably wouldn't have a china head.

The question is if she was a painted and cloth face doll was her face needle sculpted.  Can you tell?

I guess I'll just have to visit the Smithsonia and see for myself.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Molly Brinkerhoff Doll - Buried With A Families Cherished Possession During The Revolutionary War



When I was doing my "History of Faceless Dolls" research I ran across another doll that I was intriqued with and wanted to know more.  She was also around in the colonial times and had an amazing history. It seems she was loved so much she was buried in a chest by her owners with other cherished possessions when the British invaded Long Island and then dug up later when the war was over.

Can you imagine loving a doll so much you want to safeguard her during a war? I certainly can.

While she wasn't pertinent to my research on "faceless" dolls I just had to know more. While there wasn't a lot of information on her there was some. Here's what I found.

The Chicago Tribune in 1948 had an article in their Books Alive column by Vincent Starrett that was reviewing a book "The Dolls of Yesterday" by Eleanor St. George (Scribner).


In their article they mentioned the Molly Brinkerhoff doll and said:  "YOU will not find the name of Molly Brinkerhoff in American history, and that is a pity, for she was a heroine of the Revolutionary War who merits our sympathy and respect. One of the oldest rag dolls in the United States, she has come down the years in fair condition, all things considered, and now lives in Vermont - aged perhaps 175 years - with her present owner, Mrs. Richard G. Miller of White River Junction."

"Molly is mother made of  old homespun linen stuffed with flax. Her hair and features are embroidered.  One arm now is missing, and her clothing has long since vanished: but with care she may last another century or two and survive seven more wars."

"Her adventures have already been notable.  Certain colonial Brinkerhoff kids loved her and wept to leave her when the British army swept toward their Long Island home. They hid her in a chest, with other treasures, and buried her in the sands of Long Island, then fled with their parents before the tide of war. Later, when the war was over, she was resurrected and restored to her adoring family."

"After her mother's death, Mrs. Miller -a direct descendant of two colonial famiies - found Molly in her attic, together with a plaque that had accompanied her to some fund-raising fair in Civil War times.  The plaque reads:"
Molly Brinkerhoff

I am not made of dust or wax,
But homespun linen stuffed with flax,
No human being treads the earth
That was alive at Molly's birth.
Many scores have I, old Molly,
Kept the Brinkerhoff children jolly.
During the war of '76
I ofken chest deep in the sand
I was buried on Long Island strand.
There safe from British and Tories I lay
Til the last of the redcoats skedaddled away.


"There is no signature, but the poet is obviously Molly herself, writing perhaps on her hudreth birthday.  The note of quiet authority is unmistakable."


In the book  Cloth Dolls From Ancient to Modern - A Collector's Guide With Values by Linda Edward there is a mention of the Molly Brinkerhoff doll on page 8 that said, "A Revolutionary America period doll known as Molly Brinkerhoff was oened by the Brinkerhoff children. She is 25 inches (63.5cm) tall and made of linen stuffed with flax. Her hair and features are neatly embroidered. She was held in such hig esteem by her owners that when the British troops advanced on Long Island, New York, she was buried in a chest on the Long Island Strand along with the other family valuables to protect her from the "Redcoats and torries." When the family returned home after the wa she was dug up again safe and sound to become a cherished family heirloom."


Also, according to The Information Please Girls' Almanac By Alice Siegel - Page 146, "Molly Brinkeroff - Molly was a doll that was buried by her owners along with their household goods when the British invaded Long Island in the days before the American revolution. When  Molly was dug up she became a keepsake for generations of Brinkeroffs, who associated her with that period in history."

I wish I had found more information on her and had found a picture.  I haven't yet, but I'll keep trying.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

After 250 Years It's Still The Bangwell Putt Rag Doll




When I was doing my "History of Faceless Dolls" research I ran across a faceless doll that was created in 1765 and, 250 years later, is still in existence.  It was included in the Memorial Hall Museum Online -  American Centuries....View From New England  website that allows you to "Explore American history with hands-on activities, exhibits, lessons, historic documents and artifacts."

The Children's Toys section of their online collection includes the Bangwell Putt Rag Doll which is a faceless rag doll that was made for Clarissa Field of Northfield, MA in 1765.

Here's what the website had to say about this doll, "Dolls could be purchased, but many people made them at home. A relative made this rag doll for Clarissa Field of Northfield, Massachusetts, around 1770. She named her Bangwell Putt. (Clarissa had several other dolls, all with equally fanciful names, including Pingo, Palica, Kimonarro, and Ebby Puttence.) Clarissa Field was born blind. Although Bangwell Putt lacks a face, her ten fingers were carefully made, suggesting the importance of touch in Clarissa's world. Like other little girls, Clarissa could use her doll to practice the skills she would need as an adult. She could dress and undress Bangwell, and sew fashionable clothes for her. Bangwell has a homespun body and is dressed in eighteenth-century fashion, including a corset. Clarissa also could tend Bangwell as a mother would a child. Clarissa never married. She kept Bangwell until she died in her eighties. Bangwell Putt is thought to be the oldest surviving rag doll in North America."

I became intriqued by this doll, especially her name, and wanted to see if there was more information on her. Here's what I found:


There is a beautiful interactive archives copy of a hand illustrated children's book that is part of the Internet Archives online collection entitled "The Journey of Bangwell Putt" by Marianna and published in 1945 by the F.A.R. Gallery that was re-published in 1965.  If you click the "play" triangle in the upper right hand corner you can interactively read through this adorable book.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The History of Faceless Dolls By Linda Walsh - Introduction, Parts I - Part XXIII and Conclusion - Updated February 2015


I have loved Victorian dolls since I was a little girl and can blame my grandmother for that. You see, as a young girl she gave me a Godey’s Fashion print for August 1870 that belonged to my great, great Aunt Flossie. From that moment on I was hooked. I was captivated by the beautiful dresses and wanted to create dolls wearing them.

Eventually I was able to design my own Victorian "Lady" dolls, like the one pictured on the left, who are all faceless. Now you might be wondering why they are faceless. It's because I wanted each to have its' own distinct personality.

My feeling is that faces overwhelm the dolls personality and have a greater impact on their personality. I wanted the clothing, clothes, hair, color scheme, etc. of the period to determine the personality of the doll.

As far as I am concerned "Beauty lies not only in what is seen, but what is imagined. I believe the essence of a dolls beauty should determine her personality."

You could compare this to the use of mannequins by museums. Most mannequins in museum dress & textile exhibits are either headless or have heads, but they are generally faceless. Or, they have the sculpted definition of facial features but they are not painted. The idea is to not distract from the beauty of the dress or textile piece on display. The same holds true for store window displays.

I have also been a history buff since I was a little girl and loved doing research for history projects all throughout my school years. I especially loved to research everything and anything about the Victorian Era. Their history, their etiquette, their fashion, their hopes, their desires.... In fact, sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.

Designing handmade faceless dolls was not a novel idea as faceless dolls have been around for a long, long time. However, given my penchant for history I, of course, was curious about the history of faceless dolls. So, back in 2006 I decided to do a little research on the history of faceless dolls and wrote a research article for my Linda's Blog that I subsequently updated in 2009.

I figured that there had to be a history of handmade faceless dolls out there or, at least, some cultures and norms. Believe it or not but there wasn't a lot of information back in 2006 on the web on either the history of faceless dolls or cultures and norms that started such a tradition. There was a little more when I updated my research in 2009.

There was some information on two of the most popular and widely known faceless dolls - Amish dolls and corn husk dolls. And there was the legend surrounding Raggedy Ann and "faceless" dolls.

In doing my research, what I was pleasantly surprised with was the application of "faceless" dolls for so many current charities or organizations. More on that a little later.

I was hoping that now, in 2015, things would have changed a little and there would be more information on their history. I'm happy to report that there is a lot more now and that over the last few years there is a growing trend towards creating faceless dolls in all sorts of doll mediums - which thrills me to no end.

Part of the new trend has to do with creating eco-friendly and nature dolls and part has to do with allowing children to use their imagination more. It also has to do with comforting children facing tough medical situations. Without a face the dolls can be happy or sad, they can be laughing or crying - in essence, they can mimic the emotions of the child holding them. Putting a face on the doll defines the emotion of the doll with the child - which may or may not be comforting.

So, I decided to update my history of faceless dolls research article and include new research as well as some of the new trends. I hope you enjoy it.


I also created a History Of Faceless Dolls .PDF.  If you would like to download my History Of Faceless Dolls .PDF please click here or on the picture below.

Copyright © 2004-2015- All Rights Reserved - Written by By Linda Walsh

I think you all know that I, personally, love faceless dolls. Victorians, primitives, colonial, prairie dolls, rag dolls, or country style dolls. It doesn't matter. I love them all.

In fact, I created a video to reflect my feelings about faceless dolls which is: "Beauty lies not only in what is seen, but what is imagined. I believe the essence of a dolls faceless beauty should determine her personality."

Please CLICK HERE or on the video below if you would like to view my "Linda's Faceless Beauties" video.


Why do I love the faceless doll so much?

Because I think by being "faceless' the doll can be anything you want him or her to be. You create the dolls personality to be exactly what you imagine it to be. Their personality, therefore, reflects your creativity and your feelings.

And, as we've seen from the above mentioned articles the application can be heartwarming, meaningful and beautiful.

In researching doing the research to update my History of Faceless Dolls article I was thrilled to see that there are hundreds of artists and crafters who are now creating various types of "faceless" dolls in all different medium. I couldn't be happier to see all these wonderful new applications for faceless dolls. I'm hoping you all will agree.