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. I also love to design Victorian dolls. I hope you enjoy my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions,The Victorian Era, and Me blog.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Papier-Mâché Dolls

Slide 23 -  Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

From what I understand towards the end of the 18th century papier-mâché was the doll industries favorite composition and replaced wood and wax dolls. So, when I saw Slide 23shown in the picture above, from the Dolls from the Index of American Design  at the National Gallery of Art I was interested in what these dolls looked like.

After I read their description, shown below, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that this doll's head was used to smuggle morphine and quinine across the border during the Civil War. You just never know what dolls may be up to!

According to their description: Papier-mâché was a widely used substance for making dolls. Papier-mâché itself is a composition made from paper pulp combined with various other substances. Dolls made of this material reached a height of popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. They first appeared much earlier, however. Edouard Fournier History of Children's Toys and Games mentions the use of this product by dollmakers from the time of Francis I of France, about 1540. Centuries later, in 1858, the first known patent for a doll's head in the United States was issued to Ludwig Greiner of Philadelphia for his paper-mâché model. This doll, named "Nina," has a unique history. Behind her innocent-looking face, in the hollow of her paper-mâché head, she smuggled morphine and quinine across the border during the Civil War.

Credits: Renee A. Monfalcone (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Confederate Museum (object owner), Doll--"Nina", 1935/1942, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15538

According to Denise Van Patten's Paper Mache Dolls article on About.comPapier Mache was a good material to make doll heads from because it could be molded and painted. Molding allowed more realistic doll features than carving, and the dolls were lighter than carved wood. Papier Mache was the preferred material by German doll makers until the mid 1800s when China Dolls were introduced.

The Wikipedia.com page on Papier-Mâché has a section on how papier-mâché is prepared here.

If you'd like to know more about making various types of papier-mâché there is a Paper Mache Recipes article on the Ultimate Paper Mache website.

Also, according to Denise Van Patten's Paper Mache Dolls article on About.com: Some of the earliest commonly found Papier Mache dolls are called Milliner's Models today. These dolls were made from approximately 1840 through 1860, and are often found in smaller sizes (9 to 15 inches) and with wooden limbs.

If you're interested in the early papier-mâché dolls the book entitled "German Papier-Mache' Dolls 1760-1860"  by Christiane Grafnitz, shown above, that is a comprehensive study of these dolls is here.

I tend to favor antique dolls from the 19th century and wanted to know more about the 19th century papier-mâché dolls.  Here's what I found:

There was an enchanting papier-mache Doll on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website here.

Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com 

The VERY RARE EARLY 1800S GERMAN PAPIER-MACHE LADY WITH REGAL PRESENCE c. 1810, shown in the picture above.  She is from the Theriaults.com website.  I just love her high-waist gown and lace eyelet overlay.

According to their description: 20" Papier-mache shoulder head of lady with oval face and elongated strong throat,modeled bosom,sculpted hair in unusual brown color with braided coronet decorated with a sculpted gold-edged comb (having rare defined comb tines) and artistically-painted curling ringlets at the sides of her face,painted blue up-casting eyes with defined eyelids,upper eyeliner,brows,accented nostrils,closed mouth with accented lips,muslin stitch-jointed body,kidskin arms..... Comments: Germany,circa 1810. Value Points: exceptional doll whose beauty is enhanced by her rarity factors including brown hair,unique coiffure,ringlet painting,modeled bosom,and wearing exquisite early high-waist gown with demi-train. Realized Price: $4,000.

Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com 

The GERMAN PAPIER-MACHE GLASS-EYED LADY WITH SCULPTED HAIR c. 1850shown in the picture above, is from the Theriaults.com website.  Her face is absolutely beautiful, as is her amazing outfit.

According to their description: 14"  Solid domed papier-mache shoulder head with oval face and elongated strong throat,definition of bosom,black sculpted hair looped smoothly over her ears and combed back into a braided chignon at the back of her head,large black enamel inset eyes,dark eyeliner,painted lashes,feathered brows,accented nostrils,closed mouth,muslin body......Comments: Germany,circa 1850. Value Points: beautiful face with unusually large eyes,refined modeling of hair in simple yet elegant coiffure,antique traditional costume.

Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com 

The beautiful LARGE GERMAN PAPIER-MACHE LADY WITH RARE FLIRTY GLASS EYES c. 1845, shown in the picture above, is from the Theriaults.com website.  Her antique costume is just beautiful - especially the lace ruffles, and embroidered overskirt.

According to their description: 23"  Paper mache shoulder head of adult lady with elongated slender face,strong throat,modeled bosom and pronounced shoulders,black sculpted hair waved smoothly around the sides of forehead to form into two clusters of arranged finger curls,and then smoothed back into a tightly-braided chignon at the nape,black glass "flirty" eyes,painted all-around lashes,feathered brows,accented nostrils and eye corners,closed mouth with accented lips,muslin body with stitch-jointing,kid hands..... Comments: Germany,circa 1845. Value Points: rare flirty eyes are enhanced by wonderful coiffure,rare modeling details of bosom and shoulders,original body,wonderful antique costume including bonnet. The doll is shown in German Papier-Mache Dolls by Grafnitz,page 105.

Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com 

I just love the EARLY GERMAN PAPIER-MACHE LADY WITH RARE COIFFURE AND MAKER'S SIGNATURE c. 1825, shown in the picture above.  She is from the Theriaults.com website.  I love the delicate beauty of this doll.

According to their description: 19" Solid domed papier-mache shoulder head of adult lady with heart-shaped face,elongated throat,and modeled bosom,black enamel eyes,painted upper lashes,feathered brows,accented nostrils,closed mouth with center accent line,black painted hair with feathering around the forehead,sculpted brush marks and sculpted braided chignon with painted gold comb,and with brunette human hair curls at the sides centered by a gold metal comb,kid lady body with shapely torso,fine antique dress,undergarments,leather slippers.....  Marks: G.K. XX (impressed inside shoulder plate). Comments: maker unknown,circa 1825. Value Points: rarity factors include most unusual coiffure which combines sculpted and human hair,glass eyes,beautiful presence,early costume; the doll is shown in Grafnitz's German Papier-Mache Dolls,page,74. Realized Price: $4,000.

Reproduction papier-mâché dolls are very popular amongst doll makers today as are papier-mâché characters. As a result if you're interested in making a doll of your own there are books, patterns and tutorials to help you with making a papier-mâché doll. Here's a few I found:

Image Courtesy of Edyth O'Neill

Edyth O'Neill has a "A Body Pattern for Antique  Papier Mache and China Shoulder Head Dolls" on her Dolls For My Red Cape blog here.

Image Courtesy of The Papier-Mâché Resource 

The Papier-Mâché Resource website has a cute tutorial showing you how to make the Papier-Mâché  Dolls, shown in the picture above.

Dollmaking With Papier-Mâché and Paper Clay by Doris Rockwell Gottilly has complete instructions and patterns for making more than 20 figures. According to her bio: Doris Rockwell Gottilly is a multi-media artist who specializes in sculptures depicting a wide range of characters using history and folk tales as inspiration.

This book a useful tool for anyone who wants to learn how to create dolls or sculptures using papier-mâché or paper clay. It is filled with tutorials,  step-by-step instructions, and tips for sculpting in general and for creating 20 figures. I just love Melanie & Scarlett on Page 54, Queen Elizabeth 1 on Page 62, and Adelaide on Page 75. I am definitely going to try making all of them when I get a chance.

If you're looking for beautiful papier-mâché or paper clay art dolls to make or buy you need to check out these amazing artists:

Image Courtesy of Gail Wilson

Gail Wilson makes the most beautiful museum quality reproduction dolls, including some made using papier-mâché and sells both the dolls, patterns, and kits for making such on her Gail Wilson Designs website. The beautiful and enchanting The Jane Austen Inspired Doll, shown in the picture above, is available as a kit and finished doll here.  Just click on her Molded Dolls tab and scroll down.  Gail is an amazing doll artist and her Early American creations are just amazing.  I hope you have a chance to check out her Gail Wilson Designs website.  

Christine LeFever is an amazing doll artist who makes beautiful handmade reproduction papier-mâché dolls. If you would like to see pictures of some of her beautiful creations and read about her doll making process please click here.

Image Courtesy of Lora Soling and LoraSolingHandMade 

The beautiful "Mrs. Eliza Grandford, papier mache and cloth folk art doll" is by Lora Soling and is available in her  LoraSolingHandMade Etsy Shop.

Image Courtesy of Tatiana and Kiligarikondi 

The adorable "Margot - Art Doll - Handmade Doll - OOAK Doll - Miniature Doll - Paper Mache Doll - Victorian" is by Tatiana and is available in her Kiligarikondi Etsy Shop.

I'm still trying to decide which papier-mâché doll from the Dollmaking With Papier-Mâché and Paper Clay book by Doris Rockwell Gottilly.   Should it be Melanie & Scarlett on Page 54, Queen Elizabeth 1 on Page 62, or Adelaide on Page 75.

Or, should I buy one of Gail Wilson's kits from her Gail Wilson Designs website?  They're all so lovely. I can't decide. When I do I'll let you know.

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