Reproduction Striped Wool Wrapper for Lydia Ann!

During the 1850’s and 1860’s wild prints had been in fashion for wrappers or dressing gowns. Most prints would not be suitable for a dress worn after you had done your hair and gotten ready for the day. They were reserved for the morning and breakfast time. If you think about it in modern terms, think of your bathrobe. Most people’s bathrobe is a crazy color or pattern. You wouldn’t want to wear that to the grocery store or entertaining would you? Now I know not every then or now had a crazy print or color bathrobe or wrapper. But being that we are focusing on Victorian’s, we are going to focus on the crazy and out there!

For the longest time, I have been admiring so many original 1860’s wrappers. Stripe’s, silk’s and  wool’s, oh my! Now when people today reproduce wrappers from this time we tend to use cotton fabrics due to the fact that the only wrapper type prints we have access to are made out of cotton now. The quilting companies love to reproduce the prints of antique clothing in cottons for quilter use today. So most of us use those and treat them as awe would a wool fabric. If the garment you are making is people sized unfortunately it does not provide warmth but if you are making a doll garment; this is not a problem.

Here are the images that inspired the copy I made for Lydia Ann:

First I found this one. Look at those sleeves! I may decide to go back and add those to the reproduction at a later date but so far I have been on the fence. This wrapper is most likely a wool or less likely cotton.

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This wrapper I know for a fact is wool. Besides the owner’s confirmation of this; there is trim applied. When you find trim besides self fabric trim on a garment it makes it unwashable. If a garment is cotton, it is generally washable, so why add trim and make it impractical. Adding trim to a wool or silk garment during this period is dirt common and follows the fashions of the day. The trim could be velvet, silk or less likely wool tape and fabric covered buttons. The buttons should be the same as the trim.

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THIS wrapper was the one that made me take the next step to finish the wrapper for Lydia Ann. It has it all in my book! We have striped wool, fabric covered buttons and a cape with cord ties and tassels! If you know, you know I am a sucker for anything with a tassel on it. I also love the color blue. So this wrapper was a win win for me. If I ever find fabric like this, I will have this wrapper in my size.

So know that you have seen the eye candy I was oogling while dreaming up this project, I should show you my copy.

 

Now I haven’t finished it yet. I still want to make the perfect cape for the wrapper. I just need to draft the pattern for that and I haven’t had the time. Maybe I will next week on my UFDC trip? Maybe not. Doll world is so crazy you never know!

The fabric came from Needle and Thread (Gettysburg,PA) and is 100% cotton but I treated it as I would a wool fabric. Its a reproduction 1860’s print. If you are ever in Gettysburg,PA and love fabric……stop by Needle and Thread.

Well that is all for today. Next blog post will be on the fancy petticoats that were worn underneath these beautiful wrappers!

Why do you charge so much???

For a long time now, I have been meaning to write this post. At a show or online will get asked how much an items is. I will also get (not every time but often enough) this response “That’s too rich for my blood!” or “I couldn’t spend that much!” or something to that effect.Now that being said, most people understand my pricing and are perfectly wonderful. I figured explaining how long one set of legs takes to make would help the few that go into sticker shock.

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Lets get started!

I will be explaining the process to make one set of legs. It doesn’t matter the size actually. It is all the same.

Step one: Pour and mold the legs. This takes up about 40 minutes. That includes pouring the porcelain slip into the mold. waiting for a few minutes, then pouring the remainder out. Then letting it set up and un-molding when its ready. This set is so dependent on weather outside and temperature inside. If the air is too humid, forget about doing any of this.

Step Two: After you un-mold the pieces, do a quick seam cleaning. After they are dry, pop them into the kiln for two hours.

Step Three: This is the stage most of the cleaning of the pieces happen. Its called wet cleaning. It takes about 15 minutes for this step. It can take longer depending on the size of the piece. But for the legs of this post, 15 minutes and we are done.

Step Four: Second time into the kiln. This is the bisque fire. They turn into porcelain in this firing basically. The parts will stay in the kiln for 4 hours at this point. But I normally leave the parts in there overnight to cool after its done.

Step Five: If the legs are getting glazed, add an extra 30 minutes to apply the coats of glaze. If not a quick and final cleaning/sanding is done to the legs. This takes about 15 minutes or so.

Step Six:If legs were glazed then they go back into the kiln for 3 more hours. If not the next step is painting.

Step Seven: It normally takes me 4 paint firings to paint legs and each firing takes about 2 hours.
The final count: 16 hours (give or take an hour) to make one set of legs. Let me repeat that ………ONE SET OF LEGS TAKES ABOUT 16 hours!!!!!

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Normally I fire and paint multiple pieces at once but each pieces still takes the a large portion of time and energy to make.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings everyone!

Please remember to check out my shop as well:https://www.etsy.com/shop/ReproDolls?ref=l2-shopheader-name

ReproDolls.com

I realized the other day that I don’t put enough about my fledgling little business on here. Normally I am opposed to using ones blog for a business unless its a business blog BUT I am going to make mine an exception to my rule.

Now if you read my little blog, you probably love dolls, history or me(Samantha or Lydia Ann). So I figure that you might be interested in what I do for a living. I wanted to  link my store top the blog for anyone wanting a reproduction doll, reproduction doll clothing, or accessories.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ReproDolls?ref=profile_shopname

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For me this is a passion, just like dolls, history or doll history! I have gotten so much joy from collecting dolls and learning about them, I want to pass that on. The reward of selling a doll to someone for me is the joy. Dolls are fun and encourage imagination. They can bring us back to our childhood (whether or not you had doll). Sometimes you never had one as a child but always wanted one. Its never too late!

 

-Samantha

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“The Nurses of Pearl Harbor” (Warning:Image heavy post!)

Yesterday Samantha and I traveled to James Buchanan’s House, Wheatland in Lancaster,pa. There was a speaker who was the daughter of nurse who was at Pearl Harbor during the attack on December 7, 1941. The talk encompassed the stories of several nurses that were stationed at various hospital’s around the island. The speaker did not focus on just December 7th but about the whole lives of the nurses. The stories were heartwarming and told a story of courage.

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A sampling of the speaker’s Mothers items.

After the talk, we strolled the grounds and the museum.

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If you are in the area please check out this beautiful site.

http://www.lancasterhistory.org/visit/wheatland

 

-Lydia Ann

Citizens Forum of the 1860’s 2017

The week end  of March 24-26th Samantha and I were up in Monroe, Michigan. We drove about 7 hours to get there. The hotel was comfortable and the conference venue was spacious. We had to be at the venue at Monroe Community College at 9 am on Friday morning to set up.

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It only took an hour or so set up Samantha’s table. After wards the workshops started. The first workshop was to make a gathering apron or a knitting apron. Samantha learned how to make a gathering apron. Glenna Jo Christenson taught the workshop. She showed us many different types of aprons. I saw some very fancy ones I think Samantha needs to make me.

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Afterwards, we manned the vendor table and met conference attendees. Friday night was very relaxed with a short time to change and freshen up; then onto the historic Sawyer house.

When we arrived, there was a brass band playing on the front porch.

After we listened for a bit, Samantha wanted to sample some of the delicious foods that were prepared.

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We headed back to the hotel early in the evening due to still being exhausted from traveling the previous day. The next day we arrived bright and early at the college to man the Reprodolls.com table. At 1 pm that day Samantha spoke on dolls from 1850-1865. It was well received and she got many good questions at the end.

The conference was over at 7 pm for the day. That evening Samantha and I worked on needle work at the hotel room in our night clothes. It was very relaxing.

Sunday was the last day and it was a great ending to a great conference. It ran from 9 am to 1 pm. After the closing remarks were delivered and everything was packed up, we hit the road back to Gettysburg.

We made it back home the following day. I was sad to see the conference over but happy to know that it would be back next year! Samantha and I will return next year to be sure. Seeing the original clothing, jewelry, punched paper and shoes on display was one of the highlights for Samantha.

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If you are considering attending this conference; don’t hesitate! The minute sign up opens up for next years, just sign up. You will not regret it!

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The dates for next years conference are:

March 23-25th, 2018

http://www.citizensforumofthe1860s.com/

The Great Boston Fire of 1872

I know, I know. This is a doll blog! But I promise you this relates to dolls or atleast one particular one. Last month  I was perusing eBay like I normally do( every waking moment….) and I saw a doll head that was advertised as “advertising doll head from Boston”. My interest was peaked. I watched it and sniped it at the last minute because I get cheap when it comes to unknown pieces. I waited for a a week for it to come in. Low and behold, I was out of town when it arrived! So I had to wait a few days longer to see this unknown treasure.

When I opened the box up and pulled the doll head out I was perplexed. All of the black paint on this large china head doll was painted on after firing. It was not a paint you would have used on a doll head. It was some common household paint. Next the thing that caught my eye was scorch marks in the inside and back of the shoulder plate.

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That’s not normal. I tend to state the obvious to myself when trying to figure things out. I also noticed how her lips were faded but not an uneven fade. You find an uneven fade in antique doll heads due to wear but this was not the case. This looked like to me, when you try and fire off painted from a porcelain piece in a kiln. It tends to come off evenly. I know personally that once red china paint gets onto the piece, it wont come off;even before firing residue can still hang on. So this was also odd to me.

There was painted words on the front of the chest plate, most of which were rubbed off with wear and tear. All I could make out was “Boston” and “10, 1872”. Why would writing be on this doll head? What made this date important?

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So what does the lazy……I mean best doll researcher do? Google it! Seriously, you can get leads this way and it does help with a jumping off point. The only links that came up were about the great Boston fire of November 9-10 1872! Lets think about this for a minute……….if you are on my Facebook page you saw the images of the scorched doll heads from the Chicago fire. The same type of scorch marks were on this head.

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Then it hit me. This doll head survived the Great Boston Fire of 1872! I kept looking over it hoping there was some other explanation. There had to be, artifacts like do not just pop up on eBay everyday. I walked around stunned for HOURS; just ask my boyfriend he had to deal with me like this. Don’t get me wrong, he was excited too but not as much as I was.

This fire destroyed 65 acres of downtown area, 776 buildings(including the financial district) and caused about $73.5 million in damage. Its interesting to note that only 13 people died in this disaster. That is hard to believe in my book.  It also makes me wonder what happened to the original owner of this doll. Did she survive? Did she perish? Did she survive and do the painting? I have so many questions! If only this artifact could talk! I want to take a trip to Boston at some point soon(soon being between now and 5 years from now) and get her verified as a surviving relic of the fire and see if I can dig up any information on her owner.

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A birds eye view of Boston, showing the burned area.

Next to the Great Chicago fire of 1871, this disaster gets swept under the rug. It doesn’t have a great little made up tale of Mrs O Leary’s cow or some such nonsense. I think that’s why it is not really known. I had no idea until I started researching.

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While researching, I found a Civil war link in this fire. The headquarters of the Boston branch of The United States Sanitary Commission was destroyed in the fire. They only rebuilt half of the building. So if you are ever in Boston, what you see was not what was originally there.

As excited as I was to discover the history behind this artifact; its still a sad event. In this fire hundreds of citizens were left homeless and businesses were destroyed. I like to think that lessons were learned and new rules put into effect. I know government doesn’t always work that way but hopefully out of the ashes came change.

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How did this journey begin?

Recently, I had a friend ask me how I got started in doll making. I found it funny as I thought about how I would answer her that I had never been asked that before. Well, let me rephrase that; I have but not quite as in depth. I normally get asked who I bought Lydia Ann from or questions like how long I have had her. Those types of questions do get part of my story as there answer but, not the whole thing.

So here goes nothing!

This whole “doll thing” started 6 years ago in 2011. It was late January and I was at a living history for a local civil war site in northern Florida. A friend of mine had a doll and I spotted it in her display. As soon as I saw her doll I knew I needed one! I was 24 and of course at this age a doll is a need. Yep, it’s a need. So after getting the contact information of the doll artist, I contacted her. I got the pricing for Lydia Ann and had to figure out how to afford her. Ok let me explain something to my loyal readers…….My husband (at the time) and I were working minimum wage. We paid our bills and were not starving but this doll would be a luxury. Luckily tax refunds would come along a few months later! That was my treat to myself. I then sent off the money and waited two weeks.

Of course during those two weeks, time dragged on. It felt like a lifetime but she finally made it to my front door step!

 

I am going to apologize at this point, I am getting long winded. But stay with me the good stuff is coming.

I outfitted Lydia Ann from the skin out with scraps of fabric I had in my stash and my Mother in laws stash. She was my relaxation after work dealing with retail customer’s alllll dayyyyyyy longgggggg.

 

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After about a year or so of dressing her, I started traveling with her. Then I started her Facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/lydiaanntravelingdoll/) to share her travels. Everybody loved Lydia Ann’s adventures and continue to do so.


Fast forward to 2015, I was traveling somewhere with my best friend. She showed me a magazine called “Dolls Beautiful”. It is put out by the Doll Artisans Guild(http://www.dollsbeautiful.com/). She saw they had a class for a doll she had admired and then I saw. I wanted her in my house! So we signed up and made arrangements to go to Atlanta, Ga to Sue’s Doll Studio.

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After taking that class, I felt encouraged to try my hand at more dolls. I also had caught the doll making bug. Yes folks, that is a real affliction. Be careful! You too will catch it! I found out how to become a doll artist because I felt why not get the credentials if I’m going to do this “doll thing”! I had to take apprentice I,II, and III. Then on top of that I had to take a test……and pass! Phew! At this point I had to keep going; I HAD to be able to make as many dolls as I wanted. What I really wanted to make was parian and china head dolls from the 1850’s and 1860’s.

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With each class, we made different dolls to learn new skills. If you ask Sue Mitchell, there were times I wanted to hurl my doll head at the wall. The two things that would get me so upset were “fancy” eyebrows (the kind with many, many tiny strokes) and eyelashes. I still don’t love either of them.

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After taking all three classes and extra courses to make sure I was confident in my skill set; I graduated in late 2016.

 

 

 

Sometime in 2016 I went on a road trip to pick up my kiln and some doll parts. The trip took me all the way out to Ohio in pottery country! After months and months of working on my kiln (I swear I can be a professional kiln repair person now) all is up and running!

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That’s all folks! That is my story, well the short version at least. I didn’t want to bore anyone being long winded. Drop me a line if you have any ideas or questions or concerns. Take care!

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Good things come to those who wait

You have probably been wondering why there has been radio silence. We have been traveling and attending events. But the biggest news is…….drum roll please…… I have finally been able to get my shop opened! It has been a slow road but it has been worth it. From taking the long trip out to Ohio to pick up my equipment to learning to repair my kiln all by myself(with a little help)! 

Though it may seem like getting my shop up and running is the hard part, I know it’s not. There is still product samples to be made, stock to build and developing new products and opportunities. At the end of this month , I will be speaking at the Citizens forum of the 1860s in Monroe, MI. My talk will be on China head doll basics from 1850-1865. I will be open to more speaking engagements if any groups or organizations would like to hear a talk on antique dolls, please keep me in mind! 

So the moment you have all been waiting for…….the link to my website! 

http://www.reprodolls.com

Please stop by and take a look! If you any questions or suggestions, contact me! 

The Citizens Forum of the 1860’s

Have you ever wanted to dive deeper in the world of the 1850s or 1860s? The Citizens forum of the 1860s is coming up on March 24th-26th, 2017. This conference touches on a number of subjects for the civilian reenactor and historian of the Civil war era period. During this conference there will be a talk given by my chaperon, Samantha Stanley! She will talk on dolls from 1850-1865 including what to look for when choosing a doll and fashions for the well dressed doll!

Here is the preview video that was made in preparation for it:

 

 

If you want to learn more about this opportunity to learn more about our past check out this site:

http://www.citizensforumofthe1860s.com/

 

Inauguration Ball Fashion Circa 1861 & 1865

At Inaugural Balls one things does not change, fashion is the highlight of the evening. There will always be a buzz around the newly sworn in President but fashion is one of the things that people remember from that evening for years to come. In this post we will explore the fashion from Abraham Lincolns two Inaugural balls in 1861 and 1865.

Lets start with 1861:

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This images shows a great overall view of the ballroom that night as well as a closeup shot of Mary Todd Lincoln. One accessory she carried through both balls was the flower coronet. While I was not able to find an image of her gown, you can be sure that she was dressed at the height of Washington City fashion!

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Popular publication’s such as “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspaper” reported on what various prominent ladies wore. This ball was and still is the highlight of the Washington City social season.

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This brooch was worn by Elisabeth Harvey Stevens to the ball.

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The ballgown bodice and skirt of this ensemble was worn to the ball by Caroline Bolles Cleveland. Imagine what a splash the wearer made in this sunshine yellow silk!

1865 Inaugural Ball:

1865This is one of the invites to the ball. If one of these made its way to you, you knew you were somebody important in Washington society.

1865gownHere is what Mary Todd Lincoln wore to this ball. This gown is now in the Smithsonian. The jewelry she wears was purchased for her in 1862 by her husband from Tiffany and Co.

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This set also included a matching brooch and earrings that are not pictured.

This next and final gown was worn by the  wife of Sec. of the Interior. The first image is of the day bodice with skirt and the second image is the of the ball gown bodice itself.

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The years have not been kind to the ballgown bodice bu the day bodice and skirt still retain that fabulous bright blue and complimenting yellow.

Even though not every piece of fashion was saved from these two balls, you can see how this event was the highlight of the season every 4 years.

I hope you enjoyed this look back and will stay tuned for future posts! Thank you!