A random 18th century doll post!

Sometimes as hard as you try to put together a highly organized post; it wont happen. I had another post written and thought that was going to be a good one to publish. I wrote it and it was hard work to connect all my ideas. So it is going to stay in my drafts folder a while longer.

Sometimes you just need eye candy to ogle and not do serious research. So today I decided to visit The MET museums online collection. I typed “doll” into the search bar and away I went! My plan was simple, scroll until I saw something I fell in love with, then run with it. So you may be asking now, what caught my attention?

18th Century dolls!!!

I have always been in love with type of doll. My favorite set is at the V & A museum in England. The set is of a couple named Lord and Lady Clapham! They are both dressed in the best fashion from the early 18th century including wigs. They are fabulous and one day I hope to have a set of reproductions.clapham1


Look at the atttude in the first image! They know they are a fabuous couple!

When I did my wild card search on The MET’s website, I didn’t find many actual dolls more clothes showed up. That is ok though! What I found is still fun to look at and drool over. So lets begin:

The first item that caught my eye was a painting called “Child holding a doll” from 1780. You can see exactly what shape frame it was due to the main part of the painting being faded. A little girl holds her doll in her lap. You can get a good look at the doll’s wig and dress.


The next piece is an engraving from 1742. It is called “The charming doll”.This is of a child looking at a well dressed doll just standing next to her on what appears to be a street. The child has this sour puss look on its face too. Maybe the child is upset that the doll is dressed better than her? I just dont think she finds the doll charming at all……

charming doll


The next few items are antique doll clothing in their collection.

This charming and well-tailored gentleman’s coat is embroidered in the same style a full-sized gentleman would have made. This is dated to 1740-1760. I belive the sleeves are a giveaway for dating this piece.

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These gentlemens breech look to be made out of a scrap of silk with a larger pattern in it. I can just imagine the full size garment that this fabric could have made up during this time. Beautiful!


The final garment is a ladies silk jacket. I wish we could have seen the petticoat that went with this originally. I bet it was a fun set. I love the main fabric with the floral pattern. One thing I have noticed in 18th century dolls clothing is most times they did not bother to match scale.

womens jacket


The final item I want to spotlight is an actual doll! She is small and in a nice display box but a doll none the less! She is dated to 1748 and is displayed in a hand painted box. The hand painting reminds me what you see in wallpaper designs of the time. If you look close enough, you will see she has a little teeny tiny pocket watch hanging from her waist! Though I am not sure why exactly she is in a box, it has probably helped keep her in pristine shape for all these years.


Victorian Era Shell Dolls

The other day I was browsing the Strong National Museum of Play’s website while I was bored at work (yeah,yeah I know…I should have been working). I started to look through their collection of dolls from the 19th century. I saw the typical ones I have always seen and loved; wooden grodnertals, china heads and parians and French fashion dolls. One doll caught my eye, it was a shell doll. Occasionally, one or two would pop up but I never really considered them. A quick search on The Strong’s online collections yielded pages of results!
Before I show you the beautiful examples of shell dolls I found, I want to give you a brief history of shell crafting. Shell handicrafts date back to the 18th century. They were originally called “sailors valentines” and were most often made or brought back by sailors to loved ones. Sometimes these were sold for pocket money while a sailor was in port. These intricate works of art show attention to detail and creative use of different colored and shaped sea shells.

During the mid-19th century, seaside travel became fashionable. There were pages of fashion magazines dedicated to what to wear to these resorts and other advice on the subject. It’s no surprise that souvenirs were popular with tourists. Shell dolls became one of the many types of souvenirs available to travelers. Though these resorts were all over the world; the “base” dolls (the dolls that the shells were attached to) mostly came from one country. Germany produced most of the worlds dolls at the time, so it’s no wonder that the “base” dolls came from there as well! The “base” dolls were commonly paper mache or wood.  The examples I could study were made using cheaper quality dolls of the period. The one example of a doll that was made completely in France is made from shells alone, no “base” doll was used.
Lady’s magazines of the time such as Godeys and Petersons offered instructions on how to do shell handicrafts including dolls, picture frames, decorative boxes, mirrors, dresser sets, dollhouse furniture and shadow box scenes. Some copied the souvenirs you could buy at seaside resorts and some used their imagination to create these wonderful, kitschy works of art. This trend continued through the 1870’s and was included in books on how to do “fancy work”. Companies sold the supplies to do these in the comfort of your own home and for those not fortunate enough to travel to the seashore.  The Sears and Roebuck catalog sold shells to customers during the second half of the 19th century making this craft more available to the masses than before.

The first example of a shell doll here is from Brittany,France. This is the only example I have found from France so far. There may be other examples out there but I haven’t found them yet.

french shell doll

The next two examples are from Germany:

Z0072767german shell doll

My favorite doll out of the ones I examined is the one from Brittany. She is so very modern yet timeless. I have seen similar versions in modern seashore gift shops. This just shows what goes around comes a round.


Palmateer Point Quilt-a-long

Last month I joined a group on Facebook called “Humble quilts”. They specialize in miniature sized quilts. I thought this would be a good fit. I didn’t realize how right I was until I started my first quilt a long with them!

I was not able to start the quilt a long with everyone else due to my work schedule being a bit crazy but as soon as I had a day off; I was off and running! The quilt a long was called “Palmateer Point” and was based off an antique quilt that the blogger/ group owner found. She didn’t reveal the design until the final post on her blog. I thought that was a great touch seeing as this was supposed to be a very “scrappy” quilt.

I used this quilt top as a way to use up scraps in my stash(most of which were civil war era patterns). I used up quilt a bit and was happily surprised that most was well coordinated. I was very worried that I would have to run out and buy more fabric and the goal of this years quilting has been to use up the mountain of stash fabric I have instead of adding to it. I have chosen the binding fabric but I have to dig more to figure out what backing fabric to use. So onto my finished quilt top (it has yet to be quilted):

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Here are the blog entries for the quilt a long as well. This was a good stepping stone for me as a beginner quilter transitioning into more complicated work and refining my techniques. So if you are a beginner just pace yourself and remember the original was not perfect either! So breathe!



Part one:


Part two:


Part three:


Part four:


Quilt reveal and Link party:



Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next adventure report!

UFDC Public Day 2017 Part Two

Before I show off the day that we spent at Disney World, I wanted to show off my favorite of the exhibitsat the UFDC Convetion. I liked all of them but this was my hands down favorite.

Meet Miss Ethel Newcome!

She is a wax doll that was sold at a Sanitary Fair in 1864 during the Civil war. I have a soft spot for Sanitary fair dolls. They have the best wardrobes but what really strikes me is the effort that was put into them. It was all to benefit the soldiers welfare during the war. This money was spent on hospital supplies, food etc.

Ethel does not have as large of a wardrobe as Rose Percy or the Sanitary fair doll I saw last UFDC public day. What she does have is beautiful!


My favorite pieces were the riding habit and the fur set in original boxes!


But we cant forget about accessories! Every girl and doll needs something for every occasion!


Stay tuned for the next installment of trip photos!




UFDC Public Day 2017 Part one

This year the UFDC Convention was held in Orlando,fl! Which was a great twist of fate as one of my favorite places to vacation is Orlando and Disney. So my partner in crime and I decided to hit both! I will save the Disney world photos and exhibit photos for another post though.


Public day is the only day they allow non members to shop in the vendor hall and view the displays. Even just viewing the vendor hall is a treat! This year I saw so many 18th century dolls and many were in great shape. These dolls are usually not seen outside of museums or private collections.


The was a mix of older antique dolls to “modern” 20th century dolls. All of them were great to see.


Instead of trying to describe everything we saw, I will just post the images and the link to see more photos that were taken on the trip.

Follow this link to see many more photos: https://www.facebook.com/pg/reprodolls/photos/?tab=album&album_id=333997397048639



Stanhope Stobe’ Seminar

In June of this year, I traveled down to Atlanta,GA to attend a workshop by Sue Mitchell on how to recreate the beautiful Stanhope Stobe’. Before I go into the details of the workshop and show you what I created, let me give you a little bit of the history of this technique.

In 1852 the first micro-photo was created and soon after it became what is known as a Stanhope. These teeny tiny photos grace souvenirs from all over the world in the form of miniature binoculars, crosses, walking sticks, jewelry etc. Religious themes seem to have been popular. In 1867 Antoine Edmond Rochard patented the use of these Stanhopes in a doll’s chest plate. Most of these dolls were produced between the years of 1867 and 1875. It is likely that these dolls were never meant to be put onto bodies due to the awkward nature of trying to view the image. It is my opinion that these were basically very expensive dresser decoration for ladies of high society.

Rochard himself did not produce the dolls, he just had the idea and patented it. He could have had firms such as Barrois or Jameau produce his creation. The only markings these dolls have on them is: Ed Rochard Depose Brevete S.D.g.d..


Most of us will never see an original of these dolls due tot he scarcity and the fact most reside in museum’s away from prying eyes.  Some examples have as few as two jewels and some have as many 41!


Now for the seminar, we used reproduction Stanhope’s made by Stanhope Microworks based out of Mechanicsburg, PA.

The first step was to design out how you wanted your chest plate to look. Did you want to use more gold or more jewels? Rhinestones or cabochons? There were quite a few choices. We received one Stanhope to use for this seminar. I choose to make a necklace out of rhinestones rimmed in gold. The gold we used was real gold.


In between firings of each layer of the gold on the chest plate we worked on the head of the Stobe’.



We also made the wig for this doll. This was only my second wig but I feel like I improved tenfold since my first one a year and a half ago! Everyone did a similar style, simple yet elegant. We didn’t want the hairstyle to take away from the Stanhope itself.


Here is everyone’s finished doll’s! I was the only one who did not mount there chest and head on a body. I wanted to evoke the original use of these works of art.


and Mine all mounted on her beautiful silk covered box:


If you want to see more images of this seminar check out the following link:


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.

green striped wool wrapper

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.

striped wool wrapper with cape

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


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.




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!




“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.


A sampling of the speaker’s Mothers items.

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



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



-Lydia Ann