Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A haunting and beautiful new Old Pretender

About a month or so ago, we came across a photo of a very early 18th century English wooden doll that just took my breath away! She is in the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood, and we have never seen her before, which is rare for us honestly. We have seen photos of so many of the 17th and 18th century antiques over the years, the good ones, and the not so good ones out there. We have a huge photo library of 17th and 18th century English wooden dolls as well and of course we have seen a lot in person so not many come alone these days that at some point, we have not at least seem a photo of somewhere. I usually can put my finger on right were we saved the photo or what book it was in. I find this so funny because many times I can’t remember what I was doing earlier today these day LOL
This new doll we discovered just made a huge impression on me and I just fell in love with her immediately. I told Paul, we have to try to make a copy of her for me....we just have to try!
Well, we did, but I kid not, this was the hardest, most challenging doll we have ever made. Needless to say, working from two not so great photos, rather than having the doll here in person was hard enough. I am not even going to go into the very complicated procedure that we used to recreate this amazing dolls face from just two photos but suffice to say, it was so labour intensive and taxing! It was very much worth all the time and effort over the past month or so though, as I am so pleased with the final results, I can’t believe it.
A friend of ours wrote to me after seeing her photos and of course she had seen the original antique dolls photos as well, saying this....

I literally jumped up and down when saw her pictures! She is magnificent!
I honestly almost fainted at the pictures of her with her hair, she stepped out of the picture from the museum and is standing before you!! I see what you mean when you said, she gave you chills when you put on her hair, she takes on this otherworldly look! It makes her literally become a child!
I always think you cannot get any better than you are but this girl is pure gold. PURE GOLD!!!!!

Her fantastic dress and stomacher are to die for! The higher neckline suits her to a tee!
OMG David, her look and photos literally makes the hair on my arms stand up! I swear you put a soul in her!!
For you to say she is haunting in person is really saying something!!!!!”

We have just finished her and in my opinion, she, as well as the antique is one of the most haunting and most wonderful doll we have ever made to date. This is the first doll that has literally gave me unexpected chills when I placed her wig on, the final step, and saw her complete and how much she then looked like the antique. I struggled for a few weeks trying to decide the perfect fabric for her. I knew the style dress that she needed but not sure on the fabric choice but it needed to be a very special early piece of fabric for sure. I finally decided on a
really rare, first half of the 18th century, made in England (but with Colonial Williamsburg provenance) blue-green raw silk bourette which worked really wonderful for her dress and feels amazing in person. The antiques dress is a more faded acid green, which we had as well but did not look as flattering on our doll.
This was without a doubt, the hardest doll I have ever worked on.....even her dress gave me fits being the perfectionist I am, every aspect has to be perfect, even though its deceptively simple, it was very hard and the stomacher/bodice fit was insane to get right! I even carved and sanded very precise and fine stays for the stomacher as well which can bee seen under the stomacher fabric.
I ended up giving her a bit higher cut to the top of her stomacher than the antique, it just seems to fit better on our doll. It gives her a bit more modest neckline which is fine.
I hope everyone enjoys seeing her photos. She is so photogenic so I had a ton of great photos of her so it was so hard to choose the ones to post. As per usual, I posted a lot! Needless to say, I am so proud of this one. Oh and she is 16 inches tall. There is one photo of the antique doll, at the bottom of the photos of my doll as well. I have our doll pictured here with and without hair. I find she is lovely either way but am thinking she has to have the hair like the antique has.
Lets take a vote......What does everyone think? Hair and bonnet or just the bonnet?
Best Wishes; David

We just had a lovely e-mail complimenting this new doll from a friend of ours who owns one of our dolls and lives in Edinburgh, so gets to see the wonderful antique English wooden anytime she likes! How lucky is that! Here is what she said.

"Hi David and Paul
I had to get in touch with you as I have just seen your new doll on your blog. I was totally stunned as the original of this doll is one of my favourites – living in Edinburgh I often visit her at the Childhood Museum and stand and stare through the glass at her lovely face. She is a wonderful doll and has that quiet presence and ‘soul’ that we all love so much. She is beautifully made with that distinctive full-cheeked face.
Your version is wonderful and a fantastic tribute to her and all the hard work you put in - I love her! She should definitely have the hair as well as the bonnet, just like the original.
Well done and congratulations on another masterpiece!"
Thank you Deb!



  1. Ох! Сложный выбор! Она великолепна!!! И с волосами и без!
    Но все же, девочка должны быть с волосами.

  2. quite stunning- she has two very distinct souls according to her adornments... i favour hair and bonnet: looks younger, pathos all the deeper. beautiful.