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Monday, August 29, 2011

New Sturdy Future Hitty House

I bought this sturdy little cabinet for five dollars at a rummage sale last Saturday. I think it is what is known as a "pie safe" but I'm not sure. Please correct me, if I'm wrong. Anyway, it has two shelves, as you can see in the rather fuzzy picture, and so this will be a rather compact house for the Hittys. Right now, though, I only have one of the two Hittys I've finished (the second, Beatrix, residing with my mom) so the house should be plenty big enough for a single Hitty and even a few of her sisters when I finish them. (I have so much going on right now that I haven't carved on them much at all lately.)

Anyway, I have ditched the foamcore board house I was making, as I found it lacking in sturdiness and artistic appeal. I like old things, so this "pie safe" suits me fine, and I will try to get to work on it soon.

I haven't decided if I will cut a hole in the first floor ceiling and build a stairway or not, but I am thinking I will. My dad made me a four room dollhouse when I was a child and I was always bothered by the fact that it had no stairway, so I'm thinking I'd be bothered if this house did not have one, either. Still, it will be a challenge to figure out the number of stairs, width of step, etc. But I'm fairly good at math, and I'll search online for help. I'll probably make one of cardboard first, to make sure everything works, and THEN cut one from wood. I think I'll look online for slats of basswood, or perhaps I could use tongue depressors; I'm confident I'll find a way. I belong to HittyGirls and I'm sure some of them have built stairways in their Hitty houses.

More Info about Tuck Comb Dolls

According to my online research, "Tuck Comb dolls," are classed, along with other "peg woodens, or pennywoods" as Grodner Tal Peg Wooden Dolls, but they are in a special subclass because of their superior workmanship: carved wooden hair combs, fancy earrings, and lovely feminine shapes. They were produced in the Grodner Tal (Valley) in what was Bavaria but became part of Germany during WW II.

Like other pennywoods, these dolls were made in the nineteenth century, 1800 to 1850, and the paint on them contains lead. I'm not yet sure if they were always sold without clothing as the less-detailed pennywoods were.

"These are often referred to as "German" Tuck combs, probably because they were sold via the German Nuremberg Toy Market...." (Lotz Doll Pages) They are also sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Dutch dolls" from the word "Deustch" (ie. "German").

Their fancy hair comb was sometimes removed so they could wear hats or other headwear. The James Orem doll I bought (see previous post) is about 11 1/2" tall, the same size as my other pegwooden "Jane," who was given to me by a friend who owned two of these dolls (below). In exchange for making clothes for her undamaged doll, my friend gave me the damaged ("disabled," she said) pegwooden who was missing a lower leg. I made a new lower leg for her, and then she looked good as new.

I named my first pegwooden doll "Jane" because in Beatrix Potter's Tale of Two Bad Mice the pegwooden in the dollhouse is named Jane. It is weird that in all the times I read this book to my daughter Connie, I paid little attention to that doll. AFTER I received the pegwooden from my friend, I happened to purchase the book for my granddaughter and in reading it to her, noticed the pegwooden in the dollhouse.

Pegwoodens were made in every size from 1" to 17", but the ones most commonly for sale on Ebay are 11 1/2" and Jane is that sized, too. If you search "pegwooden" on my blog, you will see more pictures of the two dolls as I made clothes for them and repaired the one given me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tuck Comb Doll from James Orem

This is a wooden doll, carved by James Orem. He is retiring from making dolls as he has neuropathy; it will be a loss for doll lovers and collectors, as he makes very lovely dolls. I am lucky to have two of his dolls, the latest pictured above. She will get an outfit sometime in the future, and I have not yet named her. I am trying to think of the female version of "James" as that would be appropriate, I think.

This is a "tuck comb" doll (called that because of the hairdo), and I can identity one on sight but really don't know a lot about them. They were made of wood, with the shape of a Queen Anne doll (small waist). I saw one just recently in the Rosemarie Whyle Doll Museum in Bellvue, WA. Sadly, the museum is closing the end of February, 2012, so if you are planning a trip to the Seattle area between now and then, please do stop in and see the dolls there. They are wonderful, especially if you are interested in historical dolls.

My Somewhat Lackadasial Salute to the 2011 NFL Season

I'm not much of a football fan. I hate it when football boots the national evening news on my favorite network. That said, some of my progeny are diehard Seahawks fans, and so this is for them, although they don't read my blog, I'm SURE.

Monday, August 15, 2011

At the Fair

I love county fairs--I grew up next to the Skagit Valley Fairgrounds in Mount Vernon, WA. I can't smell onions cooking without being immediately transported to our old neighborhood during the annual county fair.

Unlike the larger, regional fairs, county fairs are just the right size for small children, and larger children (and adults, both small and large) can enter things they have made or grown and earn prizes and recognition. When you visit a county fair, you not only see lots of interesting projects, but you see lots of people you know, and eat a lot of good food that you don't eat every day (which is probably good, too).

I also admire 4H. I've seen the kids making meals, setting tables, and serving the judges their concoctions. I've seen what they have grown and animals they have raised, and I've seen them show their animals. I would have loved 4H when I was a kid, but town kids didn't have access to it then, or if they did, I didn't know about it. However, my friend Janet, who lived about a mile away, but in the "country," did introduce me to entering items in the fair when we were young teens. I enjoyed the experience.

Last year, I was disappointed that there wasn't more participation in the Needle Arts Department at our local county fair (and I had not entered any of my work, either). Needle Arts is my favorite department, so this year I decided to take part. I figured I had no right to complain about lack of participation if I, myself, didn't enter things.

I hadn't entered anything in the fair for several years. Back when our kids were still at home, we all entered photography, both because we liked taking photos and because a local camera store would accept our photos, deliver them to the fairgrounds, and, when the fair was over, return them to the store. Back then we had neither the time nor money to make three trips to the fair (once to enter, once to visit, and once to pick up entries), as it's 20 miles away from where we live. Now that we are retired, we can make three trips more easily. And with planning, we could probably cooperate with friends and get rid of one of the trips.

The monkey in the picture above won the only "big ribbon" I've ever gotten.(The handcranked sewing machine in the picture is 114 years old, and Monkey was sewn on that machine.) I don't put a lot of importance on ribbons--judges are just people who may not like what I like, but still, I pay attention. They leave notes on the back of their judging form, to let you know what they liked or didn't like, about your item. Feedback like that can be enlightening--or not.

What I DO like is exhibiting my work; I take satisfaction in making things. I also like looking at other people's work. If people don't enter their work in the fair, there isn't anything to look at--it's as simple as that.

I view the tradition of the county fair as an age-old democratic instituion in which anyone may participate, regardless of age or station in life. It's a level playing field and open to everyone--I like that. And sometimes you win a prize--I received a prize for the first time this year: a package of quilt batting, a result of Monkey's big ribbon. Sometimes, there are checks that arrive about a month after the fair, and that's nice, too. They aren't very big, but I know my kids were always really excited to receive their checks when they came in the mail.

Life brings inevitable changes, but one thing I hope never changes is the county fair--I hope it stays just the way it is forever.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Two Years of my Blog in Print

Did you know you can have your blog make into a soft cover book? Or even a hard cover book, if you want to pay more. Actually, it's fairly costly just for the soft cover one ($55 for mine), but I decided that every couple of years, I will "bite the bullet" and have my blog printed. I have three granddaughters, and perhaps they will enjoy them when they are grown.
It will be more interesting to them, I think, with the pictures. I also save some emails I send, if they are like a letter with interesting contents, and I copy the pictures I attach to each one, also. Perhaps it is possible to have these pages printed, too. I'm not sure. But, like most people, I don't feel I have the time to just sit down and write in a journal, so this is my way of recording some of the activities of my rather mundane life for posterity.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What IS it about young men and dolls!!!!???? Every time I show one of my dolls (this was the cloth-over-vinyl head in the last post) to a young man (today's young man is 35), said young man says, "That is SO creepy!!!" WHAT?!?!? How can ANYONE say my dolls are creepy?!?! I'm sorry, but my dolls look sweet to me (except Screamer, perhaps, but even he has his own charisma). I asked him if he thought it was creepy because it didn't have a body, but he said, no it would be just as creepy WITH a body.
More than one person has said Screamer's Cute Baby is creepy, too, and hard as I try, I just can't see the creepiness there!

Someone explain these guys to me, PLEASE!!! Have they just seen too many "Chuckie" movies? Does it creep them out to see faux humans?! I just don't get it!!!