Mixed Media

Mixed Media

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Alabama Indestructible Doll

When inspiration takes ahold of me, all my good intentions often fall to the wayside. When I found out that MAIDA (making antique inspired dolls and accessories) was hosting an Alabama Baby inspired members challenge from January 1st to March 30th 2014, my creative juices really got flowing. This Challenge combines both the need for research and the utilization of new techniques (have I mentioned how much I love learning new things?). Alabama baby dolls (also known as Ella Smith dolls, Alabama Indestructible dolls, and Roanoke dolls) were produced from 1899 to 1932 by Ella Smith of Roanoke Alabama. These dolls featured molded heads covered with glue and stockinette and then finished with oil painted features. They ranged in size from 8 to 36 inches with the most common sizes being between 12 and 27 inches. Mrs. Smith built a small factory in her home town of Roanoke to produce her dolls. This was one of the first doll companies to produce black baby dolls for the Southern market. For this challenge, I decided to produce two dolls. One black and one white. I have started with the black version whom I am calling "Macie" ( after Ella Smith's adopted daughter). So far I have created a pattern and sewn it using high quality, hand-dyed cotton fabric. I then stuffed it with wool stuffing. The head "stump" was primed with gesso and tacky glue and covered and sculpted with Premier Clay
( this was the closet thing I had on hand to Plaster of Paris). Once dry, the headed was sanded, coated with tacky glue, and covered with a 65/35 cotton polyester knit
Original Ella Smith dolls had an interesting skullcap that was stitched on to the crown of the head. I am assuming this was used to cover the stockinette edges. Thanks to careful application of the knit fabric, I didn't have much call for this addition. I did add some Premier clay to the top of the head though to reproduce the variance in textures seen on the original dolls. I am currently in the process of applying multiple layers of black gesso to the head, arms, and legs.

No comments:

Post a Comment