Cuba

Cuba was quite similar to Mexico in that the Spanish influence was very evident.  Cuba was beautiful and fascinating but as you can imagine there were very few dolls, and certainly I didn’t see one single Barbie.  I did see some really interesting dolls though.  The doll below belonged to a fortune teller in the main square near our hotel in the old section of Havana (I could tell you the square but I’m too lazy to look it up).  The doll was watching a space for her owner, and I can assure you it didn’t look like anyone was going to touch her, or even go near her, any time soon.

Havana Spotdoll-2 lowresGuardian doll, Havana, Cuba

Havana Spotdoll & mistress lowresFortunate teller, Havana, and her guardian doll

Havana Senora Cuba lowres

Somehow she was more than a mere fortunate-teller.  More of a spirit guide really, and she reminded me strongly of the South American beliefs of Candomblé.

The other interesting thing found all over the places we visited was the dressed statues in churches.  This figure has the most beautiful velvet dress and gold lace head scarf.  You can see in many of these images that a woman covering her head is by no means unusual in many cultures.

Dressed Statue Havanna-2 lowresBlack Madonna or saint, Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis, Old Havana, Cuba (I don’t know the significance of the pole-axe).

The image below was taken in an artists’ street in Havana and was mostly African Cuban works.  This little corner is decorated with various figures, and the black dolls heads on the two stumps are intriguing.

Dollhead garden Cuba lowresStreet garden, Old Havana

There were other dressed figures in various churches.  There was so much to see the image below is just one example of embroidered clothes on figures of saints or madonnas.

VirginMary Cuba-2 lowres

These tiny wire figures were also found everywhere.

TinyDolls-2 Cuba lowresSmall wood and wire figures, Havana market.

Lastly, because I liked the horse (OK, the guy is cute too, but anyone under thirty is cute when you are as old as I am).  I didn’t have time to compose the shot, only a few seconds.

Trinidad horse&rider lowresHorse and rider, Trinidad de Cuba, Cuba

Guatemala

In late August 2016 we were in Guatemala for about a week.  If you want to see really good photography on Mexico City, Guatemala and the Caribbean you might want to visit my partner’s blog Murray Foote.  This one is more about dolls and I’m not claiming to be much of a photographer.

Guatemala is a magical place, although probably summer is not the best time to visit.  The advantage was that we were the only guests at the time.  The El Sombrero Ecolodge is delightful, and it is a short car ride away from the Mayan site of Yaxha.  Naturally there weren’t many dolls to be found at the Lodge, but the sunsets were great, and Tikal and Yaxha are amazing.

Sunset Guatemala lowresSunset over Yaxha Lagoon

El Sombrero Ecolodge is located in the Yaxha Lagoon in the Yaxha-Nakum- Naranjo National Park in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Peten, Guatemala. It is only one hour drive from Tikal and Flores and 30 minutes from the Belize Border.

http://www.elsombreroecolodge.com/

Tikal pyramid lowresPart of the Mayan complex at Tikal – just to set the scene

At Tikal there were plenty of Mayan dolls for sale to tourists.  We were approached by a local Mayan guide who asked if we wanted to hire him (sadly no, we didn’t).  However, he told an interesting story.  Anyone who visits Tikal is required to make a sacrifice, as it is a sacred site (and he was not referring to money here).  I believed him, the place is a huge site and totally awe-inspiring.

3CornDolls Tical lowresLittle dolls made from dried corn leaves

CornDolls Tikal lowresCorn doll seller, Tikal

This lady had set up her stall a bit away from the main tourist shops which sold all the usual stuff, as well as the rag dolls common everywhere.

 

 

Mexico City

From late August through to early October 2016 I was lucky enough to travel with my partner in some really beautiful places.  Naturally in each place I went looking as various dolls to be found there because I was interested in how dolls pop up in different cultures.  I’m sure I could do heaps more research on the subject, but curiously there isn’t a lot of research on the subject of dolls.  They are universal, although they appear in such different ways.  I was fascinated by them all, from the rag dolls that seem to be everywhere all over Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean, to the beautifully dressed figures of saints in the various churches we saw.  This post is just for Mexico City, otherwise it was too long.

Mexico City

The interesting thing about Mexico City is that there were dolls everywhere.  Practically the first thing I picked up in our hotel room was a tiny doll.  This little creature was made to capture bad dreams, or to ensure a good night’s sleep, probably both.  The thing that struck me about most of the places we went was the deeply held belief that the doll is a substitute for oneself, a stand-in that can act as a vehicle to another world.  The doll takes on the bad stuff instead of the hapless human, or the gorgeously dressed figures in the churches were meant to intercede on behalf of the supplicant.  I found them all very beautiful and moving.

 Mayan doll This tiny little dolls is called Buenas Noches.  She is 6 cms long and dressed in bits of T-shirt and hand woven fabric.  She is a traditional Mayan ‘Quitapesares’, or sorrow remover doll.  You tell her your sorrows, put her under your pillow, sleep, and next day your sorrows will be gone.  I think she is charming, although I haven’t actually put her to the test yet.

 

There were a few Barbies in a shop in the tourist area at the centre of the city, but they weren’t that inetresting.

I found the universal stuffed rag doll of the region on sale outside the Frida Kahlo museum (Frida Kahlo is one of my favourite artists).  Inside the FK museum (her house in Mexico City), was a delightful cabinet full of doll furniture, but it was hard to get images as they were in a cabinet.  There were plenty of other figures to be found in Mexico City, and in the airport at Cancun on our way out to Cuba.

FK doll dabinet 1
Frida Kahlo’s curio cabinet, Mexico City
FridaDoll
Small tourist doll from outside the Frida Kahlo museum, Mexico City

There were heaps of other kinds of figures to do with the Day of the Dead.

Dolls MC-1Tourist figures for Day of the Dead, Medico City

 

Dolls MC-3Raffia Dolls, Mexico City

Small offering figurines MCSmall guardian figures found at the corner of a temple excavation, Mexico City
(not dolls perhaps, but similar in function to the little Mayan Quitapeares doll).

Barbie Cancun lowresBarbies dressed in traditional Mexican costume, Cancun airport.  I got the impression these were older or second-hand Barbies that had been dressed in styles from various regions.  They were very pretty, if a little pricey.

 

 

French Farmhouse

I’ve discovered this lovely French Farmhouse furniture from Mini Molly Dollhouse in South Australia.

French kitchen-2 lowres

Paula, of Mini Molly Dollhouse, makes this furniture and obligingly up-scaled it a bit to fit my Fashion Royalty dolls.  It comes with some adorable cook books as well, and the pots are available separately.  The model is IT Veronique (first version) on an FR2 body.  Appropriately, her hair is French mohair.

The sets are available on eBay at:
http://stores.ebay.com.au/minimollydollhouse?_trksid=p2047675.l2563

There is also a website at:
http://www.minimollydollhouse.com

A bit about mohair.  It’s very naturalistic, fine and soft, but a bit of a nightmare to use because you end up with fine hair everywhere, and the good stuff is expensive.  Also, at the very least it tends to be wavy or curly.  Synthetic mohair is easier to handle, but the colour range is quite limited.  I’m always a bit nervous about moths getting into it, but so far they haven’t (they have eaten some of my mohair eyelashes before now).  I imported Vero’s hair from France and from memory it was $45 USD For 1 ounce (and you need about an ounce for one head) a few years ago.

Here she is with her hair out:

French kitchen-3 Vero lowres

 

Out in the garden

Homage to JF

I’ve been looking at the French haute couture designer Julien Fournié lately – I’m definitely in love with his clothes.  This pattern needs a bit of work on finding the right fabric but I had to work fast to get it in for the Dolls Magazine competition (Awards for Excellence in 2016). I wanted to use an African American model, and this is Dominique on a 2016 Nu-face body (my repaint).  The dress is silk with ordinary cotton bias (a) because I couldn’t find my black silk, and (b) it would have taken ages to sew it by hand.  There is also a separate vintage black sateen skirt (fully lined, paranoid about staining).  The 2016 Nu-face body is very easy to design for, and will mostly fit the FR2 bodies, depending on the design.

The beading is done with glass beads and bits for coral.

Homage to JF-3 lowres
Dominique in a dress inspired by Julien Fournié

Homage to JF-detail lowresDetail

Starfire
A friend gave me this vintage fabric, and I have no idea what it is.  A burn test indicates a wood-based fibre, possibly rayon, with gold metallic thread in the lozenges, and a soft crepe weave.  Mice had eaten some of it as well.  I have appliquéd some of the lozenges onto the bottom of the dress and used them for sleeves.  I wanted the outfit to have an exotic Indian feel about it.  I’ve also put this fashion into the Dolls Magazine competition.

The headdress is made from freshwater pearls, gold plated chain and bits of stud earrings (modern ones) attached to a large metal butterfly base.  The matching fan has peacock and pheasant feather from a Victorian supplier (Australia).

The doll is Poppy ‘The Happening’ on a 2016 Nu-face body.

Starfire-1 fullfront lowresDetail

Poppy ‘Travelling Incognito’ repaint

Poppy JM repaint-1 lowres

The Poppy repaint I’ve entered for the Dolls Magazine competition.  Great hair, in this instance it has been spiral permed (boiling water method).  I’m afraid she’s borrowed a 2016 Nu-face body as well having nicked Giselle’s blue suit.

I don’t change all my Poppies, but I do in general do a lot of head swapping.  As the Integrity bodies evolved I kept putting my favourite heads onto the latest bodies, as you do. Absolutely NONE of my dolls are NRFB.  I tried it once, lasted a week.  I play with them all, have repainted most of them, and always wash that tacky spray out of their hair.

Poppy JM repaint fullfront lowres

Here she is wearing jewelry by Isabelle of Paris (www.etsy.com/shop/IsabelleParisJewels).  Below is more of Isabelle’s jewelry on Poppy.

Poppy with Isabelles jewelry lowres
Poppy ‘Wedding Belle’, my repaint and Isabelle’s jewelry, IT dress.

Snowflake
For lack of a better title, this is Natalia (Vs2), my repaint and re-rooted with Katsilk hair (http://www.restoredoll.com is where I get mine, excellent hair.   I liked this tulle with the little bows on it, and the top is faux suede.  The fringe could use some gel.  The hat is silk covered with sequins, and was an effort to control the fringe – oh well.

I use a variety of hair when I’m re-rooting, depending on the result I want.  The most expensive of course is mohair.  Good mohair makes lovely hair, but it’s extremely fine, a nightmare to put in and quite hard to style once it’s in unless you use a lot of product.  Katsilk is lovely, heavy and fine, great for straight hair.  I also used synthetic mohair which is nice, but the range of colours is very limited.  Without doubt re-rooting is THE most boring job on the planet.

Snowflake fullfront-2 lowres

Vintage Thai Silk
Finally, a couple of very different dresses made vintage Thai silk.

Agnes Thai fullfront lowres
Agnes ‘Feminine Perspective’ in a 1960s vintage Barbie pattern dress

Agnes Thai head lowresDetail

No one does bitch-face like Agnes.  I’m never quite sure if she’s furious or about to cry.
Finally, we have Vanessa:

Angel of Spring fullfront lowres

This is my ‘go to’ dress to make when I’m bored, or just between projects and wondering what to do next.  This is Simplicity pattern No. 9521 (Museum Collection).  I was wondering if this vintage Thai silk would work as an 18th century dress.

This Vanessa reminded me of Angelique in a series of novels by Anne Golon, a French author, better known to English-speaking readers as Sergeanne Golon.  They are fun and real bodice-rippers, and besides, Angelique is a feisty kind of ‘can do’ gal.  They were introduced to me by my friend Sappho, now departed this earth.

I don’t know why I keep making this dress.  I have no great sympathy for 18th century aristocracy or the class system of the time, or any great love of the tizzy nature of the decorations.  I think it’s the undeniable femininity of these dresses, they scream ‘I am female’, and couldn’t possibly be anything else!  Besides that, I made it to go with the hat I bought at the 2013 IT convention in room sales.

Angel of Spring head lowres

By for now.
Jools

 

 

New in the Garden

I’ve been creating, redoing and refining some dress patterns for Integrity dolls, mainly Nu-face, Poppy and the FR2s.  Come to think of it, those are the only 12 inch IT dolls I make patterns for.  Rather than make it up entirely out of old sheeting or whatever, I make them up in cotton, or some other cheap fabric, because it isn’t as boring as sewing up sheeting (which I use to make the first pattern from by modelling it on a doll).

I’ll put them up for sale fairly soon I think.  This one is based on a Prada dress, well the neckline is at least.  I’ve made it up in new quilters cotton fabric, and it’s modelled by Poppy (my repaint).  I can’ quite recall which Poppy, but she has the Hungarian skin tone.  She’s now on a DG body.  I like the DG bods with some Poppy’s because they are a little taller and pretty much the same size everywhere else.

Tangerine-head lowres

The dress has a matching hat and clutch bag.  I love hats, can’t resist making hats for frocks.

Tangerine-1 lowres

The cupboards is a 1/6 scale Chinese wedding cupboard with a little jug (I collect little ceramic things, like vases).

NightGarden-threequarters-1 lowres

My repainted Vanessa (Metal Malven) on an FR2 body.  Jewelry is gold plated findings and turquoise beads.

NightGarden-fullfront lowres

The matching hat is vintage handwoven Thai silk, and the dress fabric is vintage cotton.  The trim came from Dona Dubbini in Italy.  I love it, and have used it on a couple of dresses.

Last, but not least, is Poppy, Irresistable in India.  Unfortunately for Dominique her Nu-face body matched this Poppy very well .  I was also experimenting with Indian silk brocade.  It’s not entirely successful and it was very difficult to handle (as in look at it and it frays/falls apart, and drops little gold threads all over my studio).  Silk does fray at the drop of a hat, but it is usually easy to handle – this stuff was a bitch but I love the colour.

India-1 lowres

I don’t the white balance is quite right, it should have been on auto.  Oh well…. next time.

 

OOAKs for sale

Have finally decided to part with four OOAK dolls.  It’s a bit pathetic really, how hard it is to sell them off.  I don’t think of them once they are gone, but agonise over which ones to part with.  They are all going up on Mister Dollface. Details below:

Poppy 63Bride front lowresI was looking for a sort of descriptive name for her, and decided on Margarita Blanca, because it sounded better than ‘Nice Day for a White Wedding’ running through my head, which of course would not be suitable for sweet little Poppy at all.

Luchia SE front lowresNext we have Luchia Z. ‘Strict Elegance’, although she looks more like she’s been clubbing all weekend.  She’s very gothic, and quite rare I think.  At least I haven’t seen any of her around much, and she was rather expensive to start with.  She inexplicably lost her clutch bag, and broke one of her shoes, but then that’s what happens during wild weekends. Still, she’s managed to get some rather swish black platforms from someone and another bag.

 

Poppy JC full front lowresI just love vintage Thai silk, and it is perfect for that early 1960s cocktail dress.  It all ended up looking rather Spanish (or Balenciaga-ish but that’s a bit of a mouthful), so I’ve left her hair up in it’s original plait (rare for me).

RufusBlue front lowresRufus Blue is a cute little Dynamite Girl, and she had to have some cute little sheep to wear with her blue hair.  She could do with some hair product, but I’m out (well, Ok, I don’t have any and my daughter wasn’t home).  I’m selling her because I rather prefer my models to be older than jail bait, but that’s just me being an old fart I guess.

Everything but the Girl
So, that’s the end of dolls for sale, now I also got some clothes for sale.  Some of them are my designs, usually the long gowns in silk.  Others I’ve made from commercial Barbie patterns.

SilverFox front-1 lowres
Modeled by Vanessa, my repaint from the Metal series on an FR2 body.  This is my design and I’m chuffed to say I won an Industry Award for OOAK Design in 2014 for it, only in a different version.  That’s the good bit.  The bad bit is that the tulle has sparkly stuff on it and it tends to fall off – everywhere.  I will not be buying that tulle again.  However, I think most of the excess has already fallen off.  I also love hats and headdresses of all sorts.  You might have noticed that important people wear them a lot, like the Queen for example.  They also wear crowns a lot, and other stuff on their head, all of which screams ‘celebrity’ or ‘aristocratic’ or something like that – except for Americans, they don’t seem to go in for that sort of thing.  I’ll leave the cultural analysis just put up pics of the rest of the outfits.

CloudSilk front lowres
Cloud Silk (I also love feathers as well as silk).

Lavender front lowresThe Scent of Lavender

Magenta front lowresMagenta (my imagination failed me here for a name)

SilkLizard front lowresThe Silk Lizard

SummerRose front lowresSummer Rose (sadly, nothing chic came to mind, but it is a very chic early 1960s outfit)

Tartan front lowresTartan Tantie (I rarely post dolls with their hands on their hips, but it seems to go with the title)

Westward front-1 lowresWestwood Ho

Yes, it’s a bad pun on westward.  The outfit is inspired by the devine Vivienne Westwood, who is not so easy to adapt to one-sixth scale.  I did see the dress this is modeled on several years ago at the NGA.  This is nothing like it, but it is tartan, and it is silk.

Hopefully they will all be up on Mister Dollface tonight.