Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas dress for a 19th century doll sewn on a Red Eye Singer

 Firstly, for my sewing machine loving, quilting  and needle-working friends. rejoice with me on  success in my quest for a Beautiful RED-eye SINGER. 

This was a lucky deal as I had been SEARCHING for one on Ebay and then ending up FINDING one in my own  neck of the woods  at a local antiques Shop for $75. I scarcely believed my eyes  when I entered this Shop on a whim,and there she was,  A RED EYE Singer, in wonderful condition!

 We brought her home, plugged her in and walah! Runs like a champ.

 According to the serial number this model was made in 1924, the last year they made the RED EYES, so  named for the red "eye" designs on the fabulous markings. These were first manufactured in 1910 as treadle and hand cranked machines.
For my first project using this machine , I decided to make a Christmas dress for this poor old doll...
These  Bisque head dolls with leather bodies, were made in Germany between the 1860's and 1900.
She has a patch on her back, and her WIG is disintegrating beyond belief, it's horrid.  Other than that, her leather body is in good condition for such an old gal.

 Having those black stockings and lacy pantaloons has helped preserve her cloth feet, stuffed with sawdust. Only 2 small holes appear. I believe the legging items are original to her.
I purchased her about 30 years ago and she has never had a proper dress.  She has worn this ghastly, ill-fitting old "rag of a gown", all this time.

 It was never HER dress, just a hand-me-down from some other dolly... but she was wearing it when I purchased her and HAS DONE, ever since.
 Referring to the full size pattern I used when sewing my own Charles Dickens dress a few years ago, I adapted the pieces to make a Victorian 1850's-1860's dress for this poor neglected soul.

 The RED EYE stitches very nicely, but I am having trouble adjusting the stitch size. Does anyone know how to change the stitch width on this machine? Also, I can't seem to figure out reverse; anyone?
  It did not take much time to make her a Christmas dress. The waistband on the skirt and bodice were hand-stitched, all else was done on the machine.
The dropped shoulders and billowing sleeves are typical of the mid 1800's

Tiny buttons and a few snaps, hooks and eyes, and the 19th century dolly has a new wardrobe. She will soon have a new head of hair,  I have ordered a wig for her. Mamsey Bear has lent her a bonnet and a cap..until she is able to have her own..


After all, Mamsey Bear has many bonnets.

This little linen over-blouse came with the doll and is very appropriate to wear with the frock, the colors mesh perfectly.

But wait, She has no name!
     Can you believe she's not been named in all these years?! Now, it is your turn, please name the dolly for me, keeping in mind she is from the Victorian period. I will take the names you provide, and on January 1st, I will ask her which name she likes best.
 You can email me with a doll's name if your prefer:  jeri@hopalonggreetings.com

The winning name will receive a lovely gift from here in Hopalong Hollow. I'll let you know about that soon.

For now,  I wish to thank those of you  reading this blog, whether you are a frequent commenter or tend to read in anonymity, Merry Christmas to all!
And from SCROOGE (he was an actor strolling past my booth) and myself, here is a Tiny Tim Christmas greeting: "God Bless us Every one!"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Home for Christmas

         Over 4 years ago, a large  and hefty black pussycat appeared in our mudroom and made himself quite at home. His name became Boris, and his attitude towards humans was all sugar and spice. But Boris had a darker side in his obnoxious behavior towards other kitties. He bullied all other felines and was, in fact, a terror to any traveling puss who dared venture into HIS territory. HIS territory being the entire farm, the barn AND the mudroom.  I named him Boris, the same as a cat in the James Herriot books,  who was a "Gladiator in a former life".   I thought it fitting. My Boris was not allowed in the house, lest he disturb the peaceful lives of our 3 senior kitties, who simply detested him.
    Despite Boris's  less than jovial personality, I really loved him and believe me, he had  a face only a mother could love, what with all the scars from fighting and the threatening glare in his eyes. Boris accompanied me daily up to the barn and after a preliminary  search for small fuzzy rodents, would sit patiently atop a bale of hay whilst I did my chores. Then, I would gather him in my arms, he purring loudly, and carry him down the  hill.
     Boris never strayed from the property, unless it was to chase off an intruding cat, so when he suddenly disappeared over 4 months ago, I was perplexed. I searched for him to no avail and pondered aloud " I wonder what's become of Boris?".   Boris was gone; my cats rejoiced, the mice hiding beneath the grain barrel threw a celebration party and the rats moved  back into the barn with all their relatives.I knew he was not off on a romantic holiday, as he was neutered, so I imagined that his past had caught up with him, and he met his demise when a former enemy, (another Gladiator)  ambushed him in a dark Hollow. Over the last few months, I continued to muse, "Whatever happened to Boris?"
    Last night, I entered the mudroom, and who do I see, head buried in kitty bowl, ravenously devouring kibble...??? That's right, BORIS.       
   He seemed no worse for wear, hefty and muscular as ever, albeit a few more scars on his face. He greeted me with a loud purring and contented countenance.  I brought him in the house and he sat my lap for hours.

The other cats are not pleased, but they have no holiday spirit at all and
                    I think it's grand that my big Gladiator is Home for Christmas!
 I do wish he could tell me of his adventures, they must have been quite thrilling to keep him away for 4 months. Whatever they were, his disposition has not changed, as you can see by the look on his face.
Maybe someday, I will find out...
When he writes his autobiography.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Early American Christmas at the Museum of Appalachia

Decorating for Christmas, Pioneer Style at the Museum of Appalachia.
 It rained all day long in our Pioneer Village.. I call it ours because it is a State Treasure to those of us living in Tennessee. It is ours, and it is yours too, if you love American History.
Cabin decor at Christmas is just as you would imagine....

 a cedar scented cabin, a wiry, woody tree festooned with paper chains, strung popcorn, orange slices, cornhsuck dolls and tinsel garlands. Each of the dozens of cabins has it's own, unique Christmas tree and  a mantle hung with knitted stockings.
 Carolers stroll the village dressed in woolens as peacocks, goats, sheep and horses browse the grounds. The only thing missing is snow!  I love this place and have posted extensively on it in the past.
I love all the make-do fences, walls, steps and gates... often covered in moss and lichens. But mostly, I love the log cabins.

 In this tiny cabin, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in such simple and charming displays.
 Berries, pine-cones, Oranges,Cinnamon sticks, Bay Leaves and fresh boughs from  nearby evergreen trees are placed upon the table, the mantle and in the corner cupboard.

  Sitting in a tin candlestick holder is a festive vignette from nature,
and this cedar tree is hung with sugar-dipped covered pine-cones and plaid ribbon.
 A basket of green leaves in an oak basket sits at the foot of the rope bed.
It is all so lovely in it's simplicity.

 Living a mere 40 minutes from this museum is a treat. This weekend I was doing a little book-signing in the Museum's gift shop and the silky grey shop cat sat in my lap for 45 minutes or so. He lives in the gift shop. They tell me he showed up 4 years ago and was such a wild little thing you could not even touch him. Now, he loves everyone.
on this day, he loved me.
A toasty fire crackled  all day in the shop to keep out the chilly, rain soaked air. I was inspired.

  Decorating for Christmas in our house, with Simplicity
Inspired by the pioneer decor at the Museum, I determined to give it a try.
      On one of our mantles sits this 14 inch long Beeswax leaping rabbit. He is adorned in rose-hips and pine  gathered from the woods. My friend "Bunny" made this rabbit, ( yes, that is her real name, and she makes bunnies)
She and her husband create these and numerous  other images molded in beeswax. Her husband  inherited hundreds of candy molds from his Grandfather who was a chocolate maker in Germany.

Here is a row of vintage Santas on the Parlor mantle.
 My mantles may be a little more ornate than those in the cabins, even though I am trying to be frugal.

  It's not all that easy to decorate Pioneer style...when you  have a bunch of Santas in a box.


One feather tree with red stitched samplers and wooden Dutch shoes, that's pretty simple, right?

Berries and bay leave garlands atop the curtains, easy to do and very Early American.

  The only thing I got carried away with, was my toy display; then all my decorating frugality went out the window.

This feather tree has these wonderful little sheep/candle weights ( made by the same friend who made that big beeswax bunny).

Since the tiny tree is covered in sheep, I decided to put fuzzy farm folk beneath the tree as well.

Don't you love those little donkeys?!
Next, I had to add the
.Dollies in a Shoefly rocker beneath the tabletop tree,

And a buggy full of Teddies old and new to add to the festivities.
  Okay, I am finished! That is, until I decorate that Douglas Fir in the Keeping Room. So much for my Pioneer Decorating.
Oh Well, I can't help myself, I love Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

WHEW! bring out the Holly and the Ivy, the needle and thread

What a year! I don't know how many events we participated in but it was A LOT, and we are happy to be done with the shows and festivals. Aside from a few local book signings, our season is over and we are free to breathe a sigh of relief and spend the next 4 months doing as we wish.  HURRAH!  Out come the needles, twist, paints, pencils and brushes; it's time to start creating STUFF!
  I will be pouring over the online catalogs to replenish my supplies of Mohair, wool roving, glass eyes and armatures to create the many characters that inhabit "the Hollow". 
My creatures are to be Christened :
     There was a fabulous artist at the show in PA. who created the most  realistic rabbits out of mohair and felting, her characters had a marvelous look that was all her own. That's  important  in any artistic endeavor. It's great to be inspired by
other artists, but in the end, one needs to create their own style, hopefully a distinctive style that will stand out in the crowd on it's own merit.
This is especially true of sculpted critters, because their are so many wonderful doll and bear artists. Therefore, I have been practicing on my animal heads until I have them looking as I think they should.
              I have this  pile of Head blanks I had sewn from ordinary wool fabrics and  plush felt.
These, I am using to build upon with Wool roving, embroidery thread and mohair.

 My goal is to accomplish the same feat I aim for in my illustration; that is, a blending of realism with  whimsical anthropomorphic fantasy. You know, Hopalong Hollow-ish?
  It will require a good deal of  trial and error, I am still new at this.
Lopsided faces, perhaps... but then, few of us have a perfect face, right?
When I painted the 400 rabbits in my first book, I somehow managed to give each individual bunny a unique look... or maybe I just couldn't replicate the same rabbit over and over again?

Getting those eyes on straight can be a real pain sometimes.
I am getting a chuckle with this little bear and his extremely long nose; needs some long fur surrounding his muzzle, I'll add that as I go.
So far, I like him, he has personality.
Below is my first squirrel, so it will require a lot more practice, looks a little messy right now.
I am using my own storybooks for reference pictures,
and I know that little squirrelys have tiny hump noses, large black eyes with a heavy lid and small ears with a pointed tip.
Hmmm, looks more like a chipmunk? Well, he/she won't look a bit like a chipmunk when I give her/him a long bushy tail!

Practice make perfect... or perfectly imperfect.
I predict this little Bushybottom will be an aggressive collector of acorns.
Are these boys or girls? I don't know until I try a variety of hats upon those noggins, then I will know for sure.

 This is a lot of fun and a natural progression for me in my art life, for I dearly love animals. That is why I paint them, write stories about them and have a farm full of all creatures great and small. What a fun journey to begin adding to the population of Hopalong Hollow with fat and fuzzy and feathered creatures!
In addition to this project, I have a few more on the burner, including my own punch needle kits and the beginning illustrations for my 4th book. I will update as things progress. So happy to be back to the blog world. Now, time to visit all of you whose posts  I have missed out on for weeks! See you soon my friends, fondly from the Hollow, Jeri