I have been working on a new larger doll and her dress now for a while which has been very difficult and labour intensive. I wanted her to be the most historically correct and authentic early English wooden circa 1740 so that no one could tell her apart from a antique. I had to make sure she was as perfect as I could possible make her and her dress, with all the attributes, correct face, body type, carving style on the doll and sewing techniques on the dress exactly like a all original antique example.
The dress was even more challenging as it is made out of a very rare and my personal favourite piece of the most wonderful 18th century reverse sateen true silk damask fabric I got from England last year or the year before. Its in one of my all time favourite colours which I had been looking for, for many years, the 18th century citron yellow which is seen in a lot of 18th century dresses in museums but nearly impossible to find today. Its so soft and shifty and thin so its so hard to work with but this makes the drape of the dress wonderful and the puddling effect of the fabric in the train I love as well.
Also, being a solid colour, every detail has to be perfect or mistakes would show. You can't hide anything like you can with a patterned fabric.
Everything had to be lined and backed to give some body but its really amazing now that its complete. The stomacher took me days to make which is rare but it is constructed like the real thing and I even carved and sanded super thin tapered bones out of bamboo for the stays / boning in the stomach which you can see through it.
I worked for over 12 hours on her bonnet as well and what a lot of work it was but it turned out really nice.
I am so pleased with this doll and feel its my best and finest doll to date. A doll that I feel no one could ever tell in person that it was not a antique as every element of the doll, the patina and the dress is exactly right and historically correct and I would not change a thing. This is rare for me as I am never 100% pleased with every tiny detail on any doll, being a perfectionist here. I hesitate to call her my masterpiece that I have been working towards creating for 7 or 8 years but that's really what she is to me.....and what several friends have called her who have seen a sneak preview.
One friend said.....
"Well, I think this doll is magnificent...one of the best you have ever done. I love her dress and presentation...the only thing that keeps her from looking like an antique is that she is not dirty or beat up. Great job, really."
My answer to this......"its funny you would notice the lack of dirt and dings on her. I said to Paul her dirt does not show up in the flash photos......In person, she has the perfect amount of dust (to simulate coal dust) dirt and subtle dinge in all the right places, collected between her bodice and bust line, front and back, the dress around the bottom hem and all the right spots from "250+ years of handling" and the dinge and patina in person matches from the doll, to the dress to the undergarments all equally so its there, it just does not show with the flash photography....... I bet it will show better in outside photos with natural light and no flash.....Also, her aging and distressing to the doll herself and her finish did not show up well in the flash photos......
We shall see how much her aging and patina and dinge shows in the outside photos when I take them.
In the meantime, I'll share some lovely comments from friends who have seen a sneak peek of her and also the flash photos of her which I am very pleased with.
"I don't know which side of her I love best! She is as beautiful from the back as she is from the front. The way the dress flows at the back is incredible. Funnily enough I am working on an article and the picture I have attached was in front of me when I received your email. The dolls have the same bonnet! I am in awe of your ability and congratulate you on this work of art. Thank-you so much for sharing her with me. Congratulations!"
"STUNNING! she is absolutely stunning. I love everything about her. Her face is so beautiful. I cannot single out any thing favorite because it is all perfect.
As always you have done it again. Thank you thank you for sending me all these wonderful pictures, she shows so well against the black.
"Your new doll looks truly fabulous, my heart skipped a beat when I saw it, a combination of the fabric you purchased from me and your incredible skill with cut and style, possible the finest doll so far."
"Oh my gosh, David, she is BEAUTIFUL. I absolutely LOVE this dress, you are honestly amazing. No one can touch or come close to what you two create."
"Your newest doll is certainly a masterpiece!"
"She is absolutely spectacular and impossible to tell from a antique! You have outdone yourself this time for sure! She is so lovely and the bonnet you made is a marvel in itself. So beautiful and I was shocked when I saw your hand and realized the size of the bonnet. She is perfect! I don't think people realize the time and effort that is spent making even the smallest elements of your dolls and their dress ensembles. Your said the bonnet on the new doll took over 12 hours? So beautiful!"
"There could not be a antique English wooden, any finer or more wonderful than this doll. No one, not even a expert, (but then again you two ARE the experts) could tell this is not a early antique English wooden"
"Oh my goodness David, she is a real beauty, you must be so proud. Her gown is so exquisite in cut, fit & style, a masterpiece indeed! The way the silk hangs and clings is quite mesmerizing, the colour is so rich and opulent, I think she has to be my favourite out of all your 'posh' young ladies so far; as you know, I have a real soft-spot for the slightly poorer more modest dollies. Thank you again for so generously sharing your creations with me, a wonderful set of photographs to wake up to this morning, what a perfect start to the day!"
Thank you to everyone for these lovely compliments. As per usual, click on any image for a large scale view.