Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Lonely Doll project

Edith reads to Little Bear, vintage-tint photo

Edith and Little Bear with their Lonely Doll book.

Edith sits down to eat.

Edith looks for her winter clothes in her trunk.

Edith shows Little Bear her winter woolens.

The first image in black and white.
A couple months ago I think I mentioned I had finished another version of my Edith doll. She is my rendition of the antique Lenci doll used in The Lonely Doll books by Dare Wright. My first Edith was made of 100% felt and disk-jointed like the old Lenci dolls. I finished this doll in November and expected to sell it for Christmas, but I had some unexpected complications. My grandmother came to stay and became very frail. I spent the weeks before Christmas caring for her two days a week and wasn't able to get the doll's clothes finished.

Even if I could have finished the doll before Christmas, I would definitely not have had time to finish the entire project. I really wanted to try some photos like those in the original book. I have been fascinated by Dare Wright's photos since I was about 10 years old. After I discovered these books I remember my friend, Elaine, and I tried to replicate them using my Barbie Dream Store and dolls. The photos were cute, but nothing like Wright's.

Of course, Dare Wright was a professional photographer with a career that spanned the globe. It seems like she had a special talent with her dolls and bears. Even the new book starring Edith and using the same doll, just doesn't capture that spark of life Wright could create with her camera. I wasn't sure if I should even try to take more photos. I did take some of my first Edith doll, which you can see in my Chasing the Lonely Doll post. Those weren't what I'd hoped. This year for Christmas, though, Jerry gave me a new iPhone and I have been going crazy with the Instagram and Photoshop Express aps. I was able to get a vintage look in color and black and white, and I was pretty happy with the personality the doll has in them.

I also revised the doll a bit this time. My first doll was smaller; only about 16 inches. I redrew my pattern so the doll is 18 inches. Now she can wear most of the doll clothes made now. I also tried different disk joints, made of Masonite and metal rather than plastic. These joints are largely unavailable now, but I found some in a doll shop in Michigan this summer. The joints were still too loose, so I also added internal stringing. The stringing tightens the joints and allows the doll to stand alone and hold more poses.

I plan to keep making felt dolls and trying to improve mine. I hope someday to perfect both my dolls and my photos as Madame Lenci and Dare Wright did.

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