Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Show and Tell: Schoenhut Dolls

Lisa over at  recently wrote a post on Schoenhut dolls, and encouraged me to write a post of my own.  So here goes!
The Schoenhut doll company was started by Albert Schoenhut, a German immigrant who came from a long line of toymakers.  He settled in Philadelphia and made his living at first by making small wooden toys (like the circus animals shown in the toy ad above) and musical toys, such as child-sized pianos.
His first dolls came on the market in 1911.  What made them so unique was the fact that they were completely made out of wood and used a patented steel spring hinge in their joints.  This allowed the dolls to be placed in just about any position and hold a pose--even standing on their heads!
The first dolls had what we in the doll world now call "character faces"--faces that reflected the characteristics of real children.
Isn't she a sweetie?
Patriotic fellow with carved hair
Another carved hairstyle with a headband
Some Schoenhut dolls came with wigs.  Notice the holes in her feet?  These were so that the dolls could be placed on a special stand specifically made for them.  I have never seen one these original stands--they must have been the first thing to get separated from the doll and thrown away.
This type of Schoenhut is known as a "bonnet head", because she has a bonnet carved into her head.
This mischievous looking fellow was one of the only a few named dolls, known as "Snickelfritz".
Unfortunately, just like with their bisque counterparts, the character dolls were never really popular.  Children preferred to play with the more generic looking "dolly-faced" dolls.  Schoenhut phased out the characters and focused on these types of faces instead.  I happen to have two of them:
This little sweetie stands a diminutive 14" high.  I bought her a few years ago from another collector in my club because I just fell in love with her small size!  (the doll buggy is a reproduction of an antique Marklin buggy, and the baby dolls inside are all-compo babies from the 1930's)
She is in very good shape all around, with one, small scuff mark on her cheek.  Because these dolls were painted wood, many of them have suffered some kind of paint wear.  My doll wears a replaced wig, similar to what the original might have been.  Her clothing is not original.
Like the majority of these dolls, she has painted eyes.  Schoenhut did patent a doll with moveable, wooden eyes in 1921--oh, how interesting I think that would be to see!
Here you can see how this doll is jointed.  Remember, she is completely made of wood with metal, spring-hinged joints, so she has more weight to her than an ordinary doll.  She is jointed at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles.  She can completely stand on her own...
...and even do a headstand!
She has a paper label on her upper back, and a stamp on her head.  I'm not sure what the penciled numbers "55-5" are that are written on her neck...maybe a price?
Complete back view
Ready for Easter!
I have never named this cutie...maybe I should remedy that?
I love her cute, pouty cheeks
My other Schoenhut...a cute little fellow also known as "Nature Baby".  He is approximately 15" tall.
He differs from his sister in the fact that he does not have a wig, and he has fewer joints.  He has the typical, 5 piece bent-limb baby body, jointed at the neck, shoulders, hips, and wrists.
He also has a stamp on his neck and a paper label on his back.
Here they are can see that he is chunkier and much more baby-like than his "big" sister.  She stands an inch shorter on a child-like body.  But I still think they are cute together!
There is much more to the Schoenhut doll than I have described here, so go check out a book on them from your local library or do a bit of research on the internet.  Some of the dolls are really fascinating!  I would love, love, LOVE to own one of the character faced dolls someday, but they are more rare and sell for thousands of $$$.  The dolly faced Schoenhuts, however, can still be acquired for reasonable prices on Ebay and at local shows, depending on the price.  I think I paid about $125 for my baby several years ago, and maybe $300 for the little girl.  (I really need to start writing these figures down because I don't do a very good job of remembering them!)
Schoenhuts are wonderfully, sturdy dolls that have a unique body articulation and an interesting history.  I highly recommend having at least one in your antique doll collection.
One last picture to amaze you with their poseability:
Have a nice Tuesday!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Crib Bumpers and Another Baby Quilt

 I really want to be sewing for my dolls right now, but for some reason, I've had so many other projects demanding my time!  One of them was this bumper set for a sweet, baby girl:
You may remember that I made a diaper stacker, dust ruffle, and valance several months ago for this same baby, and now the mama wanted me to use the leftover fabric to make a bumper set.  There wasn't enough fabric left for the project, so I made trip to JoAnn's (where the fabric was originally purchased) to see if they still carried the elephant print.  Well, of course they didn't.  I check three, different JoAnn's with no luck.  But I did manage to find the pink dotted fabric which matched perfectly, so that is what I decided to use.  The pattern was fairly easy and straightforward, but I always make things more difficult by adding more detail.  For example, instead of using ribbon for the ties which the pattern suggested, I made fabric ties.  Easy, but time consuming.  I also added piping along the top, curved edges. 
Cute, right?
My next project, which needed to be completed in time for a shower this weekend, was another baby quilt.  This time, I got to choose bright, primary colors since it is for a little boy:
I had actually made the quilt top several months ago, and then set it aside.  My original goal was to have several quilt tops made and set aside for upcoming baby showers.  This was the only one I got around to doing, but at least I got to use it!
The pattern is from a baby quilt book I have by Ursula Reikes.  I believe it's called "Even More Quilts for Baby".
My first Pinwheel quilt.  I'm pretty proud that all my corners seemed to match up well.
The back is a cozy flannel, as usual, and quilted in simple lines.
I am hoping (fingers crossed!) to get some doll sewing done this week.  I did buy my daughter some fabric for her Easter dress, so that may happen as well.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Just in case you're wondering...

Back in November, this little cutie joined our family.
Yes, we already had a dog, three cats, a parakeet, and 10 chickens.  Call us crazy for adding an energetic Border Collie puppy into the mix, but hey.  We just like to keep things lively around here, I guess.
Jasper, like all puppies, has grown faster than I could imagine.  Here is what he looks like now, just four months later:
Doesn't he have the prettiest blue eyes?
ANYWAY, this post is not about how cute and adorable our new puppy is, although I won't argue you on that point.  But Jasper is involved in this post. 
So, remember the teepee from my last post?  Well, while I was sitting on my bedroom floor, surrounded by what seemed like miles of canvas, my pin cushion suddenly went missing.  I mean, "it was right here" just a second ago" missing.  Seriously?  I hate it when that happens!  I figured it must have gotten lost under the fabric, so I grabbed some back-up pins and kept attending to my project.  Never mind that Jasper had just made a quick visit into to my room to say hello.  He does that a lot.  By why I didn't connect the missing pin cushion with his visit is beyond me.
Fast forward a few hours.  Yes, a few HOURS.  I am now downstairs, getting dinner ready, and a suddenly hear Jasper crunching on something.  He does that a lot, being a puppy and all, so it's not too unusual.  But I see something red out of the corner of my eye, and I decide I'd better investigate, just to make sure it's not something he's not supposed to have, like a kid's shoe, stuffed animal, etc. 
To my horror, this is what I find:
My tomato pin cushion!  Now, this picture was taken AFTER I'd removed all my glass-headed pins from the top.  And I thanked my lucky stars that I must have caught him just in time before he potentially hurt himself on those pins.  Then, as I started sifting through the sawdust that was trickling from the tomato, I discovered a new horror:
204 hand sewing needles and 8 sewing machine needles were INSIDE the tomato!  Did you hear me?  I'll repeat that in case you didn't...212 needles total were inside the tomato!  I've had this pin cushion for probably at least 8-10 years.  And I always stick my sewing needles in it when I'm done with a project.  Yet somehow, they always seemed to go missing.  Well, now I know where they all went.  People, I'm here to tell you that tomato pin cushions eat needles.  I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.  So there you go.  Just in case you're ever wondering why your sewing needles keep disappearing, there is now a logical explanation. 
p.s.  I don't know how Jasper escaped serious injury from this little escapade, but he did.  He obviously has someone watching out for him!

And in other news...I made a Teepee

I've done a lot of sewing in my days, and dabbled in a little bit of everything, fabric-wise.  I've tackled home-dec projects, garments, dolls, stuffed animals, diaper covers, you name it.  But when a friend asked if I would make her new baby a teepee, well, that was a first.  5 1/2 yards of canvas and what seemed like MILES of sewing straight seams later, here is the final result:

She provided me with an online tutorial which provided the measurements and directions to create every kid's dream play structure: The author claims to have made this teepee for only $22--not sure where she lives, but in my part of the country, the canvas fabric alone cost me $5.60 per yard, and that was WITH a coupon.  My friend provided the wood posts, and I'm sure they cost way more than the 37 cents a piece that the author paid for hers.  But still, I think this is a wonderful project to make for the kiddos that would keep them entertained for years to come.  My youngest is now asking for a teepee of her own.  I'll have to think about that one.  It wasn't terribly difficult...just horribly monotonous stitching all those long, boring seams (especially when I accidentally sewed a couple of panels together the wrong way and had to tear out the entire seam--twice!)  But the end result is enough to make me actually consider doing it again.
And here's a photo of my friend's nursery with the teepee, all set up and waiting for the new arrival:
Pretty cute, huh?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Meet Nicolette, my Bleuette!

Meet "Nicolette".  She is my pretend Bleuette.

Several years ago, I started hearing more and more about this darling, little doll called "Bleuette".  Standing around 10 1/2"-11" tall, she was quickly becoming all the rage among doll collectors.
After doing my research, I quickly discovered that I would probably never own a "real" Bleuette, given the fact that a true antique can cost thousands.  Not to mention, if I ever was fortunate to own an antique Bleuette, I would definitely  NOT be playing with it! 
Original Bleuettes were first created in France in 1905, as a magazine premium to encourage little girls how to sew, cook, etc.  Every week, the magazine (La Semaine de Suzette) included patterns for this doll.  By the time the magazine ceased publication in 1960, over 1000 patterns had been published for Bleuette!
Original Bleuettes had heads made by the French doll company, SFBJ.  My Bleuette's head is actually an antique head made by Schoenau & Hoffmeister, and her body is a vintage reproduction made back in the early 1980's.  The body originally had a reproduction head on it, but when I figured out that my antique head fit it nicely, I swapped heads and made my own "Bleuette".
Recently, I finally got around to dressing this little sweetie!  She is wearing a pinafore apron that is a copy of the actual pattern that was once issued for her in La Semaine de Suzette.  I had lots of fun hand embroidering all those little flowers in one of my favorite color combinations: blues and purples.
The original pattern is made to simply hang over the shoulders with no sort of back closure.  However, I added twill ribbon ties at the upper back, because I like how it looks a little bit better with some sort of closure.
The dress is a simple pattern in Bleuette's style from a doll dressing book I have by Rosemarie Ionker.  It consists of a front and back.  The fullness of the dropped waist is gathered at the hips by a silk ribbon, and the dress closes in back with hidden snaps.
I've also made her a pair of pantaloons, which you can just barely see peeping out from under her skirt.  My next project for her is a ruffled slip.
I love my little Nicolette and plan on making her more clothes soon.  She is really a fun size to sew for...not too tiny or too big.  I'd love to get more furniture in her size to display her with.  For right now, I only have the tin, reproduction stove.  Isn't it cute?  There are many sites on line that describe her history in more detail, if you are interested.  This site, offers reprints of her original patterns organized by decade, year, and even style.