Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Little Ozark Sawdust Doll

When the first settlers arrived in this
 part of the Ozarks they found a land
of virgin forest and intermittent
prairies. Wood was used for almost
everything.  It not only heated their
 cabins it provided the logs to build them.
Oak bark rendered the acid for tanning 
their hides.  Ashes were used for soap 
making and hulling hominy.  Charcoal
was made for heating their forges.
Maple trees yielded sap for syrup.  Ash
was chosen to make grain cradles, white
oak for wagon parts, black oak for
 clapboards and hickory for tool
 handles.  Cedar was used for tubs,
 churns and buckets. White oak was
 used to make barrels and kegs.  The
Missouri walnut made strong beautiful
gun stocks and furniture.
 The first water powered sawmill in
Taney County was built in the mid
1830's on the Swan Creek.  By 1850
 most tributaries of the White River had
one or more mills.

Needless to say it's easy to imagine
that sawdust made it's way
into many early Ozark home made
dolls.  As an Ozark doll maker I think
its only fitting that I make the
occasional sawdust doll.  Over time I
think this type of stuffing won't last
as long as wool, and it's a favorite of
little mice, the very reasons these
early dolls didn't survive.  But, it does
make a lovely period doll. 
Louis Allen a very talented local wood
worker has been saving his aromatic 
cedar shavings for my dolls.
(hopefully bug resistant)
She smells so nice
but, she's a little hard & lumpy.
A simple stitched face.
Her simple cotton chemise and
 pantalettes are hand sewn with flat
 felled seams.
I chose this mid 1800's reproduction
print for her dress.  I have had this
fabric awhile, never quite finding
the right doll for it.  The color is a
red orange and soft blue on a cream
background.  It has a coarse old look
to it, although it feels smooth. 
Hand crocheted lace.
Antique china buttons in orange.
The perfect fit for this fabric.
Hook and eye closures.
Period hand sewn.
She's been aged to have that
well loved look.  Although it
doesn't show much in the photos.
Taney Butternut

One of my blogger friends
suggested I use the name Taney
for a doll.  Just perfect for a
simple sawdust dolly.  Why didn't
 I think of that!
( Who suggested that?)
Mary at Colony Mountain Stitcheries
Thanks for that wonderful

She will be available at Early Work
Mercantile on the 1st of August.
(Taney has found a home in Texas)

History from "The Land of Taney"
By Elmo Ingenthron.


  1. Taney is wonderful. So simple and her dress is beautiful. I have been becoming more interested in making some simple rag dolls, but I know simple is ( not simple at all ). yours are great and so sweet.

  2. What a wonderful and informative post Sherri. I love your folksy dolls and your workmanship is perfection!

  3. Oh Sherri, I love your dolls, every one of them. I am a huge fan of cedar (use the oil in aromatherapy, love to carve it w/ a dremel, etc.) and I can only imagine how great this dolly smells. My hubbie's a carpenter, and has a thing for all things wood, so we enjoy hand made wooden/carved/built things.

    Her dress is gorgeous, and as always your sewing is timeless. I like that you didn't over-age this doll, she looks ancient, but still cared for.

    How tall is she? This is killin' me. I do not have the discretionary income to be buying dolls at this point, but if a doll could make me bust the budget, it would be this one.

  4. Sherri, what a wonderful doll and what a great piece on our wonderful Ozark hardwoods. (Afraid we will lose some of these beauties because of the horrible drought.) Taney's dress may be my favorite yet...your cartridge pleating is exceptional. When we get a long rainy day, I am going back over all of your sewing tutorials and practice and practice until I get this handsewing down. Taney Butternut really sings to my heart! And, I do know who suggested her it!


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