My favorite type of dolly, is the one of a kind early American cloth doll.
I enjoy sewing by hand, I love the feel and look of natural fabrics, I am an avid history buff, especially our early American history. Those three things brought me to cloth doll making. To me a doll is a toy. It should be played with, dressed and undressed, hugged, told secrets & be a child's friend. Every time I make a doll I sincerely hope it gets played with. Even when one of my dolls is purchased by an adult collector, I suspect their inner child "plays" with that doll! Some of my dolls have a slightly aged look, accomplished with PG Tips my husbands favorite English tea, and a dye from walnut shells. It is natural and not harmful to children. My dolls are "new" old style dolls, I hope they get aged by the natural process of play, and eventually become a family antique!!
"MAKE DO DOLLS"
The doll of an Ozark pioneer child would have been made at home by the loving hands of a Grandmother,
Mother, or favored Aunt. As unique and creative as the imagination and sewing skill of the maker, these dolls were fine examples of a pioneer woman’s ability to “make do” with the few materials at hand. To my knowledge none of these early Ozark dolls survived the loving attention of their little owners nor the passage of time.............
Like the pioneers I sew my dolls by hand. All that you see on the doll and their clothing is sewn by hand with needle and thread and are my own design. Clothing is removable with hook and eye or draw string closures. I use 1800's reproduction print fabrics, linen, muslin, cotton and wool. Buttons are antique or vintage bone, shell, china, glass or wood. Lace and shawls are hand crocheted or vintage finds. Hair is wool or wool yarn. They are stuffed with wool roving or sawdust (cedar shavings) from the Missouri cedar tree. Each doll has a special wooden "Make Do Doll" tag and is signed and dated on their body. I truly enjoy the many quiet hours I spend creating each "Make Do Doll".
"Butternuts" was a common name
for the people of the White River Ozarks and their many children (eight to ten children was not uncommon) that wore homespun cloth dyed from butternut or walnut hulls. The color ranged from light tan to dark brown depending on the dying method.
Ozark pioneer women also used poke berries for red, sassafras roots and hickory bark for yellow, elderberries and dogwood bark for blue and horsetails for green. The "Butternut Dolly" wears dresses from homespun cloth in a variety of colors and store bought calico too!
"MISSOURI CULLEM DOLLY"
The 1860 Taney County census, lists three free Negroes living in Swan Township, (actual text) Jacob Cullem age 54, Mary Cullem age 50 and Missouri Cullem a female age 4. Little Missouri was born in Arkansas as they journeyed to Missouri to begin their new life as American homesteaders. It is likely that Mary and Jacob were freed slaves and Missouri was born a free American. Perhaps the first to live in southern Missouri. Jacob was a farmer, perhaps on a ridge not far from me. "Little Missouri" wears dresses of homespun and store bought calico too.
The Hatch Collection
Occasionally, I make a reproduction doll from the famous Hatch Collection of black cloth dolls.
These extraordinary one of a kind cloth dolls are fine examples of historic black American culture.