I have no excuses that are good enough (work, flu, a landslide of economic woes ~ none of which ever stopped me from doing the fun stuff in my life before). Maybe I am just getting old and can't keep up like I used to. When I failed to post all last week I wondered if I should just stop kidding myself and give up already.
But I won't and here's why: I have an enormous (ridiculously so) collection of 19th Century-themed dolls to share and I created this space to do so. What's the point of collecting anything if you can't show it off, right? Secondly, I am working on dolls and will hopefully start posting them. I know that if I can just get the momentum going, it'll all work out great. I just keep getting pulled in too many directions.
So I'm recommitting myself this weekend and will hopefully be back on track tomorrow with Fashion Plate Friday. For today, above is a 19th Century fire engine (one of my peculiar loves). I don't own this one, but came across it while browsing on eBay (naughty me). The asking price was outlandish, but it's pretty enough to share here. No idea the source or date of the postcard. Probably early 20th century, but the engine itself is definitely a Victorian-era model. Click on the image to srr it in slightly better detail.
As punishment for being late with the Tuesday Tabs (it being Wednesday and all), I offer this absurd paper doll of a Victorian Gentleman Yeti (drawn on the spot and uploaded for your amusement). Without wondering why it takes me five minutes to put something like this together and yet I've been working on the "real" dolls for so long, I hope you accept this Yeti.
Feel free to download, color, print, and play with this silly little doll. If you come up with a wonderfully wild color scheme, send it to me at amdg.ihs @ gmail (dot) com and I will post it with a link back to your own blog or website! Or just for fun! Be creative! I put no patterns and very little detail on the doll and the clothes, but feel free to go wild (and even design your own clothes!).
It's all for fun, right?
This veiled mourning dress is from a round robin (how fun!) collection featured online
by Klein. It seems like deep mourning of this kind was already beginning to fall out of fashion at the end of the century. The "modern" age had everyone looking forward, moving faster, and spending a year in black as a widow was a fading ritual in mainstream American culture. Too much sentimentality for the new era, perhaps. Advances in medicine, too, had made death a little less common (and therefore more morbid) than it had ever been.
The idea of a paper doll round robin seems like such a cool thing. OPDAG
features one every quarter in their Paper Doll Studio publication (for which, sadly, my subscription has lapsed). We should have a round robin online!
Only one week in to my new schedule and I feel lamentably behind. But not for lack of working, I promise! In fact, I spent the lion's share of the weekend drawing so many dolls! Click on the image at the right to see the evidence with more clarity.
I've really been struggling with my doll anatomy and proportions for a very long time. Generally when I draw people, they tend to be on the short and compact side. I have a bad habit of making their legs stubby and their torsos too big. I learned how to draw paper dolls from studying the massive body of work by Tom Tierney
, learning especially how to handle hands and feet from his simple, effective linework. But I've always tried to avoid having my dolls look like his and in the end, the plain truth is that his proportions are pretty perfect and by avoiding scaling my dolls like his, I've basically been shooting myself in the foot.
So I drew 11 dolls this weekend, based on his style (anatomy-wise and also mimicking his large "stand" for their feet). On the one hand, I look at these and think: geez, they look like copies because the poses are so similar (especially the women). That makes me cranky. On the other hand, they're kind of nice-looking, generally, and it's rare for me to be pleased enough with my dolls to actually follow through on them (in case you hadn't noticed).
I'm going to continue working on these for the time being. Some of them need adjusting still (and a few I haven't decided arm positions just yet). And then next weekend I am hoping to go on a doll-making binge. And if you are still wondering when, oh when, am I ever going to get around to the clothing, I promise I have amassed a collection of reference materials the likes of which you cannot begin to imagine ~ and that once I am finally satisfied with the dolls there will be more clothes than you'll know what to do with!
2010 is my year of getting things done. Hang in there with me!
Today's fashion plate series are, as of this date, currently for sale at Collector's Prints
, going for a $39.99 a piece. This is a decent price for a 7x8 hand-colored plate of this age.
The dresses are definitely 1830s-style, but the plates appear undated (I cannot read the tiny writing at the bottom to ascertain if they indicate which magazine these originally came from). The lack of information is a little unfortunate, but the images are very nice and the colors are bright.
Gotta love those top-knots in the hairdos!
The 1830s strikes me as a sort of ugly era for women's fashion: the hairstyles are complex and a little bizarre by modern standards and the sloping shoulders and pouf sleeves seem unflattering to me.
I do love, however, the emphasis on teeny tiny feet (which seems more prevalent in this era than in subsequent ones, though women's feet will always be drawn like pointy little triangles throughout the century. The 1830s strike me particularly as having something of the ballerina implied in them, however.
First up from my collection is a paper doll book that doesn't exactly fit the model of this website (which focuses on the 1830s to 1900), but I had to share it anyway and will skate by on the assumption that these uniforms are from the 19th century and men's uniforms did not radically change in the 19th century until at least a quarter of the way in, by which point these designs (or parts of them at least) might be considered Victorian-era consistent.
At any rate, this small book was a relatively recent acquisition off of eBay, published by Wolfe Publishing of London and part of their "Historical Dress-a-Doll-Series" that sold for 60p in 1975.
I think what I love most about this format is twofold: it's a first-rate little piece of historical ephemera with short, but interesting notes about the 13 detailed dress uniforms featured (including French, British, Prussian, Spanish, etc.), but also the construction of the dolls themselves is so novel: with uniforms layered by each piece and including hats, guns, and other equipment. Let's face it, most paper dolls are designed for girls to play with and don't often include soldiers, so this is particularly exciting in that it not only includes soldiers (even a skull-topped "death squad"), but that it's designed in a unique way that lets you see the full complexity of some of these fancy old uniforms. Click on the image below to see one of the seven dolls in more detail.
This company produced several other books, though a brief search has shown them difficult to find. There is one on Victorian Costumes that I would love to get my hands on if it even turns up in my travels.
I'm running late, but determined to stay on schedule! For our first (and sadly brief) mourning post, I wanted to share with you one of Walter Plunkett's costume designs from Gone with the Wind
, featuring the character of Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton dressed in deep mourning after the death of her first husband, Charles.
While a number of the costumes constructed for the film production went off the rails in terms of historicality, the mourning dress worn by various characters throughout was generally very period-appropriate (which is good since Scarlett's flaunting the mourning attire is an important part of her character and the story).
The image here (and click it to see it up close in all of its watercolor glory!) was found at Dial B for Blogger
, a Spanish-language blog that features others of Plunkett's designs in a post honoring Gone with the Wind
's 70th anniversary.