I finished the Edwin Booth doll (more or less ~ there are a few details I may fiddle with before I call it "done, done"). I chickened out with a number of decisions, including painting his Hamlet costume properly (whoever designed that evil thing should be beaten soundly).
I am pleased, however, that at the last minute. I decided to give him some boots for Richard the Third (I just couldn't stand to see him standing there in bare stockings!). They came out really well, so that was a definite unexpected plus. I am still considering doing a second page with his costumes for Iago and Richelieu, but for now I am content to be finished with it. I expect to submit this to the Paper Doll Review, but I still have two days to chicken out of that as well!
Eventually I will post this doll in her entirety, but I just finished her face and was excited about how well it came out, so I wanted to share it. The picture here is enlarged somewhat so that you can see the detail. The actual heads are less than an inch tall.
So this is Emmie Fenton at 14 on the left, with her hair growing out after a bout of scarlet fever. I've always struggled with Emmaline's face because I describe her as being homely, but homely is hard to draw, especially on a character I like really well. So I tried to emphasize that she is not beautiful by giving her freckles and dark circles under her eyes (her health is never good), and otherwise making her plain in every way. Unintentionally, she actually looks kind of like me in this picture, which is okay too, I guess. The picture on the right is Emmie in her 20s (her hair all grown out again, and set back modestly). I tried to get a little maturity into her expression (or wisdom?), compared to the first face, but it may be too subtle.
I'll probably finish the body for this doll over the weekend. I want to make a few more Emmies (during the war and Reconstruction years, and then another one in her 50s-60s with white hair, etc.), just to get the full range of them like I intend to do with everyone else in this series.
Tom Tierney's presidents series is probably my favorite of all of his works for one major reason: with the various presidents as the focus of the books, Tierney is forced to come up with actual fashions for them! In too many of his other books, the male dolls seem to be secondary to the women and many of them have no dressing clothes (with the exception of, perhaps a hat). I love the presidents series because no matter what, they have to have outfits right alongside their wives, children, etc.
All that said, I don't have too many of the president books by Tierney. I have George Washington, Thomas Jefferson (one of the nicest he's made, I think), Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, and Andrew Jackson. Eventually I will want to get Teddy Roosevelt and maybe James Madison, but for now these are pretty much the ones I am interested in. The 20th century presidents, not so much. I don't know if there will be any more president books (seems somewhat doubtful), but I would have liked to have seen a couple more 19th century ones. James Garfield (morbid as that might be) would have been nice.
Andrew Jackson and his family was one of my most recent acquisitions. He's a wee bit on the far side of the period I tend to seek out, but I do like men's fashions from the 30s (the women, not so much). I chose this outfit to share in particular because it's sort of casual and has nice color; less stuffy than we might generally see people portrayed in this era. The set includes a few other interesting dolls, though it notably omits his adopted Cherokee son, Lincoya. Boo. Odd, that.
I have strong feelings about Jackson as a president (his policies might as well be classified as genocide), but he still makes a nice paper doll (and I love the underwear ~ that night shirt is hilarious). This set is still available from Dover.
I thought it only fair that I share some humble paper doll beginnings with you (in the interest of posterity, I suppose). More often than not I tend to destroy the dolls I create. I couldn't tell you how many have wound up being torn up and tossed out. but I have managed to hold on to one or two (or at least the costume parts of them ~ sometimes I am less critical of the clothes than of the dolls themselves).
For your amusement, I have posted here one of the first dolls I ever made. I won't say it is the first because I can't quite remember, but it was certainly one of the first attempts I ever made. This doll was probably made in about 1990 and I was motivated to create her because I had just made the rather astonishing (to me at the time) decision to give Lewis Fletcher a wife. I wondered what sort of woman would marry a person like Lewis and I knew she would have to be a simple country girl without any pretensions, that she would be pretty, but not wise, and above all that she would not be self-conscious or fragile in any way.
I designed her with a rough country look (in the dress that would later become her school uniform, though here it hardly looks period-appropriate). I also included an outfit with trousers and a fringe coat which I later decided she would not wear ~ I didn't want her to be mannish in any way. The doll was made with colored pencils on plain cardstock with yokes instead of tabs and outer layers (like the jacket and coat) that wrapped around from the back. The whole set was laminated to preserve the colors and keep it from smearing. I made a few other pieces that I didn't share here, but nothing terribly exciting. Click the picture to see more details.
I hope it's clear, when comparing this post to the previous one, that my drawing skills have improved over the last 18 years!
I don't understand why no one's made a movie about Edwin Booth. Maybe that's a good thing knowing the tendency to turn amazing historical stories into rubbish, but I think America has enough perspective at this point (and enough talent and technology) to do it up right. And what a story! Maybe it's just too depressing. I admit I get depressed when I think about him. But so far as pathos goes, his life's got it all: deep dark tragedy, true love, lost love, fame, fortune, dereliction and despair.
Anyway, I drew this for a project I am working on that has nothing to do with anything else that I have been working on, but which may actually be an actual submission to actual people. Scary, that. We'll see. If I can finish it this weekend, I will share more. There's a July 31st deadline and I am notoriously slow at these things sometimes. Click to see the full-sized image!
The painting is by John Singer Sargent and was done in 1890. For my own picture, I made Booth younger and gave him his Hamlet hair (and will draw a Hamlet costume to go with this), though the hair is not as long as he occasionally kept it. I am still working on the face, etc., so I may yet lengthen the hair.
The 19th century was dominated by the reign of Queen Victoria (and so is considered for the most part, the "Victorian" Era). Much as I like the term, it brings to mind a particular style for most people: the fashions of the "High Victorian" era, namely large bustles, high collars, and lots of neck jewelry ~ popularized by the beautiful Princess of Wales Alexandra (later Queen Consort to Edward VII), actually. When you think about the range of fashion throughout the century (Victoria was crowned in 1837 and died in 1901), calling everything "Victorian" can sometimes feel a little pointless, so I have opted to stay away from the term for the most part in favor of the American époques which break down into smaller, more defined sets of years/styles.
Nevertheless, I thought it was important to put Victoria up front and center since she still lends her name to most people's impressions of the 19th century, and because there are certainly a fair share of Victoria paper dolls out there (and I imagine there would be more if she weren't so sour and dowdy-looking most of the time). This particular one (click to see a slightly large image) is from Tom Tierney's Great Empresses and Queens. Tierney is probably the most prolific paper doll artist producing today. I have a lot to say about that, but rather than overwhelm, we'll just take it one day at a time.
I am still organizing content to fill here, but hello in the meantime! I am using this first post to set up the tagging feature. It's my goal to add new content at least twice a week, so even though this probably won't be a "daily", I hope you will subscribe to the RSS Feed and check back regularly!
One of the things I hope to focus on here is paper doll men, which I think are highly underrated and underrepresented in the paper doll world. So while you can expect to see an array of beautiful dresses, expect to see even more frock coats, military uniforms, and other contemporary occupational wear.