McLaughlin made some strange animal paper dolls in the 1890s (you can see some others if you click "animals" under the categories to the right. But this is probably the strangest I've come across.
I suppose it has charm; makes me wonder at all the creepy dolls and toys that are on the market today that 100 years from now people will wonder about the appeal.
Anyway, this is just one of those quick check-in posts to make sure I try to keep things going. Wanted to post about my current work-in-progress but I haven't worked up the courage for a reveal since it's still very unfinished.
I will say it's doll-related, but in a maybe unexpected way.
I will also say that I am still thinking of tearing down this site (and rebuilding ~ so no, it's not going to just go away). But it's lacked serious focus for more years than I care to acknowledge. I just haven't quite figured out what it is I want to do with it.
Came across this fun and unusual advertising doll, which is typical of the late 19th Century. These dolls always required assembly and I love all the parts! Wild Ike is a non-copyright-infringing variation on Buffalo Bill & Co., which was at the height of its popularity (fascination with the Wild West would see a precipitous decline within the decade ~ not to be revived again until the advent of television). America was climbing out of a depression and paper toys like this were relatively cheap. It was one of a series for which there were 5 dolls, with interchangeable costume pieces.
Found this example on eBay. I had seen one actually cut and assembled before, but it's really cool to see how it originally appeared on the page. Click the image to see more detail and read all that teensy tiny print!
In other news: I guess I have been gone for a long long while. Been very very busy on other projects and, having not made decisions about what to do with this blog, I guess I have neglected it. Thought about it all weekend, but apparently came to no particular conclusions. There's so much I want to do (with this blog, and in my creative life in general), and since everything is competing for my attention, nothing appears to be getting done.
So I have been trying to set priorities and paper dolls, while still a passion for me that I am not ready to give up, have slid down the exigency slope toward the bottom. Just for the time being. I'm sure as soon as I get organized, I can come back to this with renewed effort.
An exchange over at RLC's blog about double-sided paper dolls
reminded me suddenly that I hadn't updated my own blog since returning from a long visit to my sister's.So I thought I should share a few double-sided dolls I came across (I know not where) during my internet travels. This is an advertising set (though I don't know what the product was), and the figures are characters from the Pocahontes story.
I would love love love to make full-on double-sided dolls in the style of the 19th century, but I am horrifically daunted by the complexity of it ~ I can barely seem to get single-sided dolls together, let alone tackle something like this. Still, I do get all moony-eyed and hope-sick when I think about how totally cool these are.
In other news, I've got Frank all re-tooled (after finding my lost files), and will try to post his final plates this week. I have been to busy to make either his hats or his final street clothes, so maybe this coming weekend I will try to make that a priority. Since I don't know yet what I am doing with this blog, it's been hard finding time to commit to it one way or the other. But I ain't giving it up yet!
April 17, 1897: The title on this one is pretty self-explanatory. I forgot to do his hat again (I owe two hats now). The bicycle on this was such an incredible stretch for me that I quibbled over it for weeks! So that's why it took me so long. I finally just made up my mind to paint something approximating an 1890s bicycle and be done with it. Otherwise it would drag on forever and I'm trying much harder to finish things that I start.
Unfortunately, while all that quibbling was going on, I accidentally deleted all my other Frank Merriwell files (argh! fie on you, Dropbox!). That's the first time I've ever done anything to stupid, and now I have to rebuild everything to make printable plates. I can't tell you how much that stinks. So it may not happen any time soon. In the meantime I thought I would post Bicycle Frank even if he's missing his background stand thing (which he needs to cover his feet). He'll be properly finished in the plate.
Here is a lovely painting of two late 19th century pub dwellers sharing a bottle of absinthe. Can't date this precisely, but the hat tells me it's as late as 1900 or thereafter. Still, I wanted to include it because I love the candid expressions (aren't they just so full of ennui?). The painter is Jean Béraud
, who did a lot of wonderful moody impressionist work. I actually like this image more than the famous painting
by Degas; particularly for the gorgeous bottle of absinthe on the table. Delicious!Will be getting back to paper dolls this weekend. Also, Weebly has been timing out on its server (I've had to rewrite this post four times already and it's been happening all week) and connecting to the site has been a problem as well. I am thinking it might be time to move this blog to a better location.
Alas, I have no Frank to post today because I did no painting last night. But I don't want to lose the momentum of posting, so I am sharing with you today something in a similar theme: a pair of woman's bicycle boots from the 1890s. These are in the collection at the Minnesota Historical Society
and have an interesting provenance: they were made by the North Star Shoe Company in Minneapolis and worn by a woman who later ran for City Council and served as a land patent attorney in the 1940s. She was obviously a woman ahead of her time and these shoes are totally awesome!
September 30, 1899: Here's another one of Frank's non-Yale uniforms for a baseball team. Baseball was America's favorite pastime, but football was getting to be rather exciting as well. While Frank could compete in any sport, he was often depicted in baseball and football games. After these, it was mostly racing: running, cycling, crew, skating, etc.
Basketball was still a pretty new sport at the turn of the century (created in 1891). I've yet to see a depiction of Frank playing basketball, but of almost 900 issues, I've also only seen a limited sampling of covers, so it could be that I just haven't come across one.
No idea what the "M" stands for on this one. A local league, is my guess, since, again. Frank was probably in New York when this issue takes place.
I have a cycling outfit and another set of street clothes, but neither are painted. I may not get to them until next weekend.
December 2, 1899: One of the last issues before the turn of the century, this one depicts the rather interesting sport of roller-skate hockey. I don't know what team Frank is playing for, as this issue comes after he leaves Yale for a spell. No idea what the "V" is for, but aside from the unusual sport, I also chose to do this one because he wasn't wearing a "Y".
I was a bit sloppy on the design of this one. Frank's hockey stick is too short and it ran off the paper. I was going to "correct" these flaws in Photoshop, but then I got lazy (great, right?). All part of my plot to get over my perfectionism (at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it for the time being).
I have one more Frank piece to post tomorrow. There are at least three others I would like to paint, but I don't know if I will get to them before I run out of what's already done.
Tomorrow: batter up!
March 27, 1897: I can't really tell what the sport is in this issue as the picture depicts just a group of boys similarly dressed in what looks like maybe a boathouse having a confrontation. So my inclination is to say this is like a crew uniform, perhaps? Most likely a boat sport of some kind.
Frank has a lot of similar outfits to this: long-sleeved Yale blue knit tops and white shorts ~ basic all-purpose sport clothing. The "Y" is pretty ubiquitous on almost all of these.
Patten, who wrote the series, never went to Yale, but apparently did his research.
November 27, 1897: The Frank Merriwell series was supposed to run about 30 issues. When its popularity exploded, the writer and publisher had to prolong it, so they had Frank drop out of Yale due to financial hardship. By interrupting his college career, they were able to extend it (indefinitely if need be), and in the interim sent Frank on what was basically a whirlwind of international adventures.
He couldn't wear sports clothes while traveling and saving damsels in distress from wild leaping animals, so quite a few covers feature "adventure" or "city" Frank as opposed to "sports" Frank.
Can't tell you much about this particular issue, though I think it takes place in New York, where Frank spent some time working odd jobs before his globe-trotting began. These are street clothes common in the city: a standard men's suit and bowtie. He should have a bowler to go with this, but I forgot to make it. I'll catch up on that another time.