They're also great for my new craze -- repurposing. Vintage pillowcases are an infinite resource. Don't you love the smell of cotton percale still warm from the iron? Years of a hot iron is what makes these old treasures so soft.
Of all the French antique dolls, I believe the Bru dolls are some of the prettiest. That's why I enjoy recreating the 18" doll known as Bru Jne 11. Above is my latest version.
As a trained Doll Artisan, I paint the features like the original dollmakers did in the Bru atelier, or studio. The tiny lashes and brow strokes, the lips and the blush of the cheeks are as close as possible to a picture of an actual antique, which I go by when painting.
I did something new with this bébé, as this type of doll is called: I created handmade earrings from old Haskell-style nailhead beads. I found a huge lot of these beads on eBay, with doll earrings in mind, and this was the perfect opportunity to use them, since the original Bru Jne 11s also had pierced ears.
I love making the dolls, but my greatest passion is in designing and creating their clothes. I chose palest pink French organdy for this doll's frock, and I highlighted it with antique lace and a rayon ribbon trim. I used an unusual old length of lace from my collection, with antique lace insertion and edging already assembled to make just the right width for the collar and dropped waist skirt. I set the collar off with an heirloom knotted bow made of the tiniest rayon ribbon.
The bébé shows off her elegant ivory pointed French doll shoes that tie with pink rayon ribbon. I made her socks from a delicate piece of antique lace.
I found some wonderful wide French taffeta ribbon at Textile Fabrics here in Nashville. It makes the prettiest bustle to these old-fashioned dropped waist dresses. I repeated the effect with the bow in her hair.
This bébé doesn't mind showing off what she's wearing beneath her frock: a "combinaison" (one piece combination of bloomers and camisole) made from an old piece of eyelet fabric. Like just about everything else she is wearing, it is trimmed old pink rayon ribbon.
One other detail: She wears a handmade human hair wig. The old doll wigs were made either of combed mohair or human hair. I prefer working with the latter. After sewing wefted lengths of it to a wig cap, I cut and style it. I really like the chestnut color and natural curl of this wig. (I buy the wefted hair weave from hair supply shops.)
One of the great things about the craftmanship of antique reproduction dolls: It gives 21st century doll lovers a chance to own a doll that looks almost exactly like the antiques at a fraction of the cost. Unlike many reproduction dollmakers, I am particularly proud that I can offer these dolls to you at prices that are accessible.
I love sharing these beauties with you, and there will be more in the weeks to come. A great Christmas surprise for someone special!
Now is a good time to pick up this old store stock French antique lace that you'll be needing for that heirloom child's Easter dress or a christening gown or a special antique doll. It will be available on eBay for several weeks, then the pieces that don't sell will be available here at our La Dentellière lace market.
Thanks for looking. à bientôt...Tatie
As I may or may not have mentioned before, the color red is usually verboten for me, due to the intense rivalry between my beloved Nashville Predators hockey team and the dastardly Red Wings (whom we humiliated in the last two meetings, I might add). But, I relent at Christmas and Valentine's Day because the creative possibilities abound -- like this lovely lady in red.
She is a variation on a fashion plate from 18th Century French Fashions. (Any fan of the froufrou and frills of the Marie Antoinette era needs a copy of this book filled with color plates.) With the ubiquitous heart-shaped doily, foil greetings and one of the stunning roses from the Prima collection, she is a vision (even if she is wearing red).
There is something especially chic about the play of black and pink together. That, along with an illustration from French Fashion plates of the Romantic Era, inspired this Valentine doll.
This combination gave me a chance to use some of my treasured black lace as the underskirt. You know about my love for lace and the wonderful heirloom creations that it makes possible for children and dolls. But my collection also includes yards of enchanting black lace -- with a sense of mystery all its own. Stay tuned for its introduction here at Atelier Chéri and the opportunity to buy some of it at La Dentellière.
Last was this little ingenue arrayed in tulle and printed tissue. She also was inspired by one of the plates in French Fashion Plates of the Romantic Era, as was the black-and-pink number above.
The Romantic Era (during the 19th century) has been on my mind a little more than usual this Valentine's Day season. Not only is it my first as Mike's wife, but it finds me busy putting together a small family wedding for my precious daughter. Just as I made all of her little smocked and handsewn dresses when she was little, I am making her wedding dress. Amid clouds of tulle and organza, I am having a ball! Hope to share wedding pictures in the next week.
First as a young mother creating heirlooms for my young daughter and later as an antique reproduction dollmaker, I have collected so many old laces and trims. I have shopped the flea markets in Paris, antique stores in Burgundy and Normandy as well as many small stores across the American South.
I am once again offering these beautiful goods to the public, with an introductory sampling, including favorites from my last two trips to France. I will regularly add similar goods to the
“new old stock” on my La Dentellière pages. Visit often to see what is there, and stay tuned to Atelier Cheri for the latest news.