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!