Why I Bought an Izannah Walker Doll Kit

This may seem like an odd post from someone who sculpts her own Izannah Walker inspired dolls and has designed her own Izannah Walker doll pattern AND writes a blog dedicated to original antique Izannah Walker dolls since 2008 (the Izannah Walker Chronicles). 

Why buy a molded head if you can sculpt your own
and you own an antique Izannah Walker doll?

Molded doll head from molds owned by Lynda Hampton.
Painting by Dixie Redmond. 
I have two heads made from the molds which Lynda Hampton of The Little Hamptons now owns. One was given to me as a gift by a friend (not Lynda), and the other I purchased to finish for a friend, because that specific face/head mold is meaningful. After having spent some time working with and painting this molded head I have some thoughts to share. These are my thoughts and others will have other opinions. That's fine. 

First off.  There is nothing wrong with making reproductions and 3D copies of original antique artworks as long as you are not passing them off as original antique dolls. Think of the many posters or reproduction giclees out there of master paintings.  We can still enjoy them, knowing that we are only seeing a piece of what the original work is about.  These molded heads do that - they give some of the feeling of an Izannah Walker doll.   Some.  But they cannot convey the complex beauty of the original cloth antique dolls.  

Will these casts of original Izannah Walker doll heads hurt the market for one of a kind artisan-made dolls inspired by Izannah Walker? Maybe in the short term. I think they will be their own kind of series. It will be interesting to see what people do with them. As the ability to easily make 3 dimensional copies of things increases we will see more of this.  But the very technology which makes it easier to make 3D copies will eventually underscore the value of the completely handmade item by an artisan. 

It was fun to paint this head.  I suspect many people out there would enjoy painting them, especially people who feel they cannot sculpt.  But you still have to have (or develop) painting skills in order to end up with a satisfying doll.  A plus for working on a head like this is you get the feel of the shape of the volume of the original Izannah dolls while handling it.  Not that you want to copy the head, (Not at all! Never!) but handling gives you a sense of mass of the original head when you work on your own one of a kind sculpts. A con to making a doll with this head is the most I can lay claim to is the painting.  I would sign it, "painted by Dixie Redmond."  I like to be more fully involved than that.  And I like painting on a stockinette fabric covered head. 

Bottom line?  Doll Artists, keep at it.  There is something special about a creation sculpted and painted by one hand.  But there is room for both kinds of creations. I wrote a similar post on MAIDA Today a few years ago when dolls made from molds of original Izannah Walker dolls first came on the scene.  The reasons I will still be making Izannah Walker inspired dolls are there.  

Yes, Even More on Making Christmas Ornaments
and How to Make a Feather Tree

Cart Before the Horse Strawberry Ornament

View all Christmas ornament posts here

I really love making Christmas ornaments and I love buying them from artists as well.  Each year I've done a post on making Christmas ornaments

At left is an ornament I bought from Cart Before the HorseIt is so fun to pull out these artist friend's ornaments each year.  

I'd like to make a feather tree of sorts this year to hold some of my artsy ornaments.  

Below is one made by Megan Holloway of the Merry Ghost.  

Ornament made by Megan Holloway of The Merry Ghost

There are some lovely feather trees out there made in a traditional way.  And there are some very interesting modern approaches!  In searching how to make them, I found  Jane Avions's tutorial.  She uses an old technique and updated it a bit using a new material.  You can visit Jane's site for a tutorial.  Original feather trees use goose feathers for the evergreen "needles".  Jane had a cool idea to use "furry" yarn.  

Feather Tree Tutorial by Jane Avion

I saw another idea on Pinterest 
where BoogieBoardCottage
made a feather tree out of paper! 

Do you still want to make a feather tree 
in the traditional manner?  

~ Dixie Redmond

Not Feeling Christmasy?
Remember Christmas in 5 Ways

Each year I repost this because *I* need to read it.

(This is a repost from Christmas 2011, but I thought it bears repeating). 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that
 he was not feeling very Christmas-y. 

I replied, 
"Define Christmas-y."

I'm not trying to discount his feelings.  What I mean is,  

"What makes you feel like it's Christmas?"

When we don't feel Christmasy it's because we're comparing our "now" with some memory from the past or some image that's presented in society.  And often it doesn't measure up.   Sometimes we have real reasons that we're feeling the Christmas blues.  Maybe we're lonely or depressed.  Maybe we're overwhelmed and harried.

Many years ago, when my son who has autism was small, I had to adjust my views of Christmas.  In my growing up, Christmas was about a big toy opening fest on Christmas Day.  I thought I would bring that to my family tradition when I had kids.  But my son at the time had no interest in toys.  So shopping for Christmas presents was painful.  It highlighted that the path we were traveling was a different one, and I didn't know the way.  Sometimes I still feel that twinge when I walk the toy aisles.  Going to Christmas events was either impossible or very hard when my son was young.  My husband and I spent quite a few family Christmas parties off in another room sitting under a blanket with my son, who was completely overwhelmed   I was sad during this time.  And I felt lonely.  This wasn't the expected path.   I had to come to terms that the Christmas season for us was going to be different from what I had envisioned  It wouldn't be a recreation of my childhood Christmases.

Here's the manger scene 
as set up by our son with autism....
I'm not changing it. 

Yesterday I saw a friend at the grocery store who wasn't going to be able to do all the things that Christmas brings because of a busy work schedule.  My suggestion to her?

Pick 5 Things to Do

Pick 5 things to do that if you don't do them it doesn't feel like Christmas.  And forget the rest.  That list will be different for everyone.

Here's our list:
  1. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it as a family.
  2. Listen to and sing Christmas carols.  Pandora.com is great for this.  Type in your favorite Christmas carol, your favorite artist and listen to lots of wonderful Christmas songs.  
  3. Hang lights.   This year we hung some colored outdoor lights that remind me of the giant ones that used to hang at Granddad's house when I was very small.
  4. Make cookies and/or cinnamon dough ornaments.
  5. Read the biblical Christmas story at Bible Gateway.   Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20.  
Of course, there's more.  I didn't put presents in, and we do that.   But you get the idea.  Make a list that is YOUR list of what preparing for Christmas means.  For some people, it means putting up 12 Christmas trees around their house.   For others, it means volunteering.   

Accept Your Un-Christmasy Feelings    

Accept that in this year, you may feel like the tired shepherds away in the fields working the graveyard shift.  You may feel like Joseph trying to find a place for his family to sleep in a strange city. Or like Mary, waiting and wondering what is to come.  Perhaps you're the harried innkeeper trying to wedge in another paying customer.  Or maybe you are like old Simeon and Anna, who had been waiting a long, long time for the birth of the promised Messiah.

Christmas still came for all of those people,
despite how they were feeling. 

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden


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