Izannah Walker STILL Has Something to Say!

I am a dollmaker and artist. I am also a 21st century girl living with the heart of a woman from 1850. I've always loved old things - poking around at flea markets and Granddad's attic when I was a girl.

Once, when I was 12, my cousin Julie and I went into the attic at Granddad's house. Granddad with his usual humor and generosity told us we could have anything we wanted up there. So up we went with Post-its (which were a new phenomenon back then) to put our names on various curiosities. I put my name on an old sewing machine, a trunk, etc. 30 Years later someone was cleaning out that attic and found those curiosities with our names on them. The love of old things is alive and well in Dixie Redmond, the heart of Northdixie Designs.

A year ago I had no idea who Izannah Walker was. But a lot of old dolls purchased to sell on Ebay got me watching present day dollmakers, such as Dolls of Yore aka Teresa Baker on Ebay. I was enchanted with a reproduction Izannah Walker doll she made. I e-mailed her and she set me on the path of learning about Izannah Walker and I began to use my background in art to make folk art dolls.

There's not a lot known about Izannah Walker - not like there is about Martha Chase or Kathe Kruse. She was orphaned at an early age and lived in Rhode Island. The reason she made dolls was she wanted a safer doll for children than the china dolls of the day. China dolls are easily broken and could cut a child who fell on it. She applied for her own patent for her dolls after decades of making dolls. Legend has it that she lamented she wasn't a man. Apparently she was an inventor as well outside of her doll-making (which is an amazing process for 1850). But I admire very much her ability to have a business in a world that didn't make it easy for women to be in business.

In September of this year, my study of Izannah Walker took me to Camden, Maine to Lucy's Doll House. Lucy's Doll House is an antique doll and miniatures store on one of the quaint streets in Camden. Lucy Morgan and Susan Singer are the owners of Lucy's Doll House. They have some very rare and beautiful dolls and yet somehow they've managed to create an environment that retains a sense of play and display, which is difficult to do with old dolls. What a beautiful shop and what lovely, gracious owners! (I'll write a more detailed account of my visit there another day). My main motivation was to visit what I've come to think of as "The Izannah" which was purchased at the Skinner auction earlier this year.

After the visit with "The Izannah", I decided to make a doll that is reminiscent of her. It is a kind of rite of passage for me as a dollmaker. Izannah's dolls are so simple and yet they have such a sense of timeless presence. Trying to emulate a great dollmaker is HARD. She really mastered the simple form. And check out the picture above, don't you see a resemblance to Mona Lisa? I hope to have my own Izannah inspired doll ready and listed on Ebay by the end of the week (my Ebay name is northdixiedesigns).

Thanks for reading this -- I hope that you've found it interesting. Check out some of the pictures of Izannah Walker dolls online, or better yet, fly to Maine and go to Lucy's Doll House to visit "The Izannah"!

1 comment:

Annie Beez said...

Dixie What a wonderful introduction! You can add "writer" to your list of talents! I LOVE that Izzy picture! Your pics from that trip are some of the best I.W. pictures I've ever seen!~Annie

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

John Wooden