Folk Art Changed My Life and
Questions About Izannah Walker Hopestill Dolls

Some people have had questions about my Hopestill mold (the mold taken from my antique doll Hope). So I thought I would take the time to share my plans at the end of this post about Hopestill dolls. But first, let me share my journey. 

I didn't know in 2006 that I would end up doing a decade (plus!) deep dive into studying Izannah Walker dolls. These wonderful antique dolls express the essence of 19th century folk art portraits in the round. My studies began when someone in the Yahoo Vintage Cloth Dollmaking group mentioned an Izannah Walker doll had been purchased by Lucy's Doll House in Camden, Maine. Another dollmaking group - Coffee with T - were excited that it was only an hour or so from where I live, and maybe I could get the group pictures? There were not many images of Izannah Walker dolls online at the time. So I set out to get pictures of the Izannah doll to bring back for the group. 

A friend and I drove to Camden for a getaway day and to go Lucy's Doll House.  I had never been to a doll shop before, so it was a new experience. I looked at the wonderful items in the shop. With permission, I took pictures of the Izannah doll in a glass case. But I couldn't get good pictures. We left the shop and went to lunch at a nearby restaurant on the water. While there, I said to my friend, "I wish I had asked to take pictures outside of the case." And she replied, "Well, we can go back." And I said, "You have not because you ask not." That's an old Bible verse, which are Jesus' words, I believe. But it's true. 

So back we went and I asked Sue Singer if I could take pictures of the Izannah Walker doll outside of the case and she said, "Why don't I bring her outside where the light is better?" And she took the doll on the chair outside and then went back into the shop. I remember jokingly saying to my friend, "Go get the car!"   JOKING only. Sue's kindness would became a springboard for studying Izannah Walker dolls. She offered me so many opportunities for study, which gave me confidence to seek out more opportunities (such as at Withington Auctions). I am so grateful for every opportunity. Some of the images I took and shared online brought buyers to their shop, and that made me happy. 

I didn't know in 2006 how that one visit to Lucy's Doll House would blossom, and where my Izannah Walker studies would lead me: 

  • Documenting Izannah Walker dolls - wonderful 3D examples of 19th century folk art portraits - would become a quest. The opportunities at Lucy's Doll House prompted me to seek out more opportunities to see Izannah Walker dolls. 
  • Begin a blog to share images of Izannah Walker dolls for other doll makers and those who study Izannah's works ( This led me to traveled to gather images. 
  • A memorable family vacation was planned around taking pictures of Izannah Walker dolls at the National Museum of Play. And we had a magical moment as a family in the Butterfly room there.  
  • Writing an article about Izannah Walker dolls with Edyth O'Neill for Early American Life. 
  • Growing in my own sculpting abilities in making Izannah Walker inspired dolls
  • Designing a doll pattern inspired by Izannah Walker's works
  • Leading three online classes about making Izannah Walker inspired dolls
  • Connections with people around the world who have bought my pattern and tried making their own Izannah Walker dolls.
  • My work being published in Prims and Art Doll Quarterly. 
  • a genuine love of sculpting with Creative Paperclay
  • Lifelong friendships
  • Buying my Izannah Walker doll Hope for my 50th birthday.
  • Having the opportunity to study the genius of Izannah's construction through Hope
  • Doing a presentation on Zoom about Izannah Walker dolls to the Dollology club during the pandemic. I learned things from preparing for that, and still refer to it when I am making my present dolls.
  • Making a mold of my antique Izannah Walker doll Hope - which I call the Hopestill mold. I made this using money my dad and mom gave me for Christmas and birthdays. 
  • Making poured composition replicas of my antique Izannah Walker doll Hope
  • Making pressed cloth Izannah Walker reproduction dolls using the Hopestill mold.
  • Designing a new body pattern based on my antique Izannah Walker doll Hope.
This brings me to present day plans. As I've been sharing on my Facebook business page dolls made from the Hopestill mold, questions have come up. Here are the answers:  

Will I be offering completed Hopestill dolls for sale?  
Yes. Dolls made from the Hope mold will be exclusively Northdixie Designs/Dixie Redmond creations. They will be made by my hand and offered for sale. If you want to keep up-to-date on when these dolls will be offered, I usually share on my Facebook business page dolls in progress. These creations will complete a circle for myself as I turn 60. Since I have a full-time job already (caregiver for my son who is autistic), these dolls will be what a friend calls "rare Dixie Redmond dolls."  I will be numbering the dolls as I complete them, and they will come with a hang tag indicating they are a Hopestill Izannah Walker doll made by Dixie Redmond/Northdixie Designs. Dolls from this mold offered for sale will only be made by me, Dixie Redmond. 

Will I be offering Hopestill molded heads and blank dolls for others to paint? 
No, I will not be selling molded Hopestill heads or blank Izannah Walker dolls from these molds for others to finish and sell. I decided to give myself the gift of Hopestill as I turn 60. 

Will I be offering a new Izannah Walker doll pattern?  
The challenges of the pandemic, caring for my son and my parents (who passed away in the past two years) put everything on hold for a while. In the past, I have worked hard to make my own creations AND share what I've learned with other doll-makers. After my son's graduation from school I didn't have the bandwidth to do everything I had done. I am trying to be more realistic about what I can accomplish now. I may be offering a pattern and a class in the future - I'm not ruling that out. But it will be with a different head design, and down the road a bit. 

Do you take commissions? Will you do special orders of Hopestill dolls?  
I cannot do commissions, due to circumstances. If you would like one of my Hopestill dolls, your best bet will be to follow this blog and my Facebook business page  where you can see dolls as they are being progressing. I will post when dolls are available and will set terms at that time for each doll. 

Will you take suggestions for dolls to be made? 
Sure. While I don't do commissions, I certainly will take suggestions of what people enjoy seeing. 

Will you be making dolls other than the Izannah Walker Hopestill dolls?  
Yes. I will still be making dolls of my own design that are not replicas of my Izannah Walker doll Hope. But for now I am focused on Hopestill dolls to celebrate turning 60 this year, and to complete a circle for myself. 

If you have other questions, please ask by email. 

1 comment:

McNally School said...

Isn't it amazing to reflect back and see all of the twists and turns that this journey of doll study has offered you? I'm very excited about your line of Hopestill dolls. What a perfect way to honor Izannah Walker and her dolls and the part that you have played in teaching the world about Izannah. I feel lucky that those twists and turns of your journey included making lifelong friendships. You have been an inspiration to me for many years. There are many more years to come! Who knows what the future holds?

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

John Wooden