Monday, February 25, 2008

March Hares and More Madness for Alice.....

The March Hare is finally finished...completing the tea table trio that treated Alice to such Wonderland madness. His jointed wire limbs are so poseable--it's the same type of rotating limb used to create the Cheshire Cat's head. The only thing that worries me is his expression doesn't seem quite mad enough....but I'm hoping his crazy side whiskers make up for it.

I've made a few Alice things for the shop this week (they're not posted on the site yet). The flamingoes and hedgehog croquet balls aren't ready yet, but the "pig baby" finished his final tea dyeing on Saturday. He's so cute I may make a version for auction (a little bigger, of course), using the same topsy-turvy design.

One moment Alice holds the Duchess's squirming baby (just like in Tenniel's prints)....

The next, a little pig.....

The rocking horse fly actually rocks on his wavy little wire frame (he's from Alice through the Looking Glass). I took a photo of him with Alice, just because he's so cute...this one shows him by himself, with his raggedy muslin tail and polka-dotted body.

The first doll cradle should be ready in another week. I'll post pictures of it with Margaret the Doll ( a prim little muslin girl I made just for me). Hopefully, the bigger doll cradles will be ready for auction soon, with a few doll babies to boot......

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tweedledum and Tweedledee...the Battle Begins...

I finally finished the celebrated duelists in "Alice through the Looking Glass". This week, they'll up for auction as part of the Wonderland series. Their grungy striped legs weren't so much the problem as fitting all the pieces together with wire and glue to create the separete-pieces look for the shoes and stripey stockings. And extra grunge was added, courtesy of cinnamon and sanding. I'm pleased with the result, but there's always a little part that wonders...what would it look like if I had done "this" instead...or "that" instead.....

My favorite for this week, hands-down, is the Blue Fairy. The blue dye for her dress has a soft green effect to it, so pretty that I can't wait to dye more fabric for future projects. I gave her the "Roman drape" type dress I first experimented with in the Lady Libertys (who'll be back for this 4th of July). Her tiny little face has such makes me think I should make a Pinocchio soon to match her.

Other than woodwork in the shop for the Online Shop, it's been a quiet week at Cordwood Cabin. The cats are covered in sawdust from mouse hunting while the wooden houses are cut out and fitted together. Mouse, of course, is the best hunter of them all (since Sabrina refuses to set foot in the shop, mostly on principle). Poppy is too distracted to notice the scent from a busy mouse whose nest we found in the storage closet; but not too distracted to crawl into anybody's lap who happens to be sitting down.

Angus wishes he could come inside, too. But the cats have a rule that all dogs must stay out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Happy Valentine's Day to all the friends of Cordwood Cabin!!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sleepy Dormouse

"Twinkle, Twinkle"
Twinkle, twinkle, little Bat
How I wonder what you're at.
Up above the world so high,
Like a tea tray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little Bat
How I wonder what you're at.
(Dormouse chorus):
Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle....
--The Mad Hatter (and Dormouse).

The Art of Topsy Turvy

The history of the topsy turvy doll is colorful and imaginative. The idea that you can flip a doll over--and instantly find another one beneath intrigues us somehow, like the skirts are a magician's cloth. Reversible dolls are easy to find in every doll's field, including the primitive and folk art world, where so many of the early topsy turvy dolls were created.

{--Many of the early topsy turvy dolls were the traditional black-and-white dolls like these, in a range of colorful costumes and calico.

Fairytale stories were also popular in topsy turvy dolls. As the dolls progressed from simple homemade cloth items to newfangled rubber and man-made materials, the traditional themes were still emphasized. My first brush with the topsy turvy world was an article about the 1926 Cinderella topsy turvy, a Woolworth's item inspired by "A Kiss for Cinderella" the popular moving picture of the time. Cinderella seems very plain and worn in the pictures below, but her history, story (and innocent little face) made me wish I owned one, too.

(from rags to riches in gold...)

I still haven't found one abandoned in a flea market booth or at the bottom of a garage sale box....

When I drew the pattern and details for this week's topsy turvy Cinderella, the themes and elements were the same as the traditional topsy turvy doll. A few elements of my own were added, like the gold-threaded sari fabric, inspired by my deep fascination with India's rich history (the design of her gown reminds me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast). Her stained workskirt was primitively hand-dyed, to give the worn, waterstained look of fabric left out too long in the weather.
(Needless to say, I'll be making another one of this doll for myself...)
We also encourage you to check out the many traditional and unique topsy turvy designs of our fellow Ebay artists...the primitive and folk art community creates many rich and colorful retellings of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and other stories, as well as the black-and-white dollies that were among the first beloved primitive dolls.
Our "rags-to-silk sari" Cinderella pictured above is auctioned this Tues.-Sun. (ends Feb 17).

Alice Seeks Advice....

"Which road should I take?" Alice asks the Cheshire Cat.

"Why, the road less travelled by, of course," says the Cheshire Cat.

Alice is confused. Who cares what road is less travelled in a place like Wonderland?

"Of course, you could go to the mad tea party instead. Do you like tea parties?" he asked.

"I'm not really sure about mad ones," Alice replied.

"Oh, they're loads of fun," said the Cat. "You should try one..."

Perhaps she should stick to rabbits for advice...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Kid's (at Heart) Stuff: The Art of Children's Books and Grown-Ups

{--A weird little variation on the Grinch's usual cover.......

I'm a huge fan of children's literature, especially the classic or "vintage" kind. I still have my ratty dog-eaten copy of Panda Cake (complete with crayon marks on the illustrations) and the book of Little Things my dolls used to read (just right size for tiny hands.

My last good children's book purchase was a 1920's copy of A Child's Garden of Verses. It's what I call "the good edition" since the illustrator is Jessie Wilcox Smith (of the Water-Babies and Back of the North Wind fame). This one's a little brown and beaten, but it's worth it to own a copy. I grew up with a 1940's edition virtually identical, but much battered from generations of readers.

Stevenson's verses have been reissued with multiple illustrators, but Smith's work is unbeatable for creating the Land of Counterpane and The Swing....

Monday, February 4, 2008

Cats Love the Sudden Warm Honor of Mr. Cheshire, Of Course

{--Mouse basks in the sunshine......

This week is unseasonably proven by the happy cats outside. They love sunshine and balmy breezes. Unlike Angus, in his big shaggy coat, the cats require a lovely warm fire to be perfectly happy in the winter. So today was the day for them.

{-- (did I mention Angus is wooly?)

Today was also the day I finished the Cheshire Cat. I took his auction photos today, after I painted the "leaves" for his wire tree. I kept posing his head at all these different angles, showing off his wicked little Cheshire grin (the Cheshire Cat is such an enigma in the story...I never know quite what to make of him). He's my favorite character, however, so I often use his image as my online avatar.

Hopefully, Cupid will be finished in time for auction tomorrow...I've watched him being assembled today, his wooden wings being "primmed" and painted....

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Tea Party

The Mad Hatter loves having guests to tea...

So Alice joins him at a little table covered by a lace doily, with a just-right-size tea set and cookies borrowed from the dolls who live in the old-fashioned trunk....

Despite the elegant settings, the Hatter continues to check his watch. What month is it again? And does Alice happen to have the year? I highly suspect his watch isn't working at all.

Poor Alice! Her tea cup is already empty! And she's beginning to think those aren't chocolate chips in the cookies, either.
This is all the Cheshire Cat's fault....she should have visited Tweedledum and Tweedledee instead....