Sunday, November 29, 2015

Telling stories with paper dolls

When I saw this old photograph in the newspaper, I knew I had to make a paper doll out of it. It's a famous photo of a New Orleans prostitute in Storyville, 1912. The photographer was E.J. Bellocq.

I thought of Fanny Gray, the first paper doll published in America in 1854. Here is a review that ran in The Lady's Repository, 1855:

FANNY GRAY: An Amusement for Children 
This is one of the most unique and exquisite things of this season of beautiful gifts. It is in the first place one of the very best specimens of colored printing yet given by the Art of the country and then the intent of the play is excellent tracing by six illustrative pictures while a poem is read: the history of Fanny Gray from poverty to happiness amid wealth. As the poem is read the figures are altered to illustrate each portion of Fanny's career, the same face fitting into all the figures. The picture of Fanny's Cottage is very attractive but her name beneath wrought by the union of flowers, grapes, mosses and birds is the most delicate of exquisitely beautiful designs The whole comes in a box and is indeed a rare gift for the Christmas holidays. Mr Collins, 1 South Six Street, has it in Philadelphia 
Why not tell a story with this doll? That was the challenge for the New York Paper Doll Group. Here are the designs I made for the other members earlier this year. 

I named her Delia. What happened to Delia after she left her wild life in Storyville? Each member got to choose an outfit from her wildlife and an outfit from her future:

Fortune Teller 

 Boutique owner



Foreign Correspondent


  1. Love it. It's so fun to make your own paper dolls.

  2. Very cool idea. These look like a lot of fun!

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  4. Thank you for the positive feedback! I enjoyed creating the little "scenes" behind each outfit, and arranging it collage-style on a small card.