Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paper Doll Studio Issue 101

A truly fabulous issue from Jenny and company. You can order your issue here.

Click above image to read. There are all kinds of goodies in this issue, including David Wolfe on Think Pink, the famous musical number from "Funny Face," Brenda Mattox on Painting Pink and Evie Fullingim on Elsa Schiaparelli, who introduced shocking pink to the fashion runway. Eileen Rudisill Miller is the featured artist, and has an essay about how she started out and grew as an artist. It's one of my favorite features in Paper Doll Studio.

Every page of this issue is filled with artwork submitted by artists who take up the theme of pink in their own way. And Bruce Patrick Jones provides the icing on the pink cake!

Also in this issue: the artist challenge for a forthcoming issue and it's a beauty:  Dress a Bridal Party! Four figures--bride, groom, maid of honor and flower girl--have been drawn by the artist Norma Lu Meehan. Some of the submissions will be used for the magazine, but others will be collected in a book, a follow-up to the Paper Doll Artists Gallery of a few years ago.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Brownies Theater, 1895

 From the Dec. 8, 1895 Boston Sunday Globe,  a play theater. Above, the proscenium.

 The stage above is set, with places numbered for the actors to hit their mark.

Presenting: the Brownies. Alas, I only have a few of the actors and their props.

Palmer Cox was a Canadian artist who created strange elfin creatures with round heads, little pot bellies and skinny arms and legs. Toy Collector has an excellent overview of the Brownie craze. I'm not even sure the Boston Sunday Globe art supplement had license to use the Brownies; apparently the beloved Brownie was adopted freely, with few if any alterations. You'll often see the real deal touted as "Palmer Cox's Brownies," so you know Mr. Cox was fighting for control of his creation. I remember the Brownie camera was marketed as late as the 1960s. Toy Collector says Kodak was not authorized to use the name or character when the camera was first introduced more than 100 years ago.

I love theater of all kinds: puppet, toy, Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theater, and reading about old time vaudeville. One of the best movies about the theater is "All About Eve." I'm on a Stephen Sondheim kick (saw the great "Follies' last year), and highly recommend his book about his creative life, "Finishing the Hat." 

Below, some random theater-related items from my collection.

A new postcard of a vintage magazine cover. The great Billie Burke was married to Florenz Ziegfeld. Her theater work is lost to us, and it's likely she would not be remembered today if not for her lovely turn as the Good Witch Glinda in the 1939 movie of "The Wizard of Oz."

I didn't see this 2006 one-woman show, I'm not a big Bernhard fan, but I couldn't resist the postcard (free at a shop somewhere in the theater district, of course). A terrifically expressive face.

A classic. Lillian Hellman was a favorite when I was in college.
A great way to start buzz in the old days -- offer to stamp and mail the postcard to spread the word. But what if it's a negative review. Hmmm. Probably goes straight to the circular file.

I have a soft spot for toy theaters and marionettes. This postcard is from an exhibit of toy theaters that I attended in Brooklyn four years ago. Great Small Works produced a number of toy theater festivals and their web site has many pictures as well as a brief history of toy theaters.

The curtain rises on many other theatrical presentations at Sepia Saturday. Click the logo below.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Market Street, Newark, N.J. c. 1908

Streetcars, horse-drawn wagons, pedestrians, cobblestone streets and all those signs. Who could ask for anything more? I work in Newark and pass through Broad and Market streets five days a week, hence my fascination with the city's past.

Check out the sign for Proctor's "Newark's Theatre Beautiful" and then "Refined Vaudeville-Low Prices." Pillsbury's Flour is nice and visible, twice, on this busy street. Some of the signs on the left seem to float, indicating they were pasted on the photo: Reilly's and Van Horn's can be detected if you squint. Red Star Stamps might have been an early version of S&H Green Stamps, but I'm not sure.

Newark has a number of old buildings still standing, in truncated form, along Market Street. Orange, the destination on the streetcar,  is the name of a nearby suburb. Unlike New York City, Newark never consolidated with neighboring suburbs such as Orange, Belleville and Bloomfield. It's a fairly small "big city," with a population of about 277,000, according to the 2010 Census.

Miss Fannie Maurer of Gansford, Pa., received this postcard in May 1908:

I guess you are done housecleaning. I am just going to start tomorrow. How is your mother? You had better come along down when I come up. Carrie.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Betsy McCall doll, c. 1967

Summer of 1967, Ponce, Puerto Rico, the porch of my great-aunt Olga's house. On my lap: a Betsy McCall doll, the one that had jointed arms and knees so she could be posed different ways. I remember I had her on my lap on the plane, too. I flew alone; my older sisters had arrived earlier that summer. I remember that clownish romper very well--I loved it! You can see from my legs the mosquitoes loved me, too. My thick curly hair was unruly in the humid climate, so short was best. I was almost 12, not quite ready to give up dolls and paper dolls. In addition to store-bought sets, I drew a few of my own, with big heads and little bodies, and wardrobes of mini-skirts and double-breasted coats. Wish I had saved those hand-mades!

Betsy McCall was created in 1951 as a paper doll in McCall's magazine. The doll was produced the following year by Ideal in a large size and later American Character, an 8 inch version, which is the one I had. Since the 1990s, the Robert Tonner has produced a charming version in different sizes. You can read more here.

To see how Betsy McCall evolved as a paper doll, check out Teri Pettit's excellent web site. Teri has quality scans of many rare and hard to find paper dolls, and she's made it easy to save to your computer and print out. Thank you, Teri!

Here's one sheet from Teri's site; click to enlarge:

The Betsy McCall series is a favorite with collectors, for the paper doll and the little stories that go along with it. I've sought out sheets that feature some of my favorite New York City places: the Guggenheim Museum, the Young People's Concerts at Lincoln Center, and Central Park. I also enjoy finding sheets that feature shows I loved as a child, such as Pollyanna (shown here) and Romper Room.

 Click the sweet logo below to see a dozen dolls or more...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paper Doll Review Issue #51

I was delighted to contribute an article to this issue about the artist Penny Ross. And it is an honor to be in the company of such fine writers. Scott Jorgenson on "The Modern Woman Between 1918 and 1940" is a must read. Scott is a collector of vintage fashion, and very knowledgeable on the topic, as though of us who attended his convention presentation last year can attest. Gina Clarke provides a fun overview of TV families, and Marilyn Henry gives us the lowdown on the glamorous Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell. Bruce Patrick Jones brings back all the great memories of the 2011 convention in Philadelphia and Sandy Vanderpool provides some excellent ideas on transforming a Christmas card into a paper doll. Jenny Taliadoros does a great job of pulling it all together, and includes the trivia quiz from the convention. 

Order your copy here.

Click image above for readable size.

Artwork by the great Jim Howard graces the back cover of this issue.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Paula Hill's Open House 2012

 The holiday season isn't over until Paula Hill hosts her Christmas-New Year's -Birthday open house.  This year her event fell on her actual birthday, Jan. 15.

 Always something new to see, or to see for the first time. This lecherous Santa has his clammy hands on two flappers. I never noticed it before, but you can spot it in a picture from my 2010 visit to Paula's.

A wire tree decorated with pantins.

 Lovely and odd tableaus found on dressers and table tops throughout the old stone school house in Harriman, N.Y.

Down in the basement, Paula's antique shop. Shelves and tables overflowing with books, dolls and dollhouses and several cradles. Cabinets filled with paper dolls and toys and postcards...

An array of stuffed animals clamber out of a dresser drawer
Some lovely old books

Karen Ham with Puppetrina

Carol Sullivan and Joan Burke

A sweet doll

Now Santa can make his exit. Until next year...

Broad and Market, Newark, N.J. c. 1906

Postmark: March 22, 1906

Sister Maria
I suppose you are sleigh riding now. Your sister, E.C.H.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Debbie Reynolds by David Wolfe

Here's a peek into another delightful celebrity book from Paper Studio Press. David Wolfe captures the remarkable career of Debbie Reynolds in paper dolls and words -- he's a wonderful writer, and gives us a succinct overview of Debbie's life and career, up to and including the recent auction of her collection of movie costumes and memorabilia.  David has authored capsule biographies for other paper doll books, including Bruce P. Jones' Josephine Baker book. You can order David's book here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kellogg's Krumbles Italy Cut-Out Dolls

You can read about Kellogg's Krumbles here.  Apparently, Krumbles was created as a competitor to Shredded Wheat Biscuits, but the Kellogg's biscuits crumbled, and the rest is history...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Natalie Barney

I first came across the fascinating Natalie Barney (1876-1972) in an issue of The Paris Review which published a tribute shortly after she died, "A Natalie Barney Garland." The picture above is c. 1892.

Below, a picture when Natalie was younger. Her family was quite well-to-do.

Natalie was an American woman born way ahead of her time. She knew she was lesbian at an early age, which must have been unbearable in that patriarchal era when women had few rights. Barney was a writer and poet, and moved to Paris long before Hemingway to live openly as a lesbian with no apologies to anyone. She had a salon of writers and artists (including men), promoted and supported their work, and by all accounts led a fabulous and charmed life, which included art, literature and numerous affairs. Monogamy was not on the agenda.

Below, some marvelous details from the Wikipedia entry on Barney (which you can read in its entirety by clicking here):
In the 1900s Barney held early gatherings of the salon at her house in Neuilly. The entertainment included poetry readings and theatricals (in which Colette sometimes performed). Mata Hari performed a dance once, riding into the garden as Lady Godiva on a white horse harnessed with turquoise cloisonné.
The play Equivoque may have led Barney to leave Neuilly in 1909. According to a contemporary newspaper article, her landlord objected to her holding an outdoor performance of a play about Sappho, which he felt "followed nature too closely." She canceled her lease and rented the pavillon at 20, Rue Jacob in Paris' Latin Quarter and her salon was held there until the late 1960s.

The courtesan Liane de Pougy, one of Barney's amours.

 Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks, her longtime companion.

Natalie Barney was born in Dayton, Ohio, the site of this year's Paper Doll convention. I may have to journey to the marker placed in her honor. And wouldn't she make a grand paper doll?

I leave you with The Myra, the "it" hat of Fall/Winter 1885-6.

My dear, you just never know what a woman is keeping under her hat.

Click the logo below for some more millinery musings.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kellogg's Krumbles Russia Cut-Out Dolls

Click image to see larger version, and print or save for your own files. 

It's always a challenge to date unmarked paper dolls, but this one is especially challenging. It might be the 1950s, but wasn't the Cold War in full swing by then? Would an all-American brand like Kellogg's show the hammer and sickle and a benign Russia at that time, and risk being labeled "fellow travellers?" Hmmm....I'm thinking this is immediately after WW2-- perhaps 1947-- when Russia was still perceived as an ally, not a threat.  You never know where paper dolls will take you -- from fashion history to politics!

If you want to see the other Krumbles in my collection, search this blog for "Krumbles."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nancy Drew by Darlene Jones

Another fantastic Paper Studio Press publication, featuring the lovely artwork of Darlene Jones. I love that Darlene illustrated fashions from three different decades, based on cover art and story lines. You can order your copy here.