I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Rag Dolly

Here is my latest doll...and her story. She is available on Ebay and etsy.

 I love thinking, What if?

I sit and cut and sew; I search out just the tiniest perfect bit of antique fabric...

I hover over the button jars...because once the eyes are sewed on, the dolls are real. Alive. (They have souls...?)

And I waffle about their hair!

I cut the dresses freehand usually, or snip out a quick pattern from a paper towel.

And while my mind is busy my imagination wanders. And I write the dolls' stories in my head...

Nan's Treasures

Eight-year-old Nan longed for a real doll, like the china ones she saw in the emporiums in St.Louis where her family loaded their covered wagon for the journey west. Or even a peg doll like the peddler sold from his cart back home in Wisconsin.

Nan tried to be a very good girl that first year in the sod house on the desolate western prairie. She picked beans and churned butter, carried water in a little bucket from the well Papa dug out back. She did her sums and learned her primer lessons without complaint. And late afternoons she held the new baby while Mama cooked for Papa.

Nan's efforts were rewarded that first snowy Christmas. Santa Claus finally brought her a DOLL!

Nan named the doll Amanda and she loved Amanda with all her heart. Amanda's pretty dress was made with pink calico, just like Nan's own new pinafore! The sash was a tiny bit of cheddar yellow from mama's quilt scrap bag, her petticoat a bit a tattered white cotton pillowcase edged with fragile, beautiful lace from when Mama was a little girl back in Boston. Amanda had button eyes and brown hair too just like Nan's. And best of all, Amanda had a dolly of her own!

Nan was amazed that Santa sewed so nicely and used materials from Nan's own Mama's scrapbag.

When Nan asked her Mama about this, Jeannie Petersen just smiled. She told Nan that after Christmas they would make the tiny dolly a dress just like Amanda's. And after that, during the long snowbound months of 1896 she would teach Nan to sew a quilt. They would make a quilt for Amanda and Dolly.

Nan could hardly wait! Food was scarce that first winter and the hearth barely warm enough to keep the frost from entering their little home. Only the brief daytime hours had enough light for sewing. On windless days, Papa would open the board shuttering their only window, and weak sunlight would creep through the waxed paper. Mama rocked the baby's cradle with one foot and patiently showed Nan how to sew a fine seam. Fabric was scarce and treasured---Nan was given old bits from quilts and aprons long worn out into shreds. She didn't mind. Dolly's double pink dress was at least as lovely as Amanda's! And the old brown quilt cottons had tiny pretty rosebuds if Nan looked closely.

The farm survived. And prospered. The corn grew tall and green. When she was sixteen, Nan married a man from a nearby farm. On the night before her wedding, she kissed Amanda and Dolly goodbye, tucked their quilt around them one last time, and put away her childhood in the bottom of the hope chest Papa made for her, for her future.

This is perhaps the doll that Nan's mama made for that first Christmas in barren, frozen Nebraska...



...gone to the beach

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful doll..
    with such a mesmerizing story!!
    loved it!
    your post was just beautiful!!
    warm sandy hugs..


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