The pin cushion hat turned out to be the best part of series little series!
I started with a gourd that has been in my "collection" for at least 10 years. It was a wonderful body form, about 7" high and about 12" around at the fullest part. I sawed it in half to make 2 body backs and emptied the inside to create shadow boxes. (Well, not boxes.) The form was so intriguing that I made a paper mache cast of the best half which you will later.
The polymer heads were made directly on the gourds. (Note: the gourds which cracked in the heat of the clay oven, requiring paper mache repairs.) The bases were a pair of candlesticks with heavy brass bases. I mounted the gourds on the bases with wire, glue and paper mache. Then, I settle in to develop the interior.
Select pieces of sewing pattern tissue finished the inside of the gourd. I used old metal zippers to finish the cut edges. A few inches of an old tape measure , a thimble, a zipper pull, and lace scraps came into the design. I have a small collection of other treasure, buttons and spools, but I had trouble fitting this stuff into the curved interior form. In the end some delightful illustrations from The Harriet Harper Book of Stamped Needlework, Fall 1925 Edition, were perfect.
This is the cast I made from the gourd. It was fairly easy to do and turn out to be very gourd-like. My idea was the hang this figure, rather than set it on a base. The round form made this trickier than expected. The inside was still challenging, but I eventually got a couple of spools to glue in place. I may figure out how to add a few more things.
This series is on hold for now. When I can return to the grocery story I hope to find a little butternut squash to use as a form for some paper mache casts. And, maybe I'll make some more pin cushion hats. That was the best part.
I've been thinking about my family history, seeking clues about my heritage that can be expressed in my doll making. The Mary Jane Garment Company is one of the early stories that I know about that involves the business of designing and sewing.
The Lincoln Overall and Shirt Company of Lincoln, Nebraska, introduced a line of garments for women and children in 1911. This was quite early in the history of the ready-to-wear industry. Until this time women either sewed clothing for themselves and their family or employed a dressmaker. This new line included aprons, kimonos, and petticoats for ladies and rompers and creepers for children. My great grandmother, Mary Jane McFall, an expert dress maker, designed these items for her son-in-law's company. The line was named in her honor: The Mary Jane Garment Company.
The family connection didn't end there. My grandmother, Ruth McFall, was employed as a typist at the Lincoln Overall and Shirt Company. She was also the model for the first catalog. Two of of the original photographs are below.
I am charmed by introductory page of the first catalog. These claim to be beautifully made quality garments. I'd like to think this was true! Note the final paragraph.
"Know Mary Jane and you will like her. No matter how
she appears, she is always the same dependable Mary Jane,
and her watchword always is Quality and Service."
The Mary Jane Garment Company was later sold and was still in operation, with some of the original machines in use, as late as 1970.