Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tiny Fairytale Hanging Art Dolls

Before I start this post I just wanted to give anyone out there that's interested the coupon code currently available for my shop for 10% off any of my dolls until 24th Dec. please use code GIVETHANKS at checkout if you'd like one of my dolls for yourself or to give as a gift.

I couldn't resist making four of my very smallest dolls as hanging decorations for the Christmas tree this year. And as I wanted them to be suitable to hang from a shelf or against a wall or object after the holidays, and after making my Little Red Riding Hood, what could be better than more Fairytale dolls. So instead of choosing the most popular or well know characters I went with my favourites. As well as having a ribbon to hang them from anywhere you can think of, all these tiny 20cm dolls can sit on any ledge or on top of books and other objects among your treasures. The first can also stand unaided if you puff up her skirts and petticoats.

I knew I had to make the Princess and the Pea because I've always loved the story of the lost Princess that comes across the castle where the King is trying to find the perfect bride for his son. I love the rich detail and imagery of her being tested by being asked to sleep on a huge towering pile of mattresses and blankets under which they have hidden a tiny pea. Even as a child I always got annoyed that she had to be tested at all. Why should she have to spend a night being frightened of falling off this huge pile of bedding when the Prince faced no challenges at all!
But I still always loved it :)

My Princess is dressed with layers of petticoats in crisp cotton lawn, with a deep ruffle around the hem of her topmost fancy one; which is why when they are puffed out a bit she can stand unaided. She has a white chemise under a cream stripped bodice. Her high waisted silk dress is a rich paisley of sage green, blue, gold and white with long pointed medieval sleeves. In her arms she carries a silk cushion trimmed with lace and red satin ribbon to hold the tiny offending green felt pea.

The story of The Little Match Girl is one I never let my Mother read to me when I was little. How was a story about a poor abused child out on a freezing night and so afraid to go home again that she ended up sitting in the dirt and dark having taunting visions and dieing alone in the cold suitable for a child? But now I'm older my opinion of this sad tale is so very different, and I can see the small joy and happiness at the end of the story. It is really a happy tale at the end, all be it in a very strange way.  
This young girls devastating life and hardships ended in the joyful reunion with her much loved grandmother. After her seeing beautiful images in the tiny flames of her matches she saw the one thing that made her happiest of all things. When they found her they thought she had used the spent matches in her lap to warm herself. When we know she had used them to hang onto her last vision long enough to be able to pass over and go to be reunited with her family.

My little Match Girl wears a simple cotton shift and bloomers under a plain dark burgundy blouse and grey tweed like check skirt. She has a thin ragged brown paisley shawl and a dirty white apron with her bundles of matches in the pocket.
I left her with her shoes on, before she lost the thin too big hand-me-down slippers in the snow. And cut the matches themselves from real ones, painting the ends and tieing them together with vintage thread.

This little doll even smells Christmas-y as part of what I used to stain her apron was powdered cinnamon from my baking cupboard. And for a change I tied up her hair. But if you prefer it down and wild like my other dolls the thread holding it can be snipped, and the feathers blown around to make them full again.

My next little doll was The Steadfast Tin Soldier. A story full of romance and adventure that ends very sadly when the petulant little boy discards the little soldier in the stove, and then the wind catches hold of the love of his life and blows the Dancer into the flames with him - leaving only a heart shaped lump of melted tin and the spangle from her dress.

His little life is a sad one again. After starting out with only one leg after being the last to be made from the tin ladle and there not being enough left. Then falling from the window and not being found, being sent through the drains in a paper boat and having to fight off rats, and being stranded in the dirty gutter among the rubbish. He is rescued by a kitchen maid and taken back to the very place he had started from, with his love still there waiting for him, standing on one tiny foot with the other stretched behind her in the doorway of the play castle.

I've no idea why so many children's stories are so sad. I know the old ones always have some moral or lesson for the young, and this one is trying to teach it's young listeners not to be like the nasty ungrateful young boy that owned these little toys. But there really is a lot of cruelty, death and frightening events in them. Even with all that I'm not the only one that still loves and treasures them I know.

My Steadfast Tin Soldier has dark blue trousers with one leg folded up neatly and tacked in place to account for his missing leg. His uniform is made in the style of a period Victorian soldiers uniform, with a red jacket trimmed with white epaulets and straps for his equipment bags, with a white high collared shirt underneath. He has gold coloured bead buttons, and I gave him a tiny heart shaped blue enamel charm on his breast as a medal. I made his hat from black felt with a strap under his chin and decorated it with more gold beads.

This little man didn't stay with me long once he was finished, and is currently on his way to the lovely Nancy in Canada. I really hope that she likes him when he gets there, and that he looks just as I pictured him on her tree this year.

The last of my little hanging fairytale dolls was the Steadfast Tin Soldiers very own Dancer as I didn't like to make one and not the other.

Over her lace trimmed bloomers and shift she wears a pretty dress that has a blue pattern with sprays of pink and purple flowers, with a tight bodice and puffy sleeves. She has a wide pink satin sash trimmed with white ribbon and her glittery spangle attached in the middle.
She has really full gathered skirts and petticoat to make her look like a ballerina. And they stand out around her in a soft folds. Near one hand she has a small metal heart attached to her skirts so she can't loose it. I imagined it as a gift to her from the Steadfast Tin Soldier before he left on his adventures.

I'm not sure what it is that I'll be making next. I have one project to finish as a Christmas gift, and then I'd really like to work on something a little larger again. Maybe I'll get to work on my Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.


  1. I just love your dolls and your interesting blog, reading about women who whose stories would have gone untold. women put into asylums , women murderers, interesting stories one would never come across. Ive looked up books to read and googled information that I never would have known was there. There is a new book called The Tin Ticket- you must check this out. its about true historical accounts of women under horrific circumstances being taken away from family and friends and shipped off to Australia as convicts centuries ago. so sad.
    my emai is write anytime.

    1. Hi Patrica, thank you so much for your kindness. It really means alot to me. I've not heard of that book but will check it out as soon as I can. It sounds very interesting.
      Best wishes