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www.spuncottonornaments.com

The 2014 Christmas issue of Early American Life, which includes their Holiday Directory of Traditional American Craftsmen, is currently on newsstands.  I’m honored to have been juried into the directory again this year!!!  I also have an article in the this issue 🙂

https://izannahwalker.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=3595&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

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See “Moonstruck” in the Halloween section of the new 2012 issue of Somerset HOLIDAYS & Celebrations.

Want to read more?  Here are some additional details that you won’t see in the magazine.

                       Moonstruck

This doll is an elaborate fantasy combination of a spun cotton ornament and a paper doll with crepe paper clothing, such as those produced by the Dennison Company in the early 1900’s.  Her body is spun cotton over a wire armature, with a chromolithographed paper scrap face.  Standing upon a mica dusted spun cotton moon, she is wearing a party frock comprised of layers of crepe paper and tulle, trimmed with velvet ribbon and luna moths made of embossed Dresden paper.   Over her shoulders she wears a crepe paper and tissue paper cape.  Her hat is fashioned from wool felt, accented with velvet ribbon and a crepe paper blossom.  Other details include Dresden paper bangle bracelets and shoes made of black flocking and glitter. In her hand is a crystal ball, for telling your future, and in her bag are stars to sprinkle in your eyes and amongst the heavens until you too are moonstruck…

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, chromolithography came into being in early 19th century Germany at the hands of Alois Senefelder , who amazed the world and forever changed the printing industry.  Others quickly followed Senefelder in the field of color printing, including Parisian Godefroy Engelmann in the 1830’s. Soon thereafter, small color scraps – bits leftover from larger printing jobs, which were too precious to be thrown out and too valuable give away, began to be sold in Germany.   The die cut, glossy printed-paper images were bought by bakers who used them for wrapping special breads.  For example Easter breads were wrapped in paper decorated with a scrap showing a spring scene.  From the 1830’s onwards, collectors eagerly sought these tiny chromolithographs.

Color scraps, or chromos, found an enthusiastic market in nineteenth century America, where they were pasted into blank friendship books, which it was customary to pass around amongst friends and family members.  Soon special books were being made for scrap collectors, which were called scrap albums or scrapbooks!

A few words about me:

My name is Paula Walton.  I’ve been a doll maker for 26 years.  More than a decade ago I developed a fascination with the art of spun cotton ornaments.  Because there is very little information available about the way spun cotton was crafted, I taught myself the technique by studying antique ornaments.  Since then I have been gleefully creating spun cotton figures and enthusiastically teaching others to do so too.  My ornaments can be seen at my website http://www.asweetremembrance.com and here on my blog.  I also have a special online discussion site for all my spun cotton students.  I may be reached by emailing paula@asweetremembrance.com.

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Over the winter I took part in a storybook doll making challenge with a great bunch of doll makers who are members of  MAIDA.  The majority of the challenge group submitted their dolls to  Prims magazine and I am honored to say that my Thumbelina and Horrible Mother Toad are pictured in the article about the  challenge.

Each and every doll created for the challenge is wonderful and it was a delight to see them come to life and chat about all the trials and tribulations that happen during the creative process.  The Autumn issue of Prims goes on sale September 1st.  If the article peeks your curiosity and you’d like to know more about the MAIDA Prims Storybook Challenge,  pop over and join MAIDA (it’s free) then settle down to read through all 123 (so far) pages of discussion :)!!!

Thumbelina

Thumbelina is an original fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, first published by C. A. Reitzel on December 16, 1835 in Copenhagen, Denmark with “The Naughty Boy” and “The Traveling Companion” in the second installment of Fairy Tales Told for Children.

“One night as she lay in her cradle, a horrible toad hopped in through the window-one of the panes was broken. This big, ugly, slimy toad jumped right down on the table where Thumbelina was asleep under the red rose petal.

“Here’s a perfect wife for my son!” the toad exclaimed. She seized upon the walnut shell in which Thumbelina lay asleep, and hopped off with it, out the window and into the garden.”

My version of Thumbelina and the horrible mother toad that kidnapped her are both spun cotton figures.  I wanted my dolls to look as if the words of the story had come up off of the page and sprung to life.  My intent was to create dolls with the fragile feeling of an old book: monochromatic, papery, worn and aged.

To do this I made spun cotton figures with wire armatures that I dressed in gauze that I had printed with text from the story.  Because all fairy tales are known to have happened “once upon a time” I created 18th century clothing and accessories for my figures, even though the story was not published until 1835.  Thumbelina is wearing a cotton gauze chemise over a white crepe paper chemise.  She has silk ribbons tied in her hand dyed mohair hair.  Mother Toad is dressed in a lace cap with lappets and a cotton gauze neckerchief.

I achieved all of the coloring and shading on both figures with washes of tea and coffee.  Thumbelina’s features are done in pencil to capture the feeling of a three-dimensional book illustration.  Her walnut shell cradle is half of a German papier-mache candy container that I painted and then stained with walnut shell ink.  The bed linens are made from striped cotton “ticking”, lace, and gauze – plain for the pillowcases and story text printed for the sheets.

I also have an ad in the Autumn issue of Prims, look for it on page 141 🙂

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You can see and read all about my All Hallows Eve Ball spun cotton figure in the Autumn issue of Stampington Company’s Art Doll Quarterly magazine.  She is located on page 75, as part of the article on the Shelf Sitter Challenge.  Thank you Art Doll Quarterly, it’s a treat to be included in this issue!!!

All Hallows Eve Ball

This doll is a larger sized version of a traditional spun cotton ornament, which I created especially for the Shelf Sitter Challenge.  Her face is made of pressed and molded cotton.  Like all spun cotton figures, she has a wire armature, which allows her to be posed in a sitting position.  In order for her to remain firmly seated, I have added a weighted “cushion” for her to sit on, made from a heavy automotive washer that I covered in wool felt.  Her hair is made from hand dyed kid mohair, which I glued directly to her head in small segments.  I costumed her in an outfit reminiscent of those shown in early 1900’s crepe paper crafting books published by the Dennison Company.  She is wearing a dress and multiple layers of petticoats fashioned from crepe paper, trimmed in black Dresden trims and velvet ribbon.  Her hat is made from wool felt, with a velvet band and a glittered hatpin.  Sparkly glitter shoes, Dresden paper bracelets, and a ruffled owl mask are the finishing touches on her Halloween ensemble.

Spun cotton ornaments, which were generally Christmas decorations, were popular from the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s.  They were inexpensive and unbreakable which made them perfect for small children and as decorations on the lower branches of a Christmas tree.  Originally they were a cottage industry, made in people’s homes in and around Lauscha, in the Thuringian mountain region of Germany.  The ornaments were made by spinning cotton fibers around wire armatures, with faces of spun cotton, bisque facemasks, or chromolithographed paper scraps.

They were frequently adorned with crepe paper and Dresden paper trims.  More information about spun cotton ornaments, including a list of reference books, can be found here at my blog, http://www.spuncottonornaments.com.

A few words about me:

My name is Paula Walton.  I’ve been a doll maker for 26 years.  More than a decade ago I developed a fascination with the art of spun cotton ornaments.  Because there is very little information available about the way spun cotton was crafted, I taught myself the technique by studying antique ornaments.  Since then I have been gleefully creating spun cotton figures and enthusiastically teaching others to do so too.  My ornaments can be seen at my website http://www.asweetremembrance.com and here on my blog.  I also have a special online discussion site for all my spun cotton students.  I may be reached by emailing paula@asweetremembrance.com.

I always especially enjoy the Autumn issue of Art Doll Quarterly, and 2012’s is no exception.  I just love Halloween!  The official release date for the magazine is August 1st.

If you do have a chance to read this issue, look for my ad on page 121 🙂

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Spun Cotton Girl dressed in cream colored crepe paper dress, with red and green crepe paper petticoats, pom-poms, and collar. Accented with red silk ribbons.

I am quite honored to announce that I have been juried into Early American Life Magazine’s 2011 Holiday Directory of Traditional American Crafts.  This is the 24th time that my work has been selected for inclusion in the directory and it is still as much of a thrill as it was the first time.  Thank you Early American Life!

The directory will appear in the Christmas issue of Early American Life which will be out in late September.

Spun Cotton Christmas Kewpie with a handmade molded cotton head, red silk scarf and sprig of dried holly.

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1/24/10 I’ve received a couple of very nice notes from Connie Johnson, that  included two additional book titles and an excellent website address.  Thank you Connie for sharing!  I’ve added Connie’s information to this post and ordered both of the books that she recommended.

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You have probably all noticed that there is very little information about spun cotton ornaments in print.  I have been hunting for books and magazine articles on the topic for many years.

Here is a list of the information and photographs that I have found.  I’ll be updating this post when I come across new material.  Almost all of the following books and magazines are out of print, but you may still be able to find copies with a little work.

In the Time-Life book there is a tantalizing mention of  “American ladies’ magazines of the period” that gave instructions for creating cotton ornaments.  I have yet to find any such instructions, but I haven’t given up the search!

Books

American Country- A Country Christmas by Time-Life Books, pages 146 & 147.  Three paragraphs of information and two great photographs of antique people, animal, fruit and vegetable ornaments.

Country Home An Old-Fashioned Christmas by Meredith Corporation Books copyright 1992, pages 92 & 93.  Four paragraphs of information and two nice photographs of people, animal, fruit and vegetable ornaments.

Deck the Halls – Treasures of Christmas Past by Robert M Merck.   Six pages of spun cotton ornament photographs with captions.

Christmas Past by Robert Brenner.  Eleven pages of information and photographs.

Magazines

Early American Life, December 2001, cover plus pages 34 & 35.  Article – A Spirit of Stewardship The Conant Tavern by Gladys Montgomery Jones, photographs by Craig Becker.  Cover photo, plus two additional photographs of people, vegetable and fruit ornaments.  If you happen to read my Izannah Walker blog too, you may recognize this same article listed there because there is a photograph of an Izannah Walker doll in it.  Obviously Dianne and Arnie Halpern, whose home is the focus of the article, are my kind of people! 🙂  They even have some of the original stencilling remaining on their walls.

Early American Life, Christmas 2005, pages 63, 64 & 65.  Photographs of new spun cotton ornaments in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts – Holiday.  My ornaments are the ones pictured on pages 64 & 65.

Early American Life, Christmas 2008, page 10.  Photographs of two spun cotton girls, along with many other antique ornaments.  Pages 52 & 67, photographs of several new spun cotton ornaments in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts – Holiday.

Early American Life, Christmas 2009, pages 7, 8 & 9, excellent close-up photos of  16 antique spun cotton ornaments.  Page 59, photo of five new spun cotton ornaments in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts – Holiday.  This is another magazine that may look familiar to followers of www.izannahwalker.com.  It’s the same issue of Early American Life that my article on Common Linen Dolls appears in.

Websites

Vintage/ Antique/ Old Christmas Ornaments – Homepage of Barbara Romer      www.christmas-past-collector.com/gallery

* A new website to check out www.christmas4ever.com/folder/13.html .  Thank you Yvonne for recommending it!

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