In this post I’ll talk about two different types of modern porcelain dolls. The first group are the ones that I’ve often seen at doll shows. These are usually dolls made from commercial kits but each one is an individual, fired, painted, wigged and dressed by the owner. The Hobart Doll Club, who run the doll show that I used to go to every year, is a club for porcelain doll makers and collectors and run workshops in Hobart to teach the art of doll making. This is what they have to say on their website.
When you make a porcelain doll, you make it from the ground up – the porcelain slip is poured into a mould and air dried. At this stage it is called “greenware” and needs tp be handled very carefully. After the greenware is meticulously but gently cleaned to remove seams and other surface imperfections, it is bisque fired in a kiln and now has the qualities of fired porcelain. The porcelain then requires another clean to make sure the surface is silky smooth, then the painting can begin. The eyelashes, eyebrows, eyes, lips, cheeks and so on are all painted over a number of sessions, with one layer being fired in the kiln before painting the next. Once fired, the paint cannot be removed. The bodies could be either porcelain, composition or cloth, depending of the style of the doll.
We assemble the doll and then dress it according to the style we have chosen. For example, if we’ve chosen to make an antique reproduction doll, we research the era it comes from and hand make all the garments including wigs, shoes, stockings, underwear, dress, coat, hat and any accessories! Doll making doesn’t just stop at making the doll – many of our members are expert seamstresses, embroiderers, milliners and cobblers as well!http://hobartdollclub.org/
I admire these dolls every year when I see them but I think it is unlikely that I would ever buy or attempt to make one myself. As I mentioned when I was talking about Reborns I really prefer dolls that were made to be children’s toys. I don’t have room to collect every kind of doll so I have to keep the space I have for the ones I love the most. Some of these dolls are really large too.
The other kind of porcelain dolls are the mass produced ones that in Australia used to be sold by stores such as “Copperart” or the more expensive ones that come from Franklin Mint. I sometimes see questions from people who have inherited a collection of these dolls from a relative and want to know what they are worth. Some collectors dismiss this type of doll as being worthless and you certainly see them turn up at Op Shops quite a lot. They are rather hard dolls to rehome even though some of them are very pretty. I do have a few of this type of dolls. Some were gifts given to me by friends and family who know I like dolls. Others are what I think of almost as rescue dolls. They come from friends and family too but I am the last stop for these dolls who would probably be thrown out if I didn’t take them. I value these dolls because of the people who gave them to me and am happy to give them a good home. The one in the next photo is a doll that David bought me for Christmas one year. She is very pretty and I gave her an armchair of her own to sit on.
In this group the boy doll on the left is a vinyl doll that Naomi got me in Singapore. His name is Jack. Next to him is Gillian, a modern porcelain doll given to me by my friend Gillian.
This is Twinkle, a little doll that Naomi bought. She needs restringing. I am going to have to learn how to do that myself I think.
Here is another little girl who needs restringing. She was the childhood doll of a younger friend of mine.
These dolls all used to live together in my old TV cabinet but unfortunately that cabinet won’t fit in our new doll area because the ceiling is too low to get it into the room. I’m not sure how I’m going to display them now so they are still packed up.