A Bittersweet Memorial Weekend Trip

Our travels over Memorial weekend were bittersweet. At Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle, we were disappointed at the absence of our long-time favorite maritime and folk band, The Cutters. We were shocked to learn of the deaths of Teresa and Arwen not many months after we last saw them in 2011. Folklife will never be the same without you, our Ladies of the Sea. Sincerest blessings to Philip and Tyler. Go forth and heal.

I am ever in awe of the way things change. I expect people and places to always be waiting just the way they were when last I saw them. Here is a photo of Teresa (in brown) and an unknown woman dancing with my daughter, Brighde, at Folklife in 2007.


Our shopping during our weekend travels was fun with whimsically unexpected finds. Check out this “Mary Poppins” style hat with a spray of feathers, and the antique doll dress.


And this circa 1870’s china shoulder head was found, not at the antique store, but at the thrift shop across the street in Centralia!


We spent hours at the American Girl store, and Julie came home with us for Brighde’s birthday.


But the most whimsical dolls of all were found at a vendor stall right by the Northwest Court stage at Folklife. These felted wool dolls and garments are hand made in Kyrgystan, a mountain country that was once part of the USSR. I brought home two roly poly children and two cheerful finger puppets.ImageImage

Next week I get to study my new book on WordPress, and I” see if I can make this sight even better!

The Lost Decade and the Lost Century: A Matter of Perspective

I have been reading Diane Gilman’s book, Good Jeans, in which she shares with her readers a ten step approach to aging that allows us to reclaim our identities as women who still have talents, charm, wit, and even sex appeal. Diane is a fashion designer and television personality who has had rave success, most recently, designing fashion jeans to fit the body shape of us 45 years and older women. She talks extensively in her book about her “lost decade” which was the period after the death of her husband when she fell into creative, spiritual, and physical decline. I related very well to her point of view and her journey out of oblivion.

I am just emerging from my “lost decade.” My husband did not die; rather he decided to trade in his family for a different one. In my mid-forties when this happened, I fell into chronic depression, economic hardships, physical frumpiness, and I had lost my sense of self, spiritual direction, and purpose in life. A decade seems a long time to me, to remain in this foggy realm of lost self. Yet thanks to Diane Gilman and her new book, I can put this time into perspective and count it as a “cocoon phase” that I had to go through in order to heal and to remember who I am.

I was already on the journey to becoming myself again before finding this book. Thanks to some persistent health issues, I am now eating much better and losing weight. Thanks to Will, my career coach, I am finding my confidence and figuring out who I am professionally. Thanks to Wendy at Totally Unique Hair Design, I have a wonderful hair makeover. (See before and after photos below.) Thanks to the antique dolls and folk music for re-igniting my long-smoldering creative passions. And look! I’m even writing again! Now, after years of invisibility, my new persona has already turned a few male heads. Okay Diane, I’m ready for that new pair of over 50 form-fitting jeans!



Now you may be wondering what all this has to do with antique dolls. It is this idea of the lost decade. We, as women, may go through this time of lost selves for ten years or so. But we don’t have to slide into the oblivion that society has waiting for us. We can reclaim our selves, and be who we are meant to be at any age. Antique dolls are frequently lost for decades, or for centuries, in attics, in boxes, in closets, in the dark corners of rummage shops. Sometimes they are allowed to decline and molder with dirty faces and matted hair, in rags or in no clothes at all. Sometimes they have been re-dressed in neon bright polyester with synthetic replacement wigs by their well-meaning owners in the decades beyond when they were bright new playthings. Either way, this doll, just like us, cannot shine until her age and inner beauty are taken into consideration. Maybe she needs to be cleaned up, have her old dress freshened and mended, and brought into a light and airy room. Or maybe she needs a new dress that has been carefully researched for the right style, color, fabric, and trim.

Antique photo withchina head doll 30-2012

When the spirit of the old doll is nurtured, she retains her age and dignity, yet she breathes again, with her original spirit fresh and alive! This is how I strive to get to know each of my dolls. And this is how I plan to let myself live and shine again!

May you also find the right style, fabric, trim, and hair, to let your spirit shine through at the age you are now!


Ellen: From Frumpy Dowager to Southern Belle

The doll featured below is Ellen. She is a German china shoulder head, probably from the Kister factory. Her head and deep shoulder plate, which was broken and crudely repaired, measures 5” high. She is on a replaced soft cloth body with new china arms and legs which are ivory colored and don’t match her ice-blue complexion. She was one of the first china dolls I collected, before I knew what to look for in collecting antique chinas. I like her flat top style curls with brush strokes, and her well defined eyelids. She has a pepper spot (a firing impurity) right under her nose.


Ellen came dressed in a cherry red dress which I am sure was made just for her, probably in the 1970’s or 80’s. It fits her well and is well made. See all the tiny seed beads on the sleeves and the skirt inset? However, it is polyester satin with a modern lace overskirt. She also has poly/cotton modern eyelet chemise, drawers, and petticoat. They are pretty on her, but I think they make her look too old and frumpy, like a dowager. And I just do not care for modern or man-made fabric on an antique doll.


I have dressed Ellen in a vintage white rose-sprigged drop-shoulder dress that I took off another doll. (It was too short for that doll.) This dress, with the antique lace shawl collar, shows off her deep shoulder plate to advantage, and gives her a fresh “Southern Bell” countenance. What do you think? I plan to remove the glue residue from her shoulder plate repair now that I have learned how to do that.


A Jumeau has come to live with me!

Oh My! Just look at who has come to live with me! A Tete Jumeau has just arrived all the way from Nice, France! What a lovely little lady she is, and she is settling in nicely after her long trip. Thank you to Sylvie for preparing her for her travels. This little lady tells me that her name is Miranda, which means “worthy of admiration.” Don’t you think it is fitting?. She has the brightest blue eyes, though she has a leg that needs to be re-attached and a crack at her neck that I will mend when I figure out how to detach her head. She had her face and hair washed, and is now wearing a blue bonnet to keep warm while she waits for her long hair to dry.

Many of my antique dolls are German Chinas, and I will introduce you to them soon. I did want you to meet Miranda right away. Bonne Nuit!!


Welcome to Quintessential Antique Dolls!

Sweet greetings, and welcome to my journal where I plan to share with you my own little enchanted realm of antique dolls. Most of my lovely ladies and children are china and bisque, but some are more unique and subtle in their origins. I look forward to introducing you, and to showing off their handmade or antique clothing, both in progress, and complete and modeled for you.

I fell in love with antique dolls when I was four. I have a vivid memory of visiting a home with antique bisque dolls on a high shelf above a bed. While I didn’t have the vocabulary or knowledge of dolls to know if they were Bru’s, Jumeau’s or Kestners, I was enthralled by their beauty, and I knew they were very old, even back then in the 1960’s.  I was allowed to hold one or two of them briefly. I remember holding a little bisque, probably about 8”, dressed in an old fashioned pale lacy dress made of soft fabric.  She had glass eyes and the softest hair in sausage curls. Then I was hurried off to a much less enchanting outdoor activity. But the memory of this brief encounter with lovely, and lovingly cared for, antique dolls has stayed with me always.

The doll pictured here does not live with me, yet she is a very lovely small Jumeau who reminds me of the enchanting dolls on that high shelf, all those years ago.