Saturday, February 15, 2020

Competition Results

  Well I am very disappointed. ONE entry to win the Snapstar doll? Really? Did nobody like the prize,or was there just no one besides Dorothy who wanted to do the research to answer the questions? Dorothy was our ONLY entrant, so Dorothy,as I have informed you by email,you won! Why can't I find a contest where I'm the only entrant? Then maybe I could win something! 
  I was considering another competition for May, when I have my blogaversary. Now I figure there's not much point. Sorry Ken, for buying that prize I'm not going to use.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Frances Glessner Lee and her Amazing Mini Murder Scenes

    ***I recently posted a link to an article about Frances Glessner Lee on this blog's Facebook page. What follows here is NOT that article, but an article of my own,based on various sources,thus the information here may not be the same as what's contianed in the Facebook link's article.*** 
  Ever heard of Frances Glessner Lee? She's famous for her work in miniatures...but  not in the way you'd think.
  Frances Glessner Lee was born in 1878. Her father was a co-founder of International Harvester. The family lived comfortably,with her father collecting fine furniture and even authoring a book on the subject. While Frances' brother was sent to Harvard, Frances was not allowed to attend college. Her father thought a lady should stay home and have lady like pass times, like needlework. Frances, however,was interested in forensics, which was in it's infancy at the time.
A very young Frances Glessner Lee.

  Francis became friends with her brother's college roommate,George Burgess Magrath,a Harvard medical student. They shared an interest in death investigation.She probably became interested in investigation and crime through the Sherlock Holmes stories she enjoyed, which were also her father's favourites. She was interested in a career in crime investigation, but her father forbid it. Instead,in 1898 Francis married Blewette Harrison Lee, a legal scholar and attorney she barely knew. They were married for sixteen years and had three children. During that time Francis left him twice.They divorced in 1914. Her father was so ashamed of her that he sent Francis and her children far from him,to Santa Barbara, California.
  After her father's death in 1936 Francis was finally free to pursue her interests in crime. She also inherited the family fortune,as her brother had died in 1929. She wasted no time in endowing the Harvard Department of Legal Medicine,the first university department of legal medicine in the country,  and the Harvard Associates in Police Science,which has a division named after Francis, called the Frances Glessner Lee Homicide School.Her friend George had become the chief medical examiner in Boston in the meantime, and he and Francis had worked together to change the requirements for the job of coroner. At the time coroners needed no medical credentials. After George and Francis successfully lobbied for change, people seeking the job of coroner were required to be medical professionals.
  "But what does all this have to do with miniatures?", you ask. Well, in the 1940's Francis began to host week long homicide investigation seminars. Investigators and detectives who attended these seminars were invited to solve a crime from a miniature crime scene Francis had created in 1/12 scale.

Frances called her miniature scenes "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death",(Inspired by the phrase "Convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell". I wonder if the famous miniatures magazine Nutshell News would have chosen a different name if they had known about Francis and her murder scenes!) 

Frances at work on one of her Nutshell studies.
The Nutshell Studies were all based on actual crime scenes. 

  The largest of the tiny murder scenes had three rooms. They each cost Francis between $3000 to $4500 to make, (I'm not sure why.),were fully wallpapered and furnished,and extremely detailed...

 ... containing working lights and doors,working mousetraps,and the little corpses were appropriately bloodied, bloated,or discoloured. 

Francis even made sure the figures all wore underwear under their clothes, and she went so far as to crochet a teensy teddy bear and knit their minuscule stockings herself. 

Suicide by gas...or was it?

The attendees of the seminars were given 90 minutes to study the scene and try to solve the crime.

   In all Francis created 20 Nutshell Studies. Nineteen of them have survived the years. (Some sources say 18,but a nineteenth was discovered in the early 2000's,at Francis' former home.) When the Harvard department Francis founded was dissolved in 1967, the dioramas went to the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,where they are still used to train students of forensic investigation.
   In her day Francis was friends with  Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of “Perry Mason”. Gardner dedicated the Mason mystery,“The Case of the Dubious Bridegroom” to her,and called Francis, “One of the few women who ever kept Perry Mason guessing.” Francis is now known as the ' Godmother of modern forensics'. In 1943 she was made an honorary police captain in the New Hampshire Sate Police. With the honour Francis became the first woman to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Some articles state that Francis was an actual Police Chief. but it was an honorary position,and not her actual job, as I read in one article on the Nutshells. Still, not bad for a woman in 1943.
  At the age of 73 Francis wrote,“This has been a lonely and rather terrifying life I have lived.”. Francis died in 1962 at the age of 83.
  There's a good article about Frances and her work,including the restoration and preservation of the Nutshells which you can read HERE.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Handmade 1/6 Scale Dolls

  My last post was about more things the kids and I made for the dolls. I then promised that the next post would be about actual dolls I made for the kids' dolls. So here they are. Keep in mind that I at least like to think I could do better these days!

You've seen the macaque monkey before. I found him crammed in a doll suitcase with the Raggedy Ann doll. I made a few mini Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. You may have seen my post on the set I actually sold HERE.

These dolls were the result of practicing by making another couple of miniature Raggedys first. I have the first Andy I made,which is in Tammy World's toybox. But the first Raggedy Ann I made went to Ivy's doll Blue.

The dress was made out of some fabric ribbon,which was used because the print was good for Raggedy Ann's dress. The ribbon is way too stiff though. Her dress just looks like a squashed tube,which it basically is. I also hand painted her stockings,and they don't look very good. The later Raggedys were made using striped fabric for their stockings. This Ann's apron is terrible too. At least her hair was sewn in! Overall I improved as I went on making the Raggedy dolls. I painted their faces,and I do think I prefer the face on Ivy's to the face on the one I sold. She looks kind of grouchy.

She's a little bigger than Ivy's. If I made more now I'd change the hair on the sides.
  Next is my attempt at making a miniature Sock Monkey doll.
I painted his little face.
The big flaw here is that I used full sized socks. The weave is way too thick, and it unraveled too much. The thickness made it hard to roll up tiny little arms and legs out of it. I did manage to give him little ears,but they're hard to see.

This last one is pretty bad. But then, the doll it was made to look like is pretty crazy looking anyway. You may have seen my post on Ivy's favourite larger doll,her Goldberger Baby doll, 'Baby'

This mini doll is my attempt at making a mini version of Baby for Blue.

She's made of polymer clay. I think I should have jointed her arms and legs with thread instead of wire. Wire lasts much better though.

She even has Baby's 'hitch hiking' toes!

She has the same crazy grin as the real Baby.

  The last miniature doll here is my favourite. I thought he came out really well.

This little guy is a miniature version of Fuzzy's favourite stuffed toy,'Elephant'. 

The real Elephant is about 16 inches tall. The little guy,made for Fuzzy the Doll, who is a Tommy doll, is about 2 inches tall.

The only thing is, he doesn't have Elephant's chubby cheeks.
  I was really at a loss as to what to make little Elephant out of,to copy the nubbly bluish gray fur big Elephant is made of. I finally discovered the perfect thing: the inside of one of those non skid socks they give you at the hospital!

It's more like terry cloth really,but used in something this tiny,it works.

  Once the fabric was decided on, I had to figure out what shape to cut out so that it would sew into the elephant shape. I'm pretty sure he was cut out all in one piece. He's another one of those things I made where I look at it now and think,"How did I do that?" Sewing really isn't my thing,so accomplishing some of these things was just luck I guess.

  For little Elephant's mouth I think I used a tiny piece of pink scrap fabric. I can't remember if I did that or painted it,and my eyes can't tell these days.

His ear middles and foot pads are just ovals of blue fabric,glued in. I think I may have done the edges with Fray Check to keep it from unraveling.

His little black eyes are beads.

Big Elephant's real eyes are brown with black pupils,but I wasn't going to go that far with the realism!

  Then I had to think of something for his vest. I tried to find a fabric with tiny blue stripes,but finding a perfect match, especially in that tiny scale, was impossible. In the end I used fine white fabric to make a vest and tie,and mixed up the appropriate colour of blue paint from acrylic paints,and painted them myself.

This was a LONG time ago,and the real Elephant's vest and tie were brighter then. It was a good match at the time!

After that I couldn't find the appropriate colour beads for his vest buttons either. I ended up using the paint I mixed up for the stripes and tie to also paint some beads. I then sewed them on the front of the vest. Well,they've been lost over the years. My bead sewing is about as dependable as my button sewing I guess. (The buttons I sew on always end up dropping off again,although,the glass beads I sewed on for eyes on Ivy's home made Toto,for her Dorothy costume,have stayed on pretty well. Maybe I resewed them at some point.)
   Elephant was, like Ivy's Baby and Emma's favourite stuffed toy,her rabbit Charlie,one of those toys  I spotted and knew they just had to have. Charlie was a last minute spot on a run for something for Easter the day before. We already had a bunny for Emma,but I never liked it. When I saw Charlie I knew he was special. At 28 Emma still keeps him on her bed. I can't remember the occasion for which Ivy was gifted with Baby. I do remember that I 'visited' Baby several times at Kaybee toys,insisting that we needed to get her for Ivy because she looked like her. (In fact, when I bought Baby she and Ivy had the exact same colour eyes,and when I put my long hair down over Baby's forehead and put a bonnet on her she was Ivy's double. Ivy even only had two bottom teeth at the time.) Ken kept resisting,but I finally overrode him and bought Baby. Ivy was immediately in love and still keeps Baby on her bed. Elephant was something I saw on a quick run into Walmart one night while we were moving. We had been so busy moving that Emma hadn't gotten a Halloween costume yet. I had made all her others, but this time she wanted to be The Pink Ranger from Power Rangers,and she had seen a real costume she wanted. We had come to town to drop things off at our new house,which is a half hour away from where we were living then. It was late and we had to head back to the old place,but it was so close to Halloween that we made a stop at Walmart to get Emma's costume. I ran in,and while I was there I saw Elephant on a shelf. I only wavered for a second,and then grabbed him for Fuzzy. He got him that Christmas, which was his first.
  I know there are way more things I made for the dolls. When I do a redo of Emma's room I'll show you some of her things.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Stuff We Made---Again!

  Recently I did several posts on the miniature souvenirs I made for the kids' dolls' vacations. There were loads more things we made that weren't connected with the doll vacations,that were just 'because'. I came across a lot of them in redoing Ivy's room, and when Fuzz moved back home recently he cleared up some of his doll stuff too, and I photographed some of that. I thought today I'd show you some of those things.
  First up is this tiny puzzle that belongs to Ivy's doll Blue.

You can see from the penny how small it is. I know I cut it out, but I think it had to have been a picture of a puzzle because it had the lines for the pieces already on it. I don't know where I found it.
  In the posts on the souvenirs I showed you some tiny magnets I made. I made these Wizard of Oz magnets for Blue too.

I think they were things I cut out of an old catalog too,and glued to very thin magnet material.
  Ivy has a collection of millefiori paper weights. I made this mini butterfly paperweight for Blue. I got the idea when I found the small,clear half circle,which is actually a rubber foot for something. I put the butterfly picture on the bottom. I thought it worked quite well as a miniature paperweight. You can buy the clear rubber 'feet' by the pack I think.


Ivy has a mug that was sold by the company that sold the school photos. They were available with the school photo printed on them, and Ivy had to have a mug of herself. I used the tiny photos used as examples on the school photo sheets and made some Ivy mugs for Blue.

The mugs were sold at lots of places,including a local Hallmark store. They came blank, or with a name printed on them,and were sold for charm bracelets. I had forgotten, but apparently I also made a couple of Fuzzy mugs for Fuzzy the Doll.

The kids made a lot of things too. The array of goodies below belongs to Blue,and were made by Emma mostly. I did make the donut I think, as well as the pink and blue lollipop,(which is missing it's stick),and the pink cake. It has lost it's red bead cherry. It was very easy and quick to make,because it's made of one of those wooden plugs that cover the screw holes in put-it-together-yourself furniture! I just had to paint it!

Fuzzy also has some donuts. I'm not sure which of us made these. They even have a little paper bag to hold them all. The bag would have been home made too. I saved bags from gift stores for things like this because they are thin and make more realistic looking small bags.

I also came across Fuzzy the Doll's New Year's hat.

It was made from a used Christmas cracker,with some Christmas garland around the bottom. (That huge thing coming out from it is the very old rubber band chin strap. It's seen better days.) You had to have a New Year's hat because the dolls had to celebrate New Year's with us.
  Fuzz had one of Emma's cakes too,and what appears to be cheese on a bun.

All of this stuff was made from polymer clay.
  I made Emma a TV for her Emma the Doll. Sometime I'll try to show you that one. This one is Ivy's TV for Blue.

I painted Emma's black, but Ivy's was left white. I put the three black bead controls on it, but I think Ivy is the one who wrote 'Sony' on it. We must have had a Sony TV at the time.
  The TVs were made from tiny boxes. I cut the front out for the screen area,replaced it with a piece of clear plastic from a doll package,and taped in a piece of cardboard to fit behind the 'screen' hole so the pictures I made into TV screens would stand up to the clear plastic. I cut out a lot of 'movies' from store ads,and even wrapping paper.(All those Rankin and Bass shows,like Rudolph,and The Year Without a Santa Claus, etc.,and the Christmas Story ones are from wrapping paper.)

I even found pictures from some of Ivy's favourite movies that aren't very well known,like the little known Disney movie "Child of Glass",second from the bottom, far right. The black and white pictures were from old movie catalogs I saved from school! They were the catalogs the school used to order movies. In my post on Topo Gigio I mentioned how the movie "The Magic World of Topo Gigio" is considered a lost movie now. Non one knows where to find a copy of it. But apparently it was still available in the 70's, because there it is,center far left,straight from the school's catalog.
  Most of these 'movies' I 'laminated' by covering them with wide clear tape. 

More Topo Gigio. Ivy loved him.
  Fuzz had some things that were cut out of ads and catalogs,like a pizza,a notebook, a fan,a mask, and a 'Franklin' book rack,cut from a cardstock book ad from a magazine. They're missing, but there were tiny Franklin books that fit inside.

I even made Fuzzy the Doll a birthday card from a scan of the real Fuzzy's birthday party invitation.

I made the kids a movie one year,starring their dolls. Emma was inspired to make movies too. She made a sequel to my "Emma and Fuzzy Take a Road Trip" called "Emma and Fuzzy Take a Time Trip". We held a premier,and invited Emma's friends and their dolls. The starring dolls got to walk down the red carpet amid the flashes of the paparazzi, (We used small strobe lights!),and put their hands and signatures in 'cement'. (It was wet self dry clay. We still have their signatures and hand prints in the 'cement'.)  They even handed out autographed photos of themselves to their fans.

These pictures of Blue and Emma the Doll are from Blue's collection.
  I have more things to show you. The next time we'll look at some three dimensional creations.