The story of “Estelle”By Heather Suckling. (Williamson) Doll Artisan
I first started doll making in 1982, the inspiration was seeing a baby doll a friend had made, a reproduction of an antique porcelain doll of 1900’’s, I loved it and started researching old porcelain dolls, and began lessons with a ceramics studio to re produce my own antique dolls..
I dressed my doll in a christening gown, and fell in love with French heirloom sewing, after that project I was totally hooked and ended up teaching the craft.
Doll making encompasses many crafts, French hand sewing, leather shoe making, wig making, plaster mold making, China painting and how to manage kilns.
“Estelle” was a special project I had just come back from the United States after attending a huge ceramics show and convention in Florida.,
the Melboune Doll Show was coming up which was held annually at Camberwell Town Hall, and I was inspired to enter something special, Estelle was special,
She was sculpted by Ron Booker a historian and sculptor who was affiliated with Madam Tussauds Museum New York, he produced wax portraits including the costumes that were popular attractions in North America and Europe, and so he obtained a thorough background of Anatomy, historic dress, pattern draughting and ornamentation.
I bought the greenware (raw material) of Estelle, the sculpting was beautiful and after firing she was a delight to China paint, especially her eyes. Then the dressing. Ron’s patterns , were very accurate and easy to follow he even provided the pattern for the shoes . I made her wig with Mohair and dyed it red, to make the curls, I wet the mohair and wound it on plastic straws and heated them for one or two minutes in the microwave, perfect!
All her underwear was made with swiss batiste, and pure silk, silk ribbons, and cotton lace, her stockings were made from a silk stocking I found in my grandmothers sewing box which was passed on to me when she died.
I dyed it black, and it worked really well. I made the shoes from leather and the fabric from the dress. I had some silk lace and tule in my stash to decorate the dress which I died black and beaded with Jet beads, the silk for her dress was also in my stash.
Estelle was one of my most enjoyable projects I entered her in the Melbourne Doll show and won best in section.
I met Ron Booker when he came to Melbourne as a guest at he Coydon Doll Show, I showed him photos of Estelle and he was delighted.
The photos are of various stages of dressing, hope you have enjoyed my story.