What is it about polka dots? I love them. Recently, I started thinking about where the words came from and my mind leapt to "Google." But wait - if I "Googled" it, I would get an instant answer and then, there goes the wonder. Remember wondering? All children do it, and I certainly did. I wonder why the sky is blue? I wonder what makes a cloud? I wonder what will happen if I rip the tag off my mattress? (I wonder if the "o's" in the middle of "Google" are polka dots?)
So, without Google or a dictionary, this is what I came up with: The polka is a lively dance and the music for it has a definite lilt. I imagine the music as written has lots of those dots over the notes to indicate a hold. I'm not a musician, so I'm guessing here, but that is where I think the polka dot may have come from.
So after wondering about it for a few weeks, I decided, rather than googling, to look it up.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says the following: "polka: n. [Czech, fr. Polka a Polish woman, fem. of Polak Pole] (1843) 1: a lively couple dance of Bohemian origin in duple time with a basic pattern of hop-step close-step 2: a lively originally Bohemian dance tune in 3/4 time - polka vi; polka dot m/n. (1857) a dot in a pattern of regularly distributed dots in textile design. .polka dotted: adj. duple: adj [L duplus double - more at DOUBLE] 1: having two elements 2 a: marked by two or a multiple of two beats per measure of music <~~time> b: of rhythm: consisting of a meter based on disyllabic feet." So there you have it. I still haven't googled it, but my son did, and it had even more information.
In the meantime, now that I'm focusing on polka dots, I'm starting to see them everywhere: dresses at the Good Will, a vintage dress I bought last year, a woman crossing the street in a black dress with baseball-sized white polka dots, a little girl with a red sundress with diminishing white polka dots, a bigger girl in a turquoise Minnie Mouse skirt with golf ball sized white dots, wrapping paper at the new paper store that opened across from the Farmer's Market.
And as you may have noticed, many of the dolls I make sport polka dotted arms and legs or
dresses, with more in the works. I sometimes put polka dots and stripes together, as with
Mitsuko. Luckily, my favorite fabric store, International Silks and Woolens, has a great selection of vintage cottons, many with polka dots, so I have lots of choices.
Here is the blue and white vintage silk polka dot dress Sophie and I found at a yard sale on the corner of Oakwood and Crescent Heights in L.A. last year. And here is the red and white polka dot dress from Good Will that I couldn't resist. It's too big, has shoulder pads, a white collar and wide self-belt which reminds me of Lucy Ricardo. This is destined for a Sophie/Sasha remake.
Well, 4th of July has come and gone. Saw some fabulous fireworks last night, full of red white and blue polka dots lighting up the sky, as well as gold fountains that dripped golden coins. Hope your 4th was a great one too!
Next time, I will talk about Raggedy Angela, the newest Raggedy, who is a gift for my friend at the fabric store.
Have a wonderful week. And if you live in L.A., go see the giant boulder!
Introducing Mitzi and Donette. Sophie helped with Mitzi, who is a cousin to Mimosa, and has brown eyes, red hair with gold highlights and red and white striped arms and legs with black boots, a la a sophisticated Raggedy Ann. She has a navy blue and white polka dot dress, tied in back with navy blue satin ribbons and a stiff, white petticoat, cut from the gigantic wedding petticoat from Goodwill. It was really hard to cut into that petticoat, because you never know when you might need one, especially one with a label that says "One Size Fits Most."
Mitzi was to have been the first of the Tomboy Dolls, but I couldn't resist giving her high-heeled, black boots instead of the more athletic look that the Tomboys will have. Mitzi also has a black back of the head, instead of orange, so you can see her scalp when she does cartwheels or hangs upside down from a tree. (You see, she's a tomboy anyway, as are all the dolls.) This is an example of one of those "flaws" that Erika mentioned, which all our handmade dolls have.
Last night, I finished Donette, who is Tonette's twin. I accidentally cut the legs shorter than intended and had to redo them. But now she is perfectly proportioned and all that is left is to finish the dress and make her petticoat.
People often ask how long it takes to make a doll. I have a hard time answering because, as you know if you've been following this blog, I make a doll in stages and sometimes work on several at once. So, while it may take seven or twelve hours for one doll, they actually are made over a period of days, weeks, months, or, as in the case of Donette, years!
Another reason it's so hard to determine the time is the decision-making process. Which face do I use, or shall I create a new one? Then, I pin the pattern on the fabric and cut out the head in one color and the back to match the hair color (unless I change my mind, as in the case of Mitzi).
Next, I transfer the drawing of the face to the fabric, then embroider the face, which takes about an hour. I love doing this because it looks like a painting. Donette's face was embroidered several years ago and took less time than usual because her features are more childlike. As she is a duplicate of Tonette, I wanted a different hairstyle for her and finally settled on the curly hair you see here. This style took several years of trial and error, but I love it! You'll be seeing it on more dolls soon, including Delphine, who is due for another "do." For now, here are some pictures of the latest dolls, and a couple of me, "blogging" at the Farmer's Market.
We would love to hear your thoughts on doll making, embroidery, things that you make, and art in general, so please send comments. Sophie and I hope to add a longer "Comment" page soon.
In the meantime, have a great week!