Folk Art Frankie Dolls

Frankie Doll 1 jerseymurmurs

For many years my mother made what she called “soft sculpture” dolls. The bodies were cut from muslin using a pattern she had purchased over 40 years ago (“Gingersnap Friends” by DreamSpinners; see the last photo, below). She embroidered the faces, added yarn hair and other details, and sewed clothes for them — often using recycled fabrics. She made these unique and personal dolls for family and friends (mine, made when I moved into an apartment with no roommates, is shown below; she dubbed the winking doll “NTR” — the No Trouble Roommate). Recently my brother asked her to make dolls for his granddaughters, but because of her illness it was too much for her. I took it over and — due to time constraints — attempted to simplify their construction. I figured if I used colorful, printed fabric then the dolls were already “dressed”, saving me some work. Once I found the vibrant colors and patterns of Bright Eyes fabric by @annamariahorner I decided they didn’t need hair or faces either. And they really came alive when I added embroidery details to their knees, elbows, and heads.
 
My mother was delighted with the colorful dolls and she helped me stuff them (when we were finished, she said “I mean how can a kid look at that and not smile?”). I told her that hers were “Fine Art” and mine were “Folk Art”! Her mother fondly called her “Frankie” so we christened our soft sculptures “Frankie Dolls”.

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School of Fine Arts Tea Party, 1896

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Now that's the way to drink tea.

[Detail from a photo of art students at the St Paul School of Fine Arts' summer classes, Mendota, Minn. Pictured in some or all of the collection are: Minnie K. Bailey, Zella Newcomb Bohm, Helen Brack, Ella Nabersbery Byard, Maud K. Clum, Verna Ayer Okerberg, Antoinette DeForest Parsons and Edith Kendrick Sanders.  (From the collection of the Smithsonian; see the full image here: St. Paul School of Fine Arts, Russian Tea Party, 1896)]