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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Our Balcony on Our 1888 Italianate House

We love our 1888 Italianate house. It appears to be a little grand, and yet minuscule as far as grand styled houses go. Our house is actually small with only 2,000 square feet. It is a cottage, but because of the Italianate design, it is tall. We have 11 foot ceilings in the downstairs and 10 foot ceilings in the upstairs. It is notable in historic Oregon City, Oregon, as The Judge Cross House. It is on a busy street, for a small town, yet we never experience traffic noise inside, due to our amazing indoor storm windows that are virtually unseen by the naked eye. At night, outside, it is quiet. 

Here on my balcony I am finally beginning to build a little garden. I have a few flowers begun and today I had to transplant my beautiful Madame Cecille Brüner rose vine to where you barely see it there between the two windows. She was becoming too unwieldy in the front yard and could have grabbed at anyone walking up our steps. I hope she makes it here. If she does not, I will buy another.... But today was a tough one for me to dig and dig and pull and tug. In the foreground there is a stand holding lovely hanging flowers. I am getting there!

Putting the rose vine on an arbor was not an option for this yard. For years I have had to keep the vine trimmed, yet it still grew rapidly and had to be tied back. Our old house was moved to this site in the 1920's. It took dynamite to get a spot for the house, as this is a basalt mountain. When Oregon City was getting its first high school back in the '20's, they chose the land where our house was and so it was moved then.

Italianate houses have those quoins you see there on the corners of the house. The word quoin is pronounced coin.

The door you see in the evening light is access to the balcony, and this happens to be my art room. This is actually one of the three bedrooms upstairs, but has not been anyone's bedroom in perhaps 50 years. Previous owners also used it for a sewing room and a television viewing room. It is our television viewing room as well as my art room, which I thoroughly enjoy. Our living room and downstairs is too pretty to ruin with a TV!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mehitabel Hodges ~ 18th. Century Wooden Doll

In the late 1990's I spotted a magazine in an antiques shop with this doll on the cover and my heart was captured. The article was by the late John Darcy Noble about Mehitabel Hodges known as the "Salem Doll".

In the words of Mr. Noble:

"Her story is perhaps a saga, which reads like a detective yarn from the shattering of her reputation and her shameful retirement to the appearance of her champions on both sides of the Atlantic. Let us look first at her story as it appeared in print in the 1940's. A Captain Gamaliel Hodges of Salem, Massachusetts, set sail for China in 1715. In France he bought a doll for his daughter, Mehitabel, elaborately dressed in the fashion of the day. It was said that Captain Hodges did not return to Salem until 1724.

The doll, we were told, was treasured by subsequent generations of Hodges girls, who named it Mehitabel after its first owner. All this information is from family oral history, which seems to have been written down for the first time in the 1890's, when the doll was exhibited for charity."

And so the story goes.  To finish reading it, please find the book Selected Writings of John Darcy Noble. Favorite Articles From Dolls Magazine: 1982-1995

But from my heart it is key that this doll was the first glass-eyed wooden I ever laid eyes on and it was she who inspired me to sculpt my doll Tess. Of course, my sculpting is primitive and immature to say the least; nonetheless, Tess was born and became one of my signature creations. I made a plaster mold of my first one and from there pour liquid maché into the mold to make more of the same doll. I never knew how I would ever make a wooden doll. 

I finally learned how woodens were made and I left it at that, for my passion was never that strong to reproduce an exact replica.  The artist in me is happy to do my own interpretation.

I still love Mehitabel Hodges.