Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Widow of Noirmoutier

This is one of my vintage French dolls.
My obsession with collecting dolls and telling their stories
started one spring during one of my pilgrimages
to the festival of St Sara la Kali in the South of France.
Near our hotel was a Saturday morning market
and she had a few dolls.  I bought the most beautiful ones.
The following day we visited another small village
and I found another table with  many many dolls
and the lady offered them ALL to me.  Needless
to say I brought them home.

This doll is a widow doll from the island of Noirmoutier, 
just off the coast of France.  The island has whitewashed
 fisherman's houses with blackened wooden 
windows and shingle roofs.  
I tried to capture the feel of the island in her little handmade cottage.

The main form of employment on the island used to be deep sea fishing.
 It is said that there are up to four generations of widows living on this island,
 at any given time.  They are all widows of fishermen lost at sea! 
 The widows of Noirmoutier are recognised by their black clothing.

You will see that this widow carries the keys of La Chaitelaine, the housekeeper. 
 She is a devoted follower of the Blessed Mother and in her right hand she has a tiny chaplet.

She has a beautiful altar made from shells,
 a tiny cupboard with an iron, a 
copper kettle and some books, as well as 
her trusty black coal stove and red enamel pots.

You will also see that she has a widow's 'set' 
consisting of a widow's Bible and rosary.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Seamstress

I made another shadow box of course!  I also love to paint in oils and acrylics and mixed media, but my first love are the shadow boxes.  To me they seem like miniature worlds captured in a frame!

This is the shop of a victorian dressmaker.  She is a paperdoll, put together with pieces and parts of paperdoll clothes, a stamped paperdoll head, plenty of lace and porcelain arms.

The shoes are too adorable.  They are a pair of black Barbie doll shoes that I attached two violet roses onto. And a matching handbag! with a navy blue and white madonna on it.

She is standing in her milliner's shop, this craftswoman and seamstress

surrounded by the tools of her trade :  needles adorned with pearls and crystal beads;  a vintage pair of scissors, a mannequin, a dressmaker's mannequin, a mannequin head, a piece of vintage cloth measuring tape, an old key and more. Oh what a graceful time it was! although it must have been very uncomfortable to sew whilst wearing all those layers of lace and crinoline!

The dressmaker's mannequin in the background I decorated with ribbon roses.

She has a mannequin head in her display window with the latest Victorian hat!  I made the tiny little hat from the plastic end of a tassel and I added lace, tiny roses and a very immodest feather!

The lace curtains of the shop is decorated with many gold roses. The shop is wallpapered with victorian paper, lace, ribbons, vintage newspaper ads, a victorian die cut basket of roses.

Please step in and be measured for that special gown! 

If you believe in them, dreams always come true

I am dreaming of travelling far and wide.  Stitch by stitch, thread by thread, I sew together my heart-felt dream.  I know that I have the key to all my adventures, and I am waiting, ready to embark on this  journey.

I am ready and prepared;  all my worldly treasures packed up; picnic lunch ready and my precious Snuggles.  No-one is left behind, not even my darling parakeet.

I am dreaming of Paris in springtime, with love in bloom.  

She is a vintage doll that I bought because of the beautiful detail of her clothing.  Her hair was almost non-existent and bald on top!  Now she is a grande lady, a seamstress, I guess.  After she looked into the mirror and saw the transformation that I gave her, she realised she can be whoever she wants to be and she can do whatever she sets her mind to!  She is starting off with a trip on a train to France, Paris in particular.  Her favourite perfume is Anna Suis!  She has already whispered to me that she intends buying herself a beautiful motor car and travelling on the roads in style!!

Bon voyage!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Shopping for shoes on the Champs Elysees

Shoes, shoes, shoes, shoes

Bonjour mademoiselle!  Please step into my shop

I lined the box with velvet papers, velvet ribbons, beads, lace, ruffles
paper chandelier, and I created the framed painting of Marie Antoinette in the back.

The beautiful scene of Paris is a magnet that I bought in Montmartre.

I had such incredible fun creating this small shoe shop which now hangs on my wall.
Every time I look at it, I remember the smell, the colour, the sound and the happiness
of visiting Paris and the South of France the past two years!


The Queen's Dollhouse

La Pianiste Aveugle - the blind pianist

This sweet vintage doll I bought at a street market in
Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume right across the
Cathedral of Mary Magdalene.

I received about twenty of these from the market seller
in a plastic shopping bag.

You can see in what a tattered state she is and she has no legs
and the moving eyes have fallen out long ago.
But she is beautiful and so I created a special shadow box for her,
La Pianiste Aveugle, the blind pianist.

The piano is a toy piano, part of a doll set.  I distressed and aged the little piano
and added a magnificent butterfly to its lid, symbolizing the freedom and liberation
that her ability to play the piano, brings the blind woman.

The entire box is covered with vintage sheet music paper.  A reminder
that life is music, and even as we live our small, boxed lives
of ordinariness, we hold the potential of creating the music of our souls.


The Queen's Dollhouse

Gypsy woman at Sarah la Kali festival in Saintes Maries de la Mer

A beautiful gypsy doll bought at the week long
gypsy festival in Saintes Maries de la Mer.

Here I have created a miniature world for her to
showcase both the story of the Rom people and
their beloved saint Sante Sarah-la-Kali and
their annual celebrations at this seaside village
in the South of France

A while ago I attended the annual Gypsy Festival
and celebrations devoted to Sante Sarah, in Saintes Maries de la Mer in France. 
 (See the full story with lots of pictures on my blog at

Everyone dresses up in traditional and celebratory outfits 

I bought this Spanish gypsy doll from a Spanish gypsy at the week long fair.
  She is made from a baked bisque with movable arms, legs and head. 
 Look at the beautiful detail of her shawl, the lace fan, 
the choker around her neck and the rose in the hair!!

surrounded by Spanish lace 

I also bought two red Spanish combs from him - one which I used on the frame.

The festival is a religious one for the gypsies who come from across 
Europe and the presence of the Madonna is everywhere.
 Wherever you go, there are gypsy women present at the festival.  
They walk amongst the shops in their flamboyant clothing with the most extravagant head gear;  they dance outside the Church where the main festivities take place.  
In fact, as you enter the village square you are swarmed by old gypsy women
 who are willing to pin the medal of Sainte Sarah onto your collar for a small fee.

The festival is dedicated to Sainte Sarah, the black saint.  

The third day of the festival is dedicated to the Black Bulls of the Camargue - a very Spanish tradition. 
 But unlike the bull fights of Madrid,
 these bull tournaments do not harm the bulls - no weapons are used - and it is a beautiful graceful dance between bull and matador.  
The bulls run to the arena and the event is 
accompanied with more dancing ladies in flamenco dress!

On the side of the box I have put the Sainte Sara rosary carried
 by all gypsies when they leave the festival to return home.

The storybox contains all the bits n pieces that I brought back with me from the magical festival.
  It will be added to my collection, reminding me of the Spanish gypsy at the festival of Saintes Maries de la Mer.

This week I am linking up with the magical and wonderful ABC Wednesday blog -
you can find them here


The Queen's Dollhouse

A Little Victorian ice skating girl frozen in time

Dolls unlock a part of my heart that I cannot explain.  
When I pick up a doll, I see her story and I feel this tug in my heart to share her tale with the world.  I have decided that they are a
 key to a magical garden in my own inner world :  
a world where the mind is not allowed to enter;  no criticism thank you, no matter how constructive;  no harsh reality here! 
 Only the beautiful, magical and wondrous!

This little Victorian Ice Skater I found on Etsy a while ago. 
 When I saw her I could see the frozen lake and I could hear the music!  
The vintage gramophone I found whilst antique hunting during a
 recent trip to the South of France. 
The fact that she is skating with her tiny white bird in its cage, is part of the magic of her tale!

You see, she was turned into a swan by an evil magician, long long ago.  
And now she can only turn into a beautiful girl again when you touch the magic key!

Till then, she is the swan, dreaming of the music floating on the crisp air; 
 feeling the swish of her dress against her legs; 
 hearing the scraping sounds of the skates on the ice!

How do you touch the magic key?  By looking at her with love and warmth.  
The warmth of your heart and thoughts will melt the spell, 
and she will transform into the princess that she is.


The Queen's Dollhouse

A Sunday morning in Montmartre

These vintage dolls I bought at various flea markets while in

She herself is on her way to the flea markets.  She is carrying her
typical French picnic basket loaded with fromage and baquette
and of course, French wine.  She is also carrying an empty
bird cage as she is intending buying a bird.  There is a huge
market in Paris that sells birds on a Sunday.  

On her way there she will pass the myriad of stalls
that line the banks of the Seine.

In fact,  some of these items
I did buy at some of those stalls.  Here you can find porcelain,
antiques, books, keys and locks, dolls and plants, amongst other 
collectible things.  

I included a background of the Virgin as Queen 
and another small statue of Notre Dame de Paris.
I painted both the crowns on the Virgin and the Child gold.

In Paris I experienced a city in which a great part of its history
and historical religion reveres the Salve Regina, Hail Holy Queen.
Wherever you look in the landscape, you can see not only the
Eiffel tower that is so famous in the skyline, but also the 
Sacre Coeur with the most beautiful golden statues of the Holy Queen,
and a shrine with probably 30 images of the Virgin,
as well as the Notre Dame, the imposing Cathedral that dominates

Hail Holy Queen

Thank you for visiting and taking the time to
read my words and to gaze upon my imagination.
May we share this dream in peace and joy.