Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Story Behind My Victorian "Ladies" Faceless Dolls

I have loved Victorian dolls since I was a little girl and can blame my grandmother for that. You see, as a young girl she gave me a Godey’s Fashion print for August 1870 that belonged to my great, great Aunt Flossie. From that moment on I was hooked. I was captivated by the beautiful dresses and wanted to create dolls wearing them.  But, I didn't want to design a typical Victorian doll.  I wanted mine to be "faceless."

Now you might be wondering why I would want them to be faceless. It's because I wanted each to have its' own distinct personality.

My feeling is that faces overwhelm the dolls personality and have a greater impact on their personality. I wanted the clothing, clothes, hair, color scheme, etc. of the Victorian period to determine the personality of the doll.

As far as I was concerned "Beauty lies not only in what is seen, but what is imagined. I believe the essence of a dolls beauty should determine her personality."

You could compare this to the use of mannequins by museums. Most mannequins in museum dress & textile exhibits are either headless or have heads, but they are generally faceless. Or, they have the sculpted definition of facial features but they are not painted. The idea is to not distract from the beauty of the dress or textile piece on display. The same holds true for store window displays.

I have also been a history buff since I was a little girl and loved doing research for history projects all throughout my school years. I especially loved to research everything and anything about the Victorian Era. Their history, their etiquette, their fashion, their hopes, their desires.... In fact, sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.

Designing handmade faceless dolls was not a novel idea as faceless dolls have been around for a long, long time. However, given my penchant for history I, of course, was curious about the history of faceless dolls. So, back in 2006 I decided to do a little research.

I figured that there had to be a history of handmade faceless dolls out there or, at least, some cultures and norms. Believe it or not but there wasn't a lot of information back in 2006 on the web on either the history of faceless dolls or cultures and norms that started such a tradition. There was a little more when I updated my research in 2009.

There was some information on two of the most popular and widely known faceless dolls - Amish dolls and corn husk dolls. And there was the legend surrounding Raggedy Ann and "faceless" dolls.

In doing my research, what I was pleasantly surprised with was the application of "faceless" dolls for so many current charities or organizations. More on that a little later.

I was hoping that now, in 2015, things would have changed a little and there would be more information on their history. I'm happy to report that there is a lot more now and that over the last few years there is a growing trend towards creating faceless dolls in all sorts of doll mediums - which thrills me to no end.

Part of the new trend has to do with creating eco-friendly and nature dolls and part has to do with allowing children to use their imagination more. It also has to do with comforting children facing tough medical situations. Without a face the dolls can be happy or sad, they can be laughing or crying - in essence, they can mimic the emotions of the child holding them. Putting a face on the doll defines the emotion of the doll with the child - which may or may not be comforting.

Eventually I was able to design my own Victorian "Lady" dolls, who are all faceless.  Initially I designed two bridal dolls and eighteen "ladies."  My Victorian Faceless "Ladies" are as follows:


I hope you enjoyed learning about the story behind my Victorian Faceless "Ladies" dolls and hope it has inspired to to create some of your own.

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