Walker, Izannah – American Dollmaker

Izannah Walker – Early American Cloth Dolls

Izannah Walker began creating cloth dolls in her Central Falls, Rhode Island, home in the 1850′s and on into the 1880′s, becoming one of the earliest of the commercial doll producers. The process she used (which allegedly came to her in a dream) was alternating layers of cloth and paste that ingeniously stiffened cloth dolls and hardened them to a papier-mache-like quality. The bodies were formed in two halves which were stuffed and glued together around a strengthening wooden armature, and then covered with fabric. Walker hand-painted the arms, legs and hair with oil paints. The painting of the hair was one of Walker’s distinctive features with typical corkscrew curls. The faces were given varying features with the use of different molds. Whatever the mold, her dolls tended to have the appealing features of a sweet, innocent child. (They have been compared to those of the children painted by American itinerant artist Ammi Phillips.)

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