Hepsibah, a natural fiber art doll ready to play.
Today is my birthday, and so fitting that Hepsibah chose this day to find a home. Although I have been working on and off on her for about a month, I never envisioned how much I was going to fall in love with her, but there it is. They do say that life is what happens while you make other plans, don't they?.
It is indeed a while ago that Hepsibah plopped herself in my head, and wouldn't let me dream other dolls until I started working on her. The yellows and browns that I anticipate with the Fall were very much present in my day dreams, while the sunflower yellows and the deep greens were still alive on all the meadows around here. But little by little, a day here and a week there, the fabrics she was choosing, the leather, the buttons, they all started singing her song, my Little Sassenach was being born.
Her little, oh! so little face! started whispering things to me. Telling me stories, asking questions, giggling away whenever we finished something new for her. This was one of the first notes she scribbled for me:
"Could I wear please a fluffy hay cloud, for a dress?
and under it, the gossamer spiderweb lace sprinkled with rain drops, at sunset?.
Can my boots be like leathery backs? that carry me forth into adventures beyond my wildest dreams,
and my legs feel sustained by the strong chains of my foremothers?.
I would love to have an acorn pouch,
where I can save my wishes and secrets, things one cannot say out right.
I want to walk and sing songs, preferably tinkering. Always smiling.
Can you please cover my chest with lace ancestry?
I want to feel bound to the past, honour it, and carry it with me wherever I go.
The rest I leave to you."
As you can tell, I had a very tall order to fill. But she guided my hands, and we took time to replenish the well of inspiration after each garment was made.
I enveloped her in a soft cashmere fluffy cloud, so that she can snuggle against a cheek, be hugged and terribly loved.
I smiled endlessly at her freckled face and wondered about the eyes and hands that will cherish her.
I braided that little head, with so much care it even surprised me. Hepsibah inspires so much in me, but above all: tenderness.
She has a quiet way of saying things. A nod, a smile, a twinkle. The way her hair curves, begging to be played with. The soft rustle of her skirt, the tinker of her bell pouch. All soft, tender, young things…to entice you to play. To feel young, like her. To be childish. To stop and witness a little moment, a wee freckle, a little doll. To remind you: you are here. That's how Hepsibah makes me feel. Present.
She is a maker of miracles, this one. For one reason or another I was going through much inner turmoil, I think I still am. Trying to grasp life now, things now. Not imaginary ways of living or seeing my life, but facing life as it is right now. Making my peace with it. Being here. And was having a real hard time with it. I just couldn't ground myself. Until I made her.
Hepsibah grounded me by the way of my hands. Even though I had already created Hester and Carolina, and have a few other dolls here in all sorts of state (poor things!), it was really Hepsibah which made it real. I am here, and nowhere to run. Nowhere to disappear. I won't vanish. Being a dollmaker is really who I am, part of who I am. It's not something that "happened to me", and that will equally "not happen" anymore. It's something of my own choosing, and as much as I care for the work of my hands, the work of my hands cares for me as well. I feed my inner urge to be creative, and this creativity nurtures me instead. I understand it better now, but I had to sweat for a bit to reach my conclusions…and I owe it to her. My sweet Hepsibah, with her little smile, her blue eyes, freckled face full of mischief and wonder.
In the same way that she surprised me with her requests, I was astonished how many times I tried to photograph her with daylight and things just wouldn't work out. It seems Hepsibah loves the dusk, the dim lights, like the smoky haze of a fall afternoon, where you can smell winter making its way through the land. How the flowers start to close, the earth dampens, chimneys speak their acrid song and everything is tinged in a dusty light. That's when Hepsibah chose to be outside. Not when the sun is bright, not when the birds are chirping. When things are settling down and yellow lights are pouring out of tiny windows, when dogs are finding their spot for the night, and crawlers are waking up for a night long feed. Hepsibah, my October child you.
I do apologize if this is too much rambling, but what can I say? Hepsibah moved me, very deeply. I will cut the fat now and just get to it, before you all start sending me rotten tomatoes via email. Let's proceed.
As you can tell, Hepsibah is a natural fiber art doll made with my Petite Fig pattern. A very slim and dainty doll, 19" and a wee bit tall. She is made with cotton skin and stuffed very firmly with wool. Her facial features were needle-felted, stitched and embroidered, while her rosy cheeks and freckles were blushed with beeswax and painted. Hepsibah wears a super-duper full outfit consisting of:
- an Italian cashmere (repurposed) dress in brown rust, with light grey polka dots and centre-front placket that closes with three mother of pearl buttons. Her dress has added long cashmere ribbing sleeves that can be folded up. The dress is accented with a wooden button that reads handmade, plus a wool embroidery leaf and bunch of berries made with french knots. Can I just tell you how much I loved making her dress? from hand-sewing the hem, to the embroidery…every single thing I love.
- she wears a three-tier cotton petticoat with fitted waist, with a very long strip of gold-embroidered lace. It sticks under her dress at just the right height. She loves it so.
- under her cotton petticoat she has a cabled knit tights, with elastic waist and tiny, tiny underpants.
- a little chemise made of cotton, with vintage lace insertion and pin tucks, plus twill ties that closes on back. The blouse is hemmed with tiny cotton lace as well.
- tall leather boots with lace-up leather ties.
- an acorn leather pouch, that she likes to wear over her waist instead of over her shoulder, that has a very cute and tiny brass bell. It makes the sweetest sound when she moves.
- a hand-knit cape in ribbing stitch, to hug her shoulders at the right tension, also with leather straps and vintage glass metal-shank buttons.
-as a final item, her chapeau. A hand-knit slouchy wool toque, made with Malabrigo yarn, hand-dyed merino in the most wonderful dark browns, rust and gold shades ever.
Hepsibah is looking for a home today. Her price is $1400 USD plus postage. You can tell just how much care, time and love I put into creating her. Please only enter if you are personally interested in bringing her home. She is a doll suited for an older child (12+) or an adult collector that can handle her with care, dress her gently and take care of her with much love. She will be accepting offers until tomorrow Monday October 31st at 7 PM MDT. If you are randomly chosen to bring Hepsibah home, you will be sent a Paypal invoice which is due upon receipt. She will then ship to you within five business days, and will travel with swagger, tracking number and full insurance (***sorry! shipping charges are $30 to the US and Canada, International will need revised quote based on country of residence).
- - - Thank you all that entered their homes for Hepsibah to travel to. Your kind words and messages to her (+birthday wishes!) made my heart swell. Sending much love to each and every one of you!.
Thank you so, so much, for coming to read all this about her, for your kind comments on all her photos, and for taking the time to consider wether you need such a doll friend in your life. It is my biggest wish that Hepsibah finds herself a home where she is cherished, played with and made to feel useful. See you all tomorrow. I have to go now and eat cake!.