Did You Know?

How old are rag dolls?

Rag dolls have been around just about as long as little girls and boys. They are one of the most ancient artifacts of children's toys. This photo shows a rag doll in the British Museum that dates back to around 300 BC to 400 AD. Made from coarse linen and stuffed with rags and pieces of papyrus, the doll is in the British Museum. For more information visit this online link or or Wikipedia.

Rag doll in British Museum, thousands of years old.

Rag doll in British Museum, thousands of years old.


Who we are not?

Although Intrix rag dolls are real rag dolls, their stuffing is not real rags. Instead of rags they are updated with modern U.S.A made polyester fiber. And, they are not the ragdoll breed of cat. In the 1960s a regular non-pedigreed white domestic longhaired cat named Josephine, who had produced several litters of typical cats, was injured in an accident involving a car and taken to the veterinary hospital... 


After Josephine recovered she became docile, relaxed when picked up, and immune to pain. Her next litter produced kittens with a similar temperament. When the subsequent litter produced more of the same, Ann Baker (an established cat breeder) purchased several kittens from the owner who lived behind her. Believing she had something special, she set out to create what is now known as the ragdoll cat. The cats were selectively bred over many years to develop the desired traits, such as large size, gentle demeanor, and a tendency to go limp when picked up, as well as the striking pointed coloration.

The rag doll cat is not an Intrix Rag Doll.

The rag doll cat is not an Intrix Rag Doll.

The Rag Doll villain is not the Intrix Rag Doll.

Supervillain?

Nor are they the Rag Doll supervillain first introduced in 1942, issue #36 by D.C. Comics. This villian decided no one would suspect him if he dressed up as a rag doll to commit his various crimes.  (The above links are to the Wikipedia references from which this information was taken.)

The fastest way to tie shoe laces...

The dolls are not as fast as Professor Shoelace when they tie the laces in their play shoes, but it's still fun to watch this little video that shows the fastest way to tie shoes. It looks really simple but it does take some practice. Professor Shoelace

What is batik and how it is made

We especially like the prints and fabric of the closely woven 100% cotton batik fabric. Many of the dolls' clothes are made from the colorful batik prints. Batik has been around for centuries and is still made in very much the same way as it was long ago... hand printed and hand dyed. Here are some of the better links we found about batik. Batik, the Traditional Fabric of Indonesia is an Indonesian web site that includes a brief history of batik. It also includes an explanation of the tools and process used. There is also a photo series of the step by step batik process. Some of the patterns are intricately complicated.

    

This short video with subtitles shows the fabric process. Another one, also short and with narration, is a visit to a batik factory.

Buttons...old or new?

Buttons are thought to have originated about 4,000 years ago, but they were used only as decoration. Pins and belts were used for fastening garments. The use of a button with a buttonhole did not come into use until the 13th century. 


Women and girls of bygone years collected and traded buttons, but in the rules of the day, the buttons could not be purchased. They had to be gifted or traded. The story is told of young girls gathering buttons for "charm strings" because it was said that once she had collected 999 buttons her future husband would provide her with the 1,000th. 


Here is one of a number of brief histories and development of the button. And in case you prefer a short video, here is a presentation by Isaac Mizrahi on Ted, ideas worth spreading

SILK

How is silk made?

The dolls' skin is made of silk noile, sometimes called raw silk. It has a soft yet slightly rough or textured feel.


Silk has been around for a long time. Invented in China thousands of years ago, it was a carefully guarded secret for many years. There are a number of legends as to its beginning as well as how the secret of silk production was smuggled out of China. 


For your reference, a brief history of silk is in the Silk Association of Great Britain website. Another site shows a silk history for kids

Silk worm spinning a cocoon.

Silk worm spinning a cocoon.

So Which One Is It?

Pantaloons, Pantalettes, Bloomers, or Drawers?

Today these terms seem to be interchangeable, each referring to a loose and baggy divided ladies' garment for the lower body to be worn under dresses and skirts. But in their day, all of them were gigantic steps away from the long, cumbersome dresses and petticoats once fashionable for women. Like women's freedom to own property and vote, freedom in women's dress was not an easy victory against ridicule and opposition. 


Bloomers acquired their name during the middle 1800's from Amelia Bloomer. And the term pantaloons? Perhaps from a 16th century Italian comedy character named Pantalone who wore short baggy pants. 


The following link is to a company specializing in undergarments of past decades and centuries. Their photos show better than words the many styles of ages past which is why the link is included here. (Please understand that although we find their designs and pictures interesting, we are not promoting either the quality or the purchase of their product in any way.) Their designs, manufactured in the United States are updated but are still reflective of what was actually worn at the time. 

Bloomers and pantalettes were once a fashion statement for women.

Bloomers and pantalettes were once a fashion statement for women.

Petticoats, Crinolines, and Starch

How do we keep their clothes so nice?

When the dolls' clothes need a little freshening up or smoothing out, we give them a light touch with an iron, but to make them look extra nice and fluffy, we use unscented Mary Ellen's Best Press Clear Starch Alternative, especially on their petticoats. We are also told it is also a favorite with the quilters.


Back a number of decades ago in the 1950's and even into the early 1960's, girls always wore skirts and blouses or dresses to school. With them  went saddle shoes, penny loafers, and white bobby socks were popular then, too. And white canvas Keds that required white shoe polish and an occasional washing to keep them nice. 


Dresses then were typically shirtwaist styles. In the nicer weather, the peasant style blouses were a real favorite. They were mostly white cotton in a simple style with elastics at the neck and sleeves. Only on occasion was there a little added lace. They were great with springtime skirts and petticoats. 


In the middle 1950's the girls also loved to wear petticoats under their springtime full skirts. The girls made them super stiff by soaking them in a thick solution of sugar and starch before hanging them on a clothesline to drip dry. You couldn't use a dryer even if you were lucky enough to have one because it would make them limp instead of stiff! Some of the naturally stiff ones we called crinolines but because they were so stiff, they weren't as comfortable. Hoops were rarely worn by the girls for everyday wear because they were just too awkward to deal with in the classroom, but lots of fluffy petticoats were so much fun. The more, the better! With three girls in the back seat of a car, even the big cars of years past, there were petticoats everywhere! Then the colored trim on the bottom edge would have a chance to show off its colors. 


Best Press starch gives an extra touch to the dolls' clothing.

Best Press starch gives an extra touch to the dolls' clothing.

Keeping clean

Here at the studio, we use Vectra Spray on the dolls to help protect them from any possible food, dirt or grease stains they might encounter...especially before we take them out for a photography session. Even so it is still a challenge to keep sawdust out of their hair when they are around woodworking and especially the little metal chips should they venture in to visit the big metal working machines. 


Actually, the manufacturer of the spray told us it will also work well on our own clothes, handbags, and other sorts of such items. 

Vectra spray helps protect the dolls when they are out for a photo session.

Vectra spray helps protect the dolls when they are out for a photo session.

A Word of Caution

We have taken some of the above information from what appears to be reasonably dependable internet websites because we believe it will be of interest to you, but we do not and cannot attest to its veracity. We leave that for you to decide.