Tag Archives: Paper dolls

The Art of Motherhood

When I was little, I thought all mothers were artists. And musicians. And seamstresses. Like my mother.

Because she had so much creative talent, my mom enriched my  childhood with constant doses of it. She whipped up numerous dresses for me on her old 1940s Singer sewing machine. I was always in style at church or school. And so were my baby dolls. Chatty Cathy & I often wore matching frocks, thanks to Mother’s genius. In fact, until I took this picture, I never realized that little Muffy’s dress wasn’t just like mine.

Muffy & Me

Muffy & Me – Twins!

The turquoise-blue, dotted-Swiss number I wore for my portrait (about four years of age), was a rare store-bought dress. But Mother found similar material for Muffy’s look, added some fancy lace, & I thought we were twins.

For my birthday, Mother sometimes drew beautiful ladies on white cardboard, the stiff backing saved from packages of nylons. She sketched enough so each invited guest could take away her own, original paper doll. Each doll wore a unique hairstyle & bathing suit. And each had a large sheet of art paper filled with tabbed clothes. During the party, we could fill in the outfits using new sets of colored pencils. Scissors were provided so each girl could cut out clothing for her doll to model. We lay on the living room tiles, industrious, creating our own masterpieces.

Probably the only time we were quiet all day.

Paper Doll

Though I no longer have the paper dolls, I have a lot of my mother’s drawings that are reminiscent.

When I think of how much time & love Mother put into such projects on my behalf, I feel rich. Now that she is in Heaven, these memories are great treasures.

I hope I remembered to thank her adequately.



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Paper Memories

Today I bought a Christmas gift for my four-year-old granddaughter. A set of prince and princess paper dolls. With a modern twist. True, they are fashioned with the familiar flatness of old, but made out of wood rather than cardboard and their whimsical-woody-wardrobes attach to each form magnetically.

Nice. No paper hinges to tear off at the dress’s shoulders and sides. No ruining your favorite paper doll by coaxing her cardboard cuteness into a chair, bending her at the backside and knees.

Not that I ever did such a thing.

As the sales clerk rang up my gift, we reminisced about how we’d once played with our paper dolls until the edges were frayed and worn with wear. She mentioned having an entire set of the lovely Lennon Sisters (as Lawrence Welk used to say).

“Lucky you,” I said. “I used to channel Janet Lennon, singing ‘Getting to Know You’ all around the house, hoping to be discovered.”

The clerk laughed, understanding.

I added, “Of course, that was after I’d channeled Shirley Temple and retired ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop.’”

Her eyes lit up. “I had Shirley Temple, too!”

Wow. I don’t remember having celebrity paper dolls. But I didn’t suffer. Every month I looked forward to carefully cutting out the Betsy McCall doll and her fashion-forward outfits from Mother’s latest McCall’s magazine. I glued Betsy to some thick paper, trimming away the excess, so she’d last until next month’s issue.

When I turned ten, my artist-mom made original paper dolls to give all the guests at my birthday party. She spent days sketching and coloring and cutting. Every doll had an extensive wardrobe and boy-oh-boy, were the girls ever awed to receive something so special. No one else’s mother attempted such a feat. I felt as famous as Shirley Temple for many days after that.

And now, years and years later, it’s time to introduce the current version of paper dolls to Sidney Anne.

Welcome to my world, little one.


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