Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Skookum dolls visit...

Our doll club was treated to a wonderful program on Skookum dolls presented by Renee Silvester owner of Calling All Dolls in Cobalt, CT. Renee brought her fabulous collection and wealth of information to the White Oaks Doll Club in Wethersfield CT.

Regulars readers will guess that I fell instantly in love with the Skookum dolls. Made of wood, fiber, straw, and other natural materials... they are captivating! It is easy to understand why Renee has been collecting them so long.

SKOOKUM DOLLS were designed by Mary McAboy of Montana, in the early 1900's. Her earliest dolls were made with air-dried apple faces. later being made of composition and plastic.

McAboy applied for a patent for three styles--a female doll, a female doll with a baby, and a male doll. They became a cottage industry when their popularity grew and they were made by housewives who put them together from kits.

Working from their homes, women could obtain kits and were paid to put the dolls together. Although the pay was not very much, I am sure that many households enjoyed the extra income when women did not work outside the home like today. They were free to add their own touches from the materials they received. Here are two in need of repair that show some of the aspects of how they were made.

At first glance, they seem very similar but when you look at them carefully, you become aware of their many differences and their individual integrity. (Sort of like people, don't you think? We are all different!)

Although this is not a true Skookum doll, it similar and quite amazing as well. Made by Mary Frances Wood, the faces were made from crepe paper over plaster.

Since Skookums were souvenir dolls, they turn up all over the country and probably all over the world. They ranged from two and a half inches to three feet tall.

Renee's collection is extensive
and so is her knowledge!

It is only a matter of time before a Skookum will become part of my collection. I was truly captivated by them and love the fact they are "user friendly." Unlike dainty porcelain & china dolls, these have survived in amazing condition. The little ones were mailed through the postal system without even being wrapped! They had a address card attached to them!
This is my kind of doll and why I collect predominantly cloth and wooden dolls. For all the tiny things I make, I am an awful klutz!

As my mind swirls with images of these dolls, I wish to thank Renee for all that she shared with us!

As always,

enjoy the day!


Elizabeth said...

Love seeing this post because I have several similar dolls. Thank you.

Beth said...

I look forward to seeing your take on a Skookum :-)


April said...

These are gorgeous dolls- what beautiful rugged faces..so much character! And what a terrific collection and an Awesome Doll shop (Calling all Dolls)!!
I would like to know, though, How did they get the name, "Skookum" dolls? Any special meaning?

Shelley said...

I have one of the little babies...all wrapped tight in a blanket showing only its little face,which I believe is composition ....I had no idea about it other than it was a Indian doll....since you are wanting to start a collection I am offering you mine...if you would like it....just email me your address...blessings