Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A "Famous" Gottschalk Dollhouse

The story of a treasured find.........................................................



Several years ago I attended a private doll sale, hosted by a dear doll-dealer friend of mine. The sale consisted of the collections of another friend, recently deceased. With so many wonderful things available at this sale, a humble little dollhouse sat forgotten on a table of odds and ends. Of course, I always take pity on humble little houses and recognized this particular dollhouse as a Gottschalk-in-the-rough. It was "priced to sell," so I purchased it, despite a few puzzled glances.

Upon doing some research, I was pleased to find that this (formerly) crumbling grand lady is "famous." This dollhouse appears, as purchased, on page 31 of Evelyn Ackerman's The Genius of Moritz Gottschalk. According to the text, the delightful balcony dome is a very rare Gottschalk architectural element.

Almost as long as I have owned this house, it has been packed away. Recently, I decided to unpack and re-examine this little gem. Though the former owner and Ackerman didn't seem to think restoration was neccessary, I couldn't help thinking this house "just seemed sad." With intentions of being as gentle as possible, I began some restoration work.

Because there is paper-loss above the "window-trio," I had few misgivings about altering this area. I recreated a triple keystone trim above the windows using layered cardboard (and a creative, patina'd paint job). There is some warpage in this area and the cardboard, while appearing to be wood, had just enough give to follow the bowing. I also used layered cardboard to create the two middle window divisions. These divisions are covered with a print-out of a scale photograph of the existing brick paper. Regarding the roof, only the front right section was missing blue paint. I decided to go ahead and paint it in a custom mixed, matching color. I roughed it up a little, so the finish would mimic the back roof panel. A little beeswax polish was applied to all painted areas. This wax gives the painted portions a slight lustre and lubricates the dry wood.

Lace curtains were the only alteration to the interior. Overall condition considered, the interior floor and wallpapers remain beautifully intact. Restored nearer it's former splendor, I doubt this "famous" dollhouse will be packed away anytime soon.

.... dollsbyallenwcunningham.com ....

Highlights, End of 2009

Well, well, well, where to begin? With a blog update, seems to be the answer to that question! First of all, I'd like to wish you all health and happiness in 2010. This new century is just flying by, isn't it? With that said, I am going to break with my blog mission and briefly relate the events of 2009.

If I said the last half of 2009 was hectic, that would be an understatement! In August, I travelled to Sacramento, CA to participate in the Golden Glow Christmas Convention. What an experience....crazy Christmas collectors, as far as the eye could see and some of the most amazing new and old Christmas collections one could ever imagine. The members of this organization set-up a massive "museum hall" to showcase their collections. This was simply amazing! There were also themed dinners, lectures, an auction, and sales rooms. I sold my creations at the Christkindl Market and from my hotel room. I also caught-up with many of my old California friends.

My favorites in the museum room, antique Santa costumes

Introduction of new Christmas tree ornaments

Upon returning home from Sacramento, there were six weeks to prepare for for Halloween and Vine in Petaluma, CA and Ghoultide Gathering in Northville, MI. Also around this time, I found out I was was accepted by the jury for a show called Christmas in the Woods, at Columbiana, OH. So, it was work and more work and a little more work, on top of that! I kept things in perspective and did my best to enjoy what I love doing. I had a ball creating this group of Halloween pieces. I incorporated several antique props in this group, including a 1920's Kewpie lamp, a 1920's platform horse, Edwardian shoes, and 1930's salt and pepper shakers. It sounds like quite an unlikely collection of items, but it all made sense in the end....cross my heart

Hallowe'en Family Portrait (Parents have 1930's salt and pepper shaker heads)

Table at Ghoultide Gathering (in the Old Inn...loved it!)

After travelling cross country twice and setting up at three shows in seven weeks, my head cleared a little and it was time for Christmas in the Woods. Columbiana, OH is only about 20 minutes away and I was pleased to be a part of a local show. This show takes place literally "in the woods." It's really a charming venue in which every vendor has an interesting little "cabin" for merchandising and sales. This show takes place on the the second and third weekends of October. Approximately 30,000 people attend....charter busses arrive daily! I made many wonderful new acquaintances. Pittsburgh-area collectors seemed especially fond of my work.

Cabin/sales booth at Christmas in the Woods

So, by the end of October, you guess that my year was winding down? Oh, no....not just yet! I still had obligations to meet for the Toy Shoppe and Doll Masters Christmas catalogues. I also was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the Mahoning Valley Historical Society's Christmas decoration of the Arms Family Museum home. The museum home is a wonderful circa 1900 arts and crafts style mansion which was named Greystone, by it's original owner, Olive Arms. Many local collectors loaned all kinds of wonderful things for the display. I even got caught up in the loaning, with antique dollhouses and dolls. What a treat...didn't even seem like work! Now, sometime in this time frame, I recieved an invitaion to sell at a holiday open house, hosted by Paul Gordon in Martinsburg, WV. I would not pass on an invitation from Paul, for anything! Paul is an amazing talent and one heck of a host! Visiting him is always such a pleasure, so accept his invitation if ever given the chance. His studio and his home are wonderlands....outward reflections of the workings of his imagination, I suspect.

Paul Gordon's shop display window

Some pieces that made the trip to Martinsburg, WV

So, there you have it! That is my rambling, whirlwind summary of the last part of 2009. After a little "collapse-time," I am back at it. Please check out my website dollsbyallenwcunningham.com for more information and photos.