About Blog Title...

As a child, it was one of my greatest delights to visit my grandparents in the spring when the whip-poor-wills began to call. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a remote valley of the Ozark Mountains where there were trees a plenty, and, seemingly, a whip-poor-will, or two, in each one.
My grandmother insisted that a whip-poor-will's call was not "whip-poor-will," but instead, "chip-butter-white-oak." I would listen really hard trying to hear it exactly as she said it was, but all I could hear was "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,..." But, I never let on to her.
I remember my grandpa watching and listening, with an amused look on his face, to one of these listening sessions. Shortly after that he began to call me, just for fun, "Chip Butter." It is a name I am proud to wear for I still love to hear that long, lonesome call on a warm summer's eve. And, sometimes, when I listen really, really hard, it seems I can hear quite clearly, "chip-butter-white-oak, chip-butter-white-oak..."


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spirit of the Peoples...



Skookum Indian dolls were designed by Mary McAboy of Missoula, Montana, and patented in 1914. Early doll heads were made of dried apples, but later of plastic and other materials.  Indian blankets were wrapped around wooden frames. The dolls were created without arms but were wrapped with the blankets so that it looked like they had folded arms. The dolls' costumes were made to represent various tribes, with sizes ranging from two-inch souvenir mailers to three-foot store displays. Most were marked with a paper label on the foot that read "Skookum Bully Good Indian." You can learn more about these old dolls here.




Two of my favorite nine-inch dolls...love the girl's expression.



  This eleven-inch squaw with papoose was my third Skookum...love the feel of these old dolls.


Inspiration for my Sacagawea came from the old Skookum dolls.



Sacagawea's blanket is made from scraps (from Sarah) from a Pendleton blanket, "The Spirit of the Peoples," which was designed in 2009 to commemorate 100 years of  weaving America's spirit in their own Oregon mill.  The directional crosses, according to Pendleton, symbolize North, South, East and West ~ homes to the Native Americans, who were their first customers.  "Arrowheads denote the strength and good fortune that have blessed our journety thus far." (Pendleton Woolen Mills)

Sacagawea had been tossed about here in the sewing room since I made her a year or so ago, awaiting a few finishing touches.  Last week, I spruced her up and gave her a bit of a makeover.    I cut her blanket robe from an 1850 pelerine pattern, which I found in The Collector's Book of Dolls' Clothes, the big Coleman book, so her arms wouldn't be completely covered.  (Yes, she has arms, unlike the Skookums.)  I made her new unders because someone (?) made her first ones too small.  And, best of all, she has a new pair of fringed doe skin boots (much like the ones Clay Basket wore in James A. Michener's Centennial. Guess what we have been watching these cold evenings while we sit by the fire?)



This winter has been so cold that we often find Sacagawea wrapped in a buffalo robe.


A gathering of Skookums.  There are twenty-five in my collection (just counted)...love them all!




22 comments:

  1. That was very interesting. I hadn't heard of these dolls, but they are very beautiful and the history is quite interesting. Bully good post! We've probably gotten the same snow as you. I've been spending too much time in front of the fire watching too many movies! I'm waiting for you to post photos so I can see what it looks like beyond my windows, Ha Ha!

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    1. Sherri, I think you have been getting more snow than we have. We had freezing rain yesterday...nasty stuff. We are having a Bully good winter, for sure! Ha! Glad you enjoyed the Skookums.

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  2. Yes, it was interesting! Remember the first Skookum doll you bought and how excited we were? I didn't realize you had twenty-five of them! Great!!

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    1. Oh, yes, I remember the first little Skookums. There were two of them, a bit ragged, but so precious, I thought. $10.00 each. I didn't even try to chisel the guy down on the price, which I am sure I could have done. I haven't bought any in a few years. Some of the ones I bought need new hair which I will get around to one of these days.

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  3. A fine collection. I always look at the indian dolls. Love their clothes. The buffalo robe on your doll is beautiful and so is she.

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    1. Martha, aren't their clothes the brightest of bright? I love the wools. If you keep hanging out with me, I wouldn't be surprised to see a pretty little Indian show up at Martha's Dolls. Ha!

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  4. Beautiful collection of dolls, especially interesting to me are the clothes and I presume the authenticity of them. Lovely bright blankets. No wonder your own dolls are so lovely.

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    1. Penny, I do think these dolls are really all about the brightly colored blankets. Whoever dressed these old dolls had great taste.

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  5. I have always stopped to look at the listings for Skookum dolls, they are all so unique and I love the expressions. You have a wonderful collection Mary, thanks for the history lesson.

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    1. Judi, I no longer will allow myself to watch these old dolls on eBay. I wanted one of the really old ones with real human hair, but that was not to be...$$$. All of these have hair of mohair. Lots of them have lost their hair to moths, I presume. I have made mohair wigs for a couple of my purchases. I will be over your way later today to see what's new for the Queen.

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  6. Very interesting post. Love seeing your collections of dolls; both bought and hand made. You have a special talent.

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    1. Thank you for coming over to see the old dolls. Since they were created in Montana, not that far from your doorstep, you are probably familiar with them. I get a call daily from your North Dakota. I know it is cold. And, I know that you are probably busy with needle, thread and cloth.

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  7. A wonderful collection representing the history of those special dolls. And the one you created is a perfect addition to the grouping.
    Susan x

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    1. Thanks Susan. These old dolls do have an interesting history. I am sure Mary McAboy had no idea what she was starting when she affixed a dried apple head to a block of wood and wrapped it in a blanket.

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  8. Very nice Skookrum doll collection you have. I never would have known they didn't have arms under those blankets. Your Sacagawea Doll is beautiful and such patience to wait a year before adding the finishing touches. I love the her Pendleton blanket (I love wool) and her cozy buffalo robe. Really nice work.

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    1. Thanks Bethann! Actually, at first I thought the doll was finished, but then I began to see how I could improve on her. That's what happens when one keeps a doll around long enough. I am with you on wool...love it for me, and for the dolls.

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  9. Wow, Mary. Seriously you never cease to amaze me with your costuming and the specifics of the beings you create. Wonderful work.

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    1. Thanks Dixie! I had a good teacher! I am trying to get back on track...sewed on some little Dixie thumbs just a bit ago.

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  10. I love the colors and textures here...and your girl fits right in!

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    1. Thanks Jan. I love the dolors and textures too. As I said before, whoever dressed these old dolls had wonderful taste.

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  11. Mary your gathering of Skookums is so wonderful. I must say I am partial to your Sacagawea. She looks so lovely wrapped in her buffalo hide.
    I bet if you sit really quiet you can hear them whispering to each other.
    Have lots of fun!!!!
    p.s. I had to delete the first post because I had way to many spelling errors.

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    1. Julie, it is so funny that you mentioned them whispering to each other, for at times it almost seems that I can hear them. When my grandson was younger, before he would sleep in this room, he turned each doll around to face the wall. Hope you are taking time to have some fun with your dolls, too.

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