Thursday, February 19, 2009

May I Present Mrs Chalumeau...

Finally Mrs Chalumeau takes a bow …She is a Pearly Queen …
695 buttons on the doll and 10 on the journal.(I think – could be more). I would like to thank Paula from Antiques and Collectables here in Hamilton, Newcastle and Raku Buttons ETSY seller for supplying me with about 500 of the vintage mother of pearl buttons, and the rest I had in my stash. I think they look great on my pearly queen, but I am truly tired of sewing on buttons. It made me think however, how many buttons must be on the elaborate clothes of the real pearly Kings and Queens! I drew my inspiration from the lovely lady pictured here, and the following description from Wikipedia. ... A Pearly King ( feminine form Pearly Queen) is a person dressed in a traditional Cockney costume covered in mother-of-pearl buttons. These costumes were treasured heirlooms, hand made and sometimes representing much of a family's wealth. ....

This doll is all cloth – a little different from most of my other dolls which generally have clay heads. Her face is needle sculpted – a skill which I have yet to master – and I usually try to avoid, but I was quite happy with this outcome. Mrs C is not beauty queen material. It is an interpretation of Mrs Chalumeau, a Heather Cooper pattern. – I straightened her legs, posed her arms so she is lifting her skirt to step out on the footpath as well as holding her hat on. I also adapted the suggested clothing of course. Her shoes are leather, with polymer clay heels. She stands well, as I have a metal tube inside her left leg, and the stand is a textured clay covered piece of timber, with a dowel, which is inserted into the tube. I find that this method of attaching a doll to a stand is very stable. I tried to replicate the roughness of a well-worn English footpath /alleyway by texturing the clay with a “brick” print and other designs in sections to create the “patched’ look. This is the first “big” doll I’ve made for awhile so I was happy to finish well in time for the Craft and Quilt Fair. And I was fairly happy with the result. This doll was quite a challenge, but it was wonderful to declare her finished, take photos and deliver her to Craft and Quilt fair for the Hello Dollies Goes Crazy exhibition.

PS There were 18 other Mrs Chalmeau and one Mr Chalumeau dolls entered in the challenge ... I will feature those photos in the Hello Dollies blog tomorrow, after the judging.


  1. oh! She turned out wonderfully! So many details and sewing buttons on in an even pattern is no easy task.
    Being very interested in old buttons for quite some time, I've seen many pictures of pearlies in costume and yours is a grand representation.
    Kudos to you!
    Lynn P

  2. She's gorgeous!

    I have always loved the Pearly King and Queen costumes.

    I've seen other images of button collectors covering their cars with their buttons ... and someone else had covered a coffin with them too ... quite spectacular (although a little macabre).

  3. What a great doll Wilma. I love her!!! You do lovely work Wilma. I am going to ring Dolores to get you last name &number if possible. I am excited about doing "swaps" with you...Your photos on Hello Dollies are FANTASTIC!!! I only have Mr. Chalumeau pattern. Must get" Mrs", and try!!I am inspired!!
    Great work you do for club!

  4. hi Wilma. E-mail on front of blog now. That other one is old one!oops!!

  5. Hi Wilma Mrs Chalumeau looks fantastic, actually managed to get to the craft show this year and see the whole display was just wonderful.
    Hope to see you at the next gumnutter


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