Easter Dolls (1897) | A Victorian Era Craft

Easter Egg Dolls.

In some of the large confectionery stores in New York City Old Fashioned Holidaysmay be found at Easter-tide quaint little Easter offerings, looking at first sight exactly like dolls’ heads surmounted by pretty little head-dresses. As dolls are not peculiarly appropriate gifts for Easter, one naturally examines them closer, to ascertain if there is anything about them significant of the day, and in so doing quickly discovers that the heads are not made of wax or china, as was at first supposed, but are simply egg-shells from which the eggs have been blown, leaving the shell perfect.

Little faces are painted upon these shells, and the cunning caps or bonnets are made of tissue-paper. Now it is our purpose to teach the children Old Fashioned Holiday Craftswho do not live in New York and have never seen these pretty toys, and also those who, having seen, cannot afford to purchase them, just how to make some of these little men and women, and how to fashion a variety of head-dresses not to be found in the stores.

To begin with, select several nice large eggs, those of a pinkish yellow are preferable, being something of a flesh-tint. These eggs should be blown, or the shells emptied of their contents; to blow them make a small hole in each end of the shell, and, taking it gently between the thumb and forefinger, put one hole to the lips; then blow, not too hard, but steadily, until the egg has all run out of the other end.

Old Fashioned Holiday Crafts, EasterThe face must be painted next, and to those who know nothing of drawing this will seem no easy task, until by carefully observing the following direction they will find that it is in the power of anyone to produce as pretty a face as could be wished for.

Among picture-cards, or in almost any juvenile book, may be found many pretty faces of a suitable size which can be transferred to the egg in this way. Lay a piece of tracing-paper over the head selected, and with a soft lead pencil trace carefully all the lines indicating the features; then place the paper on the shell so that the pencilmarks are next to it, and with a hard pencil, or ivory knitting-needle, go over the lines again, thus transferring the soft pencil-marks to the shell. Touch up and strengthen the features with a fine paint-brush and india-ink. Anyone understanding painting may color the face in natural tints, but it looks very nicely done merely in outline.

The simplest arrangement for holding the little head erect is a small pasteboard box turned upside down, and having a hole cut in the bottom just large enough to admit the small end of the shell; this will support the head nicely, and also form the shoulders.

Make the hair of raw cotton blackened with ink, and fasten it on the head with mucilage. When all of the foregoing directions have been carried out it is time to attend to the head-dresses, and we will begin with the quaint and old-fashioned poke-bonnet.

Cut this bonnet from ordinary brown wrapping-paper after the pattern shown in diagram; sew together the ends of the ” side of crown,” then sew the curved side (which is cut in slits as shown in pattern, and folded back as indicated by dotted line) to the smallest part of brim; fold in the strips marked on the straight “side of crown ” and fasten on the ” top of crown” with mucilage. The trimming for the bonnet consists of a fold and bow of colored tissue paper.

Make the man’s hat of shiny black paper by the pattern in diagram, and fasten together in the same manner as the bonnet, rolling the sides of the brim when finished. Black and white tissue-paper folded to fit the head, as shown by the dotted lines in the pattern, forms the head-dress of the nun.

By copying the head-dresses of different nations, an odd and curious assembly of these Easter-egg dolls can be formed; but that must be worked out at some future time, for we have yet to tell how to construct some Easter toys that cannot be found in any store.

Humpty Dumpty Craft DollThe Humpty Dumpty who ” sat on a wall,” and the ” Humpty Dumpty ” who “had a great fall,” must have been like the one I am about to describe, made of an egg; for it is pretty certain that if he should fall, ” all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put” this “Humpty Dumpty together again” any more than they could the other.

The diagram shows the frame of this little fellow and how it is joined together. A large egg should be chosen; and when the contents have been blown from the shell, four holes must be pricked in it for the arms and legs to pass through, as shown in the diagram.

These limbs are made of rather fine bonnet wire, the piece used for the arms being about eight inches long. The hand is made by bending up one end of the wire as in diagram, and with softened beeswax covering the loop thus formed. When one hand has been finished off in this way, the other end of the wire, still straight, should be passed through one of the holes near the small end of the shell and out through the one opposite, then bent up into a hand and arm in the same manner as described.

The wire for the legs and feet must be ten inches long. The diagram shows how it is bent to form the feet. On this frame, wax can easily be modelled to look like a foot; a coating of red paint will add to the appearance, as red boots look well with the costume to be worn. The wire for the legs should be bent in a curve in the middle (see diagram) before it is passed through the shell. Again, as with the hands, one foot must be finished and the legs fastened on before the other foot can be made.


The figure of Humpty Dumpty being thus prepared, his face must be painted; water-colors are the best for this purpose. The jollier the expression of his face, the funnier the little man will look.

Patterns for trousers, jacket, and hat are shown in the diagrams. The trousers should be cut from white cotton cloth two and a half inches long and six inches wide. A slit an inch and a half long, cut in the middle, separates the legs of the trousers, which must, of course, be sewed up.

Dotted lines at top and bottom show where a gathering thread should be run, the bottom gathers forming ruffles around the ankles. White should also be used for the jacket, cutting it three and a half inches long and five inches wide. The shape of the jacket may be seen in the diagram, dotted lines showing where the sleeves are to be gathered around the wrist. Collar and pockets of red— the patterns of which are given—finish the little garment. A white hat four inches around the brim and two inches high is decorated with a band of red, which should be sewed on the edge and turned up.

When dressing Humpty Dumpty, fasten his garments on to his body here and there with glue, which will hold them securely in place. The hat also should be glued to his head, as it is difficult otherwise to keep it on.

Excerpt from How to amuse yourself and others, Beard and Beard (1887). Available at Google Books

This entry was posted in Easter throughout history, Holidays throughout history, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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