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doll

Izannah Walker (1817-1886), artist, doll maker, inventor, and businesswoman, received a U.S. patent in 1873 for the method she used to produce a durable, but soft-to-the-touch cloth play doll. Walker, of Central Falls, RI, ran her doll business at a time when few women owned any property of their own. She developed a cottage industry to produce a doll that was "inexpensive, could be easily kept clean, and was not apt to injure a young child." Walker made her dolls by pressing several layers of fabric soaked with glue into molds. As the fabric dried, it retained the shape of the doll face and head, which she then sewed together and stuffed with cotton. Walker and her three sisters painted the distinctive and sweet doll faces that some folk-art specialists suggest resemble the primitive portraiture of 19th century New England artists.

ManufacturerIzannah F. Walker
OriginCentral Falls, RI
Object ID83.547

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