Hitty - An American Travel Doll

Hitty is a 6.5" home-made wooden doll that was created by an unknown hand probably around 1860. In the 1920s, two friends discovered this doll in an antique shop in NY and were so intrigued that they bought her together and went on to write and illustrate an acclaimed book about the many adventures that brought her from the hands of her first owner - who embroidered her name, Hitty, short for Mehitabel, on her clothes - to the antique shop she was found in.

In "Hitty - her first hundred years" the litte doll not only sees a lot of America - she also travels to the South Seas on a whaling expedition, gets shipwrecked, worshipped as a heathen idol, travels India with a snake charmer, accompanies a traveling portrait painter, attends the 1884 World´s Fair, braves the American Civil War, meets celebrities like Adelina Patti (opera singer) and Charles Dickens and much more.

Hitty has a thriving collectors´ community. Many people take their own Hittys along on their travels, take pictures, and write on her story. Of course, every Hitty is as unique as the original one. Even professionally produced Hittys (such as the discontinued Raikes ones) are not really mass-produced and hard to find. Most Hittys are hand-made and one of a kind, and depending on the artist, can be rather pricey.

If you fall in love with Hitty, and want one for yourself, your best bet is to get creative and make it. Hittys can be made of many materials: cloth, polymer clay, porcelain, though most are carved. A good place to start if you want to know more is http://www.hitty.org/

Hitty´s Cabin

I made my Hitty´s cabin from an unused IKEA drawer which was large enough for two small rooms. It was inspired by American log cabins, which used to be tiny, too - justcheck out Henry David Thoreau´s cabin at Walden Pond! http://thoreau.eserver.org/cabin.html

The upper room. This room has a nautical theme to remind of Hitty´s (and my own) travels. In an actual log cabin, this room would be just below the roof and have sloped walls.

I made the nightstand, the bed, wall shelf and support beams from scraps of wood - actually, the stems of fireworks rockets that you can find everywhere in the streets on Jan 1st. The picture frames are made from toothpicks - the two sailing ship paintings were clipped from some catalogue. I found an embroidery sampler with a nautical theme on the internet and printed it on fabric. The pillow and afghan rug were knit adapting an online pattern for an eyeglass case. I also made the rug, which has a picture of a whale, the Hitty book on her nightstand, and the china cat on her shelf. The view out of the window is from a photo I took on holiday in California in 2001.

The corner shelf was a find at a miniatures fair in London in 1996, and the sea chest was a blank craft store find that I painted and added the travel stickers. The bible came with a Japanese trading figure, and the lamp, kitty, starfish and wash set are Playmobil items.

Peg

The wooden doll on the bed is a Steiff reproduction created as an exclusive for The Toy Store in 1995, based on the character Peg from Florence Upton´s famous book "Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls" (1895). Dutch dolls were inexpensive wooden dolls that actually originated in Germany ("dutch" is a corruption of "deutsch") and were one of the most common toys of the 19th and early 20th century.

"Penny wooden dolls are also known as peg wooden dolls, common wooden poppets, and penny woodens. They were produced in Germany beginning in 1810, were very simple, and resembled a clothespin with simple peg joints. These dolls were fairly durable and could be carried around by little girls without the fear of breaking them. These dolls were readily available in English cent shops for a penny." (http://www.historicalfolktoys.com/catcont/4702.html)

The lower room, presented by Hitty Virginia - the first Hitty that I carved myself from a John Atkinson blank. (I´m so proud!). The whole lower room is basically a small box of its own inserted into the drawer. Hitty hides the fireplace.

The walls in log cabins were often whitewashed in order to appear a little lighter. The view from the window is the same as in the upper room, just a bit lower in the picture. I made the braided rug, wall shelf, fireplace and picture frame which shows a scene from the Rhine valley. The table was a flea market find and the chairs were placecard holders. The spinning wheel is a pencil sharpener. The mugs, lamp, pot and kittens are Playmobil, the larger kitty is a Japanese trading figure.

Hitty Liz in Winter

Hitty Liz (originally named Long Liz because she was taller than the average Hitty, but after getting damaged and repaired, she´s regular Hitty size now) wrapped up in a warm shawl and hat to take a walk along the snowy village and the banks of the river Rhine.

I made Hitty Liz from polymer clay, mixed to resemble wood grain, and then painted over. The paint is not sealed, so eventually will wear off to give Liz a time-worn look similar to that of the original Hitty. Liz´ overall look was inspired by Jean Lotz´ beautiful modern Hittys, one of which is probably the most popular traveling Hitty next to the original: Hitty Lotzalove Sevashteen (http://www.picturetrail.com/hitty)

 

The Magician´s Suite

I made this diorama in 1/12th scale in 1996-1997.