Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Studio Tour Frozen Charlotte Dolls

Frozen Charlotte
Frozen Charlottes in my RetroChalet studio shop.
Frozen Charlotte German Penny Dolls

Ask any mixed media artist how much they love Frozen Charlotte dolls. What is it about them? Their age? The fact they have been buried and are covered in dirt dating back to the 1800's? Or just the fact that kids of that era had these cheesy little porcelain penny dolls to play with?

They were molded in mass quantities and sold for a penny.  Most by companies in Germany.  I suppose that gives a new meaning to "a dime a dozen.'  They were molded out of porcelain or bisque. Some were shiny and glazed, others were ghostly chalky white.  The story to accompany such a tiny doll was supposedly was more of a horror tale---someone freezing because it was cold out (thus turning white). What a great tale to tell your children.  What were they thinking?

frozen charlotte dolls

Frozen Charlotte Dolls in Mixed Media

I'm really not sure what really draws you to them. Just know I love them. They look great in mixed media art. Or in a doll collection, or in a dish, as shown here.  Coveted for that special project, imported from Germany their little lives remain decaying over 150 years--they are indeed frozen in time.

Rumors said the workers stuffed the broken ones in the walls to insulate the poorly equipped factories.  Most of them, are still dug up in old dump sites or old toy factory sites in Germany--perhaps there are millions of them frozen in time and in the ground just waiting to be found. Poor little Frozen Charlottes.(Their counterpart males were called Charlies) but today, not as sought after.

Frozen Charlotte
these from
Vintage vs. New Frozen Charlotte Dolls

Thank goodness curious artifact hunters dig them up or we may have a shortage of them.  They range in many sizes, but I prefer the teeny and wee ones that are under 1.5", even as small sometimes as 1" miniature.

If in perfect condition, the smallest may range $100 and up. Broken ones may range as much as $15 each.  New ones have hit the market, but I prefer the authentic dirty, old, broken and forgotten. Glossy ones or plain bisque never disappoint.

Suffice to say, it's hard to find one that is that has survived all this time as they were children's toys.  Mostly they will have broken arms, legs, or heads.  That's okay, they are great for the assemblage artist.

Frozen Charlotte
Glossy glazed frozen Charlottes vary in size but are perfectly imperfect.  Courtesy: RetroChalet

Today they would never be allowed around children, as some are under the size of a quarter and surely a choking hazard by today's standards. 

Where to Find Them

Authentic ones to use in art can be had on average $5-$7 a pop. Small broken may run you $15 with minor imperfections.  The larger will be the less expensive, generally speaking but not always. The very small 1" or under, or black in color are very rare, and may run you and arm and a leg.  You can find them on Etsy, on Ebay or in antique malls.

You can find "new" reproductions by Tim Holtz. There's even ways to resin cast and fake-make your own to use in your art using molding processes---these however will have flat backs and are painful in process. Resin must be sanded, painted, stained, and really it takes a lot to make them look old and dingy.  The only good part about making your own is the fact they have flat backs to glue onto things.

To me, nothing like the real thing. I'm cleaning out my studio and getting rid of some of my extras. You can see them here.

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, thanks! I just came upon frozen Charlottes a couple of weeks ago and am completely hooked!!!!