Flirty Eyes and Kimono Sleeves: Paper Dolls!

“Flirty eyes” is a term used by doll collectors to describe the side glancing eyes popular in dolls of the early 20th century. I happen to love the look of the side glancing eyes- I think they have more character than front facing eyes and give the paper dolls a slightly mischievous look.


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Ash wrote: I notice that you draw a lot from fashion magazines, which is actually pretty cool. So do you enjoy the early history of Paper Dolls? Do you have a favorite paper doll artist (one who isn’t online)?

I am utterly fascinated by the early history of paper dolls and I am trying on the blog to show off things I find on the web that are both historical and neat. My favorite paper doll artist, at the moment, is Nandor Honti who did a series of paper dolls for MaCalls magazine in the 1920s. Along with the figures, Honti’s paper dolls also include furniture and other items, crossing the fuzzy line between paper doll and paper toy and becoming something much more interesting. I have no idea how many paper dolls Nandor Honti did, but I dream of someday owning a set of the originals. They are so darn inventive.

Got a question you want me to answer on the blog?Ask me here.

Warrior Printable Paper Doll


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So, I was pawing around the internet, as I do, and I stumbled across this wonderful German website that contained some beautiful vintage German paper dolls. The word for paper doll in German is “ankleidepuppen” which literally translates to something like “dress up doll” according to my good friend from Germany, but, she told me, its usually used for paper dolls rather than normal dolls. Paper dolls and paper models are still pretty popular in Germany, though not in the United States.

Right after college, I got a fairly dead-end job working at a local bookstore and toy store. One of the catalogs we received, though never ordered from, was a German catalog that sold beautiful paper models. The prices were far above what we could have possibly sold them for, so we didn’t stock them normally, though I seem to recall a customer who would come in and special order them.

I love beautiful paper toys of all kinds, though paper dolls are, understandably, my first love.

I was feeling abstract when I drew these paper dolls….


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So, true story:

There was this girl in one of my classes last semester who had the most amazing hair. Every class she’d come in with it styled in a different way- sometimes it was in a huge afro and sometimes it was in tons of little braids and sometimes it was straightened and sometimes…. you get the idea.

So, one day she came in with all the small braids coiled up into these huge pair of buns on either side of her head. The way the braids were wrapped around each other made it look like they were woven- almost like baskets. It was utterly beautiful.

I wanted to try to draw that hair style for this paper doll.

I don’t think I really captured it.

Seriously though, I always wondered: How long did it take her in the morning to get ready? I’m lucky if I get my hair brushed and my clothing on.

Short shorts and Some Questionable Sleeves… A Black and White Paper Doll

So, I went out to the movies tonight and saw “Snow White and the Huntsman” with some friends. I concluded that the Twilight Chick (whose name I had to look up on IMBD) can’t act, that I rather liked Charlize Theron when she’s evil and that the movie was better than Mirror Mirror, but I’ll take the Disney version over either any day. The costumes were pretty beautiful, especially the Evil Queens, but there’s apart where Snow White rides into battle not wearing a helmet- apparently being a princess means you’re immune to concussive head injuries.



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So, before I crawl into bed, I should answer a question.

Monica asked: Do you prefer online paper doll research, or real book research? Internet or Library? =]

Well, that’s a kinda complicated question. The answer is: It depends on what I am researching and why.

If I want inspiration for a modern or a fantasy set, than I usually stick to the internet. I use it for looking at clothing websites or checking out the latest designer shows a It’s really useful.

If I want historical costume, I usually go to books. I own about a dozen different costume books in my own collection, plus I regularly have at least a dozen checked out from the library. The exception to this are the websites of museums and libraries, which often contain digitized primary source documents or photos of items in their collections. Books are great for context. The internet is great for pictures. Some of my favorite internet resources are linked on my Research Resources page which I just finished updating, though I have some more to add later.

The truth is that I don’t really like staring at a computer while trying to draw and I would much rather have a book open in front of me than a computer screen. Though I usually draw from drafted tumbnails, so even with fantasy costumes, I rarely have a computer open when I am actually drawing.

I hope that answers your question, Monica.

So, has anyone else seen either of the new Snow White movies and what do they think of them? Should I do so a Snow White paper doll? Or an Evil Queen?

I draw paper dolls… (Plus here’s a chick with some fantasy dresses)


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So… here’s the thing… I said to the apartment people..I need a second bedroom, because I want a work space and a guest space…

What I didn’t say is this:

I draw paper dolls.

I don’t know why.

It’s not because I have an artistic vision or something… I just like them.

It’s a little nostalgia, a little amusement. It’s my hobby.

Why do some people knit or crochet or make pottery?

I don’t know.

I don’t even really know why I draw paper dolls.

Except this…

Every paper doll is a potential story. What humans wear are physical manifestations of social and cultural forces. We dress ourselves so we can become what we want to be. We dress ourselves as what we think we should be.

Every paper doll is a potential character. What that paper doll wears is about what that paper doll can become. Every time I draw a paper doll, I can create a world.

Also, I like pretty dresses.

This is my hobby.

I don’t knit. I don’t crochet.

I draw paper dolls.

Plus… well… I do need some guest space.

Flirty Eyes and Puffy Sleeves

So, first of all, I want to thank everyone whose entered my drawing and asked me a question. The questions have all been really interesting. It’s fascinating to think about what maybe I have or haven’t said on the blog that perhaps I should have said… and if that’s not the most convoluted sentence ever… I don’t know what is.

The drawing is open until next Tuesday and then I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner.

And now…. A few words about the printable paper doll of the day….


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The Shadow and Light paper dolls are drawn in a style I developed in college after complaining that most black and white paper dolls needed to be colored to look good. I wanted to draw some paper dolls that were graphic enough to stand alone without being colored, plus I was reading a lot of comics in those days and had a love of the heavy shadowed style of Frank Miller’s Sin City and Marcelo Frusin, who was drawing the Hellblazer comics at that time with Mike Carey was writing it. I stopped reading comics when I got to graduate school, far to much to do and not enough time to do it in, but I hope to get back to them and at least finish Lucifer which I never did get done with and darn it, I wanna know how it ends.

Okay, I know how it ends, but I still wanna read it…

This particular paper doll has “flirty eyes” which is a term used to describe dolls that look to the side rather than forward. It’s a pretty common term in antique and collectable dolls and “flirty eyed” dolls were particularly popular in the 1900s with Googlies and Lenci dolls.

Argh… ’tis a Pirate Lass: A Pirate Paper Doll Set

So… this is practically late. I mean… it’s like 11:50 here in Illinois, but I really really wanted to get a Shadow and Light doll up since it’s been a while since I did one and I have been feeling bad about that.


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Back in the 1980’s I was pretty young, but I remember wearing overall shorts, which were the latest thing, and having a weird affection for when I was old, because I was going to wear thigh high boots. I don’t know why I was so into the idea, but I remember drawing lots of paper dolls sporting thigh high boots and miniskirts in elementary school. Perhaps I saw Pretty Woman at too young of an age…. Oddly, my mother was never concerned as far as I could tell with my thigh high boot obsession.

As an adult, I have never worn thigh high boots… a pity perhaps.

Needless to say, my love of shoes was founded young and even now I love shoes (which I think comes through on my paper dolls.)

And, as you might notice, our pirate is sporting some pretty darn sexy boots.