Meet Louise Goldsborough!! Louise is a highly accomplish doll craftsman who Queenanneboleyn.com is proud to say is in process of crafting a beautiful matched pair of miniatures of Queen Anne Boleyn with her beloved friend, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury out for a stroll. Once we are in receipt of Her Majesty and His Grace, we will be sure to share pictures. Seeing Louise’s exquisite work, we requested an interview and she graciously agreed.
1. Louise, how did you first become interested in crafting dolls?
I have always loved dolls since I was a very young child. Like most little girls, I enjoyed dressing them and collecting the different shop-bought fashions available at the time.
I originally trained as a dancer, singer and actress and was dancing in competitions from the age of five. My mother was a dancing teacher and also made all my costumes, so there was always a lot of sewing in our household. I remember picking up the scraps of fabrics left over from my costumes and trying to make things for my dolls.
My maternal grandmother was the daughter of a tailor and theatrical tailoress. She also loved dolls and helped me to make my very first paper pattern for one my fashion dolls. She was an extremely skilled needlewoman and could cut straight onto the fabric for perfect fitting clothes! Sadly she never passed on that skill.
Eventually these early hand-sewn efforts were able to develop further as, when I was twelve, my dad found an old Singer treadle sewing machine left over from a jumble sale at the church hall where my mother held her dance classes. He asked the vicar’s wife how much she wanted for it and bought it for under £5……even in the 1970’s this was a real bargain. Today, I still work on this beautiful old machine nearly every day for most of my orders. The marvellous thing about a treadle machine is that you can sew very slowly…….perfect for tiny seams. I have a more modern machine for making my own clothing and sometimes use it for larger dolls if I need to stitch on modern stretch fabric which the treadle does not like.
2. Did you have a mentor or take any special classes to teach you the beautiful craftsmanship skills you now possess?
I am mainly self-taught. The only tuition I had was a one-day crash course on making porcelain parts for the miniature dolls. Over the years (I celebrated 27 years in business on 7th March 2015) I have found my own way of doing things. I make all my own costume patterns both for miniature and larger dolls so that my work is completely original.
I have a City & Guilds certificate in fashion and design but no other formal training for the work I do. Nowadays, nothing really phases me regarding doll costume and I am always up for the challenge of something new that I may not have tackled before. Basically I love my work!
3. Your miniatures cover so many different historical era and fantasy genres. How do you complete the research necessary to make dolls that are convincingly authentic?
I have always loved costume since I was a little girl….. I suppose the dancing shows and competitions helped here. Even now that I’m older, I still love fancy dress and making and wearing costumes whenever I can. Again the theatrical background was probably responsible for my love of costumes in general.
Regarding historical costume specifically:
When I was ten years old, I was a bit bored in the school summer holidays. My dad had showed me how to use the encyclopaedias, so I took one off the book shelf and found some pictures of both male and female historical costume from 1066 to 1900. I was totally hooked and read all I could about the clothing people used to wear. This eventually developed into wanting to reproduce it in miniature. Now, nearly 40 years later, I have a large collection of reference books on the subject and of course the Internet is also a marvellous research tool.
However, to reproduce any costume in miniature there are several techniques that have to be employed to make the costume look realistic on such a small doll. For example, in the case of miniature ladies’ costume, where a human sized costume may be made up of several full-length garments worn one on top of each other, a miniature doll will have a certain amount of illusion that has to be employed to avoid unnecessary bulk. So items such as shifts, underskirts etc are often just false pieces or panels. The fit of the clothing is extremely important on the miniature figure. If the fit is supposed to be snug, then the doll will not look authentic if its clothing is poorly fitting. I have always been a perfectionist and take great pride in my work. Many, many hours go into the creation of each figure and costume, along with the skill and knowledge that can only be gained from years of experience.
4. I understand you accept custom orders. What is the most unusual doll request that you have received?
In 2013 I was approached by Neil Innes of Greystones Collectibles in Scotland, to dress one of his 1/6th scale action figures as a Scottish pike-man, for the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden. Whilst I am no stranger to male costume and am one of the few doll artisans who will happily provide it, this particular commission gave me a unique opportunity to work on a peasant costume from the very early Tudor era. I am used to making the fashions of the rich from this period but it was a wonderful and interesting chance to research what these poor men might have worn to go into battle against the English army. Neil and I discussed at some length the type of clothing the figure was to have and I set to work. A friend of mine, Tony Knott, was commissioned to create a metal helmet, arm shields and the end of the pike and Neil also commissioned a one-of-a-kind head from Tony Barton, with the most realistic face I have ever seen. Once completed, the figure was displayed in Scotland as part of the Flodden Society’s 500th Anniversary Exhibition at the Musselburgh Museum and then at Etal Castle.
5. I am amazed by the variety of historical and fantasy themed dolls you create. Do you have a favorite theme to work with? If so, why?
I love ALL historical costume, from ancient Egyptian (and before!) to 20th century….and beyond. I guess I just love costume. I think my absolute favourite, and the costume I specialise in and am most well-known for is Medieval, Tudor and Stuart.
Tudor history has interested me since I was a little girl, especially anything about Anne Boleyn and her daughter Queen Elizabeth 1st. I was completely hooked on both these characters after seeing the old film ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’ when I was a little girl, although I have never been that keen on Henry VIII…..only his costume! I also remember the BBC TV series of Elizabeth 1st played by Glenda Jackson (before she became an MP).
I live very near Hampton Court Palace so visit it quite often and love seeing the costumed re-enactors working there.
6. Is all the costuming hand crafted?
Yes, the majority of the costume on the miniature dolls is hand sewn, although some of the longer seams are stitched on my treadle machine. Each costume is made up of several separate pieces that are stitched or fixed onto the dolls to form the finished costume. As an example, a typical miniature Tudor lady’s sleeve will be made up of about three or four separate pieces, each individually stitched into place onto the doll. The jewellery on the miniature dolls is made up of individually placed tiny crystals and faux pearls, each pushed into place with the end of a pin.
With larger dolls, clothing can be made to be removable but with a miniature doll, in order to have a really good and realistic fit, the clothing must be permanently stitched to the doll. My miniature dolls are one-twelfth scale so the gentlemen are approx six inches tall and the ladies about five and a half inches tall.
7. The fabrics used with several of the dolls is absolutely exquisite. Where do you find the fabric, beads and other odds and ends that you need?
Having been in business for nearly thirty years, I have quite a large stash of fabrics that I have collected over time, many of them sourced from abroad. For the miniature dolls I work mainly with pure silk and cotton as these drape best on a small figure. I particularly love working with silk as it works so well with the miniature form. I am lucky to have a couple of really good regular suppliers of silk fabrics but also tend to buy it if I see it when I am out and about. The same with braids, lace and other trimmings. Most of the tiny beads, crystals and pearls I use are sold for egg-decorating, but nail-art supplies are also a wonderful source of tiny bits and pieces suitable for miniature dolls.
8. Most people are influenced by other artisans that came before them. Do you have a favorite doll craftsman that has influenced your craftsmanship. If so, what makes this this doll craftsman so noteworthy?
I always admired and was very much inspired by US miniature doll artist Viola William’s work for many, many years. Her work was often shown in the miniatures magazine she co-produced back in the 1990s called ‘Dolls in Miniature’. In recent times, I was completely taken aback when she told me that she has admired my work for many years! This was a huge compliment for me and one that I treasure.
9. Is there anything else you would like to share with QAB members and browsers about the beautiful dolls you craft?
I am always happy to take on special commissions and can provide miniature dolls and larger doll costumes, male or female, from all historical eras and also fantasy costume. I have a large main web site at Angelique Miniatures where many examples my work can be seen. There is a contact page on the web site where people can enquire about prices, commissions etc or they can contact me directly on LBird77329@aol.co.
Price quotes can be supplied in most major currencies and I also accept payment by instalments (Layaway) on most orders.
I have been a regular contributor to the British miniatures magazine ‘DHMS’ (Dolls House and Miniature Scene) for many years. I provide ‘How To’ projects on dressing miniature dolls, supplying patterns and instructions for many different styles and eras.
Several of the dolls I have made to demonstrate these projects can be found for sale at discounted prices in my online store at Angelique Miniatures at eBid.
I also have a blog where I often show what I have been working on. Items that may be of interest to your members and browsers are:
Young Henry VIII: Angeliqueminiatures Blog/Henry VIII.
Young Katherine of Aragon: Angeliqueminiatures Blog/Young Catalina de Aragon
The Making of Queen Jane: Angeliqueminiatures/Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Hampton Court Palace
I am currently looking into setting up a Facebook account too.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING Queenanneboleyn.com, Louise Goldsborough!!