01 February 2010
Like many of us, doll maker Janet Middlebrook loves classic movies. Watching them is her favourite past time and when she isn’t swooning over the likes of Jean Harlow, Ginger Rodgers, Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Clark Gable, she’s busy in her studio fashioning 1/12th scale dolls decked out in the fashions of those bygone eras. ...
Janet Middlebrook's Hollywood Glamour
Janet’s new hobby
Her mother made most of her doll clothes and by age four Janet was cutting out and sewing her own doll clothes and by six was using the sewing machine. Later on her talents attracted friends who brought their well worn dolls to her for new outfits. As an adult, attending her first doll and miniature show in the San Francisco Bay area, Janet enthusiastically embraced a new hobby—miniatures.
Fashion displays snapped up
The first items Janet tackled were porcelain dinnerware, which proved profitable until she discovered she was terribly allergic to the greenware. Not ready to relinquish her new hobby, Janet began making doll fashions displayed on hangers that collectors quickly snapped up for their mini vignettes.
Flapper creations hot!
At first everyone wanted Victorian clothing but Janet soon grew bored with this style. One day while looking at her mother’s 1926 graduation photo she couldn’t help but admire her mum’s trendy flapper dress so at the next fair Janet took her latest flapper creations and quickly discovered that with collectors the 1920s was hot! 1930s chiffon evening gowns followed and as one of her customers held a tiny exquisite gown in the palm of her hand, bemoaning the fact she would love to find a doll to go with it, Janet had an epiphany.
Head-over-heels into doll making
But first she had to overcome her allergy until a friend suggested she try another brand of porcelain. She did and as luck would have it, she was quickly head-over-heels into doll making! Using quality commercial moulds she hand-paints and fires, Janet free-hands many of her fashion patterns and sets high standards of craftsmanship in her costume designs and accessories. Her biggest challenge: painting beautiful eyes.
With a workshop filled with silk and cotton fabrics, rhinestones, feathers and lace, Janet turns out a cast of spectacular dolls straight from mid century fashion magazines and the silver screen. With dozens of classic films as inspiration, collectors can always be assured of finding something new at her next fair table. Collectors from all over North America, the UK, Europe and as far away as Japan have taken her dolls home with period themes already in mind, which thrills Janet to no end.
No time to waste
When an idea strikes, Janet spends hours at her work table and when a fair is just around the corner she works with frenzy, with little time for her other interests; knitting, heirloom sewing, watching movies, playing with her dogs, or just enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee. With the upcoming Tom Bishop’s Chicago International just around the corner, Janet’s cup is full.