Thursday, September 10, 2015

Repairing an antique doll's carriage

A basketry guild that I am a member of forwarded a mail to all members from the owner of an antique doll's carriage.
She was looking for someone to help repair the buggy as her 3 year old daughter unsuccessfully had tried to enter it and thus put her foot through it a couple of places.

I wasn't sure that I would be able to do the job, but was willing to take a look at it and responded to the mail. It turned out that the owner lived just about 30 minutes drive from here and she came to see me with the buggy.
My first impression was that it was made using flat reed. As I only do work with natural willow I showed the owner examples of baskets the weave of which would be similar on the buggy if I did the job, and she was excited to have me try to not fix or repair, but replace the weave.
So after a few days I contacted her with a quote as I had decided what/how to do.
The original cover had been cut to fit from a woven sheet and attached to the frame with multiple nails. Then another strip was attached to cover the nails and ends of the weave - using nails. As can be seen on the first of these images, the weave had been painted at least 3 times: pink, blue and the last cote white.
Removing the original cover was a much bigger job than I had anticipated, but I got it off. Interestingly enough it turned out that the material used for the weave was PAPER. Fairly heavy paper folded twice and the stakes were paper that was rolled so that it resembled round reed.
The owner had chosen Salix x 'Americana' for the weave and we decided to paint the frame black which would suit the darker green colour of the willow.
For the basket part of the buggy I drilled holes under the bottom of the frame for my stakes.

Turning the stakes out and around the frame and tying them made it possible for me to weave the sides of the buggy so that the "basket" fit snug around the frame all the way around. 

For further stability and a bit of interest I tied willow around the edge at a point on both sides.
Now to the canopy!
The owner had given me permission to make changes and the two "windows" in the canopy weren't going to be incorporated in the new design.
A square, cracked peg inserted to hold the top frame in place - and to which the original weave was nailed - was replaced with a piece of a willow rod that was naturally black.
To make it all come together I turned the weave around (in the original it appeared that the "stakes" would run from front to back) and wove the canopy as a "frame basket" starting in the middle of the inserted willow piece. 

And the final appearance.

Words and photos by Lene Rasmussen,Willows.