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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Ragsby Dollyver, Before & After

by Conservation


behind the scenes , conservation , textiles , Ragsby Dollyver , Laura H. Turpin

In textile conservation, work was recently completed on “Ragsby Dollyver,” a “portrait” rag doll by Laura Turpin that may be the artist’s self-portrait. Before treatment (left), Ragsby’s black dress was fragile and coming apart and only the pleated ruffle edge remained of her shawl. After treatment (right), the dress was repaired with silk patches, the doll was cleaned with a vacuum and make-up sponges, and her shawl was repaired using dyed silk tulle to recreate it as it appeared in historic photographs of the doll taken around 1925.

During treatment, testing under the microscope showed that Ragsby’s wig is human hair: could it be the artist’s own? We can’t know for sure, but it seems possible that as Turpin assembled her rag dolls from scraps around her home, when it came time for a wig for the doll representing herself, what better source could there be?


Related: Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Doll research pays off!