not so obvious sources for inexpensive wall art 6: paper dolls

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Oh my gosh! Was that ever fun! Several days ago I was preparing to summarize recent posts about creating inexpensive wall art using ephemera. As I reviewed the information I suddenly realized I had left something out: paper dolls. Paper dolls left intact on the page can be matted and framed and made into fabulous wall art. Initially I was thinking of children’s rooms and vintage designs and was pleased and not surprised when I found the most adorable designs on-line.  paper doll 4

I considered the idea over several days and this morning went back to the inter-net. Forget the kids; there are fabulous designs out there for adults. If like me, you thought paper dolls are just for little girls, think again; I had no idea there was such a wealth of fun design possibilities. Whether your interest is history, fashion, movies, celebrities, literature, haute couture, rock n roll, or just fun and colorful design, you will probably find something of interest.

So why am I devoting so much time and space to paper dolls?  1) because in this era of high-tech, something as simple as paper dolls is rather refreshing 2) because some of the art work found in paper doll collections is amazing 3) because it’s an inexpensive option, most of the “collections” I found were about $3.00. The most expensive, which featured some remarkable art work, was $14.00 4) because there are so many options-styles-interests available it’s an easy and inexpensive form of self-expression 5) because it’s unexpected, surprising, different and a good conversation starter 6) and most of all, because it tickles my funny bone; it’s an easy way to add humor to the home, of not taking ourselves, our homes, and our decorating too seriously. Decorating should be fun. As fun as…paper dolls!

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Let me share some of what I found and a few ideas on how to use them. Did you know there are:

Paper dolls of movie stars from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s…keep going…and the featured dresses are often the costumes they wore in a movie, like Vivien Leigh dressed as Scarlett O’Hara. There are paper doll collections that feature multiple stars like the book The Golden Age of Hollywood with Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, and more. Or Stars of the 40’s featuring Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake, Gene Tierney, and more. Or sometimes stars will have their own collection like Monroe, Mae West, Shirley Temple, Betty Grable, Betty Davis, Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Ginger Rogers, Jane Russell, Loretta Young, Vivien Leigh, Connie Francis, Esther Williams, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Sonia Henie, Clark Gable, and believe it or not…John Wayne. Good golly! How fun would it be, if you had a western-style room with cowboy hats, spurs, lariats, cactus etc. to sneak in a framed and matted John Wayne paper doll on the wall? Ride ‘em cowboy! Or if you have art deco décor to have a slinky Jean Harlow paper doll wearing 1930’s fashions?

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                                       Norma Talmadge-vintage paper doll

There are paper dolls of African-American actresses including Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Cicely Tyson, and Queen Latifah.

There are paper dolls based on children’s books including Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, Madeline, Little House on the Prairie, Peter Rabbit, Anne of Green Gables, classic fairy tales and storybook characters, Curious George, Nancy Drew, the Wizard of Oz, and of course Disney characters including the Disney princesses.

There are paper dolls based on classic literature including Jane Austen (doing cartwheels over that one!), Shakespeare, and Sherlock Holmes. Great for the wall of a library!

There are paper dolls that feature fashions of particular time periods, eras, or groups including ancient Egypt, American colonial, medieval, art deco, Victorian, Edwardian, the Gilded Age, the Regency, Gothic, American Pioneers, the American Civil War, the Vikings, the 17th century, the 19th century, North American Indians, and the Titanic. There are paper dolls of the pin-up girls of WWII and American First Ladies. There are paper dolls of Southern Belles, the Gibson Girl, and the Ziegfeld Follies.

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There are paper dolls of historic figures including Maria Antoinette, Henry VIII (and his 6 wives), Elizabeth I, Teddy Roosevelt Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Rosie the riveter, Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill, and more contemporary figures like Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Kennedy, and Princess Di.    

There are paper doll featuring the fashions of famous designers like Edith Head, Chanel, Givenchy, and Yves St. Laurent. There are paper doll collections featuring fashions through the ages or specific eras or decades. Great for ladies bedrooms, dressing rooms, or even the bathroom!

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There are paper dolls of ballet dancers, the Nutcracker Ballet, Pavlova and Nijinsky.

There are paper dolls of dancing movie stars including Baryshnikov, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease, and Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. Team up a favorite movie poster with paper dolls of the characters and costumes from the movie. Add a framed album cover and/or a 45 record on the wall and create a fun gallery.

There are paper dolls of Rock n Roll legends, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. Display near your guitar, drums, or keyboard and add album covers, 45’s, musical notes, and drumsticks.

There are paper dolls based on nationality: Italy, Japan, China, Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and Africa.

paper dollThere are paper dolls of empresses and queens, goddesses, torch singers, Evil Queens and Wicked Witches, and B-movie bombshells.

There are paper dolls of horror movie villains, movie mobsters, and vampires.

There is a paper doll collection Life’s a Drag, featuring male and female stars impersonating the other gender including Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire and Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie.

I even found a paper doll of Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean), and paper dolls of Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey. Too fun!

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Amazon has a remarkable collection of paper doll options. Click here to check it out. Or Google vintage paper dolls for some really adorable designs especially for kid’s rooms.

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