Mrs. T. Bagg
Published 7:19 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2010
A dainty lace bonnet pokes out above the rim of a just as dainty antique teacup. The scene evokes a smile from those who recognize a familiar feature in the face beneath the bonnet.
“I believe women especially love them because they recognize someone they know -— they’ll see their mother or their sister,” said Rose Farnsworth Davis, the artist who created Mrs. T. Bagg, a miniature doll originally created for tea parties.
Davis began playing around with polymer clay when her kids were in school. She had purchased a plethora of craft materials to keep her kids entertained during the school holiday.
“The clay was great because you could mold something, bake it and have immediate gratification,” Davis said. “My kids played with it, and when they went back to school, I kept playing with it.”
Davis said she sculpted boxes worth of faces. She didn’t, however, enjoy creating bodies to go along with her doll faces. One day, she had an empty teacup sitting on her worktable, and when she finished a face she plopped it into the cup.
“I just thought it was so cute how her little head peeped out,” Davis said.
She immediately decided to create a pillow-like bust on which she could sit the doll head. Then her craftiness really kicked in, as she added feathers, shiny stones and other embellishments.
She also kept the faces very whimsical.
“I like her cartoonish faces,” Davis said. “You know, seeing how big you can make a nose without it looking completely ridiculous, how wide you can make a smile.”
She admits she even thought her first ones were ugly. Now, she thinks the exaggerated features of Mrs. T. Bagg are endearing.
“(The Mrs. T. Baggs) remind me of the ladies I went to church with in the 50s and 60s — the pillbox hats and the lace,” Davis said. “They always seemed so elegant.”
The name Mrs. Bagg originated from a teacher her cousin had in second grade.
“It wasn’t a teacher I had, but I remember my cousin telling me the boys would tease the teacher and call her “the old bag,” Davis said.
Instead of allowing the name to continue as a mockery, she turned the idea into a celebration of older women.
In 1998, she began taking the dolls to market in Atlanta.
She took 100 dolls to the first show and sold out within an hour.
The first markets she participated in were cash and carry shows, which allow retailers to leave the show with merchandise. Davis got to a point where she needed to supply hundreds at one time.
“When I’m in the zone, I can make several in an hour, but when you have to make hundreds, it gets difficult,” Davis said.
Eventually, this led the doll artist to find a resin artist to reproduce Mrs. T. Bagg in resin.
A series of life changes pulled her from attending market, but she began reselling Mrs. T. Bagg via Ebay two years ago. She’s sold the doll as far away as France, Israel and Australia.
Davis has created more than 3,000 over the years.
She’s currently working on her fourth collection in the series. This next set features Darjeeling babies. She aims to bring more realism to her work with this collection.
For the Darjeeling babies, she offers to customize the doll’s tag to include a newborn’s birth date, weight, height and name.
She has also created pink ladies to celebrate breast cancer awareness. She sends 25 percent of her proceeds from these dolls to the Rose Ribbon Foundation of Houston, Texas.
“When I sold my first Mrs. T. Bagg, I really considered myself an artist and no longer just a crafter,” Davis said.
Davis sells her dolls out of the Greystone Antiques and Marketplace on U.S. 280. You can also learn more at Rosefarnworthdavis.blogspot.com.