As a custom doll maker, I get many requests, people like to explore what is possible. I am usually excited to take new custom challenges, and only occasionally have declined a challenge. Several because it was not physically possible for me to create that doll and once because the request was for a clown doll. Just not my thing.
I am especially excited when I get to create an historical figure or a female heroine or protagonist.
Grace O'Malley may have been intimidating in person, but to create the doll version of Grace was pure joy.
The request came from a girl in England who had first learned of Grace in the book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. The book contains 100 short stories and illustrations of 100 extraordinary women and girls.
Grace was born in Ireland in 1530. Her father Owen O'Malley was a sea captain from a family of sea captains, all male. Grace traveled on long voyages with her father. She longed to also be a captain, but was told by her father girls cannot be sailors and that her long hair would get tangled in the rigging.
So she cut off her long hair and dressed in boy's clothing to prove to her family could handle the sea life. She spent many years learning the ways of the sea and grew to be an accomplished sailor and eventually having her own fleet of ships. Upon her father's death, she inherited the family shipping business.
Although this alone was unusual for a medieval woman, this is not how Grace made it into the book. Grace fought many battles to protect her family from pirates and her native Ireland from England. At 56, Grace was captured by Sir Richard Bingham, an English Naval Commander. She narrowly escaped a death sentence.
Six years later, she convinced Queen Elizabeth I to free her brother and son. She died at 72 of natural causes (considered quite the long life in 1600).
I styled my Grace after the Grace in the Rebel Girls book. I loved the book and the illustration. I loved creating her medieval gown, cloak, boots, scarf and underwear.
I am now eager to try another heroine from history. Any ideas?