Jig dog

Jul. 9th, 2014 06:15 pm
watervole: (Default)
 Look what Alex Holden made for his niece's birthday - a jig terrier!

If you'd like your own customised jig doll, Alex takes commissions.  (Price obviously depends on how complex a doll you want)

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 Every time I think I know a bit about jig dolls, along comes something new to show how much there is yet to learn.  My friend Adrian put me onto this one.

Here's a fabulous video of Val Knight operating her two jig dolls.

What's impressive isn't so much the fact that she's working two dolls at once, but the degree of specialised footwork she gets them to perform.

I think it's due to a combination of three factors:

1.  Skill and practice

2.  The way she uses the board.  I haven't seen a board this shape before.  She controls it with her legs rather than by hitting it with a hand and that gives a lot more control over the way the board moves.

3.  The knee joints of the dolls are very loose.  That helps the cross over movements with the feet.
watervole: (Default)
 Alex V, my jig doll, had open heart surgery after Wimborne Minster folk festival.

Here he is, complete with hole in his chest, dancing on a planchette.  (I'm still getting the hang of playing the concertina and dancing the doll at the same time, so the music is a bit ragged...

He's also having a new jacket made.  The old jacket impeded the swing of his arms too much, so I'm making a slightly slimmer one and will try and have as few tatters under his arm as possible.
watervole: (Default)
 Alex Holden linked to this page  which is full of pictures of marionettes a la planchette.  The interesting thing to me is that it's part of a  pipe and tabor web site.  I stated learning to play pipe and tabor and it fell by the wayside when I hit time and health problems, but I want to get back to it, and this may be the perfect excuse.


If I convert Alex the fifth to a marionette, then I can play for him myself using either concertina or pipe and tabor.

I think I see a conversion in his near future...
watervole: (Default)
 Here's something I was unaware of until now.

A variation on the jig doll, but in a way that allows a musician to play an instrument and control the doll at the same time.

I am suddenly suffering a terrible temptation to try this with Alex V...

 I can never decide whether to simplify Alex's costume or not.  He looks wonderful in his full costume, but it also prevents his limbs from swinging freely.  I could remove his trousers and paint his legs black and do the same for his arms, but I can't quite bring myself to do it.  (He keeps his tatters whatever happens)

watervole: (Default)
 I like Dreamwidth, but the lack of a working autosave is a real pain.  I'm having to write this post again as I lost all of it...

I'll tell you how the Wimborne Minster Folk Festival went later when I'm less tired, but overall it went very well, a happy relaxed event with a lot of very nice comments from people enjoying themselves.

However, shiny things first!

Alex Holden came down to help me move maypoles and all sorts of other odd jobs.  He also came bearing an unexpected gift.

Some of you will remember my fascination with jig dolls.  Well, just look what Alex made me!

I've named him 'Alex the Fifth' both in honour of his maker, and also because about a third of the members of Anonymous Morris have been named Alex, so clearly the name is obligatory.  (Alex Bebb was a founder member and maintains our web site, Alex Frick is now back in his native Liechtenstein, Alex 'Fox' is still with us, but Alex 'son of Graham' who played guitar with us for a while is now living in Cornwall.

I'm a very happy bunny.  Alex is the best looking jig doll I've ever seen.  A bit stiff in the joints, but that's because of his lovely costume.  You can actually hear the bells ring when he's dancing.

Jig Dolls

Feb. 4th, 2012 02:19 pm
watervole: (Anonymous Morris)
I'm currently reading very small book exploring  the connections between matachin (a historical sword dance) and morris.  

One one page is this photo (which I also found on the morris ring web site)  The photo was taken in 1896 by Henry Taunt and is of the Chipping Camden morris dancers.  It's one of the earliest morris photos known.


You can see the classic white Cotswold morris costume and the bells, (and the rosettes that many teams also wore), but the thing that actually caught my eye was the doll in the centre. See it?  Down by his feet, hanging  from the box that's hanging over his shoulder.

Now look at his feet.  See that small plank with one foot under it and one foot resting on it?  The doll's feet are resting on the plant and it has thin, jointed, legs.

It's a jig doll, but of a size and style that I've never seen before.

"What is a jig doll?" I hear you ask.  See below (they also appear to be an Appalachian tradition)

No discussion of jig dolls would be complete without a reference to the Ballad of Seth Davy (Whisky on a Sunday)
See this link -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vjfk2turxY&feature=related   

Seth Davy was a real person and one of the few black people to be referenced in a folk song.  Here's and old photo of him in Liverpool- http://aliverpoolfolksongaweek.blogspot.com/2011/08/21-seth-davy.html   He used to perform in the street with his jog dolls.

You can buy jig dolls (or make your own).  Here's one site that sells them,  Must  admit that I'm occasionally tempted to get one myself.  (I've seen some very nice ones occasionally made in the colours of specific morris teams.)


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Judith Proctor


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