Intelligence Methods Used by the Culper Ring – Part 1: Invisible Inks

Intelligence Methods Used by the Culper Ring – Part 1: Invisible Inks

America’s first spy organization, the Culper Ring, couldn’t have been as successful as they were during the American Revolution without some cutting-edge (for the time) tricks of the trade. They used ciphers and codes, invisible inks, signals, and drop locations for getting key information to General Washington. In the next few articles, let’s take a look at each of these devices and how the Culpers put them to use.

 Invisible Inks

Invisible inks have long been used by intelligencers as a way to keep correspondence secretive, and the Culper Ring was no exception. As long as people have had secrets, they’ve come up with ways to conceal them, and invisible ink has been around as long as paper. In fact, you could create a few rudimentary invisible inks right now, with items in your own kitchen! See my article on the experiment I did while writing Ring of Secrets here for a little kitchen-ink fun.

As fun as these household invisible inks are to play with, they weren’t actually very useful to real intelligence, for one simple reason: they are all developed with heat, which means anyone with a candle can unveil the secret message. No exactly secure.

What the Culpers needed was a formula for ink specific to them, with exactly one counter-agent to develop it. And that’s exactly what they ended up with.

The Sympathetic Stain

The ink was called “the sympathetic stain.” Historians still don’t know exactly what it was, though they have a good idea of what some of the ingredients were based on notes found about the difficulties in procuring them. John Jay and his brother came up with the formula for this stain–and the first time it was used was when said brother wrote a letter of warning from England when that nation was gearing up for war.

A sample of the agent and counteragent were sent to General Washington, who quickly saw how useful it would be. This stain could be developed only by a very particular reagent, which meant that only the people to whom they’d given the chemicals could ever, ever develop a message. You couldn’t just stumble upon it or make it visible with heat. And because of that, letters written in the stain were very secure.

The downside was that the stain was difficult to make, the ingredients hard to come by. That made it precious. So precious, in fact, that some of the Culpers were afraid of running out and so did not use it on some key correspondence–and got wrist-slapped by Washington for their efforts at conservation.

How to Use Invisible Ink

A key for using any invisible ink was placement. First one had to write a regular letter in traditional ink, so that it wouldn’t look suspicious. But one must, to put it in modern terms, make it double-spaced. There had to be enough room between lines to write one’s hidden message as well. The sympathetic stain, prior to its developing, was a pale yellow, the color of straw, and it dried to be completely invisible. But even when wet, it was difficult to see when writing with it. One must be very careful, too, to keep any of the stain from crossing over the irongall ink of the decoy letter—it would cause telltale runs in the traditional ink, which was a flashing sign to anyone on the hunt for invisible messages that one was contained in there.

A traditional quill pen was used to write with the stain. You needed the highest quality paper for it to work well on, and it must be new. Otherwise the paper began to yellow, and the ink—which was a light brown when developed—wouldn’t show up. To make it even trickier, intelligencers must use just the right amount of reagent to develop it. Too much would wash away the ink, too little just wouldn’t make it reveal. The tool of choice for this application was a paint brush; a traditional quill pen could be used for the initial writing.

Code Name

The code name for this stain was “medicine,” and the Jays shipped it to Washington in a medical supply box. Had anyone intercepted it, it would have looked like any other vial of liquid medication.

But it wasn’t. It was the agent that allowed key information to pass to the Patriot army. Information that helped the Patriots win their freedom in the Revolution.

What Is the Culper Ring?

What Is the Culper Ring?

Ever wonder about the origins of organized intelligence operations? In America, until the Revolutionary War, there simply was no organized intelligence. There were military scouts and there were occasionally spies, but not under a central system. Then came the Culper Ring.

The Culper Ring was American’s first spy ring. They were a group of spies working for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. General Washington saw the need for trustworthy, on-the-ground intelligence, gathered by people who were honorable and wouldn’t exaggerate. Accurate intelligence was hard to come by in those days.

Washington turned to one his aides, Benjamin Tallmadge, and commissioned him to put together a group of people who could gather information for the Continental Army from behind enemy lines, especially in New York City and Long Island. Tallmadge, in turn, called upon some old friends to get started, and then those friends brought in a few neighbors they could trust, and eventually the Ring grew to include Abraham Woodhull, Robert Townsend, and Anna Strong.


How did the Culper Ring get its name?

The “Culper” part of the ring is an abbreviated version of Culpepper County, Virginia, where Washington had held his first job.

But how they assigned individual aliases within the Ring is quite interesting! They started with the initials of the head of intelligence—Charles Scott, C.S. Then they reversed them—S.C. This would be the initials of the primary Culper officer. For the “C,” Washington chose a place he had fond memories of, Culpeper County, Virginia, where he worked as a lad. Then he shortened it to Culper. For the “S,” Tallmadge (the head officer of the ring) decided on “Samuel,” his younger brother’s name, and a good friend of the man who would be adopting the identity. So there we have it! Samuel Culper, the creation that became the bane of the British.


The Main Players:

Benjamin Tallmadge


Benjamin Tallmadge was  born in 1754 in Setauket, Long Island, New York. After attending Yale, he became an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He was assigned as an aide de camp for General George Washington, who eventually tasked him with creating America’s first spy ring: the Culper Ring. This was because of many frustrations from bad intelligence. They needed dependable intelligence. In Tallmadge’s mind, the best way to do that was to recruit people you knew and trusted. So he began with a childhood friend, Abraham Woodhull.

After the war, Tallmadge eventually went on to become a Congressman; he was serving in the House of Representatives during the War of 1812. He died in 1835.


Abraham Woodhull


Abraham Woodhull was recruited by Tallmadge as the first member of the Culper Ring…a bit unwillingly. He was a farmer by trade, and the demand for produce in British-held (and blockaded) New York City was so high that most farmers, regardless of their political persuasion, regularly ran the blockade the sell their produce on the black market. Woodhull, however, got caught—by the Patriots. When Tallmadge heard of it, he intervened and struck him a deal: he’d get off the hook for his smuggling if he agreed to gather intelligence for the Continental Army. Woodhull agreed and operated as the first and only member of the ring for a while.

Woodhull received the first code name of the Ring, Samuel Culper, as a way to protect his identity.

Eventually, he brought in Robert Townsend, who was a fellow resident of the boarding house in New York City that Woodhull occasionally made use of, and Anna Strong, his neighbor’s wife. Woodhull was very hesitant about these clandestine tasks, knowing well the danger it put him in. His anxiety, combined with ill health, led to him stepping away from the Ring near the end of the war.

After the war, Woodhull returned to his farming business and served in various local government positions. He died in 1826.


Robert Townsend


Robert Townsend was in many ways the most crucial member of the Culper Ring. Dubbed “Samuel Culper, Jr” by Tallmadge, Townsend became the main operative for the Ring within the City of New York.

He was born in 1753 in Oyster Bay, New York, and he was a merchant by trade. He owned a mercantile and a coffee shop, both of which were popular with British soldiers, and also wrote regular articles for a British-sympathizing newspaper. All of these business ventures put him in the perfect position to gather information for the Patriot cause and send it along to Tallmadge; sometimes via Woodhull and Anna Strong, sometimes via a courier that went from the city back to wherever Washington and Tallmadge were encamped.

Townsend’s intelligence was critical to the Continental Army’s success in many ways. However, he also suffered from what we today would call bipolarism or manic-depression. His own writings and those about him all agree that would swing from high moods down into “black moods,” as he dubbed him, that would hinder his work both in general and for the Ring.

After the war, he led a quiet life. He never married. He died in 1838.


Anna Strong


Anna Strong is the only identified female member of the Culper Ring. She and her husband, Selah, lived on a farm neighboring Abraham Woodhull’s on Long Island. A decade older than Woodhull, she was never a love interest, despite what television may lead us to believe. But she did pose as his wife from time to time as they made runs for information—a couple was less likely to be stopped by the British at checkpoints than was a single man. She is most remembered for the system of signal flags she used to communicate with Townsend—she would hang a black petticoat on her clothesline to signal that it was safe to come to town with a message.

After the war, Strong lived the rest of her life in Setauket. She died in 1812.



John Mucknell, Pirate Admiral

John Mucknell, Pirate Admiral

Once there lived, and once there was a man born and raised a Cockney who, like so many others, took to the sea. John Mucknell was in many ways what we think of as a stereotypical sailor—he drank too much, cursed too much, and when he was in his cups, he was mean. But he was a man who knew how to get a job done, and so he rose through the ranks of the East India Company. By 1642, he was a Master and Commander, in command of a vessel called the Blessing.

But in 1642, England was in turmoil. And that turmoil was about to find a home in the already-trouble-prone heart of John Mucknell.

The English Civil War

1642 began what we now call the English Civil War—which was, in fact, a whole series of wars and political upheaval usually divided in three separate conflicts. The First Civil War lasted from 1642-46; the Second from 1648-49; and the Third from 1649-51.

As with so many other civil conflicts, the strife was rooted in disagreement over the best form of government. England had of course had a monarch for centuries, but during this era there was huge disagreement over how much authority a king should have. Royalists believed in the divine right of kings and absolute monarchy; Parliamentarians believed in rule by an elected body that would limit the power of a king or even abolish the monarchy. Often called “Roundheads” because of their simple, close-cropped haircuts (as opposed to the elaborate curled coiffeurs of the Royalists), supporters of the limited monarchy were often made up of religious groups like Puritans and Presbyterians who abhorred not only the abuse of power they saw in absolute monarchy, but also the vanities so often associated with life at court.

The English Civil War had its culmination in a (temporary) removal of the monarchy in 1649, when Oliver Cromwell took control and declared England to be a Commonwealth.

But what, you may ask, did the royal family do during these years of upheaval? Well, they didn’t sit around waiting to be captured and executed, that’s for sure. They went into exile, and they rallied their supporters to fight back.

Enter John Mucknell.

From Flagship to Pirate Vessel

Mucknell was a Royalist. Maybe he just felt intense loyalty to his king…or maybe he felt immense hatred for the reforms the Puritans tried to push on the populace—we’ll let you be the judge of his motivations. Either way, when the war began, he found himself in an interesting spot.

The East India Company wasn’t exactly political…but they were very much profit-focused. And King Charles had cost them a lot of money. He had a habit of seizing whatever cargo he desired, always promising to pay but never actually giving the Company their fair due. So when Parliament seized power, the East India Company was only too happy to keep operating and supplying the government with all the goods they needed—for a fair price.

This didn’t make Mucknell happy. So when he learned that the Company was giving him command of their new flagship, the John, he began to hatch a plot for mutiny.

Though in execution the plot was complicated and involved many players, in concept it was simple: steal the John from the East India Company with its Roundhead loyalties and sail it to the Isles of Scilly, where the exiled royalty had set up a base of operations. He’d present the ship to his rightful sovereign and thereby earn himself their respect. They’d know the name of John Mucknell, and he’d be more to them than a mere Master and Commander for the Company.

It worked. There were some hiccups in the plan, of course, and some near failures, but the result was that Mucknell and his stolen ship did indeed sail into port in the Isles of Scilly and present their prize to the Prince of Wales.

The islands, however, weren’t exactly fit for royalty at the time. They were bare rocks, barely producing enough to support the locals who lived there, never mind the royal court that had dropped in on them. The added influx of people was enough to bring the whole island chain to the brink of desperation. So to have the finest, best equipped vessel on the seas dropped in their lap was a boon that surely felt like divine providence.

Charles II, Prince of Wales at the time

The prince welcomed Mucknell most heartily and commissioned him to “fight” for king and country…by capturing any vessels that sailed through the straits and seizing their cargo in the name of the king.

The John had just become a pirate vessel, preying on the fleet that it was once the flagship for. Because who do you supposed sailed most often through the waters between the Isles of Scilly and the Cornish mainland? East Indiamen.

Vice Admiral of a Pirate Fleet

Of course, Mucknell wasn’t the only captain of a ship who swore loyalty to the royal family instead of the Roundheads, and many more also found their way to the islands to pledge their lives and vessels to the prince. Given that his ship was by far the best, Mucknell was soon placed in command of the entire “royal” fleet. He was named Vice Admiral—but there was no denying that this fleet was a fleet of pirates. Most of them had rather checkered pasts to begin with, and now they had a blank check for mayhem.

Piracy is certainly nothing new; but pirates weren’t known for being team players. Mucknell’s pirate fleet is one of the few known to history to operate in cooperation with each other. And oh, were they fearsome! They caused serious trouble for the Company and for Parliament…which meant that eventually, the Company and the Roundheads deemed it time to fight back. John Mucknell soon became Enemy Number One.

The End of the John

Only 19 July 1645, after evading the enemy for years, Mucknell found himself in a tight spot he couldn’t get out of easily. He’d just taken a ship, so his holds would have been heavy. He engaged with another vessel sent out to hunt him that morning off Land’s End. He was making for port in the Isles of Scilly, when three enemy vessels closed in.

His fleet was nowhere nearby to help…and likely wouldn’t have, regardless. They were, after all, still pirates. But these ships, commissioned by Parliament to hunt him down at all costs, stood between him and safe harbor. He had no choice but to engage them. The result wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been—he held his own and hit plenty of blows against them, despite being outnumbered. The John, however, took serious damage.

For centuries, historians had no idea what actually happened to it. All we know for sure was that it never haunted the waters again, though Mucknell and his crew certainly did. Did the ship sink, there off the Isles of Scilly? Did they limp it to shore and strip it down? These questions have intrigued history buffs and divers for years.

Because if the John sank, then its last haul was no doubt still on it, which means treasure buried with the wreck, so close to the shores of the islands.

Todd Stevens, a Scilly-based diver, thought he may be onto the wreck at one point. This spurred him to hunt up all he could find about Mucknell, the John, and the piratical royal navy that operated from his own island home. He published his findings in a book called The Pirate John Mucknell and the Hunt for the Wreck of the John. His theory, which is now widely accepted, is that the John managed to limp into port, that they beached it, emptied it, and then stripped the ship, putting all its materials to use elsewhere.

He’s probably right. But even so, the mystery of what Mucknell did with all the treasure he captured remains unanswered. Did he really turn everything over to the Crown? Highly doubtful. But we do know that he and his wife, Elizabeth, never spent any treasure-money. In fact, after Mucknell eventually died in the Caribbean (where he’d gone hunting more pirating opportunities) after the Civil War ended and his king was back on the throne, Elizabeth petitioned the Crown for Mucknell’s pension—something she certainly wouldn’t have had to do if she was living on pirate treasure.

There are, of course, many simple explanations for what likely transpired with Mucknell and all the booty he seized. But far more interesting is what could have happened. Maybe, just maybe, he didn’t turn it all over the Crown. Maybe, just maybe, he hid some of it in the Isles of Scilly. And maybe, just maybe, an unlikely group of friends stumbled across some of it in 1906.

If so, you certainly don’t want to miss the story about them. 😉 The fun begins in The Nature of a Lady, but it doesn’t end there! My characters will find more of the mysteries Mucknell and his cohorts left behind in To Treasure an Heiress and the final book in the trilogy too!

And now, I’ll leave you with the saying Mucknell was famous for. He would shout this out in the heat of battle, or any time his emotions ran high. So of course, it had to make its way into the prologue of The Nature of a Lady as well:

“I am a prince at sea!
I am the proudest man upon the face of the earth.
I am an Englishman, and were I to be born again,
I would be born an Englishman.
I am a cockney—and that’s my glory!”

Remember When . . . Tea Was a Brick

Remember When . . . Tea Was a Brick

This is actually a re-post of a fun blog I did in 2011, near when Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland released. Given that I’m still celebrating the re-release of the story as A Heart’s Revolution, I thought it would be fun to share this again!
Back in 2011, a friend of mine from Colonial Quills made mention of “brick tea.” Now, I had no idea what in the world she was talking about. Until this arrived in the mail:
The moment I withdrew this brick from its bag, the scent of tea wafted up to me. My daughter, who runs to the kitchen the moment she senses a package being opened, rushed out just then, saw the brown-paper-wrapped block, and said, “What’s that?” My answer was to hold it out and say, “Smell.”
You should have seen her eyes light up with delight and disbelief as she squealed, “Tea?!”
Tea has been a staple of many societies for centuries. But loose leaf tea is hard to transport, so back in the days of the silk road in Asia, the Chinese discovered that if they use forms to press the tea into standard sized bricks, they can transport them with ease, and the tea lasts through the journey.
This became such a standard that tea bricks could be used as currency, and this was the way most tea was transported for hundreds of years, all the way into the 19th century. So the tea tossed into Boston Harbor during the Boston tea party? That was bricks.
Naturally, when something is used so long, for so many purposes, there comes to be a rhyme and reason to each part of it.
I don’t know if you can read the label on this, but if you do, you’ll find its “translation”–what each part of it means.
The front of this particular brick has details that let buyers know that this tea comes from a company managed by more than one person, and is manufactured by Enterprise Company Tea and the Chinese Lee family.
The back of the brick is separated into squares that can be used as currency. One square, for instance, might equal the price of a chicken
In addition to being brewed, the tea traditionally pressed into bricks can also be eaten. I don’t intend to try that, gotta say. 😉
Grand Pu'erh tea Brick 250g Ripe Shu Menghai tea
I thought at the time that I’d be eager to try some of this tea . . . but in actuality, I couldn’t bring myself to break it apart! Instead, it still sits wrapped up, on display on my hutch. Perhaps if I ever buy another, I’ll actually use one of them. But for now, this lovely brick of tea remains a pretty, fragrant reminder of my friend, of history, and of when my first Colonial story first released.
Remember When . . . She Played the Violin?

Remember When . . . She Played the Violin?

I thought it would be fun to take a quick look today at Willa’s violin…or, rather, violins in general, and some info that appears in A Song Unheard about this beautiful stringed instrument.

Violins and other stringed instruments like them began appearing in the 1500s. They were invented in Italy, and some of the first evidence we have of their existence is from paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari.
Glory of Angels by Gaudenzio Ferrari.
Not to be confused with Enzo Ferrari.
Or, you know, other painters with the same surname.
There also exists a treatise written in 1556 that details the string family as we know it now.
Stradivari Violin

Willa, of course, didn’t know all this history. What she did know was that Stradivari was always heralded as THE luthier whose instruments everyone wanted to own. That’s certainly true today just as it was a hundred years ago.

It’s only been recently, however, that scientists have discovered why Strads sound better than other violins. I happened to catch a documentary on this just before I began writing A Song Unheard (thank you for that, Lord! LOL), which obviously proved useful. 😉
So the secret to the amazing sound of these instruments? The Little Ice Age.
Yep. See, these drastically colder temps resulted in trees’ growth drastically slowing. If you recall your middle school botany, you know that each year trees add a ring of growth, hence how we can count a tree’s age with a cross-section. Well if you’ve ever seen the stump of a really, really old tree, you’ll have noticed that some rings are very wide and others very narrow. The wide rings are the years that were perfect growing years–nice temps, good rain, lots of sun–and the narrow rings are harsher years.

During the Little Ice Age, trees couldn’t grow very much. So the rings were narrow, and the wood, therefore, was very dense. The forest from which Stradivari sourced his wood was full of Little Ice Age trees, whose wood was heavy and dense. Meaning the instruments, while the same size as others made from different wood, would be a bit heavier and denser, and that of course effected the sound.

Now, this is a relatively new discovery–certainly not something they knew in 1914. But I wanted to hint at it, so I had Willa observe several times that Lukas’s Strad felt heavier and more substantial than the battered, cheap instrument she’d rescued from a rubbish bin.
She got up again and strode to the
wardrobe. Not set on grabbing a hat for the trek she had to make, but to pull
out that battered violin case. She set it on the bed and extracted the
equally-battered violin.

Poor thing. It looked like a rag
next to the memory of the Stradivarius she’d held last night. Dull and scarred
and . . . lighter, even, as if the wood were too thin. Perhaps it was. Still,
it was one of her oldest friends, and her fingers caressed the familiar curves
and corners, ran along the strings.

                                  ~ A Song Unheard, Chapter 6
Do you play an instrument? Or is there one you particularly enjoy listening to? One you’ve always dreamed of owning?
I’m a piano player, so I may occasionally drool over baby grands…though not the newfangled electronic ones. Those are just WRONG. 😉
Remember When . . . We Made Corn Husk Dolls

Remember When . . . We Made Corn Husk Dolls

So after spending much of my birthday on Monday studying and getting the swing of making corn husk dolls, I figured I’d share my research and methods. =) I watched several tutorials on YouTube after first just looking at drawings on websites (so didn’t help me, LOL), and just kinda picked my favorite methods from a bunch of them.

You can use fresh or dried husks for these, store bought or straight from the cob. I husked 5 ears yesterday and was using those. I just cut the stalk ends off the cobs and then peeled the layers of husk away, and the silk. Most of them I used on Monday, but then I put the remainder under a bookend overnight to keep them from curling up. If you’re using dried husks, either steam-iron them flat (my mother-in-law’s favorite method) or soak them in water for 10-15 minutes to make them pliable again (drying them off before use, of course).
So begin by assembling your supplies. You’ll need the husks from 1 ear of corn (I didn’t use all of it, but that gives you a good selection of thicknesses and widths), some twine or thread (Native Americans traditionally used sinew), whatever you want to use for hair (the silk from the corn or yarn), and a pair of scissors.
I personally think the hair is an important part of a doll, so I chose the method that incorporated it directly into the construction of the head and didn’t require gluing it on separately. LOVE this! You can use the silk of the corn, and I did on one of the dolls, but I opted for yarn on this one–the plus of yarn being, of course, that you can choose whatever color you’d like. I’ve done blonde, brown, red, and black at this point. =) In this one, I chose black.
So you start by cutting your yarn. Keeping in mind that about two inches of it will be inside the doll, just measure it out as long as you’d like it to be, and as thick. I did this totally by sight. Once you’ve cut your yarn, tuck it inside 4 or 6 husks, with the ends up toward the pointy ends. Make sure you have an even number of husks. 
Once you’ve got them hugging your hair, cut off a length of twine (I usually cut about 6 inches) and wrap it about an inch from the pointed ends of the husks. 
Wrap it around and around until you’ve used most of the thread, pulling it as tight as you can. This will ensure your hair stays put!

Once you’ve done that, then start folding the husks down over the knot you just tied. This is creating the head, so shape it as desired–in this one I even balled up some bits of husks to round out the head a little more.

Then tie this off with another length of twine–good and tight again. This is forming the neck.

You now have a head and body. The next step is arms. Choose a husk and fold the tip inside it until it’s the length you want, and then roll up the husk into a slender cylinder.

Tie each end with twine to form hands. Once you have that cylinder tied at both ends, it’s time to insert it into the doll.

Divide the husks of the body evenly and just slide those arms right between them, positing it under the head, centered. Try to get it as far up the body as you can, as close to the head. Once you’ve got it where you want it, tie it into place.

So now you have a basic body, and if you like how it looks, you could pretty much stop there.

The next step, though, is to add shoulders and a bit of a bodice. For this, I chose thin, supple husks and split them to the width I wanted–about the width of my thumb. Position the square end at the waist (you can just trim off any hard pieces) and wrap it diagonally up the doll, over the opposite shoulder. Bring it around and take it over the end to hold it down. Make sure you leave enough of the wispy end to tie. Do the same thing on the opposite side, creating an X over the bodice of the doll. Tie this down with twine.

I very nearly stopped there, because I really liked how she looked. =) But since this was for instruction… Next step is the legs. If you’re making a male doll or just want your girl to have legs, you can either divide or cut the husks below the waist into two groups.

I really liked the way that top husk was sitting, so I opted to fold it out of the way and preserve it for the skirt and just cut the husks into equal parts to form the legs. You could also just gather them into two sections. Tie at the ends for the ankles, and you can tie another spot halfway up for the knees if you want (which I meant to do but forgot). And voila! Legs!

If you want a nice full skirt, select some wider husks. I was running out of wide ones at this point (these were my leftover husks from Monday, remember), so mine aren’t all that wide. You are working this step upside down and inside out, so it will look a bit strange.

But position the husks around her waist so that the side you want to show is against her body and the tip is pointing toward her feet. You might have to push her arms up out of the way, but layer them all the way around her. Once she’s surrounded, tie the tips tightly around her waist. Then fold them down to form the skirt.

There you go! She’s pretty much finished. Just trim the bottom of the dress to make it even.

Now, if you don’t want the arms standing straight out, just get a bit of twine or yarn or ribbon and tie them down at the sides. Once the doll is dried out, the arms will retrain that shape.

To get fuller hair, I separated the strands of yarn, which makes it nice and curly and full.

Decorate however you wish! You can leave them natural or use fabric to dress them. On this one, I just added a ribbon to her hair thus far.

On Monday, Xoe and I had a blast playing fashion designer. We just used scraps and bits from our craft basket, some fabric glue, and a few dabs of hot glue here and there. I personally love how a simple circle skirt looks on them. I measured it with one of my small plates, cut a small hole in the center, and then tied it in place with another strip of cloth. A simple triangle of cloth can serve as a shawl, and voila! You have a simply dressed but lovely doll! (Or get fancy and make a bride. You know. Whatever.)

I think I’m ready to teach my homeschool class the art now! And have a new past time for evenings after we’ve had some fresh corn from my family’s farm. =)

*Special thanks to the awesome Xoë, who not only manned the camera for me, but who donned my new super-high-heel shoes to give herself a better perspective. 😉