100 Year Old Craft: Make a Paper Doll Girl and Her Swimming Ducks

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, May 4, 1911:  Helped to clean the hall this afternoon and also had to clean the carpet. I penned up some ducks this evening. Didn’t like it very well for I have rather a timid feeling towards them.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Right after I read this diary entry, I happened to flip through the May 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, and saw directions for making a paper doll goose girl and her swimming geese. And I thought—Whoa, those geese look almost like ducks.

So if a child you know would like to make a paper doll girl and her ducks—they could pretend they were Grandma penning up her ducks so many years ago.

Supplies Needed to Make this Craft

Heavy stiff white paper

Pencil

Scissors

Paste or glue

Water colors, colored pencils or crayons

A “broomstraw” taken out of a broom

Pin

Thin white paper for tracing (optional)

Shallow pan half-filled with water (optional)

Directions

1. Click here for the patterns for the girl and the ducks, and then print. Cut the patterns out.

(In the old days people didn’t have printers or copying machines so they’d trace the pattern out of the magazine using thin paper.  If you’d like to be really authentic you can make the pattern by putting thin paper over the sheet with the outlines; trace; and then cut out the pattern that you created on the thin sheet of paper. Save the original sheet to make additional patterns in the future. )

To Make Girl

2. Fold a sheet of the heavy white paper in half. Lay the pattern of the girl on the paper with the straight edge of the sun bonnet and the straight edge of the dress on the fold of the paper. On the heavy paper draw a line around the edge of the pattern.

3. Cut out the doll. She will be double with two halves joined. (Be sure to make her feet as large as the feet in the pattern. It’s okay if her feet end up being even a little larger than the ones in the pattern. She will not stand if her feet are too small.)

4. Bend the dolls arms forward at the shoulder.

5. Open the doll up and spread paste or glue on the inside of the head and her clothes, except of the arms. (Do not put paste the arms, legs or feet). Press the two halves together making sure that the edges meet evenly.

6. Use the water colors, colored pencils, or crayons to make the dress.

7. To herd her ducks the girl will need a long stick. Remove a broomstraw from a broom for the stick. Punch a small hole in the doll’s right hand with a pin and then push the broomstraw through the hole.

To Make Ducks  (Make 3 or more)

8. Fold a sheet of heavy white paper in half and draw around the duck pattern like you did with the girl. The top of the duck’s head should be on the fold of the paper.

9.  Cut out the duck and fold the wings outward; then paste the sides together. Do not paste the wings or the stand.

10. Decorate the bird to make it look like a duck using water colors, colored pencils or crayons.

11. After the paste is dry stand the duck up.

12. Make several ducks. The girl can then drive the ducks into a pen and to the water.

To Make the Ducks Swim

14. Fold the two halves of each duck stand half way out so that the duck will sit flat on the table when you sit it down.

15. Gently put the ducks on top of the water. The flattened-out stand will hold the ducks up and they will float and swim about as if alive.

16. When finished, take the ducks out of the water and gently dry with a cloth (or paper towel); press the stand straight again as it originally was. After the ducks are dry they will again be able to stand.

(These directions are adapted and abridged from the Good Housekeeping directions.)

13 Responses

  1. Couldn’t help but grin at your “happening” to be looking at the May 1911 issue.

    This is great! I’ve filed it away for a rainy day project. Thank you.

    • I am very fortunate to have access to a really good library with lots of old books and magazines. In my spare time I love to browse through some of the 100-year-old magazines. I’m always amazed at what I find in them.

  2. At first I thought she said she “pinned” up some ducks, and I was thinking she was hanging carcasses or something, and I was wondering why she would have to do that. But on second reading, I saw she “penned” up some ducks- putting them in a pen, I assume. Were they eating duck eggs, or growing them for meat?

  3. At first I thought she said she “pinned” up some ducks, and I was thinking she was hanging carcasses or something, and I was wondering why she would have to do that. But on second reading, I saw she “penned” up some ducks- putting them in a pen, I assume. Were they eating duck eggs, or growing them for meat?

    Either way, I can see that she would be “timid”.

  4. I just found this site — after looking for information of 100 years ago – with someone who is turning 100 years old tomorrow. I find this so interesting and fascinating. My daughters go to Warrior Run High School and we travel through McEwensville often – and Turbotville…

    • Thanks for the note. It’s always nice to hear when someone enjoys the site. I hope the person has a wonderful 100th birthday.

  5. [...] Paper doll girl and her swimming ducks [...]

  6. [...] Paper Doll Girl and Her Swimming Ducks [...]

  7. […] Paper Doll Girl and Her Swimming Ducks […]

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