Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chineese Style - French "Pantin" Mechanical Paper Dolls

Hi all, I'm back with two more French Pantin - Jumping Jack - Paper Dolls by d'Epinal 
from the late 1800's.  This time it's two of my favorite figures - The Chinese Dancers.
And to add a bit more fun to the restoration process, I've created several new 
color versions of both dolls for your crafting pleasure.

The original colors for the dolls as you see them below are nice but these are such 
fun characters that I thought they could take a bit of jazzing up just for the fun of it 
- so you'll have to tell me what you think after seeing them all.

These are my restored version of the original characters.

Pantin is the French word for Jumping-Jack Puppet and these type of dolls were popular in Europe from the 1700's till the early 1900's.  Originally such dolls were made of wood or a pressboard material then later they were made simply of paper.  The "Jumping-Jack part of the dolls comes from how they are assembled and the strings used to help the puppets: move, jump, dance...

The great thing about these dolls is you can simply put them together with adhesive if you want a stationary doll or if you want a bit of poseable movement, brads or eyelets work great.  
An example of a large "Jumping-Jack" with string can be seen  - HERE
See more about Jumping-Jacks HERE and on string assembly HERE
 My Pantin paper doll assembly instruction sheet on how to make them dance can be found HERE
 There are several nice sized images of vintage Pantin paper dolls on the web, however you have to remember that when they were originally made many of the mass produced figures were extremely inexpensive and not of the greatest print quality.  One of my projects over the past several months has been to see if I could "perk" some of these old treasures up for use in several upcoming projects I wanted to undertake. I have to say that so far they are cleaning up quite nicely.  I'll let you be the judge as to weather you would be more inclined to use these dolls in their original state with all their antique charm or the updated versions I've created.  Either way I hope you enjoy these Chinese Dancers and the other d'Epinal paper dolls I've posted before them.

This is my restored version of the China Lady Doll

This is the original Antique image I started with  - from pilllpat at flickr
Even in her vintage stat you can see this dolls charm and why I was drawn to give her 
a makeover.  She just begged to be played with but the drabness of her face and the 
faded/splotched ink blemishes cried out for attention before that could happen.
The above original doll can be found - HERE

The same went for her partner who originally started looking much the same.

This is the original vintage image of the China Man paper doll from - pilllpat on flickr
I am ever so grateful to generous contributors who place lovely vintage images like these on the web so us crafty types have the opportunity to digitally own them and alter them as needed for our projects.  I hope you will take the opportunity to discover all the wonderful vintage treasures
 pilllpat has placed on her flickr account for your viewing and crafting pleasure.
The original of the China Man can be found - HERE

Hours of digital work in Photoshop was required for me to change my little China man from  his original vintage state to the new man he is today, or at least one of my versions of him - giggles.

My updated version based on the original French Pantin bu d'Epinal
I believe his outlines are sharper, his coloring while still retaining some of the antique charm 
are now brighter, the coverage is improved and his face has perked up a bit.

I pretty much stayed at restoring the dolls in my other "Pantin" conversions and maybe adding in a few additional limbs for variety.  I wanted to somthing a bit different with this set of characters and decided to create several color versions as their variety factor -  since the are just too fun for words, in my opinion.

I've even taken a few of them and created png dolls so you can see them in a few poses
 or to be used in digital or handmade crafts should you wish to do that.
png versions of two of my re-colorized dolls in fun poses - these two coordinate but don't match exactly.
  The above figures required an additional arm for each of them to create these poses.  To create the same in paper you would need to print the man twice so you could get a duplicate of his left arm, allowing him to have one arme pointing up and one behind his back.  For the lady you would need to print one normally and one in reverse so you have well matched arms to place behind her hips. 

png versions of two of my re-colorized dolls in fun poses - these two are a matching set.
Here are two more that work well with the set above yet are in slightly different poses.  This time the figures are a matched set color wise. I've digitally cut away the extra "draping" fabric so you can see another way to easily alter their appearance, should you choose to do so when creating these as paper dolls.  Only one image of the man or lady would be needed to create these poses.
 The New Paper Doll Collection - Colors!!!!
I hope you enjoy hours of crafting pleasure with this selection of Dancing China 
paper dolls as did those who originally played with them in 1800's France. 
 The best part is we now have color options they never did.
Tip - for durability I suggest mounting your printed sheets to heavy cardstock or light chipboard (recycled cereal boxes are great for this) before cutting out your figures, especially if you will be constructing them with mini brads or eyelets.  Also, for variety you can print multiple image in regular and reverse so you can create more options for posing your figures, it's just fun to play and see what combinations you can come up with. I like the idea of printing one regular and one reverse. Mounting them on chipboard and cutting them out then assembling each doll back-to-back using eyelets so that no matter how you flip the doll you see the pretty side and not a plain back.

I've made matching set so you would have figures that worked well together at all times; however many of them mix and match well together so you figures don't always have to be matchy-matchy.
There are 10 sets of dolls total so hopefully you will find a few you like - grins.

 Aubergine version 1

Remember to click on each image to pull up the larger version of it before saving.
This way you will be saving the larger image and not the smaller thumbnail you see here.

 Aubergine Version 2

 Blue Version

 Blue-Green Version

 Brick & Slate Version

 Green & Grape Version

 Plum and Raspberry Version

 Teal Version

 Wine Version

And one last time my version of the original color scheme from the vintage set.
My version of the original d'Epinal doll set

Again - Remember to click on each image to pull up the larger version before saving it.
This way you will be saving the larger image and not the smaller thumbnail you see here.
This will make a huge difference when you finally try to use the image later on.

Please visit my previous post to learn more about French Pantin Paper Dolls
 and to see the other vintage doll images I've given a makeover.

"Pantin" Post #1 - About French "Pantin" Dolls  - click HERE
"Pantin" Post #2 - Mr & Mrs Polichinelle Dolls  - click HERE
"Pantin" Post #3 - Gypsy Lady and Man Dolls  -   click HERE
"Pantin" Post #4 - Scottish Lass & Gypsy Pirate - click HERE
"Pantin" Post #5 - Harlequin, Pierrette, Polichinelle - click HERE
"Pantin" Post #6 - China Doll Dancing Dolls  - Currently Viewing

The French were not the only ones to produce these types of puppet dolls.
They were made in a variety of countries and called by various names.
"Pantins" are what they were named by the French maker d'Epinal on his printed sheets.

Originals of these types of dolls are still available if you search hard and are willing to pay the price, luckily there are very generous people who do not mind posting images of originals so the rest of us get to drool over their collections and occasionally find images in a high enough resolution to play with; as I've been able to do for these posts.

 (you can even find them in animal form like these d'Epinals -  also from pilllipat at flickr)

The Show Pony/Circus Horse and Donkey paper dolls by d'Epinal make an
interesting twist to a jointed paper doll collection and these are in great
printing condition, so I hope add them to your collection too.
The Pony can be found - HERE and the Donkey can be found - HERE

Personally I am not actively searching to add originals of these dolls to my collection; however there are a few exceptions of that rule as always.  Here are a few elusive sheets I hope to one day own and post for your playful enjoyment, so wish me luck as I search for the following d'Epinal sheets.

Top on my list is this set of Chinese and Turkish dolls - arn't they great?

d'Epinal Pantin Sheet #1 - Pantins Danseurs Chinois et Turcs-  Dancers Chinese and Turks

  I discovered this sheet - HERE and am able to purchase a reproduction print
at places like - HERE but then I can't share them on my blog.  I love this set so much
that I may one day break down and buy it to frame and hang on my wall. We shall see.

d'Epinal Pantin sheet No.845
I would like to get the lady Spanish Dancer, the Cavalier next to her and the uniformed man
above her -  who knows it could one day happen and I'll post them for you if it ever does.

d"Epinal Pantins sheet No. 844
 I'd like to get the two lovely ladies from this sheet as well so if I'm ever fortunate enough to get these or any other vintage "dancing" dolls like them I'll do my best to share them with you. - grins.

Vintage Pantin from the  - Spielzeugmuseum Nurmburg
So far this is the best quality image of the Fairy Dancer "Sylphide" I've been able to locate;
 but at least it lets me know that she was available individually and not just on a group sheet.

I believe that wraps up my French d'Epinal digital collection for "Pantins" at this time;
 but I do have some other vintage "Dancing" dolls and some interesting modern ones
 to share with you on upcoming post.
Please let me know if you are enjoying this series or if you know of any resources out there there with vintage pantins out on the web that I may have missed, and so others can find them too.

Till Next Time...


  1. I've taken the wonderful animals!
    Thanks again dear Evelyn! :)

    1. Hello Sim - I'm so glad you like the horse and donkey.

      Pilllpat at flickr was so kind to post them and I was glad to show them so others knew where to find them. Please remember to visit her account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/taffeta/sets/?&page=1 to see all the other great vintage treasures she has posted.


  2. Hello!
    Wow! What a beautiful work!
    The original images are very pale beside those improved! What a difference!
    I like the last vintage dancing doll, it reminds old ballerina costume.
    Many thanks!!!

    1. I love the digital age Sylvie, since it allows us to bring back to life what is dingy and old and give it new life. I'm still amazed myself when I look at the before and after versions of these dancing dolls.

      I'm still looking to acquire a better version of the ballerina and some of the more rare and beautiful Pantins that I know are still out there. I promise to share them here when I finally get them.