The Jesters’ Court is the creators of fine, hand-crafted Music box dolls. Each is unique in composition and is hand-made as a one of a kind item.
Each plays an 18-tone music box in the old style wind-up fashion. The faces are hand drafted and painted, before being sealed for protection and longevity. As no two are alike, what you see today may not be there tomorrow if we sell it.
truly collectible item, it has romance, appeal and sentimental value that builds with each turning of the playing key!
Good day to all! We have added some NEW offerings in addition to the Hand Crafted Dolls which we will be listing after our selling Season at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival closes. Due to MANY inquiries at our shop, we have added the Hand Loomed fabrics which we carry in our booth to one of our pages!
At the page panel, you can select “JESTER’S TREASURES” which is an area dedicated to our non-doll offerings. There is a sub-page featuring all the hand-loomed items we offer and some which we do not have in the shop!
We hope you enjoy what we are putting out for your consideration and welcome feedback!
Well, yes, they are fancy and hand-crafted. However, they are also very much dolls. Before the advent of pressed plastic molded dolls, all dolls were made by hand. Wooden dolls were carved, fabric dolls sown, and china dolls assembled from bisque parts, stuffed fabric, and them clothed over. The finer dolls were generally your more “intimate” doll, the sort you talked to, had tea parties with, and one who patiently waited at home for you divulge your secrets. Even young gentlemen would have toy dolls, soldierly and masculine, with whom to play and share their adventures. One needs look no further than “Calvin and Hobbes” to see the truth of that.
Our dolls are art works. They are meant to be sentimental, collectible and, yes, unusual in our modern day of disposable living. If Barbie loses an arm, or your American Girl outfit is ruined, you simply get another one and resume playing. Ten years later, most children can name few toys or gifts given and rarely from whom they got it. Our Jesters are intended to be something you remember who you got it from, or when you got it. They are sentiment and they are old-fashioned.
Both the painter and the tailor are, at heart, sentimental fools who hold on to items of cherished memory and personal value, even though age and wear betray them. An old jacket, a worn toy, a faded ticket stub, a dog eared photo. Today is world of updates, apps, and blurred memories. We hope to give you something that becomes a firm memory resulting in fond smiles and that inner glow which comes from the magic of reminiscing.
We are very much production mode and on our Facebook page we have some teaser pics! The jesters for 2013 will offer new looks and a continuation of our tradition. The hand-crafted excellence of a doll that is meant to be a keep sake and not a toss-away This past year we have learned that even a new born can appreciate the musical value of these unique dolls, as both of our boys love to hear the music play and will stare at the doll we put before them for long period (it was tempting to say hours).
We have also added some of the fabrics we used to sell at another location at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival! It took some looking to find them but we are happy and proud to be offering them through our website! We are only starting with a small base variety and will let it grow over time if there is an interest and a demand. This will not dilute our work on our jesters and we see this as a chance to re-offer what people have told us for two years they miss seeing.
Over the course of two years now, many people have asked “How long does it take to make a Jester?” and we argue over how long it DOES take to make a Jester. This is a break down of the steps involved for an individual Jester. Keep in mind that we are doing these on a scale of literally dozens in one step at a time, but each step does take time, effort and thought. I will try to divide into the phases for each step.
Yards of fabric are first cut into “halves” for each body, creating the body portion, the sleeve and hats (three types – Jester, Clown and Sleepy)
Each half is pinned together and laid out in the storage area for fabrics.
After about 1,000 halves are cut in up to 300 fabric types, the halves are spread out and matched into “outfits” with about 60% going into Jesters, and 20% each to Clowns and Sleepys. Once paired, the two halves are sewn together on the “center line” stitches, then sleeves are attached and sides sown with lastly the hat being stitched. Each is then clipped and trimmed and turned right-side out. Gathering stitches are done at the wrists and ankles to create the “ruffs” look after hands and feet are installed.
Hands and feet as edge-sown, the feet on my machine with a hem stitch and the hands by hand with a loose gather stitch. Each part is then stuffed and a dowel secured into the stuffing to make the appropriately shaped hand and foot for each doll. This is, individually, the most labor intensive part of the doll as there are no short cuts to be taken in any sense! After being made, hands and feet are attached to the outfits and the ankles and wrists gathered and tied off.
Each painted head starts as a blank wooden ball. Each is drilled and a dowel added to create the neck. Then, three coats of a base are applied and the head prepped for design. The faces are sketched onto the blank only using a template for placing eyes, nose and mouth for consistency. The flowers, flames, tears and other elements come from the mind of the artist, Sean, and give the blank personality. Then the painting begins, with each step being color-focused and lots of stops to let elements dry before continuing on. Once finished, they are set aside for a final dry before getting coated with a protective layer to preserve the face against drops, moisture and the like.
Molded heads are poured with polymer and let set before being taken out of the casting. After curing each is drilled for a dowel-neck and then sent over the painting and finishing before becoming an Igor, Yorick or Death.
Once heads and outfits are amassed, we start the pairing up side of the work. Each head has an outfit selected for it. This can be both the most fun and the most frustrating part of making a Jester. Sometimes, no outfit fits what you envision for the head, which usually results in a trip to the fabric store for a couple more yards of material and more sewing. Each Jester must come out “right” or neither artist involved is satisfied and happy. Once pairings are done (with many tags and markers to preserve the matching!) assembly can begin.
I can say that we spend a bit of time on each Jesters assembly. Thought goes into each “do dad” and addition. Even picking out feathers for the hat can take time as you debate whether it will be too much, too little, and too over-the-top. Decorations are added and applied, using all sorts of things to attach stuff! The final fun step is selecting a song that fits the personality of the Jester, then adding the hat to the head (after stuffing it!)
Lastly, we name them and enter them into the rolls of Jesters, a growing list of each little person we have built to share with those who will love and cherish them.
Overall, if we stacked up minutes of “real work” into each doll, we clear the six-hour mark on most any of them and some labor toward the ten to fifteen hour mark. It is impossible to “stop watch” the methods used, as we do group things up. But each minute put into a Jester is a minute of focus and love. We hope that as our selection grows, and we have more followers and fans, the dedication to each doll will speak strongly of “our product” which truly is more than just a doll.
We will be in Anoka at Anoka Knights of Columbus Hall. Located at 2421- 4th Ave. Anoka, Mn 55303 on January 22nd with all our jesters! Its from 9 til 4 PM and open to the public. Lots of others vendors but most importantly JESTER’S COURT We will have the full range of Jesters that are in stock available for Adoption and ready to go.
It has been a long fall for us! We had some medical matters come up but are now gearing for a great winter-build up of Jesters to share and create! We have a lot on the burner for 2012 including some new looks and rumor has it the King has found fairies in his realm whom he will court to share their music. It’s all very exciting! Pirates were spotted on the river near the borders of the King’s realm. With each dream of music, the possibilities increase for more to share with all. Watch here for more to be coming!
One thing we have been asked often since we opened the shop at Festival is if “Judy is back.” It has been, at times, a trying question to hear again. It brings up a tough point about becoming and taking on the Jester’s Court.
Judy is a gifted artist in her own right and created a wonderful thing with the Jesters. She put years of creativity and effort into them, and pleased many, many people. However, age does not bow to talent, nor to pleasure delivered and time eventually led her to retire. At that point, the craft of the Jester was also retired.
It was through luck and effort that we became the Jester’s Court. A new artistry to the dolls is emerged and again offers that pleasure and joy in a new interpretation of the art form and a new expression of creation. We chose not to let the Jesters go gently into that good night. A conscious effort was made to both preserve and renew the creation.
These are Jesters, but they are not Judy’s Jesters. They are Sean’s Jesters. A new hand guides the brush, a new pair of eyes watching the personality appear, and a new face gazes at them on their first moment of being.
While we too miss Judy and her own spunk and character, as well as her Jesters, we are proud to take our ownership of the new Jesters, our Jesters. It is our pleasure and joy to create them in a new generation and offer them to collectors old and new.
It is about the craft more than the crafter, the art more than the artist. In time, our palette will be retired and we can but hope that then someone else comes and says “I want to keep this going. May I?”
As time runs down and the presence of the Festival is so clearly on us, one can stop and take a breath, pause a moment and thank some huge supporters!
Eric Lamansky, Michelle Perle, Caitlin Hilger, Camilla Nixon, Lane Beam and Mister Que for their moral cheer leading, and physical support; Nancy Britt and Alicia Hanley Smith for their help making stuff; Mike Smith for his video work; Joelle ‘Boots’ Schiltgen for the website, and so many, many people for encouragement and words of calming and comfort.
We look forward to seeing you all over the run! We made it! This is completely real, and a great, awesome, terrifying thing! Thank you all!
The news is awesome! We have been approved to be at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and have a BOOTH! Jester’s Court will be open back by C Gate and selling, selling, selling! It’s so very very exciting and would not have been even remotely possible without the help of each friend and supporter we have!
We’ll be there August 20th to October 2nd and we’ll be in booth 522.