Name: Lee-Lee a Leo-Moss-Inspired Doll
Made by and When: Leasa “Tutu” Souza, 2022
Material: Papier-mâché head with painted composition arms and legs, and an aged-brown cloth body
Marks: Tutu (on the neck); a cloth hang tag stitched to the chest reads,
“Lee-Lee” / #117 / Tutu Souza / Honolulu, HI / 11/22
A hangtag with an image of Leo Moss’s doll, Mina on the front, is pinned to the doll’s chest. The back side of the hangtag reads,
COVID-19 Pandemic Doll (the artist turned to her doll collection and began doll-making for solace during the pandemic.) #117 / Leo Moss / – Inspired – / Hand Made Doll / “Lee-Lee” / by Tutu Souza / Honolulu, HI 11/22
Height: 17 inches
Hair, Eyes, Mouth, Facial Features: Texturized sculpted papier-mâché black hair, brown glass eyes from Germany that glance to the doll’s left, chubby cheeks, smiling mouth with neutral lip color
Clothes: Dressed in an antique pink infant’s cotton batiste dress, off-white cotton slip, white cotton underpants (all lace-trimmed), white knit socks, and antique satin-finish fabric shoes.
Other: Lee-Lee, named by the curator in honor of Leo Moss, was made and donated to DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum by the artist to support the museum’s mission of creating an online database of antique, vintage, modern, and one-of-a-kind Black dolls. Lee-Lee will be offered in a doll waffle. The proceeds will help fund the annual administrative costs and other fees associated with keeping the museum online. Along with the doll, a handwritten note from the artist will be sent to the winner.
Lee-Lee’s Unboxing Video
About the Artist
Leasa “Tutu” Souza is a self-taught doll artist from Arkansas. She is of Cherokee Indian descent and is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. For solace, Tutu began making dolls during the COVID-19 pandemic after being inspired by the story of Leo Moss, a Black handyman and dollmaker from Macon, Georgia. Moss developed a unique papier-mâché/doll dyeing technique of fashioning dolls in the likeness of family and friends, and by commission using existing dolls, doll parts, and uncommon doll-making materials during the late 1800s through 1930s. His dolls were not discovered by the doll-collecting community until 1973 during a UFDC Convention when one of his dolls was entered into the baby doll competition and won a 1st place blue ribbon. Formerly owned by author and doll historian Myla Perkins, the blue-ribbon-winning doll, Mina, is now part of Tutu’s doll collection.
Tutu’s Ruby Lane shop is Poignant Paper. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Healing Power of Dolls and Tears” by Leasa “Tutu” Souza, Antique Doll Collector, November/December 2021.
“Fifty Years of Leo Moss Dolls the Legend and the Mysteries” by Beverly Flowers, United Federation of Doll Clubs Doll News, Fall 2022.
Your comments are valued. Donations aid the initiative to preserve Black-doll history.
If you subscribe to DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum™ by email, be sure to click the post title in the email, which links to the website to view all text and associated media. Please “like” and share this installation with your social media doll contacts. To subscribe, add your email address to the subscribe or sign-up field in the footer or right sidebar.