A Penny for your Thoughts?

I’m finding, now that school and work are done for the year, that I have a lot more time for sewing. That being the case, I thought about hitting the ground running this summer and really filling up my shop. It’s already too hot outside to do much else. But then, seeing all the things that need to be caught up on around this house after such a crazy year, I figured I would rather keep taking the sewing easy- stitching a bit of clothing here, felting a bit of wool there and generally not stressing about it.

Waldorf dolls, even more than my regular dolls are all about the process. Each detail takes time and consideration and shouldn’t be rushed. And why would I rush? Simply to say I have made such and such number of dolls this summer? My demand is really not that high right now. And so, I’m not setting myself any sewing goals, other than to continue learning and improving this delightful new doll making method.

And now for the title of this post. I’d like to introduce you to Penny! So called because of her coppery blonde locks. And because she’s so bright and cheerful looking.

She turned out a little more petite than my other attempts. There’s no saying just how big their heads will be when you start out with just a little ball of wool. You just keep adding a bit here and a bit there, trying to make sure the cheeks are an even size and the chin isn’t too big and the forehead isn’t too tall or too short. Then you have to cut out the body to fit the head. So Penny ended up a couple inches shorter than my other two dolls- a little over a foot tall.

I felt she needed a hat, because it was just really cute when I put it on.

Even without her hat, her hair makes a lovely, coppery golden crown. I really do love this jersey hair. It’s so much fun to play around with.

And this skirt. It’s pretty great. I made a several layered lace petticoat underneath to make sure it stood out nice and full and then did a full- gathered, floral, circle skirt over the top so it could be as fluffy as possible. She also has a simple, embroidered, white peasant blouse for a top that gathers at the top with a draw string ribbon and ties in two sweet little shoulder bows.

She’s on my shop tonight! Let me know what you think and feel free to pass this on!

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Marta!

It’s so fun, naming dolls. I haven’t really done it in the past, figuring that most people like to name their own dolls. But there’s something about these sculpted waldorf dolls. Something about all the labor that goes into them- the starting with a simple wool sphere and somehow sculpting a face out of it with no pattern. It makes the creative process seem, well, more creative! Each face slowly emerges under your fingertips and is so individual, you just have to name it!

I chose the name Marta because it reminds me of things soft and sweet and loveable and this girl is just that- all pinks and pastels and it brown eyes and soft, fluffy clothing. I’m just gonna leave a photo dump here and you can let me know what you think!

She’s on my shop now!

A first

Last week, I took the plunge and started on a dollmaking method I’ve been curious about and admired from a distance for a while. Waldorf dolls have been around for a long time and the idea behind them is to keep things simple- facial features minimalistic so as to promote imagination and make sure all materials are from natural sources. I have made a few basic waldorf dolls but what I’ve really been itching to try are their more labor intensive relatives- natural fiber art dolls.

These dolls are daunting to attempt. They involve a curious method of sculpting a three dimensional face using nothing but a pile of soft wool and a special needle. This method ends up looking something like this.

Yes, this took a while. But it was so much fun. And I was a little amazed that I was able to make a recognizable face out of it on my first try!

Then this sculpted face is covered with a ‘skin’ of soft, stretchy fabric. In this case, I used my favorite unbleached organic cotton jersey. Then a couple simple eyes are stitched and the fun nose and 3D mouth emerge.

I didn’t have a pattern for her- I was just waiting to see how big her head turned out before I added limbs. And those were sketched out and went on pretty easily. The really nice art dolls use fine quality mohair for the doll hair. This stuff costs a fortune and adds quite a bit of value to these dolls. I wasn’t ready to fork over that kind of money until I knew I could actually make one of these. So I stuck to my good old cotton jersey yarn, which I really like. And it makes these less of a collectors item and keeps them suitable for children to play with, which is what I want for my dolls.

Then, of course, there was the clothing. I had a lot of fun designing this ensemble. The blue, linen fabric for the dress came from my stash of remnants, leftover from one my old dresses. The darling (if I say so myself) eyelet coat came from a skirt my sister donated. The shoes I made from velvet with ribbons, because when you’re a doll, you can get away with stuff like that.

Oh. And I gave her ears. That’s a first, but probably not a last.

So here she is. I’m calling her Natalie because she might represent the birth of something new. We’ll see. I love my other dollies too. But who says I can’t do both?

She’s on my shop tonight!

Always on the lookout for inspiration

I’ve thought about digging through literature for some doll inspiration for a while now. Last year, I made my daughter a Ladybug Girl doll for her birthday but due to copyright restrictions, I couldn’t sell them. But there are lots of books out there in the public domain with little girls for heroines and the first one that came to mind was Anne of Green Gables. Of course, trying to imagine a favorite character as a doll is somewhat difficult- everyone has their own idea of what she really looked like. But I figured the red hair- the gray/ green eyes- the puffed sleeves- I should be able to at least come up with an approximation.

So here’s what I came up with. And I photographed her outside amidst the flowers, since that seemed suitable for someone like Anne.

I tried to give her a nice, dreamy, imaginative expression but there’s only so much you can do with a needle and thread.

Her clothing was a lot of fun- plenty of pinafores and pleats and of course, puffed sleeves!

But as I was sewing her, I couldn’t help thinking she needed her bosom friend by her side, so I went ahead and tried to imagine out Diana Barry with the black hair, rosy cheeks and enviable dimples. Here’s what emerged.

I just loved this tiny, flowered, pink calico. And since Anne was always forbidden to wear pink, I thought I would let Diana wear it. With a lacy, linen pinafore to cover it and keep it clean, of course.

I am selling these dolls individually on my shop or as a set. I thought it would be fun to do some doll duos (or quartets? Little Women anyone?) Here’s a few pics of them together, being kindred spirits.

Check them out here!