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!

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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!

Just a lovely girl

I don’t have a lot to say about this little dolly. There are some dolls that seem to fight me during their creation. They insist that I redo their eyes several times. Their mouth seems to be off center or their eyebrows simply refuse to line up. But this girl came into being without much fuss, – just quietly, without much ado. Her eyes didn’t cross, she had a good hair day from the first and her sweet, lacy clothing fit to a tee.

All she seemed to ask of me is to acknowledge how pretty she was and to please find her a home here. ☺️

Old shop, new chapter 

Hello dear friends!  I’m blogging! Is that still a thing people do? Do people still   take the time to click on a link that takes them to another site and away from their news feed? I don’t know. Nor do I know if a blog is still a good way to advertise one’s product.  I suspect it’s not.  But I am going to do it anyway, just as a means to update those of you who might be interested in my Etsy shop. But I think from this point I will be doing most of my advertising via social media.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram at all, you know I have been contemplating opening my shop again after a looong hiatus.  I’ve debated the pros and cons, told myself I have too much on my plate to tackle sewing right now and generally hesitated to jump back in.

But three things convinced me-

-several people asking if I would please reopen

-the fact that I am always sewing anyway so I might as well try to make some money on it

– and, well, money. Spare cash is always acceptable.

Of course I am busy. I have five kids. I homeschool. I work part time for my church and our house is still in process of remodeling.  But I figured if I had a few spare minutes, I would just sew what I had time for, have some fun and not stress about it.

There are some things I learned from the last time I was selling dolls etc.  Most people aren’t going to shell out money for an expensive doll unless its Christmas or some other really special occasion which always made the Christmas season more than a bit overwhelming.  Custom orders and last minute Christmas dolls will have to be minimal.  When I have something to sell, I will post it.    And I am reopening in February- not because it is a great time to sell dolls but to slowly build up a stock of inventory so that when/if a Christmas rush does come, I will be better prepared.

All that to say- I have spent the last couple months trying out some new things. My dolls haven’t changed much- the biggest changes being I finally figured out a way to do 3D noses and I am now using yarn for hair. What’s been really fun is learning how to design stuffed animals.  My old horse will always be a standby but I started in on unicorns and then figured, the skies the limit once you have the basic idea down.

I designed a zebra, an elephant, a sheep, even a dragon!  That led me to develop a new section of my shop- The doll and rider.

My horse and doll combo was always a good seller so I decided to make more combos, just for kicks.  I am selling them as pairs or individually on my shop but I will introduce them here.

My original combo, as I said was a horse and doll.  This is Susannah, my pioneer girl and her horse, Henry.


I love her sweet face and her curly hair which I achieved merely by using the crinkly end of a skein of yarn!

From there I moved on to another animal in the horse family- a zebra named Zeke who naturally needed an African girl named Zara to ride him. 


 

What other horses are there? Why magical ones with horns of course who are best friends with medieval girls named Cecily.  I’m still debating a good Unicorn name. Ursula?


Then it was time to break out of the horse world.  Why not elephants? And since I already had an African girl, it was time to go with Indian.  This is Elliot and Ananda.

Now that I was going with different countries and because I love red hair, I had to do a Scottish lass named Bonnie. I had a hard time thinking of an animal for her to befriend and I’m not entirely sure that riding a ram is feasible but I love my little highland sheep just the same. 

And last but not least, we reenter the magical realm, where sweet Scandinavian girls named Brigitte ride gentle flying dragons named Dexter or Drake.  Which do you prefer?


 I would also like to do a little Chinese girl with a red dragon but I haven’t gotten that far yet. 

Phew! So that’s a start.  I’m hoping to get back to doing a greater variety of just dolls but for now, this is what I have.  

I have been able to collect quite a bit of feedback over these two years and have seen several specimens of these dolls that have really held up well. These dolls may look like delicate China dolls and I know several people who were afraid to purchase them for their younger girls but they really are very sturdy and can withstand a fair amount of abuse. Per the request of several, I am stitching the shoes and underclothing onto the doll so they don’t get lost but the stitches are easily clipped if you want removable shoes etc.  

 Pricing these things is always tricky of course.  Clearly they take me several hours to make, not to mention cost of materials and hope of some profit.  But I always want them to be affordable and don’t like charging friends and family an arm and a leg.  So the prices I have put on them are more of a test price. They may go up or down depending on sales.   And as always, questions and feedback are welcome.  

Here’s a link to my shop just in case. And feel free to share! 

Seven

Well, my little shop is humming along, thanks to all of you who have put in orders over the last several weeks. Life has been so very busy, but I am not quite at the point where I can say I am overwhelmed. Having five kids seems to be a new level of insanity, and I suppose I am stating the obvious here, but babies take a lot of work!
However, because I don’t seem to know where to draw a line, a few weeks ago I entered to win a spot in a very large Etsy Christmas Market in Nashville this December. I was a little panicky about doing it, but wanted to see if I could push my business a bit outside my circle of friends and family.
There were two weeks where I didn’t know if I would make the cut or not, and my mind was going a mile a minute trying to think of ways to increase my stock and make my brand look more professional so the market would be profitable for me. I couldn’t tell if I really wanted to make it or not, or if would even be wise at this point in my life, until I received an email last night saying I didn’t make it. My biggest feeling was one of relief, but it did help me to think about ways that I might someday promote my business in other ways.

In the meantime, I still have orders coming in. For instance-
A college friend of mine very generously decided to give me her all Christmas business- meaning a bulk order of dolls. She gave no specifications as to hair color or dress design, so it was fun coming up with something for her.
She and I were both in the music department in college, and both share a love of musicals. So when she gave me an order for seven dolls for seven nieces, I immediately thought of this.

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Now there are many things that aren’t exactly PC about this musical, not least of which is the opening anthem- “Bless her beautiful hide”- and continuing on to a mass kidnapping of all the town’s eligible women. (It’s all in good fun, right?)

But the scene I was inspired by was this one-

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I have always loved the bright, rainbow-y jewel tones in this scene, with the girls in complementing ginghams. But I didn’t have much gingham on hand, so I just put my dollies in simple jewel toned skirts with black buttoned shoes to match.

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There is something so satisfying about rainbow order.

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I can tell they are already friends.

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I wanted to be able to do a little photo session with them in dancing poses, but they just kept falling over. So here, for your enjoyment, is a little video instead.
http://youtu.be/TygmMPbwfjA

Once upon a time, I had an etsy shop

You may or may not have noticed that posts pertaining to my once flourishing etsy shop have slowed to a trickle. I make no apologies for this state of affairs. In fact, one of things I love about etsy is the ability to slow things down if your life demands it. And my life definitely has demanded it of late. But I haven’t forgotten about my little shop, and I hope to do some updating etc., to try and get things up and running again in time for the holidays.
I have in fact, made some updates already. I toyed around (pun intended) with stuffed animals, as you may remember, but couldn’t seem to get excited enough about it. I just kept going back to dolls, and since they seem to sell much better, I wanted to see if I could make some improvements there instead of branching off into new realms.

One thing I have never been entirely satisfied with is the hair on my dolls. I like the cotton jersey, since it is stretchy and doesn’t come unraveled like yarn can. It is also far less expensive. It takes a lot of yarn to make a doll wig. But the way I have done the jersey wigs makes the hair strands very thick, and I didn’t like the way it looked in the back sometimes. So I went back to the drawing board, and found a few different methods on Pinterest that I wanted to give a try. I had to make some adjustments, since I still didn’t want to use yarn. This is the result.

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There are several things I prefer about this wig. The strands are thinner and look more like real hair, the strands are pulled tight so the raw edges curl under, and it gives me the ability to make bangs, which is fun and gives more variety.

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What I ended up doing was stitching a braided crown around the edge of her head, and then, taking long doubled strands of jersey, I wove them into the braid with a crochet hook.
The downside to this method is that it takes me more time than the other, but I definitely like the finished product better.
I also find that it styles more easily.

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I would love your feedback here. Any opinions would be welcome. It’s hard to get feedback from other sources since, as far as I know, no one else makes doll hair out of jersey!
Here’s a few photos of the other method, just for comparison’s sake.

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Oh, and something else I have been toying around with.
Hats!

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So much fun!

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So let me know what you think!

A fun request

Just a quick little post, since I haven’t blogged about dolls in quite a while.

One of the things I love about my little shop is the ability to do custom jobs for people.  My doll business has been slow, but I do have the occasional order trickling in, and this one was creative.  It was from a lady who is expecting her second daughter.  She asked me to make a big doll and a little doll, as a fun way to announce to her oldest daughter that she was going to be a big sister.

She wanted them to match, but not be identical, and she wanted autumn themed dresses, since both the girl’s birthdays will be in the fall.

This was the first 18 inch doll I have sold.  Exciting!

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And her little sister.

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I love it when people give me a lot of freedom to design the dresses.  I had fun with these leafy, ruffly ones.

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She also requested that I stitch their names on the dresses.  I think she has awfully good taste in names, eh Domekia?

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Yay for sisters!

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