Things are a little topsy turvy around here

Oh hello dear blog that I once upon a time kept up with. I’m afraid that your faster and more convenient social media competitors have relegated you to a back shelf. But I thought I would like to do a post on these most recent dolls of mine.

Having spent most of the summer delving into the world of needle felting and waldorf dolls, I took a little rabbit trail into waldorfs that weren’t needle felted. Easier, less time consuming and more cost effective for my shop, I thought a simpler, more small-child friendly doll would be a good addition.

So I started these. The first one I posted sold in hours, the next two had interested buyers before they were finished. Then I had a few custom requests. The interest was not just in their simplicity and lower price- but in the fact that you get two for the price of one. They are topsy turvy dolls- a pretty vintage idea (and a pretty strange one, I’ll admit) where the doll is in fact, legless and two headed. These strange deformities are, however, well covered by a generous skirt, so that, with a simple flip of the dress, you get two dolls in two costumes.

To make things even more fun, I’ve taken some inspiration from Disney and produced a set of fairy tale topsy-turveys. Cinderella was an obvious first choice- servant on one side, princess on the other.

But what about Sleeping Beauty? Disguised peasant girl wandering the forest discovers that she is really a princess- then ends up being cursed anyways, but gets a lovely crown and princess gown (not to mention a prince) to compensate for her losses. (And yes, I know her dress is blue and gets changed to pink later, but I already had a lot of blue dresses!)

It was easy to jump off from there. Next I tackled a struggling waitress from New Orleans who finds herself in love…wait for it….with a frog-

And then a long-haired, purple-clad, tower dweller who sacrifices her golden locks when need demands, replacing them with a cute brunette bob.

And of course the mermaid who wanted to be where the people are. I had a really hard time figuring out a way to make her fins look convincing. These dolls take a fair amount of creativity. We’re going with these for now with possible improvements in future.

And last but not least, a poor and obscure village beauty who longs for adventure and finds it (and a famous golden dress) right in her own back yard!

You guys- these were so fun to make. And my brain is swimming with other ideas and is more than open to custom suggestions. They are soft and cuddly and very sturdily made and even some of my boys love playing with them (on the sly, of course). I don’t need to tell you that my daughter has claimed every single one as soon as it is done. 😂

They’re all on my shop tonight! Let me know what you think and if you’re interested!

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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!

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!

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