Wednesday, June 9, 2010

how the Moppets began...


i thought i started making dolls about 2 years ago, until my mom reminded me that i've made them for years...paper dolls, bandana dolls, and a soft sculpture doll or two that i gave to my little cousins when i was in junior high. how do i forget things like that? who knows...but 2 years ago, i started in my business with rag dolls.
it began as an amusement for my daughters, but i quickly realized that they could be a way to *green* up my studio. i could use those pounds and pounds of designer scraps leftover from dresses to make little eco-friendly friends. i but i get bored rather easily, and as much fun as those initial rag dolls were to make, there are only so many different ways you can change them up. and i'm the kind of girl who needs a lot of creative variety.
within a few months, i'd begun to remember those little soft sculpture dolls (the kind that came in a kit...fabric body, vinyl head, polyfil...very 1980's, very NOT eco-friendly), and i began to wonder if i could make something like that that WOULD be good for little ones and good for the earth.
now, i have a degree in theology, but a large portion of my time in college was spent studying elementary and early education. (shake your head a little bit more, Anna, an idea is trying to get through). wasn't there something about that in a lecture or two...right next to Montessori? oh, yes, Waldorf! how could i forget??
so, i ran right out ( Etsy) and found myself a copy of this book: Making Dolls by Sunnhild Reinckens. a whole new word opened up for me! this was it!!
now there are a whole, whole lot of talented Waldorf doll makers out there, and i absolutely believe that the world should run like a Waldorf school. but, i am not a Waldorf momma...i've never been able to figure out how to make it work with the life we lead...and that's a little sad to me, but it is what it is.
my kiddos are firmly grounded in "American Girl" dolls and shuttled off to public schools when they are old enough...and i don't think there's a thing in the world wrong with that either!
so, i had this idea to used the methods employed by traditional German dollmakers, but to swanky them up so that my American-consumer children would love them...way way more that their vinyl-made-in-China options.
i searched and re-searched construction methods and found some excellent help on the internet. step-by-step photograph tutorial for head-making by Berrie of Moonchild Studio found here. (i can no longer find the one i initially referenced, but Berrie is an extremely gifted dollmaker, and her tutorial is right on the money.) i tried a couple different methods of hair application, but because i can't count most days and crochet requires counting, i ultimately opted for the sewn on hair...which turned out to be a blessing, too, because, i use such thick yarns so often, a crocheted cap would certainly protest! i used this tutorial over at Crafty Sheep...but added a third layer of hair for volume. i used the instructions from my Making Dolls book to draft a pattern for the sweet little bodies (also good information there on head making...and adding noses).
so, if you are totally in love with the idea of making your own natural, Waldorf-inspired doll, i hope this gets you started. you are always welcome to ask questions...and i'll do my best to answer them, but i'm still learning myself!
next post...links to my favorite doll makers and just what it is about a particular maker's doll that i find so completely appealing. hold on to your seats...there are a bunch of them!