The thrifty dollI belong to a Facebook group of dollmakers whose mission is to show our work in progress on our Waldorf dolls, and to join together from time to time to all make the same doll at once and post our questions, tribulations and progress. In another Waldorf doll group, I read a post from a very enthusiastic single mom in New York, who is keen to start making a Waldorf doll, but hasn't the funds to buy the materials right now. It made me think about my worn out wool hand-knitted socks that I wanted to put into the core of my Waldorf doll heads, just to save money and the environment. This month my group has a challenge to make a doll any way we wish, but it must be stuffed with wool. Skin selection optional. The idea came to me to make a doll entirely from thrifted, gifted and recycled materials, which I did. As always, there was a steep learning curve, but I had fun and am happy with the result. In the process of showing my work on the timeline of the group, I learned …
An historically accurate Izannah Walker dollToday I put the finishing touches on the reproduction Izannah Walker doll I have been working on all summer. I bought the workshop instructions from dollmaker extraordinairePaula Walton. She has made a deep study of the methods Izannah used to create her dolls 120 years ago, and shares her knowledge with those who want to follow in Izannah's footsteps. It is by no means easy to duplicate her methods. First you sculpt an original head, then make plaster molds from it, then create the heads by pressing paste soaked cloth into the molds and letting it dry. The rigid cloth halves are then sewn together, stuffed and sewn onto a stuffed body. Many steps. The painting of the heads and faces is a real challenge. My goal was to make my doll look as close as possible to the originals. However, it is really not possible to get them exactly like them. Whoever makes a doll imparts their own style and sensibilities. Unavoidably. But I'm fine with …

Sanity saver

Lockdown was pretty stressful at the beginning, due to the elimination of yoga classes and coffeetime with friends. However, dollmaking kept things on an even keel. Now that we are a little freer, it feels great to be able to choose to do a few things away from home occasionally. Today was a good day for spending in the studio. It has been too hot to stay there for many hours, but the weather has eased up and I was able and willing to devote a whole day to creation.Spending more time online lately, I have been struck by the work of several cloth doll makers. They have inspired me to try some rag dolls, and boy, are they fun! I really can let myself go and make mistakes or try new styles. Here is one inspired by an image I found on Pinterest, a head shot of a doll by Vika Perelman.

Here are some based on instructions for a pattern created and shared by Anwen Sutherland, who makes Humbletoys, utterly charming handmade dolls. She lives in Ontario too! I tried a little Goth styling in the …

Always learning

By chance I noticed that Astrid from The Little Doll House had some new Waldorf doll-making tutorials on Youtube. I took a look and was seized by the need to make a doll using her new method of attaching the doll head to the body. Following her instructions, I made a head that was the perfect size for another doll that I had made a while ago that had jointed hips and a ball jointed head. The head was way too small for the body and I had been meaning to make her another, so this was perfect! I unpicked and dismembered the older doll and figured out how to adapt the neck to Astrid's new method. The result is the cutest doll I have ever made! I also tried a new way to knit a doll sweater, from the side, and I love it. It has a sweet flare at the bottom and is narrow on the shoulders. Perfect. Here she is.  

The basque jacket

I finished the basque jacket and am fairly pleased with it. The outfit now cries out for a hat, so I have been scouring the internet to find one that looks right for the period, which I believe to be later in the 1800's. Something jaunty, but it has to be held on with ribbons. I have something in mind, and will get busy on it soon. 

One of my favourite Waldorf dollmakers, Ildiko Duretz of The Waldorf Doll Shop, listed a workshop using her techniques on Etsy, so I immediately bought it and began to make a doll according to her instructions. She constructs her dolls very differently than I do, so it has been a bit of a struggle for me to follow her directions. The resulting doll is very appealing, though, and I am working on his wardrobe right now.

As you can see, I have taken a break for tea and left him shoeless on one foot. This is just a WIP shot. Glamour photos to come.

Cabin Fever

It has been a long time since I posted here, my apologies. I have been concentrating on dollmaking. Spending more time online than formerly, I was very impressed by how regularly Mimi Kirschner posts on her blog, so I have resolved to do better. Most of my current efforts at social media are with Instagram. So, for a quick overview of what I have been up to, check out my IG account, artsofdelight.

Many kinds of dolls have been gestating/swirling in my brain lately. I decided to try a doll like the kind Susie McMahon makes, with paperclay head and neckplate, jointed neck and cloth stuffed body. My first attempt was not so good. Head and body were wrong for each other.

I took the doll apart and made another body and head, smaller body, bigger head. I put together the smaller head and body and am deciding whether to take apart her extra long feet and resew them smaller.

I also got thinking about dolls with painted heads like Mimi Kirschner made in 2007, and decided to try out tha…

Back to basics

After being engrossed with the Izannah Walker dolls, I have undertaken learning how to make a classic Waldorf doll. I wanted to make a doll that did not take as long to make, or so much material, so that I could price my dolls lower than the dolls that take SO MANY hours to create. I also wanted them to be accessible to young children, not just collectors or older children. After making four, I am still working to get the necks the way I want them, and the firmness of the stuffing is still an issue I need to perfect. There is always something new to learn in dollmaking, and I am glad to do it! The marvelous Fabiola Perez has so much information and advice on her blog that has been very helpful to me. In addition, she has a Patreon site that offers a lot of focused information on making Waldorf-style dolls. I find that making the clothing takes as much time as making the doll. Or more!
Here are my first attempts.

Always an adventure, when you are a dollmaker.