The year-end festivities provided me with some much needed relaxation from the nutty season of winter fairs and craft shows, custom dolls and cookie baking for our clients. I have not listed 2016 workshops. There are some new ones: learn to make a ruffled felt scarf or felting with long locks. But I am also offering some well-loved repeats. If you have already done a workshop with me, you are welcome to book the same workshop again and make a project of your own with my guidance – let’s say you took the bag making workshop, you can book that workshop and this time make a bag that is more involved – with additional features. Each felting workshop is for only 4 students – this allows me to give you extra close attention and help you to realize your felting goal.
I am planning to offer some other workshops for later in the spring – dyeing, expandable felt and carved felt – if you would be interested in one of those, please drop me a line.
The latest 11 Doctor doll – made for a client in Australia in August 2015
I am currently spending time at the studio setting up my supplies into more of a store-like setting. I am planning on keeping “store hours” for a couple times a week starting in mid/late February – stay tuned for further notice. Keep your eyes open for an official opening notice that I will post.
Interested in staying in touch? “like” my facebook pages (both my Monika Aebischer and The Olive Sparrow) and add them to your favourites, subscribe here on the website and you will receive occasional updates. You can also find me on “TheOliveSparrow”.
Happy creating – I am really excited about all 2016 will bring. It will be a pleasure to teach so many of you to realize your creative dreams.
I had a fun project to create a 11th Doctor doll from the TV Show Dr. Who for a client that purchased one of my custom spots through the Etsy shop.
All the patterns for my dolls are my own. I work on creating proportions that are visually appealing to me. Creating the pattern for the Dr. meant that I would have to create a brand-spanking new pattern – a man-doll. Although I could have used my regular pattern and put it into a simple version of the 11th Dr. clothes, I wanted something a bit different and new.
Looking at a picture of the 11th Doctor makes it clear that the actor has very long legs, a somewhat large head and beautiful sparkly blue-green eyes. His hair is always a bit messy and he’s a fine dresser!
His body features a manly chest and shoulders. His legs are quite thin and, well, leggy. For his face I created more adult proportions than in my regular dolls – I look that I’m planning to repeat in the near future with some other dolls that I think will want to be created.
Sewing the clothes made me tap into sewing skills that I had not used in almost 20 years. Back then, I used to work for the buyers of a fabric store chain and I sewed virtually everything I wore: Faux-fur winter coat, stretch velvet leggins, drop-waist rayon flower print dresses, blouses, trousers, skirts and a wedding dress, including a boned top with 20 yards of skirt fabric for an evening ball (I got to participate in a group opening dance). I have sewn a few things in the past two decades, but nothing terribly challenging (except perhaps my real wedding dress). I’m now reacquainted with the buttonhole feature on my sewing machine, the sewing of lined men’s jackets and shirts with real buttonholes.
I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed creating him and having the photo session.
It is because of my very strong convictions of the benefits of a Waldorf-inspired doll for a child that I make them. Much has been written about these benefits and I do not feel that I need to restate it in my own words. A starting place to read.
My contributions to a child through my dolls are that I ensure I use the best workmanship and quality of material possible so that a child can experience what it is to own something for a long time that will not break and fall apart – something all to common with store-bought dolls made in foreign lands. An Olive Sparrow child is pricey, as it contains many, many hours of my time to create it. It is not intended to become just one of a bunch of dolls, yet to be a special friend and companion to a child. Their relationship will grow and change as the child matures.
French seam on tunic.
I sew each dolls clothes with care and pride so that the seams will withstand many hours of play. Small clumsy hands taking them off and pulling them back on. I think of the play value of every element of my dolls. Can an outfit be recombined to look differently? Can it be made reversible, so it looks different depending on the child’s mood? The laces in the shoes are sewn in the middle back of the shoe so that they don’t fall out the first time little hands try to undo them. Some of the smaller dolls come with bare feet, as little shoes would only get lost (but they of course can be requested). I use snaps instead of velcro so that little hands learn an extra skill (and because I still have nightmares of the sound it made when I was changing my sons diapers in the middle of the night) – and velcro can also get tangled up in a doll’s hair.
A little hand made by my hands
As a trained artist, visual impact and beauty is what my eyes lead my hands to create. I strive for harmony, because I believe that when we learn to see as a child, we will step through life with an open heart and an ability to see beauty even when surrounded by difficulties. Beauty generates hope. I was blessed with a father that taught me to see the beauty in flowers and the landscape around us. Although he only had a grade 5 education and was a factory worker all his life, he had a gift for photography, for composing his subjects – had he been born into a wealthy family, instead of one with 10 siblings, he would have surely been able to capitalize on his gifts. I hope that I might help guide the eyes of your child through my work.
Living in Canada, forging my life by the labour of my hands, means that I need to charge a living wage for my work. My youngest client was a 7 year old girl who had fallen in love with my dolls. Through her mother’s help she started making small needle-felted angel ornaments that she sold at a couple local craft shows and earned her own money to buy one of the dolls. She is now making outfits for the doll and is so proud of herself. I can only imagine what this sense of achievement at such a young age will do for her future believe in herself!
I understand that it is not possible for everyone to purchase a doll from me, especially if a family has more than one child. I also believe that the most wonderful doll is made by a mothers’ hand for her own child. This is why I love teaching doll making workshops. Although my own dolls are made by highly developed and designed patterns, I do teach a simpler version of the doll that will be of equivalent beauty to mine. The workshops are always a wonderful sharing experience and all the dolls a treasure to keep in a family for years to come. The doll workshops take a significant amount of my time – there is planning, preparing, organizing, involved that goes beyond what a student sees during the workshop. The cost of the workshop is about the amount of a doll, however, once you have the skills, you can make multiple dolls. I keep the number of students low to ensure that all the dolls satisfy my students.
Purchasing a ready-made doll, commissioning a special one from me or making one yourself, are different ways to bring beauty into your families life.
Keagan was the second last custom doll for 2012. Instead of nattering on about him and all the adventures he will have, I'll just let the pictures of him speak…
I took the following picture to show some of the textures in Keagans' outfit. When I design a doll, I always ensure that a child will have many different types of natural textures to feel. Here we have very soft felted angora wool, merino wool, soft but a bit less so, linen fabric, buttons, boiled wool, the twists of the shoe cord. The blue of the shoes is fabric taken from woolen tights the that "J" (who will be living with Keagan) wore to bits when she was smaller.
Keagan will also be living as the brother to a doll I made a few years back. His hair is custom dyed and matches the other doll's hair in tone, although not in texture, as she has straight hair.
I love making boy dolls so much. They can fly and are full of beans!