I have just updated the workshop page and if you are interested in learning new skills, hop over there and see what’s on offer.
This year I plan to learn new skills myself – I have a few dreams of far-away workshops, but will likely focus on some closer to home. On my list, I put learning to hula hop, slackline, temper chocolate to make truffles and re-learn how to make a teddy bear (I made one in grade nine and still have the patterns for that bear). My husband and son are teaching themselves to juggle and I have picked up the balls and tossed them in the air – but I have a long, long way to go to be where they are at.
My huge bear Trixi and myself when I was 8 or 9. I’ve always loved my bears.
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.
There is a new hard drive on my desk. YEAH!, finally a chance to process some images from this summer. I got up at 4 am yesterday (not as planned) and started to sort and adjust. Instead of waiting for perfection, here are the first few.
How about starting off with pictures of some of our outings, wonderfully inspirational.
We played games of days gone bye, talked to costumed people, ate a picnic lunch and romped around all day.
Huxley also started riding lessons which culimated in his riding day camp at the end of August. The barn is in Brighton, a mere 1 1/2 hr drive away from Toronto (yikes), however, it is completelty worth it as not only do his grandparents live in town, Sensei Maryann, his riding teacher is absolutely wonderful. She has an intutitive way with teaching children, and her horses are wonderful and very, very well treated.
This week I'm making pre-felt and rolling doll heads, as well as preparing holiday-inspired felting workshops (stop back soon for details. Then there are the tomatoes that need to be put by to keep the elderberry jam, the crabapple jelly and the pickles company.
These images – the second batch of our wonderful March break week, was meant to be posted a few weeks back. Yet looking at the pix and processing them for this here blog made me realize how seasonally appropriate they are.
At the farm of my friends co-worker and friend in Mount Albert, Ontario.
Angora Goats and kids (2 days old), sheep (sorry I forgot the exact breed), wonderful medley of different breeds of chickens and their gorgeous eggs, lambs – a bit early this year, papa-sheep before and after his shearing, Huxley and the youngest daughter of the farm with a lamb.
I did not notice how beautifully subtle and harmounious the colours of the animals where with the landscape until I started to process the images.
Easter is such a wonderful festival to celebrate the re-awakening of life in nature! This has been the greenest celebration I have experienced in my almost 25 years here in Toronto. It is wonderful. I hope you have a chance to go for a walk outside and fill yourself up with reawakening life.
… finally some pictures of the first part of our March break outing as promised. We went north in the search of snow. We found some, although not the copious amounts what we had hopped for. Living within the seasons has been very challenging when the seasons don't play along.
I take our winter books up from their storage downstairs at the beginning of December, together with the Christmas and Solstice books. After the holidays, usually January 7 when we put the Christmas tree away, all, except the Winterbooks go back downstairs. At the same time we also turn our nature table into a winter scene. This year we had used both shelves on the little sidetable that we use for a nature table – upstairs was King Winter in his winter wonderland, on the bottom shelf Huxley put Mother Earth and her children by creating a wonderful cave for them.
Here is where it becomes challenging. Waiting for winter, for snow, for activities as they happen in the books that talk about winter. I think it is high-time that some books are written that show our winters as they are and also suggest some activities to do without snow. I have a gander that we will have more irregular weather like this ahead of us (smile).
To try to find some winter, we planned to visit my dear friend Mary and her family in the north (from us it's about 2.5hrs due north) in Bracebridge, Ontario. We stayed there for a few days and had lots of fun. Here some pictures to share.
Bleached leaves – wonderful colours and gorgeous shapes.
Cadmun, the family german sheppard, black lab mix. She celebrated her 1st birthday while we visited.
Marys' youngest – full steam ahead!
The path behind Mary's house – this is the snow we found and glorious it was.
Mary with two of her three Children, Pauline (who teaches at the same school as Mary) with her children.
Funghi growth on a dead tree trunk.
On the second day of our visit it was so warm outside that the children played on the deck with only their shirtsleeves on.