The Story of “Rosemary” and Violet – my youngest client and her doll

Last December I had the pleasure of meeting a very, very special seven year old girl at one of my Winterfairs at the local downtown Toronto Waldorf Academy. For this article and to preserve her privacy, I will refer to her as Rosemary.

Rosemary is a budding creatrice herself – making wonderful little needle-felted angels that she sells at craft markets – of course with the help of her lovely mother.

Rosemary saw my dolls at one of here friends (the little girl that got Keagan for Christmas) and really wished for one herself. As she had been saving her money earned at the craft fairs, she almost had enough to purchase a special Olive Sparrow doll for herself. We talked about ordering a doll that would be her little sister, looking like her, yet of course beeing different. We also talked about making payments, versus saving her money first before she made the decision, making a deposit for a custom doll spot, clothing ideas, hair, skin and eye choices. Rosemary was so sweet and did the very wise thing of telling me that she would think about everything and letting me know if she was ready to get the doll. She also told me that she had one more craft fair, and would know after if she had enough money for the doll. As Rosemary and her mom live just up the street from my studio, we agreed that if she decided to go ahead with a doll, I would work very hard to make it for her in time for Christmas.

A week later, Rosemary herself called me to ask if she could come by the studio to put down a deposit (her mom afterwards told me that this was the only thing she was confused about – she thought that a deposit would mean the doll would be more expensive). When Rosemary and her mom visited my studio, we choose options for clothes, hair colours and knew that the dolls eyes would have to be the deep, deep brown that Rosemary has.

I worked many late nights leading up to Christmas, and a day before Christmas Eve Rosemary and her mom came to our home to pick up the doll.


Violet – 38 cm custom doll


Violet – full of giggles and sillies

Early in the new year, Rosemary called me to tell me all about the doll, which had told her had the secret middle name of Violet, and how the two of them were going everywhere together. I had never had the chance to have a dolly talk with one of my little clients and was moved of how the dolls impact a little girls world. Rosemary also told me that she had a little bit more money and wanted to come by the studio to purchase another outfit for Violet.

At this point, I should probably share with you that I name my dolls, but always tell my clients that each doll has a secret middle name that it only tells to the person with whom the doll comes to live.

When Rosemary was at the studio, she saw an outfit that was more expensive than what she could afford. We talked about her options and she did become a little bit upset (as any 7 year old would), that she didn’t have enough money for all the items she wanted. I told her that I would put the extra pair of pants aside for her – whenever she had the money to call me and they would be here for her.

Last week she came by the studio with a her mom and a friend to purchase the pants. She showed me a beautiful little bag she had made for Violet and a needlefelted guinea pig that fit inside the bag. I am smitten with Rosmary and think she will become an amazing woman when she is all grown up. Having a wonderful, rambunctious son in my life, yet having the chance to meet the young girls that play with my dolls fills my heart and soul!


“Rosemary” with Violet her doll she paid for with her own money.

The Benefits of a Waldorf-Inspired Doll

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 – 48 cm tall and so sweet

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!


Custom Doll Spots for 2013

I have had a lot of requests for custom dolls in the past, due to my schedule, that was not possible on a regular basis. I have made custom dolls, but generally only for local customers. 

For 2012, however, I have decided to offer 4 custom dolls per month that can be shipped anywhere. If you are interested in getting a very special Olive Sparrow child to join your family, here is the link to my my Etsy Store. I have listed 11 spots:

3 spots for shipment date 1st week of February

4 spots for shipment date 1st week of April

4 spots for shipment date 1st week of May

If you don't see the size of doll you would like, please e-mail me and I will post an adjusted listing for you. 

This will be really exciting… 

Here a little glimpse of a custom doll that I made for a repeat customer for her daughters 5th Birthday a few days ago.


This is Tikka, a 38 cm tall Olive Sparrow Doll with traditional mohair hair. The mushroom on her bag (and on one sole of her shoes) is free-hand machine embroidered. Her sweet pants have little tiny mushrooms on it too. Her booties are the softest angora felted wool.







One-Day Studio Sale With Undine Jewellery

This is the last public event before the end of the year. 

If you haven't had a chance to come see me, perhaps this Sunday will work for you. 

Rima and I would love to see you!



See you on Sunday! This will also be another chance for you to enter the contest to win "Mimi".

I know that my dolls are not attainable for everybody that visits and gives me such lovely words for my work – I wanted to give something back.

Here is quick image of "Mimi". 


The contest will close on December 16. 2012, the day of my last show this year.