Workshops – 2016

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.

Workshop Dates

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.

What are you hoping to learn this year?

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.


Doll Making Workshop – Toronto – February 2013

Waldorf Doll-Making Workshop


I am very excited to announce a doll-making workshop at my studio. I will be teaching a small group of maximum 8 people.

Description: Spend twi days learning to make a wonderful Waldorf inspired doll. Using a doll body pre-sewn by Monika from a traditional Waldorf Doll pattern, you will create a doll that will be its own character. Dress patterns will be part of your hand-out, so that you might sew lovely outfits for your dolls at home.

You can choose the hair, skin tone, eye and lip colour.

Skills required: basic hand-sewing knowledge. Optional: basic crochet (there are wig alternatives that involve sewing instead of crochet).

Cost: $200 (Incl. HST)/person (max 8 people) (14+ hours instruction time)
(Includes all materials for doll: pre-sewn body and head cover skin, pattern for doll body, wool stuffing, dress patterns, thread matching skin colours, choice of doll hair, long or mohair).

Please bring your own sewing scissors, measuring tape, pins, a note-pad and pen.

There is also a 3-day workshop option where you will learn to sew the body and sew an outfit, including shoes.

For the 3-Day option (spread over 2 additional Friday evenings) please add:
Friday February 8th from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, and Friday February 22. from 6:00pm – 10:00 pm

Please bring your own sewing machine (must be able to do zig-zag stitch), fabric scissors, notebook, pencil, measuring tape, pins
Skills required: ability to thread a needle and sew basic stitches, optional: basic crochet stitches, knitting skills and using sewing machine.

Cost: $240 (incl HST) (7hrs/day, total 21+ hours instruction time)

(Includes all materials for doll – body and head cover skin, pattern for doll body, dress patterns, wool stuffing, thread matching skin colours, choice of doll hair, long or mohair) you will be asked to bring fabric for clothes.

Dates: Saturday February 9 and Sunday February 10th. 10:00am – 6:00pm (for the 2-day option)

For the 3-Day option (spread over 2 additional Friday evenings) please add:
Friday February 8th from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, and Friday February 22. from 6:00pm – 10:00 pm

To sign up, please e-mail me with your contact information and choice of 2 or 3-day option:

If you would love to participate, but these dates just don't work for you, please send me a note so that you can be notified of future workshops. If weekends are never an option for you, please let me know as well – I can host a workshop anytime if we have enough students – in and out of Toronto.