Welcome! Sit down, peruse these pages, and indulge in the stories my dolls arouse within your imagination...

Once Upon A Doll began with my own love of dolls, especially hand made. My kids and I collect, play with, and love our dolls, and eventually I began to make dolls of my own. Although my dolls are based upon the principles of Waldorf doll making--natural and sustainably harvested materials (like wool stuffing and cotton interlock), hand spun and dyed wool yarns for hair, hand made doll clothes, 100% wool felt for shoes--my dolls cannot be called strictly Waldorf (more Waldorf-esque), as they have definite personalities, larger & more expressive eyes, and playful mouths. Once Upon A Doll features enchanted dolls made in the Waldorf tradition with a storybook theme for that special child in your life or the discriminating collector of handmade dolls.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Iconic Hogwarts Witches Hermoine, Luna, Tonks & Bellatrix

Four little Hogwarts witches, standing in a row:
Tonks of Hufflepuff, Bellatrix of Slytherin, Luna of Ravenclaw, and Hermoine of Gryffindor
Here they are without their Hogwarts robes:
Bellatrix, Hermoine, Tonks, and Luna
Each comes with her own dress and Hogwart's house robe, hand carved wooden wand, preferred magic book, and a sealed entrance letter to Hogwarts.
Nymphadora Tonks comes with her Hogwarts cloak with Hufflepuff colors and House Crest, a purple hand knitted dress and matching bloomers, her own hand carved and stained wooden wand, her sealed entrance letter to Hogwarts, and a leather magical journal closed with a werewolf charm and dangling heart for her beloved, Remus Lupin. Her hand spun art yarn hair is a torrid mix of bright pink, turquoise, and purple with an incredible amount of silver sparkle to it. Two purple star hairclips are also in her hair. Tonks has permanent 100% wool "boots" in hot pink, her favorite color to make her hair as a metamorphmagi.
Luna Lovegood comes with her Hogwarts cloak with Ravenclaw colors and House Crest, a blue hand knitted dress and matching bloomers, her own hand carved and stained wooden wand, her sealed entrance letter to Hogwarts, and an issue of the Quibbler. Her hand spun art yarn hair has red radish beads and sunflowers throughout it, as well as a few star and moon charms. Two blue flower hair clips are also in her hair. Luna has permanent 100% wool "boots" in sunflower yellow.
Hermoine Granger comes with her Hogwarts cloak with Gryffindor colors and House Crest, an antique rose hand knitted dress (the same color as her dress at the Yule Ball in the movie) and matching bloomers, her own hand carved and stained wooden wand, her sealed entrance letter to Hogwarts, and the open book "Hogwarts, a History". Her hand spun art yarn hair has maroon Gryffindor beads and little book charms throughout it, and has been deliberately crafted to recreate Hermoine's characteristic bushy hair (with bangs). Two star hairclips are also in her hair. Hermoine has permanent 100% wool "boots" in Gryffindor maroon.
Bellatrix Lestrange comes with her Hogwarts cloak with Slytherin colors and House Crest, a black hand knitted dress and matching bloomers, her own hand carved and stained wooden wand, her sealed entrance letter to Hogwarts, and a black magic book entitled "Secret of the Darkest Art". Her hand spun art yarn hair has bloodrop red beads and carved skull beads throughout it, and has been deliberately spun to be wild and unruly with black sparkling angelina throughout. Two black hair clips are also in her hair. Bellatrix has permanent 100% wool "boots" in Slytherin green.
Short Story dolls are NOT for small children, but intended for collectors or gentle play by older children. The beads in their hair and accessories are choking hazards.

Luna, Tonks, Hermoine and Bellatrix will be for sale in my Etsy Shop tonight (Monday, July 6th) at 6pm pacific time. If you are interested in purchasing them as a set, please contact me directly via Facebook or Etsy before 6pm. Each wee Hogwarts witch costs $125.00 plus shipping for the doll and all listed accessories.

Can't wait to see you there!
Once Upon a Doll

Friday, June 12, 2015

A few of my favorites...

Yesterday someone asked me if I could find a photo of a previous doll I've made, and looking through the photos took me down memory lane...Although I don't have a favorite doll, really...I can say that I have some favorite photos of dolls I've made.

I thought it would be fun to share some with you (a few have never even been published before.)

The photo of this little gal just captures my heart every time I look at it...everything about the composition of contrasting colors, the way she's seated, and how it looks like she's holding the plate of sushi is simply lovely:
 Sometimes a photo encapsulates the unique spirit of a doll...this one, with the muted background and bright orange and blue contrasts of her outfit, and even the way she's leaning towards us with her little fish, is perfect:
 The colors of this muted photo are divine...and the way we see her tattoos and feel her wildness because of the photo are great:
 I love it when all of the thematic elements can be represented so wholistically in a photo...from the baby dragons, to her cape and elaborately braided hair, this truly feels like the Queen of Dragons...
 The composition of her grays and blues fade stunningly into the wooden backdrop:
 I probably took 50 photos of my Katniss and Peeta set, but I love the way this photo captures Peeta's sweet spirit in contrast to Katniss' fierce protection of him, and they way they were forced to cleave to each other during the games...
 The tilt of the ground, the way her work boots are obvious, her endearing face and "we can do it!" arms... love this!
 My favorite outside shot by far...oh, those blooming colors! Sometimes I love when the composition doesn't place the doll in the middle of the frame...
 The real reason for extreme closeups are in the details: Renesmee's itty bitty vampire fangs, glinting eyes, the pin of her with her vampire parents, and of course the locket her mother gave her...
 Everthing about the soft colors in this are stunning...especially the way it focuses on her lush natural mohair yarn locks...
 My favorite photo I've ever taken of my daughter with a doll...
 I love this collage...sometimes, in order to capture the multifaceted elements of a thematic doll, it's best to reveal it in collage form...
Thanks so much for walking down memory lane with me!

STAY TUNED for my four RTG little Hogwarts witches--Hermoine, Luna, Tonks and Bellatrix--in Short Story form to be posted as soon as they are finished.

Once Upon A Doll

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Only the good die young...

When I was a child, I was a very good little girl.
I did my chores without complaint, honored my parents, loved and protected my siblings, got straight A's in school, went to church every Sunday and most Wednesdays (as well as actively took part in charitable youth organizations). I voluntarily memorized the entire books of Psalms, Proverbs and the gospel of John in junior high and read the entire Bible (both Testaments) 6 times before I graduated from high school. I read the dictionary to prepare for SATs, and my personal goal for myself was to "pray without ceasing" every day (although I never quite worked out the logistics for this one). I even worked a part-time job my junior and senior year to buy my first car.

After graduation, I attended a Christian Bible College (on scholarship), was a missionary in Mexico building houses for the poor, waited to have sex until I married (and I mean REALLY waited--no "everything but" for this good little girl). I wrote curriculum for and taught Children's Church and traveled in a gospel singing group on the weekends, too.
In addition to being good, I was also really nice and (for the most part) quite well liked. My friends were true, my name was clear, my boyfriends were respectable. My parents were proud of me. Life seemed good when you were a good little girl.

As I read over this opening, it sort of shocks me that it's true. I know people can write anything they want, and exaggeration and lying are par for the course on the internet, but I really DID all these things (and more) in my youth in my quest for goodness.

Some of you might be impressed, some might want to vomit, but stay with me...I'm going somewhere important with all of this.
I graduated with honors from college, married my preacher sweetheart in a dream wedding...and it all went to shit.

I'm not going to get into the paticulars of my descent into personal hell...it is a private story that is not only mine to share in such a public forum.

But when I arose from the ashes, from the belly of the whale, from my three days in the tomb, my goodness was dead.

Please don't mistake my meaning--this in no way is a comment on religion, monotheism, or goodness as ends unto themselves, just an honest exploration of my own metamorphosis.

The good little girl died, but I grew up.

When I say goodness died, I mean I stopped "being good". I stopped measuring myself, my accomplishments, and my worth by an outside rulebook (a moral yardstick if you will). I stopped comparing myself to any external ideal of rightness, holiness, beauty, or success. I gave up appearing to be anything other than what I was, instead following the immortal words of Joseph Campbell:

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”

For some growing up is a process, for me it was a revelation. As a little girl, I was used to revelations, so this should come as no surprise really, but like a butterfly is to the caterpillar, so I was after my good little chrysalis shattered.
Caterpillars are sweet, good little creatures...but butterflies are better.

For the most part, being an adult butterfly is glorious...there are high days and low days, but I wouldn't trade a single, honest one for the "good" caterpillar days. Not one.

For me, the good little girl was the foundation that needed to be broken for the "real" me to escape. I'm thankful for those days, as well as the suffering that freed me from them, for they form the context that created "me".

I cherish the chrysalis of my childhood, it's probably why I love dolls so very much today. A doll captures the beautiful innocence of being a little girl, as well as all the burgeoning potential slowly awakening, waiting for its release in womanhood.
A girl's doll is her friend when she has none, a confidant when she has secrets, a partner for adventures, a safe place to lash out and safely confront the darker sides of her inner world, and a reminder of her own precious beingness every day of her becoming.

The good little girl can't last...but the doll is a treasured beacon of all that is wonderful about that passing time, as well as a reminder that the child, the caterpillar, the good little girl is always a part of us. But only a part.

Some of you may be shouting a hearty "amen" to this post, others might still be longing to find their own butterfly, and still others may be painfully breaking forth from your own chrysalis. Pick up that precious doll and give her a hug, for life may be full of pain and suffering (and irritability and monotony), but it is also replete with tea parties and mountains to conquer and people to love.

It's good that the good die young...for on the other side of tutored goodness, comes the truth of your own unique brand of honest deliciousness. I call this embracing the "Yum" of life.

Embrace the Yum!

"We save the world by being alive ourselves."
--Joseph Campbell

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Yarn Doll Hair

I have a penchant for yarn doll hair...
 Short or long, natural or fantasy, I love all the wild possibilities that present themselves when I sit down surrounded by skeins of hand spun art yarn and begin to create a doll's personal mix...
 I love yarns that showcase the original wool texture and luminence in their spinning...I am inspired by brightly contrasted mixes of hand dyed wool yarn...The idea that each strand is the creation of a fellow spinning artist inspires me...
 But most of all, I relish the unusual combinations of these strands of art that present themselves in an entirely unique way, to create a theme for a doll that goes beyond the regular, and into the sublime.
Wefted doll hair is lovely, popular right now, and can be so very natural and "real". But I will always be a handspun yarn lover at heart for my own dolls...it combines the artistry of a spinner with my own, and that is a recipe for pure MAGIC!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Little Lavender

"As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul".
Meet Lavender, a little doll who loves quiet early mornings. Lavender's long, lush hair is a combination of textured wool hand spun art yarns in all the hues of lavender, purple and blue, and may be styled a variety of ways for creative play. She wears white bloomers, a flowered dress, and a hand made lavender bolero for chilly morning walks. (Dress and bloomers made especially for her by Blissality.) 
Her purple "boots" are made of 100% wool felt.
 Lavender's simple expression allows your child to imagine whatever emotion he or she wishes. The wool stuffing warms to your child’s body temperature, making it feel like a real companion to befriend. Her stylish outfit of dress, scarf, and hand knit purple undies is removable. 
Most YOSD clothes or 1/6 doll clothes fit her as well. 
To bring Lavender home, simply go to my ETSY SHOP--she's listed for sale right now.

Once Upon A Doll

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Custom vs Ready to Go Dolls

It's quite a difficult question when buying dolls for both the collector and the doll maker--do I prefer a  custom or a RTG (ready to go) doll?
RTG doll:
Custom doll: 
There's something enchanting about the idea of a custom doll to a collector--commissioning your dream doll to be birthed into reality. With your ideal eye color and skin color...the hair color(s) and combinations of yarn or weft you've been envisioning...recreating the beloved character or theme you've been longing for in your mind's eye.
Custom dream:
 Custom reality:
And it's yours, all yours. No upload madness, no barely missing a doll you love...just the wait, of course. Which can seem QUITE long when you've paid your money and have to wait months to see your marvel materialize. The cost of a custom doll can also be quite daunting, as it tends to be considerably more than a RTG doll.

Of course, the reality may not match up to the fantasy. Sometimes what you wanted just can't be done...or else communication got mixed up in the process...or your own preferences change during the long wait...or the maker's vision was slightly different than your own.

Sometimes a custom doll is perfection...sometimes a near miss...and occasionally just wrong.

For the maker, of course, customs are both the best of times and the worst of times. It's a guaranteed sale and money is paid up front, which for a small business is optimal. It's also wonderful to be a part of the process of fulfilling another's wish, especially if that wish is somewhat in line with your own sensibilities and artistic inclinations. Often during customs a maker discovers another part of herself and the doll making process that she might not have discovered had she been left to her own designs.

But then there are the down sides... misunderstandings as the vision of any person will be altered a bit when channelled through the mind and hands of another...problems getting the proper materials...stifling of the maker's own insight and talent in the goal to achieve the buyer's intention.

And sometimes, even if the custom doll is exactly what the buyer asked for, the reality of what was asked either does not match the mind's image of what could be, or else the buyer sadly realizes that she doesn't really like what she thought she'd like.

Of course, there's always the RTG doll. For the collector, much less money generally, although you might be competing with many others to acquire one adorable doll. Immediately yours if you succeed in getting her, of course, and only a few days shipping away, which is immensely gratifying.
RTG doll:

Most makers relish RTG dolls because from beginning to end they are exactly what the maker wanted to create, from the materials she loves, in her own timing...but sometimes what the maker imagines isn't quite what anyone else loves enough to buy or comes at the wrong time financially, and so a doll painfully sits, unpurchased, unwanted, for all intents and purposes unloved.
RTG doll:
So how to answer the question, custom or RTG?

In my opinion, the ideal custom situation is one in which the collector has preferences rather than definites. And a custom should only be purchased if the extra money is not a burden for the buyer and her family financially. Only commision a custom doll if you trust the doll maker, and have loved other dolls created by her in the past--each maker has a style, and your doll will be within the style and abilities of the doll maker. A custom is a marriage where two create together, and the doll maker is not a robot--she will not be able to reproduce exactly, but instead she will breath life into your idea, which then takes a life of its own and becomes what it wants. Doll making is a very organic process, and just like characters often take a story somewhere other than where the author intended, dolls may have specific eye and hair colors, but they will invairably decide what they ultimately want to be and look like.

The ideal relationship with a RTG doll is love at first sight. When you see that perfect doll, remember that you will never be able to recreate the doll exactly in custom form, for EVERY doll is unique, even if made with the same materials by the same maker. Ideally, keep a slush fund and some good friends to help you attain your new darling, or the moment will surely pass you by, never to return (except perhaps as a resale later). And only buy if you and your child LOVE the doll...not just because the dolls are difficult to attain, or because you missed the one you really adored. I can promise that dolls bought to make up for the one you didn't get won't satisfy.

So are you a custom or a RTG person? Do you prefer creating an ever changing vision together, or do you prefer to try to capture in a moment your perfect doll?

Only you can know...just make sure you know which type you are, and are ready to embrace the fullness of what may happen.