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, March 30, 2015

Major Changes

I know I haven't written in a while, but there have been some major changes in my family's life that have caused me to do some soul-searching and rethinking about Once Upon A Doll. But before I launch into my own story, here is a photo of the last 13 inch doll I made in 2014 (and possibly will ever make--read on), a Christmas Custom Harry Potter:
Harry went to his new home in the Gryffindor school uniform (made especially for him by Molly's Playground), a wand in its handmade wand box, a mug of butter beer, and of course his snowy owl Hegwig.

Now on to my own story...
My husband achieved the job of his dreams at the end of 2014, which prompted a huge move for our family. We had to leave my aging parents (which was harder than even I expected) and my sisters, as well as all our friends and my daughter's school (which she loved) in our home town (my son, however, continues to attend the same university). We left our large gorgeous 4 bedroom home to move to a much smaller two bedroom apartment, so the move was quite intensive as we had to donate, sell, or get rid of over 2/3 of our household since the stuff just wouldn't FIT. All of a sudden STUFF became the enemy, and choosing those few precious items we would keep or had room for became our focus.

We learned a LOT about ourselves in the process of shedding our belongings.

For example, my daughter learned that she wasn't playing with the majority of her toys. It was challenging to let go of toys at first, by by the end she was enthusiastically boxing up over half to give to children who would appreciate and play with them as she had not. She particularly loved personally taking her boxes to the homeless shelter and handing them to the "big man" who would see that these toys went to girls and boys who had little. She also rediscovered the delight in her own belongings which she chose to keep. I've noticed she asks for less "new" things since we've moved, for she knows that since we have less room, she will have to trade the new thing for one of her beloved "old".

My son, who attends university now, had to sift through his room and let go of much of his childhood, only keeping those bits that were precious memories. He has always been a bit of a hoarder (keeping broken things and plastic toys and such), but I was quite impressed to realize his own growth into a young man as he emptied his room in less than a day. College has re-focused his priorities, and I think he enjoyed getting rid of baggage from the past.

I've always purged my things every Spring, but I have become a bit of a collector of dolls and other handmade lovelies...far too many. I've tended to love the larger dolls, but they take up so much space! I too began to winnow my collection, and because the doll resale market is weak right now, I chose to give them to families I knew through our local Waldorf school.

We moved in November, from a suburb in San Diego, to the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu in a tiny town we'd never heard of called "Calabasas". We love it here--full of so much natural beauty, mountains, trees, and hiking. Ten minutes from the beaches of Malibu.

Yet, after all the discarding and packing (and unpacking), I found my priorities shifted.

I simply didn't want to make dolls that take up space. I realized I was ready to design a new doll, one that would fit in a handbag or backpack (or even large pocket) for adventures in the mountains or at the beach...one that was huggable, but didn't require lots of storage room if collected. One that didn't need all sorts of acoutrements for play (like shoes and pants).

I spent several months mulling this over, drafting pattern after pattern, until I finally settled on the doll of my (and my daughter's) present dreams: Short Stories.
Short Stories are a wee a 8 inches tall. Still handmade according to traditional Waldorf techniques, their skin is cotton interlock and they are stuffed with clean carded wool. For now they have yarn hair, but I will eventually be offering weft hair as is the current doll trend. Their tall, slim bodies remind me of tweens more than babies or toddlers, and are really for the older child. I much prefer them for creative play to Barbies or Monster's High, don't you?

Here is a Short Story doll next to one of my 13 inch dolls (the one I made for my daughter a few years ago):
Precious, aren't they?

My favorite thing about Short Stories are their unique legs and feet: made of 100% Wool felt, they look like tall boots and so remove the need for stockings, leggings, or shoes entirely. Plus the stiffer felt enables them to stand freely.

Of course, they sit as well:
This little candy corn haired doll is my Short Story prototype, and a gift for my best friend (who always said she wanted one of my dolls if I ever made a smaller version). But I have three more Short Stories in process right now: one for a FB giveaway to kick off the creation of these little darlings, and two who will be for sale in the near future:
Thanks so much for joining my little doll making journey...I love the way handmade art changes right along with life itself!

Once Upon a Doll