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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Little Legs

"Little legs traveling so fast
A twelve year old going on twenty three
Growing up so fast before my eyes...
Silently breaking her father's heart."
--Poem by Bill Grace

 I've been a bit obsessed by little legs lately.

It all started when my daughter dressed herself, put on fairy wings, and spontaneously climbed onto our coffee table to burst into an extemporaneous song and dance that, frankly, is beyond my own present day abilities.
Standing on the table put my focus on her legs and feet, rather than her face as is usually my focus. As I watched her twirl and whirl and dip, I marveled at all the things little legs are able to do. Not too long ago, she couldn't stand up or dress herself or even lift her head...and look at her now.

How quickly little legs grow up and don't need us anymore.

Think of all the places our little legs will take us in this life...all the marvels we couldn't experience without them. They hike up mountains, dance with a partner, run like heck from a dangerous situation. They support us through good times and bad.

But we don't really appreciate them much, do we? 

Some women don't like their legs because they are too fat, or too thin, or have knobby knees, or ugly toes, or bear the dreaded stretch marks and cellulite. We cover them up with long dresses and high socks and support hose and leggings.  Always hiding.
Others consider their legs their best attribute, and take every chance they can to draw attention to them with mini skirts and fake tans and high heels and short shorts. We all know a gal with beautiful legs.
I realized even in my own doll making, I sort of took legs for granted. They were the part of the doll I "had to do", and sort of rushed through to get to the colorful hair, sweet expressions, and fun outfits.
I started examining the little legs of dolls...some might call them the least important part of a doll, but  now I beg to differ. What is it about little toes and feet and ankles and knees, these pudgy stuffed stalks of strength that, in a well made doll, hold her up or help her sit? Oh, and the bums that they enhance!
I'm loving the unusual legs of my wee Short Story dolls...so sturdy and solid...so colorful and varied...so young and playful...I get a kick out of their over-large feet and the way they look like stylish boots.
But more importantly, I love the places these little legs will go in their adventures with another (albeit a bit larger) little child's legs as they discover the wonder of life together.

And perhaps I needed this reminder that my own legs, although chubby with fat and the color of flesh rather than bright colored and made of wool, need a little more attention and appreciation today.

Maybe I'll put a little lotion on them...get a pedicure...stretch them a bit more carefully...learn to love the current state of their hills and valleys...take them for granted just a little bit less than I did yesterday.

And oh, the adventures we'll share today together, my own little legs and I.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Motherhood, working at home, and regaining the doll...

I used to be a bombshell.
No, that's not me (obviously) that's Marilyn, but honestly, I used to feel like my own version of bombshell, inside.

I was a high school teacher, and every Monday through Friday I would get up with plenty of time to dress in stylish clothes that made me feel beautiful, immaculately make up my face in colors and products I loved, and carefully arrange my salon cut and colored hair. Although quite average in appearance, I relished the daily experience of "getting ready for my day" because, as a married lady who worked with children, I was not dressing for others: I dressed for myself. I was eccentric, I was quirky, and I loved to play in all the tools that a woman has at her fingertips to craft her daily image.

On the weekends I loved ballet and hiking and tennis and long bubble baths and writing poetry and massages, and I did all of it zealously, entirely for my own joie de vivre.

Fast forward to see me four years ago, now the stay at home mother of a small child. I may have also been a writer (three-times published) and a doll maker, but honestly there were many days that I didn't leave the house at all, and often the most I got out was for play dates, trips to the park, and grocery shopping. My hair hadn't been cut or colored in (ahem) months (and months)...I wore absolutely NO makeup...I traded between two pairs of flat, comfortable shoes (one for cold weather, one for warm)...and I basically lived in yoga pats, tshirts, and maxi dresses. 

Sure, when I had a special event or a date with my husband, I still dressed up to the nines, but honestly those moments were few and far between. 

As every mother of a small child knows, you tend to lose your own identity in the consuming task of raising little human beings. All the photos I have of this time period are me hiding behind my daughter, large sunglasses, huge clothes, and bandanas, and I never gave it a second thought:
Totally and completely worth it, but there comes the day when every mother eventually confronts herself in the mirror and says some version of, "What happened? Where did I go?" It might be returning to the work force, or the first day of preschool, or the first day of college, but eventually we all have to redefine ourselves within the context of being "mother".

Waldorf dolls began my own journey of re-discovering myself. At first, I simply admired them as a precious work of art (initially for my children, of course, never myself--HAH!)--but my own artistic aesthetic had been sadly absent, so this was a good start. As I undertook developing my own doll-making craft, I found delight once again in "beautifying" something other than my own home for the family. Now I immersed myself in all the beautiful aspects of creating a doll--from moulding a lovely face and choosing facial colors and expressions, to enjoying the textures and colors of hand spun art yarn hair, to bringing together magical outfits and themes. I mean, how many of us would love to look ethereal like this:
or strong like this:
or magical like this?
(depending upon your own doll aesthetic.)

Then one fateful day my husband took a photo of me holding one of my charming dolls, and I went into shock when I looked at it. I looked, well, AWFUL next to her: hair that needed to be cut (and colored), skin that seemed older and frankly exhausted, ill-fitting shirt and bra with too many stains (that I didn't really like anyway). What in the world? Who WAS this person next to that adorable doll?

I began to make excuses to myself, of course: I looked so wan and tired because I hadn't slept in, well, YEARS, and I was waiting for when I had time to put on makeup to go to the store to find the right moisturizer for those dark circles under my eyes. My clothes looked atrocious because I was waiting for when my kids would be old enough to stop messing up my clothes, so why go shopping and buy more nice clothes that would either get messed up or I'd never wear? And I can't order clothes off the internet, they never fit and the colors are always different from how they look anyway (plus I was waiting to lose the baby weight, of course). Although I'd always preferred myself in short, mod hair, long hair was more sensible for a mom, because who has time to style and get it cut regularly? I'd wait until...


I was living in a perptual state of waiting.

I was nothing like my dolls, I was nothing like the bombshell of my youth. I was fast becoming the woman who is only noticed as a place holder in line, as a person who is in your way.

I decided right then and there to stop waiting and rediscover what I loved about myself, rather than simply exercise my capacity to love others. I needed to regain my inner doll.

First step: I told my husband he was babysitting, and I got my hair cut short and bleached blonde (my own version of art yarn). Now, to play dolly dress up. I threw out all the clothes I hated or didn't fit well, and swore to only wear the clothes I loved and felt pretty in--like dresses and corsets and petticoats. The wardobe change took a few months, but I went from the first photo to the second photo (I lost a bit of weight, but not much...which goes to show what the right hair cut and outfit can do for a gal). Notice my daughter stands next to me now, rather than in front of me:
New hair and clothes that I loved were a start, but not nearly enough. Next, I had to stop daily living in an in between "waiting" pattern. I returned to the daily "getting myself ready" ritual every morning. Don't you find yourself changing your doll's clothes or hair style just for the fun of it? For me, this included daily moisturizing, styling my hair, a few items of makeup (some days just mascara and lipstick, but oh what a difference that makes!), and clothes, shoes and accessories I enjoyed wearing, even if no one would see them but me. One day, this was bright red lipstick. Another day, it was candy cotton pink hair and ridiculously long dangling earrings:
I put the following photo of Marliyn Monroe on my desktop: I think she looks lovely in BOTH photos, but it reminded me that I was creating my own image every morning, and helped me choose consciously what that image would be every day.
This is me today: blue pixie hair, scarf I love, designer leather flats that feel and look divine, and purple lipstick with the topaz studs my husband gave me on our last wedding anniversary. Will anyone be seeing me besides my family? No. My day consists of doing school work with my youngest, working on my current writing project, making doll legs, doing yoga, and writing this blog post. But how do I feel about it?

I feel like myself, like a bombshell of a doll...and what a glorious way it is to feel.

Blessings to you and your own journey...
Once Upon A Doll

Monday, April 13, 2015

And the winner is...


Third Place goes to:
Heather Tobias!
Second Place goes to:
Becky Delgado!
And our GRAND PRIZE winner is: Megan Cannon!
April cannot WAIT to greet you :)
Thanks everyone for entering, and for supporting my little doll shop.

Tangerine and Misty will be listed in my Etsy shop this evening for sale, at a low introductory price of $65 plus shipping.

Once Upon A Doll

Monday, April 6, 2015

Short Story Giveaway

To celebrate the debut of my new Short Story dolls at Once Upon A Doll, I’ve having a GIVEAWAY!

Meet (from left to right in my arms): April, Misty, and Tangerine.

Short Stories are a wee 8 inches tall. Handmade according to traditional Waldorf techniques, their skin is cotton interlock and they are stuffed with clean carded wool. Their tall, slim bodies remind me of tweens more than babies or toddlers, and are really for the older child or adult collector (not appropriate for children who are under 3 or who still put things in their mouths). I much prefer them for creative play to Barbies or Monster's High, don't you? 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 and sit freely.
Ginger-haired Tangerine is fiercely independent, a bit on the wild side, and dreams ginormous dreams:
Sweet-natured April loves mountain meadows and dew dappled Spring mornings as she collects wildflowers:
Grey-eyed Misty is soulful and reflective, choosing the rockier, darker paths that may be more stormy, but contain the most precious gems:
Winner chooses ONE of these wee dollies as the GRAND PRIZE for the Once Upon A Doll Short Story Giveaway for FREE—all the winner needs to do is pay shipping ($10.00 for US shipping, exact shipping for International)

SECOND PLACE prize is an adorable kimono top and bloomers in a hard to find Asian themed Alice in Wonderland fabric, originally made for my larger dolls by Molly’s Playground. This ensemble should fit any 12-13 inch Waldorf doll. Winner needs only pay shipping ($3.50 in US, exact shipping international.)--
THIRD PLACE prize is a sweet pirate themed harajuku top and pants, originally upcycled by Nanerjoy for my larger dolls. This ensemble should fit any 12-13 inch Waldorf doll. Winner needs only pay shipping ($3.50 in US, exact shipping international.)--
The GIVEAWAY starts TODAY Monday April 6 and ends Sunday April 12 at midnight pacific time. Winners will be announced on Monday April 13.

There are THREE ways to enter to win:

1) Become a follower of the Once Upon A Doll BLOG and post a comment under this blog post stating which doll you would choose if you won the Grand Prize (Tangerine, April, or Misty) and why.

2) Like the Once Upon A Doll Facebook page and post one comment stating which doll you would choose if you won the Grand Prize (Tangerine, April, or Misty) under the photo of me holding the three Short Story dolls that is pinned to the top of the FB page.   https://www.facebook.com/OnceUponADoll 

3) After posting under the appropriate FB photo, SHARE this photo with your FB friends. After sharing, please post an additional comment stating that you “shared” for the second entry.

The winner will be chosen randomly and then announced on both the Blog and Facebook page. Winner has 48 hours to claim her/his prize, but if we do not hear from the winner in 48 hours then another winner will be chosen.

Thank you so much for loving Short Stories and Once Upon A Doll!