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.

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.

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