Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Project #3954

Another project? But what about all those unfinished projects? The dollhouse (okay, more un-started than un-finished)? The baskets that you haven't finished? The skirts for the tables and the curtains in your sewing room? Ardyn's scrapbook? Your Pregnancy Scrapbook? Your Altered Journal? The 7-year purple afghan? Ardyn's baby afghan? Your unfinished Bead Kits? The embroidered Drumset Onesie that Ardyn will already be too big for by the time you finish it? The Embroidered Cornucopia towel you got 3/4 finished last Thanksgiving (started after the turkey towel) and haven't touched since? The weavette loom and project book you have never used? The 15 Altoid Tins you have saved so that you can create more of these? I know, I know... but life is nothing without projects! How does one LIVE without a creative or crafty project!? Or two. Or 34.

Well, I guess I just need to make myself a list of projects. Schedule time to do them. Fill up my calendar, then find a babysitter who is willing for each project time slot. Ahh... in a perfect world.

Well, about the new project. Waldorf Dollmaking. What you say? Well, either you know about them, or you don't. It all started with natural family living magazines like Mothering. They are full of crunchy, granola-y, earth-loving, tree-hugging ideas. I believe that once in the past we talked about my shock in discovering that there are such things as washable maxi pads and sea sponge tampons. The funny thing is that as I go back and read that post I have to laugh, because I am now the proud owner of three baby slings and I breastfeed exclusively and I have to admit that I have done research on cloth diapers and that I use washable breast pads. They are getting to me. But I still shave my armpits. LOL. Anyway, back to Waldorf. In the back of Mothering, next to the ads for fuzzibuns and sea sponge tampons, you will find TONS of advertisements for natural toys. Natural wood toys and all organic cotton and wool toys. I was of course intrigued.

One day in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a catalog form Rosie Hippo. I was enthralled. I pored over that thing. I highlighted toys that I wanted Ardyn to play with someday. And I instantly adored the Waldorf dolls. Gnomes and Faeries and Knights and Dwarves. Little Girls and Boy Dolls. Babies. Teething Dolls. Pocket Dolls. You see, when I was a girl, Dolls were my thing. I loved dolls. Cabbage Patch, Baby Alive, Barbie, pretty much any doll. Porcelain, Cloth, Plastic. Dolls were my thing. I had doll clothes, doll bottles, doll strollers, doll beds, doll shoes.... I was all about dolls. And as I got older, I became all about faeries. All about Brian Froud. All about faerie dolls and faerie art. I drew faeries. I drew Gnomes. I drew trolls. I read about faeries. My husband, being huge into art, fantasy, and role-playing (not the bedroom kind) encouraged me. He bought my Froud books as gifts. So, I have always loved dolls and faeries and all sorts of tiny creatures. I loved my little ponies, but my favorites were BABY ponies. When we were recently in Wal-Mart, my husband pointed out the new LITTLE little ponies and I gasped in excitement! I said "I would have been ALL OVER those as a kid." He laughed. He knows about my adoration of all things small. (hence the dollhouse.)

Another thing that is cool about natural toys, is the whole concept of it. I don't mean because they are all organic or all natural wood. That is a plus, but I mean the Waldorf concept. You can read more here, but the idea is that children learn and become individuals when the toys allow them to use their imagination in play. They develop into freethinking, artistic, and moral individuals. The dolls generally have expressionless faces. They are likely poseable. Mainly made of cotton or wool. I know that the natural toys are inspiring to a creative mind like mine.

Even though I am no longer a child, as soon as I see those dolls, my mind starts to roll forward, my imagination takes off. Oh all the things I could DO with those dolls! The things that the gnomes and the faeries would eat! The things they would make! The things they would sit on and the houses they might live in and the places they might go. The other people and creatures they would meet! How the world would look to them! These are things that are instantly set forth in my mind, and I can only imagine what is set forth in the mid of a child.

I could hand my daughter a Sponge Bob Square Pants Doll, where everything is already laid out. He lives in a pineapple under the sea. He flips Burgers. He has a pet snail named Gary. While this is all very entertaining and imaginative, it has already been decided for them. There is no need to conjure up an imaginative place and imaginative activities. They have all been conjured up by someone else. And I am NOT against cartoons, but I want to give my child the opportunity to use her imagination to conjure up her own world, in addition to seeing mainstream cartoons and characters.

When I was small, my aunt was phenomenal at sewing. She made accessories and doll clothes. She made hair ties and TONS of clothing. She made cloth gift bags that looked like giant santa sacks and put all our gifts in them. She made blankets and all sorts of other creative goodies. And she taught me to sew. And I took Home-Ec. And I learned to follow a pattern. And I learned to stitch by hand, and to use a sewing machine. And when she finished her sewing career with some creative burnout, she let me have her Singer Sewing Machine. And years later when a friend of hers was giving away a newer model Singer, she called me and I went and picked it up. I love to sew. I love to create. I love to make stuffed softies. The more of these natural toys that i see, and the more that I see the PRICES of a Waldorf Doll ($40-$110 each) I understand that this is something that i can DO. This is something that I can do as a creative and fun outlet for me, a sense of accomplishment, and this is also something that I can do for my daughter. I can provide her with a unique and adorable world to play in. I can do that. How awesome is that?

So to get started, I have done online research on Waldorf Dolls. I have compiled an electronic portfolio of images and patterns of dolls and softies (things like felted food and animals.) I have researched the best starter kits to make my first things, and the best books and DVD's to teach myself how to make my own. I started off by buying a Waldorf Doll-Making Book, and a Waldorf DVD that is HIGHLY reviewed. And a fairy pagoda pattern and supplies in a kit, and a fairy petal dollmaking kit with book and materials. I hope to start small and grow into making Waldorf Dolls for my children. I was so excited when I found a breastfeeding Waldorf Doll online. You can buy her with her baby for $70. Or I could make her! They make a tiny sling that the mommy doll wears, and the baby goes in the sling. They also use snaps to demonstrate the breastfeeding relationship between mom and babe. The mom has the half of the snap that looks like a nipple, and they sew two of them to her chest like nipples. The baby has the other end of the snap sewn as her mouth, and she can "latch on" to the momma doll when you lift up her shirt. I know that sounds SO crunchy but I am okay with that.

I don't want my daughter to be taught about breastfeeding as I was. I was lead to believe that women who breastfed were strange and that feeding your baby that way was creepy or unnatural. I don't think it was an intentional thing, because my mom wasn't taught any differently. But I don't think I knew that there was any other way to feed a baby until I was babysitting as a teenager for a mom who breastfed. I don't want my daughter to lean about breastfeeding as an adult. I want her to view it as a natural part of life, and of HER life. I want her to know that mom wore her in a sling and breastfed her. I'm okay with that.

So, now you know about waldorf, if you didn't already.

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