Posted on

Waldorf Toys and the the free play fun over the holidays…

I love to see my children use their beautiful imagination while playing with free play toys and games. I enjoy watching the brilliant process of free-thought and spark cross their faces as they learn to think and be creative.
I want my children to be active in their play!
I want my children to learn through play.
I want to feel confidant that they are happy and engaged.

I also love to give these type of toys to other children and introduce the idea of simple and creative toys to others. I find that parents are very receptive to toys that promote independent thought and NO batteries. Give the gift of exploration and creativity this year!

Here are my top five Waldorf Holiday toys to give over the holidays and for birthdays:

Waldorf Dolls: ( simply beautiful and fosters creative play)
Found Here.

Play silks (Gorgeous!Anything! A Cape! A river! A tent! Clothing!)
Found Here.

Waldorf Wood figures (thoughtful and free play fun! Make up stories! Dream!)
Found Here.

Posted on

Friday Interview with ViltalaKim

Today we get to meet Kim from viltalakim. She is a brand new member and I think you’ll enjoy getting to meet our new thread sister from the Netherlands.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?

I am Kim, aged 33, happily married, I have 2 girls(5 and 7) and live in The Netherlands.
I have a job as a florist teacher and my pupils are 14- 17 years old. It’s a nice job to do, but to relax, I love (and need) to make felt.
Ever since I was a little girl I was always crafty, making things, creating, origami, little knitting, little simple sewing, little crocheting, working with beads, etc. My other passion at that time was classical ballet, which I tried to do at professional level. But unfortunately my body didn’t have the right shape for that…. So I started an education to become a florist teacher. After working in a flowershop and making flower arrangements for 10 years I looked for a job as a teacher. During a Summer vacation in Sweden my friend introduced me in to the world of wet felting. I was immediately hooked to it!!!! At home I tried a lot by myself but also followed special felting workshops.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your shop? What else do you make or sell?

The main thing I make and sell in my store are wet felted crowns, animals and shawls. I have plans to make some more children mittens and hats as well. At the moment I have made some Christmas trees and I love to experiment a lot.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from my children, nature and my surroundings. I often dream about an item how to make it. When I start making it ,it will be just the way I thought it would be. I also work very intuitive. I use colors that fit to the season.
What are your favorite materials?
Woolroving fibers of course! I have Gotland wool and Merino wool which I love to use because it’s so soft and felts perfect. To make felt I also need soap and my favorite is 100% pure olive soap. It is gentle to my hands and smells good.

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Just do it! I have doubted for about a year now, before I opened an etsy shop, but I should have done it sooner. It’s great fun, sending my items all over the world! And filling a shop is not that difficult.
My tip to beginners in Wet-felting: make samplers with different kinds of wool, so you’ll now how much shrinkage that wool has, otherwise your item will be to small or stay to big. When you place layers of wool fibers, make them evenly thick. The thinner laid out, the more shrinkage.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Wh
ere else can we find you?

My shop is

I have not yet made my own website or blog, maybe in the future……..
Shopname = Vilt Г la Kim. Vilt means felt in Dutch.

Thanks so much Kim! Next week meet my new co-writer for the Friday blog, huesofnature!
’til then, take care! Cynthia

Posted on

Versatile Playsilks

Playsilks are simple. So simple in fact that many adults balk at the idea of a toy that does nothing. Toddlers, however, revel in such toys! When people ask what to *do* with a playsilk, I always answer ~ give one to a child and you’ll see.Playsilks come in an endless variety of sizes and colours. No one is better than any other~ they all work in the hands of a child. You may want to choose your size and style based upon your space, planned uses (ie quiet play in the car vs. nature table backdrop or playstand canopy), and child(ren)’s age. Solid or mandala? Rainbow? You decide! At our house we prefer solids for imaginative play and multi-colours for dressup.The Natural Kids Team has a number of seller’s making or making use of gorgeous silkies. Be sure to search “Naturalkids Team” on Etsy for great finds! (Suggested keywords: playsilk, silkies, playsilks, waldorf, natural…)This article is revised from my blog, written on a dreary winter’s day when my daughter (then 2.5) and I were looking for some physical activity to beat the winter blues.I thought I would pass these along for the adults out there who may be looking for something to help them get into silkie play, or for some fresh ideas to get in some extra activity before spring releases us all to the outdoors!We had four of different colours, we could have done all this with one or two, too!1) Practice colours. Lay out various coloured silkies around the room. Child stands at center and runs to the colour you call. Add some more activity by having them jump on it, spin around with it, whatever!2) Practice counting. Lay silkies on the floor and have child step on them like ladder rungs, counting as they go.3) Literacy?! Our local literacy worker has told us that one of the big concepts children lack when they reach kindergarten is a sense of position/ relations. On top, beneath, beside, along, between… Use a silkie and practice! Put it on your child’s head ~ they are under the silkie, the silkie is on top of them. Have them place it in various relations to their body, or yours (put it behind mommy). Up, down, away, left, right…4) Throw and Catch. Bundle one silkie into a ball and knot a second around it and you have a lightweight indoor-safe ball with a handy tail to help novice catchers and throwers feel successful.5) Jumping and other Gross Motor Skills. Jump over the silkie river, walk along its bank (balance), crawl under a silkie thrown into the air, spin around with one in each hand, step over and crawl under one held up like a limbo stick.6) Fine Motor Skills. Weave two silkies together. Stuff them into a cup. Lay them down in a straight line.7) Imagination. Rowan wore her extra silkies as hat and snowsuit while we played. We hid one another and popped out to scare each other (she is at the stage where this is big fun!). She pretended to be a kitty curling up on a kitty bed. She made her big girl bed all up and climbed in to ‘sleep’.8) Rhythm and Body Awareness. We finished with dancing with our silkies~ feeling the music, moving our arms and legs in various patterns (flapping wings, waving in the sky, tiptoeing).Exercise for body, mind and spirit.All in about 30 minutes.Using only a couple 35 x 35″ squares of silk.It doesn’t get much better than this!Put a silkie in the hands of your child and watch the magic happen!Lori Campbell(, September 8, 2008.

Posted on

Friday Interview with Beneath the Rowan Tree

Today’s interview is with the NaturalKids team member, Beneath the Rowan Tree. Rowan’s lovely silks and toys are all hand dyed and hand painted and she has a wonderful eye for color. Come meet her….

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
I always felt like the ugly duckling in my family! Thank goodness my grandmother was naturally crafty and saw the spark in me~ this forged a deep relationship between us and strong connection in a family of non-crafty types.
I have always loved to make things with my hands and to give them to others. Over the years I taught myself numerous crafts: knitting, cross stitching, sewing, scrapbooking and quilting to name a few.
With quilting my love of color and texture really began to blossom. For me the best part about quilting was wandering through the fabric store without a plan, just heaping on bolts of fabric until a vision emerged.
After my daughter was born, I dove into dyeing and painting clothing out of frustration about clothing available for kids. It turns out I *could* paint~ which was a real shock! Dyeing satisfies the need for color and adds the element of surprise and chaos which keeps me centered and reminds me that beauty emerges when we don’t try to control every outcome!
Most recently, drawn by the gorgeous colors and textures of fibers, I began needle felting and I am hooked~ it just resonates with me and draws together all of the satisfying and challenging aspects of craft and has pushed me along towards seeing myself as an artist.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
My core product has been my hand dyed and painted clothing for babies and toddlers, although with the holidays approaching and my mercurial interests, I am working much more on my natural toy offerings: wood, wool and lots of silk.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
I tend to be self-taught and a real grazer~ gathering tidbits of information here and there and generally running off half informed to work it out myself. I appreciate the needle felting forums and community for direction, challenge and inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere, my child, the skies (every skyline calls out for a flat felted landscape these days!), the seasons. I try to remain open (and keep notes). Since my crafting business is my ‘sideline’ to my full time vocation/ work I allow myself the freedom to follow my whims and do what I like.

What are your favorite materials?
Wool and silk. So pretty, so versatile, so dyeable!

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
If you are dyeing, use quality chemicals, practice safety precautions, keep a clean work space and dye everything and anything you can to learn about color and fabric and results. Expect surprises. Be bold. You can always re-dye something, until you hit black, and then you bleach! Just kidding!

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

Posted on

Instructions Not Included Part 2

Two weeks ago I began this blog topic. It is such a powerful idea to me, that children should be allowed to play without parental direction or instruction, that I decided to do the article in two parts. I am focusing on only one of the ways parents can step back and let their children do what they do best and naturally: play. That is, to provide them with toys they can figure out, which are open-ended, meaning the child can use her or his own imagination to complete the toy. It is difficult for some parents to understand this concept and choose a natural toy when they are bombarded by advertising from so many big “name” brands. In the first part of “Instructions Not Included,” I gave several examples from my fellow artisans from Etsy’s Naturalkids Team. I’d like to invite new readers to start with my last post. In this current post, I will continue to offer suggestions in this area with additional links.

Here’s something to consider:I read somewhere that invention is not necessarily creating something new with a purpose, but giving a new purpose and way of using to an existing item. Take the item pictured above from Fairiesnest. Yes it is a wand…or is it? If so, is it for a wizard, a fairy a princess? The answers to these questions will be completed by the child. What new way of using this timeless toy will be invented, what enchanting scenarios may be created? And since it is not licensed or branded by a multinational corporate identity, the possibilities are truly endless.

“Waldorf dolls, such as those made by Bellawinter,
Germandolls or
Woodcreations’….convey little expression. Like the “Mona Lisa,” they are enigmatic and allow the child to decide their emotional state.

In imaginary play, this aspect of allowing the child to complete the toy by deciding if the baby is sleepy or awake, sad or exuberant, not only exercises the child’s imagination, but may also be therapeutic, allowing the child to work through emotional struggles. When Eva was 2, she slipped off the step in our pool. One second later, I lifted her out. This upset her nonetheless. The next day, she had her baby in the bathtub and was teaching it to swim. Clearly she was working out her feelings about water. Mommy’s only job was to wring the toy out later and allow it to dry!

Here is a gnome by Oritdotan. Who is he? Where did he come from? Is that a shell really a cauldron with stew? This playset does not offer any solutions to these riddle. Instead, it offers endless possibilities for the child to imagine.

Beneaththerowantree‘s gnome is quite different…almost a beehive…is he friendly or shy, abiding or mischievous? The child can decide what adventures to send him on, what his future in their present will be.

And who are the gnome’s or the doll’s friends?
Perhaps a needle felted bird, by Thesingingbird

…or some tiny hedgehogs…by Purplemoonfibers.

How about a snail from Woodmouse?


…or Freedomrainbow’s custom order cat…

Is it a really a cat or a woolly forest creature or someone from another universe. this is for the child to decide.

The conversations and adventures these creatures could have with each other are endless, because they come free of history, branding or any other known fact.

There are so many examples I could give from my colleagues on’s Naturalkids Team. But I hope these few examples will give readers a taste of the endless play their children could delight in with toys made from natural materials as they project their fantasies onto them. Like Cozycottage’s strawberries, the sweetness is there, ready to be enjoyed by all the senses, and it begins with the imagination.

In my next blog, we’ll explore another aspect of the playroom. Til then, be well.

By Rebecca Varon-Remstein

Posted on

Instructions Not Included

I’ll never forget one day at a neighborhood playground about two years ago, when I was sitting on the sidelines watching Eva, now four, play in the sand. Next to me was a woman who was on her hands and knees in the sand telling her two-year-old how to play with his toy. It was a complicated sort of gizmo the use for which, only the mother, evidently could decipher. It begged several questions in my mind; Who’s toy was it, really? How necessary was it to get using it correctly right? Was there really only one way to play with this toy.

I’ve said it before in my blogs, but every time I look around, I see how deep the truth of this idea of Rudolph Steiner’s is…that the child should be able in some way to complete the toy; it needs to be open ended. (Eva, pictured here, dresses herself and two of the needle felted dolls I made for her in silk. She has cast herself and the others in a “puppet” show.) Eva wears her play silk, or “Rainbow” as she refers to them, as a “wedding dress.” But her silks have become baby slings, rainbows, flags, vaccuums, ropes, etc…

There is no correct way to play with these; no end to what this simple square of color can become, such as with Birchleafedesigns‘s play silks shown
here. These are not only beautiful but processed with low-impact dye, making them and most of the other items featured environmentally friendly.

I’d like to explore the ways in which toys can be simple and open ended, using images from my Naturalkids Team colleagues for examples. With Winsomehollow’s endearing gnome play set, there are no rules. There is no “branded” personality for him…or her. The little island can be anywhere the child chooses. His or her story will be new and original.

Although Woolcomesalive’s toy set, pictured here is described on her site as a barn with sheep and bails, all of those pieces can have new identities in the mind of the child. For, they are not so specifically formed and have no back story created by marketing executives.

Oritdotandolls’ fairies are light and ethereal. Literally, faceless, the child can project whatever image they like onto it. Though Orit names this one a “blessing,” perhaps it is a “gifting” or “singing” fairy to the child…or just “Lucy.” Refreshingly, nothing about this fairy disproves any of the child’s notions.

We see that Littleelfstoyshop’s daffodil girl holds a yellow flower…but what is the rest of her story…and can that daffodil be a flag or a horn? Sure. And her expression, like most Waldorf-inspired dolls is enigmatic, leaving her attitude up to the imagination of the child who plays with her. Here is another example of that open expression from Auntboosbabies. One might think that this lack of expression may feel cold to a child. On the contrary it is inviting. When you combine that with natural materials, like recycled cotton and other natural fibers, as many of our Naturalkids Team team members use, the doll is even softer to the touch…even more loveable.

I would like to continue with these examples and feature additional sellers from our team in my next “Part Two of Instructions Not Included” next time. In the meantime, I invite you to click on their links on the blog site and visit the wonderful and creative worlds these folks inspire through their artistry.

I leave off with the image featured at the top of the page from Dosidough. This team member creates a natural version of playdough – a toy which defies all rules and for which instructions are neither included or requested.

By Rebecca Varon-Remstein

Posted on

Friday Interview with German Dolls

Today’s interview is with team member Ulla of the shop German Dolls. Her lovely dolls and sweet doll outfits have a wonderful old world feel to them and her shop is full of these simple childhood joys. I really enjoyed getting to know Ulla better and I think you will too!

Tell us a little about yourself…
Guten Tag!
My name is Ulla Seckler. I was born and raised in Germany and moved to the United States in 1996. I am married and live in beautiful Colorado with my husband and two kids.
I have been sewing and making things practically all my life.
Back in good old Germany children are instructed in needlework at a tender age. I still remember the old lady, named Frau Knebel, who came in with two gigantic knitting needles, the size of poles for pole vaulting (it seemed), and taught all the girls and BOYS how to knit in elementary school.
Sewing is in my blood. My great grandmother was the village seamstress and called in whenever somebody got married and needed custom-made, hand embroidered table and bed linens. She taught my grandma and my mother. And I watched my mother sew, crochet, and knit all my life. She did not have to make a living that way, but whenever she had a minute she was doing something. Her hands were never idle, and I grew up in a world where handmade sweaters, mittens, and scarves appeared overnight. All it took was a snowfall. My dolls and I never lacked a new outfit and were dressed appropriately for the season . . .
After I had children of my own in the US; I was worried that they would grow up without the same quality handmade items and toys that I had when I was little. So I started making dolls after my daughter was born. And once I started making the dolls, I began making clothes for them as well. Some of the patterns I use were handed down in my family. But most of the designs are a combination of the old traditional patterns and my own more modern spin on Waldorf.

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make or sell?
The main thing I make and sell in my store is dolls and doll clothing. Once I started making dolls I became a total addict. First I made dolls for my kids, then for all the nieces and nephews, then for friend’s kids. I just could not stop. The dolls began to clutter the house. My husband complained that there was never a place to sit down any more…He said:” Honey, why don’t you sell some on eBay.” I did – and “the rest is history” as they say.
Last Christmas I got a needle felting kit as a present. I instantly fell in love with this craft. I have a few needle felted items in my store and would like to expand in that area..

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
The one person who has been most instrumental when it comes to my craft is my mother. See above. She did not teach me the art of Waldorf Doll making per se, but she taught me all the skills needed to make a beautiful handmade toy.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My daughter’s birth inspired me to make my first doll, and watching her play with all of her dolls every day is my greatest inspiration!
My German heritage is certainly very important and a great inspiration in what and how I do what I do. I miss the dark, green, Fairytale forests of Germany. But at the same time my life as an immigrant has given me a very unique perspective on things. I see many playrooms in the United States filled with gobs and oodles of ugly plastic toys. The main criterion in many households appears to be mass rather than quality. I hope that more people will learn about Waldorf and Natural toys.
If it had not been for coming here I don’t think I’d be a doll maker. I probably would have bought a handmade doll in Germany and let it go at that. I think my work is a great example of how the New World and the Old World come together to inspire wonderful art.

What are your favorite materials?
I still get excited every time a new shipment of supplies arrives at my doorstep, especially when it was mailed from Germany. I love Color! Cotton velour is my favorite material! And it comes in so many bright colors =)! I get sad whenever I run out of a color. I make my Wee Pocketbabies out of this wonderful stuff, but it is also great for doll clothes and other cuddly toys.
I love wool in any shape and color! Wool felt, wool roving, yarn, carded wool fleece. Wool is what my dolls are stuffed with, soft warm springy natural sheep’s wool. Who likes to hug plastic? This is my slogan.

“In an age when everything is made of plastic and synthetics and almost every toy says “Made in China,” my Waldorf Dolls are handmade with pure wool and cotton, natural materials that warm to body temperature as they are held. Have you ever hugged a cold, plastic baby doll on a cold winter morning? My soft, warm dolls are unique, huggable, and as individual as the children who love them.”

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Don’t quit your day job! It takes a lot of time and energy to build a small business. We are talking years – not months. Don’t expect to open a store and have a lot of sales right away. When I first started on Eb
ay it was very tough. I often sold my dolls for little more than the price of the materials. I am doing a little better these days but often wonder if it is possible to make a living being an artist. My husband brings home the bacon!
You have to love what you do to make it through the rough spots. My friends on Etsy, particularly the Naturalkids Team, have made my “crafting life” so much happier. I am immensely grateful for the sense of community and friendship I have found there!

7)What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
Patience, patience, patience! You cannot expect to make a first doll and for it look great. It took me many years to perfect all the techniques and come up with the perfect doll.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

I recently closed my Ebay shop because of the impossible high fees. I have decided to put all of my energy into my Etsy shop. I hope to have my own website some day…
My Etsy shop address is
I also have a flickr account. If you would like to see pictures of old and new work you can check out my “archive” on flickr;