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Mini Monday: German Dolls

OK, I know we have already featured Ulla–I am not senile! But I wanted to give her another moment in the spotlight because she is a new blog author! Ulla will be writing (along with another co-author–her Mini Monday comes next week) the Waldorf Wednesday feature. Look for her first post on Wednesday–Why Boys Need Dolls!

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Tuesday Treasuries

A cornucopia of NaturalKids goodness awaits you this fine Tuesday morning…

First, from TheSingingBird, enjoy this collection of Itty bitty pocket treasures.

Next, Winsomehollow wants you to see all of the lovelies she found Fluttering from the autumn tree.

Oh my goodness! Haddy2Dogs has found something strange. There’s a gnome in my tub! she exclaims.

AuntBoosBabies has found the sweetest items from natural kids to offer in her treasury.

Keeping on the gnome theme, freedomRainbow wants to welcome us to her gnometown.

FreedomRainbow also brings us this collection of goodies in her own Natty Kids stylee!

Lastly (but not leastly), Winsomehollow shares some beauties that are gentle for the young.

Tuesday Treasuries compiled by FaerieRebecca

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Mini Monday: freedomRainbow!

You cannot miss freedomRainbow! Whether she is creating the most amazing dolls in her shop, creating new hats and designs in her other one shop, or hanging around bringing joy and light to our forums, she is a presence with which to be reckoned! Learn more about this dynamic artisan…

My name is Sarah and I live in Portland with my husband and two children who are 12 and 2. My spiritual sojourning and my family are the joys of my heart and i am so blessed to be at home with my kids to watch the magic happen as they grow. Thanks for supporting that!

I am really into the idea that by putting Rainbow Reiki, Spiritual Energy, Love, Devotion to the Divine, and Protective Prayer into every stitch of my sweet dolls and animules, I am transferring that Beautiful Stuff into the hearts of those who claim them as their own. Making these dolls is a very wonderful way for me to engage myself in creative and artistic endeavors while trying to spread peace and love.

I’m really into yoga of all sorts, reiki, gardening, vegetarianism, mantras playing with my kids, and LOVE. I have a background in fine arts, especially ceramic sculpture, which i majored in at Lewis and Clark college, along with Biology.

Enjoy your week in the sun, freedom 🙂

MiniMonday by FaerieRebecca
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The Whole World In Their Hands

A friend recently gave Eva, my four-year-old, a gift from Toys-R-Us. I felt bad returning it because it was given with love. But I have made a concerted effort to have only natural toys in Eva’s room that I either make myself or purchase from natural toymakers, like those made by Etsy’s Naturalkids Team members. But these were plastic items from China. I just didn’t want them in my home, and Eva didn’t mind my exchanging them. But what would I find in the mega toy store?

What hit me first as I entered the door, was the smell of plastic off gassing. It was palpable and made my throat dry. How fast could I get in and out? I wondered. I asked the cashier, who automatically handed me a plastic card with my refund money on it, where the natural or wooden toys were. She shrugged ever so politely and offered that I look around. I took a tour of what seemed like a hostile faraway planet full of scary things. Dolls named Bratz, avengers of evil with guns that could obliterate a creature instantly and remorselessly. Palm sized computer games, infant toys that never stopped making noise, plastic junk food for pretend play, all packaged in plastic…Ok, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know where I’m going with this…Yes, there were bikes and carseats, but otherwise, it was a store 98% filled with “toys” that over stimulated, promoted a culture of fierce competition or violence, applauded unhealthy eating, and were in and of themselves toxic on one level or another, and polluting.

As the wonderful “Earth Ball” creation above by Cozycottagecreations, depicts, our children have the whole world in their hands. By choosing to fill those hands with natural, handmade toys and other items, a true reverence for our planet can begin and with the open ended nature of these toys, perhaps the imaginations of our children will be free enough to help them survive and revive the planet we have handed them.

Below is a discussion of some natural options for parents looking to choose more natural items for their children. All photos are courtesy of my fellow toy maker/artists from Etsy’s Naturalkids Team.

This sweet lamb by Woolies , and

Little Love Blue‘s adorable elephant are hand made from pure wool, while
Mosey’s “Henny Penny” is made from upcycled wool.

These toys don’t light up, but what they offer children is a tactile sense of safety, warmth, goodness, with a gentle appreciation of the natural world.

Who or what will the child discover behind Beneaththerowantree’s harvest fairy door?

Perhaps this little pixie:
forest elf with bird suggests a mischievous and humorous aspect to the mysteries of the natural world without cynicism. A child may interpret her expression as an impish, irresistible invitation to play… or will they just sit and chat together?

Perhaps she lives here. Or does the mouse rule this needlefelted domicile by Chimera? How sturdy, this wool home is; how beautifully crafted, and what a connection in makes to the nature world from which its materials came.

Instead of supplying and fast-triggered arson of weapons to save the world, Faerierebecca’s autumn nature table set is motionless, a simple gesture of sharing some of nature’s harvest. Is it an acorn, a leaf? The child can decide that, and the identity of this lovely needle felted creature. She has no moniker created by marketing companies, only an open face.

Wonderwull’s “Peace Angel” replaces the mechanical or computerized warriors against evil, with a quiet icon for peace. What hope she inspires in her silence. Out of that stillness, perhaps the small voice could still be heard.

What magical stories from the child’s own imagination could be written in the pages of Whimsomehollow’s felt book with moveable pieces?

Perhaps they are stories the child will retell to his or her “baby” while lulling it to sleep in Bellawinter‘s beautiful handmade, upcycled sling.

Whimsicalmom offers children an alternative to mass-produced art supplies. Together with her children, she created these “Sprite Scribblers-Vibrant Earth” upcycled, non toxic crayons in surprising color combinations, sure to ignite the imaginations of little ones as they draw a world they’d like to inhabit.

When children are provided with open-ended toys, from nature about nature, their imaginations grow, life skills are born and honed…who knows what they’ll create? Unwaveringfaith’s 12-year-old son crafted this: Fairy furniture; A gift back to the natural world.

Freedomrainbow’s shop provides lots of natural “reike” dolls for children, while her sister shop, Rainbowlotusnaturals offers parents choices which literally surround children in natural goodness and the opportunity make creative decisions. In her own words, this “cloak is a dress, sweater, jacket, and poncho all in one! All natural and recycled, it is so healthy for your little pixie and the planet she is from!”

In the morning or after a long day of play, Truevineherbs bath soap surrounds children with nature in a different way, cleaning their little, growing bodies with natural, safe and gentle soaps, like this one, made from natural ingredients from the earth.

What lovely alternatives to the megabranded megadistributed products. These are all items your children can breathe around and breathe life into.

After an hour of wandering the aisles of Toys-R-Us, searching for something I could bring home that supported my values, I finally found a little wooden train set, which Eva was thrilled to have. But I hope to never have to step foot in another
one of these chain stores again. I looked at the other parents roaming around, trying to buy toys that would do right by their children, but unwittingly purchasing toys which would pollute their homes, the planet when they are thrown away and potentially the very minds of their children. I am fortunate to know there are natural alternatives to the products found there and the messages they convey. I am blessed with the ability to create the lovely wool items which I both give my daughter and provide to others through my shop (,) as well as have the variety and high level of craftmenship available to me through shops I referenced here, as well as other Naturalkids Team shops. Now, perhaps, there will be a growing number of parents who will know they have natural alternatives and share this information with their friends.

All of the Naturalkids Team artisans strive to create toys, clothing, soaps and other items for children that are good for this generation and generations to come, because when these things go back to the earth, they are simply returning to the natural world from which they were made.

We do have options. Let’s keep the world we place in the hands of our children natural, healthy, lovely and fun, just like the world we strive to live in.

Thank you for reading. ‘Til next time!

Rebecca Varon-Remstein

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Thursday Treasuries

So many treasuries–and all the time you want to enjoy them!

Clicking through Chimera‘s terrific treasury is More fun than jumping in leaves!”

There are some gorgeous m mu mush mushrooms in this sweet treasury from Ayalonet (aka Nishale!)

Nishale was on a roll, also offering us things to cherish.

Orit wants us all to see what exactly a Waldorf [Steiner] doll is.

TheSingingBird offers us a look at The Fine Art of Needlefelting.

LittleLoveBlue shocked us all–I’m in my birthday suit!

Click and give them some love before the treasuries expire–or your favorite item is bought 🙂

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Tuesday Treasuries

It’s Tuesday, and that means it’s time to see what treasures our NaturalKids team curators have found for their collections!

Orit shows off the funkier side of the naturalKids team by showing us incredibly…… things that she likes.

Nishale invites to to experience Story Time with these lovely items:

TheSingingBird brings us Pinks and Blues to soothe…

And, because Birdie just can’t help herself, she has another lovely treasury in SweetPumpkinCitrusOrangePeach!!!

Click and enjoy!

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Friday Interview with Nushkie

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog you’ll know that every other Friday there is a wonderful article on the Waldorf /Natural playroom. (If you haven’t been keeping up go back and read them now ’cause they’re worth your time!) Well today’s interview is with the author of those terrific posts, Nushkie, and I think you’re really going to enjoy getting to know her.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how and when did you get started with arts and crafts?
I suppose it started in the 3rd grade. I made a puppet with a hand-sewn costume and clay head portraying my teacher, Mrs. Briggs. It was as mean and troll-like as Mrs. Briggs herself. (Dickens could not have penned a more wicked character in his pantheon of unforgiving, switch-wielding school masters). At 8 years old, I suppose I felt rather vindicated molding her so
realistically…I am still redeemed: my four-year-old daughter, Eva, likes to bring this ancient, gnarly artifact from Mommy’s past out whenever she needs something truly scary for a puppet show! Loathsome as my memories are of Mrs. Briggs, it was a time when schools still had arts and crafts as part of their every day curriculum. It is a crime that schools today consider arts, music and theatre as curriculum which is a “nice to have,” but not a “must have.” In addition to choirs, cello, piano, and all the school theatrical productions, I was always writing or drawing and painting. Horses and dancers, mostly, but occasionally some really surreal Dali –type explorations, like a volcano with a cigarette-wielding hand plunging from it into the sky …sort of burning the sky.

My family was very musical, with lots of improvisation going on. Occasionally, we would just jam in the “music room” after meals. My brother Sam would play the drums, my other brother, the piano, my dad, the Lowry organ, my mom on tambourine or just dancing, and me playing the claves or singing. Eventually, I pursued much of my performance and writing interests through poetry, short stories, journaling, jazz singing, political theatre, one-woman cabaret, and even stand-up.

Over the years, I also used my creativity in cooking, and have made my own home décor items, including pillows and curtains, small paintings, as well as clothes. But it was last year when Eva enrolled in our local Waldorf nursery and I started mingling with all these fellow moms who live and breathe wool, that I rediscovered my interest in visual arts and my absolute infatuation with wool and felting!

I had seen these beautiful fairies at one of the fairs and tried to figure out how felting worked. I tried smashing wool together between my palms, needle felting with a regular needle (good luck!), throwing hot water around…etc. G-d forbid I should actually take a class. But I have a certain “I can do it myself” attitude that I now share with my toddler, so no classes for me. But
my friend Amy took one. She showed me a needle-felted pumpkin she made…It was beautiful. I said, “How did you do it?” She said she poked the wool with a felting needle. I said, “Yeah, I tried that with a regular needle. What’s the big deal?” Then she held up her needle. “Did your needle feel like this?” I felt the barbs along the side…and had a real “Ah hah!” moment. And that was it. I placed an order for needles, ordered fleece and proceeded to make pumpkins, fairies, playscapes, etc, for Eva, tapestries for her teachers, and dolls for her friends. I even felted a giant pair of butterfly wings for Eva’s Halloween costume last year. This was before I “honed” my craft. I stabbed them into our now fuzzy ottoman. Then, when they weren’t firm enough, I threw them into the bathtub and poured pots of boiling water on them and put on rubber gloves and massaged them with Trader Joes Purple Dish Soap. When all was said and done, they were beautiful but a little hot for wearing on a warm Southern California Halloween… It was the beginning of a beautiful addiction from which no 12-step program can cure me!

What is the main thing you make and sell in your store? What else do you make and/or sell?
It’s funny. When I first opened my shop, I had started to get really interested in wet felting and I bought baby shoe lasts and thought I was going to make baby booties and other wearable felt mostly and home décor… I started with two clutches…the third one; I made off with myself and
wear to parties! I plan to do more of that as we go along, but in the meantime, I have found myself tending toward needle felted tapestries, dolls, gnomes, playscapes, fairies and all things Waldorf. The natural and soft feel of the wool and the ethereal quality of what emerges in form offsets my darker, writing self, and creates not only beauty, but balance in my life.

As I have made non-patterned “Waldorf” dolls for my little one and make practically all her clothes, I may branch out there as well in the future. Perhaps I will also finally make use of those shoe lasts! I think the felt covered diaries are a step in the direction of practical applications of this beautiful art form, as are the earrings I just posted. I also made her a cute felted light switch plate that I’d like to make more of. Speaking of Eva…the toys I make for her, the dresses, doll clothes, scarves and hats… It really all starts and ends with my little one… Her nickname is Nushkie. That’s why I’m Nushkie Design.

Who if anyone has been instrumental in helping you hone your craft?
Ok, I did just take a Eurythmy class (no, I still can not spell that word!), but don’t usually like to take classes. I have found with acting and singing that I lose myself in trying to please a teacher. I tend to try to conform and try to be the “good student,” even when it doesn’t feel right. So, I don’t do it. I learned this with singing, that when I was studying, I was straining. When I practiced on my own I was fine. A few years ago, before Eva was born, someone my dad met had written an opera. He gave her my number. She called. When she asked if I was an opera singer, I said. “Yes.” I had never sung an opera before. I practiced like a crazy woman and auditioned and two months later, I starred as Anais Nin in a two-person opera to wonderful reviews.

You see, I lost my mom several years ago. But her inspiration remains. She sewed and cooked all the time without patterns. Because she never went to college, she did not often give herself enough credit. She would somet
imes complain, “Please don’t look at my seams!” But she was a huge talent. She made beautiful things and was a wonderful cook. She opened up a successful clothing boutique with no business experience, and when she got tired of that, at 55, she decided to become an actress. Again with no formal training, she had quite a prolific career as a television actress until she passed away. It is really from her that I learned not to follow too many rules and to just follow my heart when creating. I guess I never learned to draw between the lines while coloring. Now I know it was a good thing! Thanks mom.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Again, from my mom, but also my dad. He has a “can do” personality that enabled him to start a retail chain of organ (not internal, but keyboard!) and piano stores after convincing the Lowry Organ company to let him keep one organ and sell it on consignment. He rented a store, painted his name out front and that was the beginning of his becoming the national best seller of Lowry organs in the late seventies.

Mostly these days, however, it is my little Eva. Her waking dream life is so joyful, so boundless in its creativity and, thankfully, so, incredibly contagious!

Artistically, I’m inspired by anything beautiful that surrounds me. It can be writing, the more esoteric music of Kurt Weill; a film like “Wings of Desire”; the movement found in a Rodin sculpture; the emotion of a Van Gogh painting; the expression on a friend’s face; a song my daughter has improvised; an idea that pops into my head; the books of Elsa Beskow (what an incredible artist she was!); other Etsy artists whose work I admire, such as fellow Naturalkids team members or felters from Nfest team.

What are your favorite materials?
Let’s see…Wool, wool, wool and when I can get it, organic cotton…oh, and tree branches.

What advice would you give other Etsy sellers and those interested in opening up a shop?
Find something you love, make a few of them and open a shop. I think Etsy is the best deal in town. It would not be as easy or affordable to design and host a site and have the built-in traffic and promotional opportunities available to you that Etsy has to offer. Also there is this from my dad…I think one of the keys to his success was something he said to his sales folks. And it went like this, “When a customer walks in, don’t look at them with dollar signs in your eyes; Look at them and think, ‘how am I going to bring music into their lives.’ ” My goal is to bring my customers natural and heirloom quality creations that will add beauty and harmony to their surroundings.

What advice would you give to beginners in your main craft?
Invest in a felting needle and some fleece. Then experiment, but watch your fingers or, at least confine yourself to a sound proof workshop, as expletives will fly when that needle veers off into your finger during a rogue moment of exultant abandon!

Take a class if you really need to but don’t get schooled out of your natural instincts.

Try not to worry about how much time you have or don’t have. I do everything I do from about 9-11 pm after Eva is in bed and my inner cleaning elf has made some effort to unearth the bottom of our kitchen sink!

Try not to be so verbose when being interviewed…ahem…and lastly and quite seriously, remove “I can’t” or “I’m not creative” from your personal lexicon and just do it. Get an image in your mind and run with it. “Good is the enemy of great.” So forget about having to be good at something and you will allow your greatness to emerge.

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

The other place you can find me is at home with my little sprite, Eva and my wonderful husband, Bob…

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Thursday Treasuries

Not the explosion of NaturalKids treasuries we had earlier in the week! Now you have a chance to really savor the loveliness of our creations and our curators’ visions…

Orit shares her favorite needlefelted goodies from the NFEST and NaturalKids teams and asks us to remember what it’s like to hear a child say, Tell me a story

TheSingingBird takes us to the center of the sun with her FIERY like the sun collection.