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What’s new, and well, natural, from the NaturalKids Team

Welcome! I continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most wonderful and imaginative treasures. They are all handmade with natural materials from…yes! the NaturalKids Team on Etsy! This week, we feature wonderful variety of artist from who have one thing in common – they all work with natural materials.

Marie in the Garden

Farida hails from Seattle, Washington, USA. As she was born on the feast day of St. Alkelda, it seemed only right to name her shop “Alkelda” …Old English for “healing spring”! Alkelda: Dolls for Storytelling creates natural, beautifully embroidered wool felt figures for use in nature table displays, storytelling, and imaginative play.

Here is one of her most recent treasures…Marie in the Garden!


Woolie’s Lace Shawl Pattern

Sara creates her artisan stuffed animals and toys from Tucson, Arizona, USA. Her shop Woolies features her natural hand-knitted and cloth treasures, as well as patterns to make your own. Here is her latest… Lace Shawl Knitting Pattern.

Dollhouse Doll Rosie

Natalie works from British Columbia, Canada. Her shop, Woolhala, features all-natural Waldorf & dollhouse dolls, doll clothe and wool felt animals. Here is her newest dollhouse doll… Rosie.

From patterns to wool stuffed storytelling treasures to doll house components, these are just a few of the natural treasures you will find from our shops hailing from all over the world.

Thanks for joining us this week! Please do return again next Monday as we continue to feature all the wonderful members of the NaturalKids team on Etsy. Until then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.


Warmly,
Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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How to Care for a Waldorf Style Natural Doll Baby

I wrote an article on Waldorf doll care on my GermanDolls blog previously. You can read it here. But since many people who own natural cloth dolls may have these questions, I wanted to make a renewed effort in giving directions for cleaning your doll babies and doll clothing on the NaturalKids Team blog.

Question #1: Can I wash my doll?

If you are the proud owner of a natural Waldorf style doll, no matter who the maker is, your doll should be stuffed with sheep’s wool. If you are not sure about your doll’s stuffing, you should ask the maker to be absolutely certain of it. My dolls are ALL stuffed with clean carded wool.

Being stuffed with real wool is of great advantage! Not only does the wool give warmth and softness, these benefits aside, sheep’s wool has natural antibactirial properties. Wool is less likely to pick up germs and dust to begin with. Wool stuffing means your doll is washable, and that it is okay to fully soak your baby in water and give her/him a complete bath!

Unlike polyester filled dolls, that will matt down and flatten, Wool stuffed natural dolls will NOT lose their loft. Though spotcleaning is preferable and less hard on the doll, if there should be an accident (bad fall in the dinner plate or puddle) your doll can go take a bath! Here are a few points you need to remember when giving your doll a bath:

  • make sure the water is lukewarm and NOT hot. Just as giving a bath to a sweet babe.
  • Don’t use harsh detergents or cleaning agents. Best is a product you would use for a wool sweater such Woolite or a gentle shampoo. You may even want to give your doll and your child a bath at the same time. Just make sure that the soap used at bathtime is colorless and a mild one. You can apply mild soap directly to a bad spot and gently massage that area.
  • Then rinse out the doll until all the soap suds are gone.After the bath you must gently squeeze the dolls’ limbs and mid-section to get most of the water out. Don’t sqeeze the head! Since it is formed and shaped with string it should not be squeezed or treated too roughly! Too much squeezing might damage the shape of it.

Set your doll on thick bathtowel for drying. If it’s summer time or you live in a warm climate you can put it outside. In the winter I dry my dolls on the radiator. Depending on the climate you live in drying time may vary. Where I live (Colorado) it’s really dry and my dolls dry within a day. In a humid climate you may have to wait a couple of days…

Question # 2. What about haircare? Can my child brush the dolls’ hair?

A Waldorf dolls’ hair is usually made of worsted wool, mohair yarns, or combinations of natural yarns. Sometimes dollmakers use the loopy curly kind, known as boucle yarn. You should NEVER EVER brush your doll’s hair with a real hairbrush. It should only be styled using fingers. Rough brushing of the hair will thin the hair out and destroy the loops of the mohair.

Maybe this has already happened to your dolls’ precious tresses. Don’t get too upset. It is fixable! The great thing about Waldorf dolls is that you can repair them!

Dollmamkers use varying techniques to sew on dollhair. It kind of depends on the make of your doll. My dolls usually have a crocheted wig. If the doll has long hair the hair is sewn onto this wig. If the hair is damaged you can remove the layers of damaged hair and sew on a new layer. Just search for the tiny stitches and gently undo them. You could even get creative and give your doll a whole new look and different haircolor.

I will write another article on this topic to help you out! So keep watching my blog!

Question #3 What about the doll clothing? Can it be washed?

I recommend hand washing all little doll clothes. Why? Because most US washing machines I have come across are quite violent and have ripped my own clothing – even when set on a gentle cycle – to shreds. If you absolutely don’t have the time and energy you could put your dolls’ clothes in a protective net and wash them on cold in a machine.

I would never do this to items made of felt though. Felt might pill or react in some funny unexpected way…

General tips and Suggestions:

If the blush on your dolls’ cheeks has faded, a wee bit of red beeswax crayon can be applied. If you don’t own such a crayon, you can use a non-toxic red pencil to gently rub some new blush on the dolls’ cheeks. Don’t overdo it though! But also don’t be afraid. I believe the true beauty of these dolls lies in the fact that they can take some loving and still be adorable.

My daughter has a Hispanic doll I made her long time ago. The dolls’ hair is matted, and she got some spots from “eating strawberries” but my child would not have me change a thing about her. I’ll never forget the trauma when her American girl doll lost an arm a while ago. How do you put a plastic arm back on? My clothdolls have never lost a limb…

But since natural dolls are made of cloth, small holes or tears can be fixed. Don’t be afraid to take a needle to your doll! You may even find you enjoy it and decide to make a doll of your own!

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Please, let me know if you have any other questions about doll care. I’d be glad to share my kwowledge to help you keep your baby clean and pretty looking! If you are a dollmaker I would love to get some of your cleaning tips and suggestions, too!

 

Ulla Seckler  is a dollmaker who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two kids. You can find her Notes by a German Dollmaker on her blog where she shares some great German recipes, pictures of her sweet dolls, and life lessons learned.  Don’t forget to stop by her Etsyshop and take a peek at her wonderful doll creations.

 

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What’s new, and, well, natural from the Naturalkids Team on Etsy

Welcome! I continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most wonderful and imaginative treasures. They are all handmade with natural materials from…yes! the NaturalKids Team on Etsy! This week, we feature wonderful variety of artist from who have one thing in common – they all work with natural materials.


Babus – From teethers to felted dolls, everything you see in this shop is made with love and by hand by Michelle in Silver Spring, Maryland. Michelle says,”Using sustainably produced wool yarns, I knit and wet felt all my toys to make them fuzzy, warm, sweet and enduring.”

Here is her Original Baby Chain Wool Felt Toy.

AshperJasper‘s Vicky is an artist/homeschooling Mum (to Asher and Jasper) living in Southern California. Originally from England, she moved here after falling in love with a young American artist on a painting trip to Italy. Her husband has been contributing wooden toys to her store for about a year. Vicky says,”I love that we can work creatively together again! I have to admit that I am a wool addict. I LOVE the stuff. We are a family floating in a sea of wool and wood at all times.” They offer natural wood and wool toys and accessories. Here most recent post to her Etsy shop is an invitation for you to begin felting with her Deluxe Needle Felting Starker Kit for Beginners.

Armadilo Dreams is a husband/wife shop run by Dustin and Amanda. They live in Central Oregon. They say, “We combined our love for our children, natural materials, woodworking and Armadillo Dreams was born! Together we make an awesome team and love to work together as a family.” Here is their Rainbow Birdie and Wooden Egg – Toy Play Set.

Those are the featured new items for this week. What a rainbow of delightful treasures from one of a kind felted baby toys, to felting starter kits to lovely wooden toys! All are made from natural materials and from the hands of folks who love nature, children, and open ended toys. This is just a small sample of the quality and variety our customers enjoy from the fine crafters and artists of the NaturalKids team.

Thanks for joining us this week and please do return again next Monday as we continue to feature all the wonderful members of the Naturakids team on Etsy! Til then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.


Warmly,
Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

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For Love of Dolls

This past weekend I got to spend 3 wonderful days with a fellow team mate, Dayanara from Pin Pon. We spent our time crafting, eating yummy food, and watching crazy reality TV. When the rest of the family was asleep D. and I would spend hours talking and crafting.

Free Form Cutting
An Artist at work

Watching her hands work as she lovingly brought the dolls to life was magical. We shared fabric and collaborated on combination of colors, so much fun! I loved to see her work with just an idea in her head… no pattern just free form cutting. Almost as if the doll had already been in the fabric and she was setting it free.

Finished Doll, Miss Kitty
D. dog guarding the supplies

The following day we had great fun setting up a photo shot with the kids. My daughter had the best day getting to do dress changes, she was in princess heaven! The boys and dogs got in on the action  too and we all had a great time. At the end the we all promised to do it all again!!

D. setting up the shot. Swing Top by Imogen’s Garden
Apron by Pin Pon
Rainbow Playsilk by The EnchantedCupboard

Post by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Welcome! I continue my trek backwards through the alphabet to bring to you the most wonderful and imaginative treasures. They are all handmade with natural materials from…yes! the NaturalKids Team on Etsy! Once again, we are featuring a wonderful variety of artists who all work with natural materials and today, are all Waldorf-Inspired! All their shops start with an F…could that stand for open-ended “free play?? I think so! Enjoy!

 Fee Tartine  is the home of various styles of Waldorf-Inspired cloth dolls. Johanne, is from Canada. She is a Mother, midwife and craftswoman, who is “overwhelmingly busy but literaly addicted to sewing and knitting.” Her latest, the Punk-Dorf 15″ Waldorf Inspired Doll , is a simple but sturdy one-of-a-kind doll,  made from quality re-purposed materials.

Donni, the creative wonder behind Fairyfolk,  makes needle felted and silk treasures. She grew up in South Africa, where she had a lovely, natural childhood surrounded by animals and wilderness. She has lived in many different countries, Ireland, England, New Zealand and now, finally, America where she has settled at last. “I have a loving Kiwi husband and two gorgeous children. Crafting is how I reconnect with myself. It is the language of my soul. I came to needle felting only recently and have fallen in love with all of it… the sound of the needle in the wool, the smell of the wool, the feeling of my creation in my hands. I am so grateful for the wide range and color of the wool I can work with… it makes anything possible.”  Here is her latest Set of 8 Snow Felted Acorns. 

Free Trade Family  hails from Arizona, the shop offers a wide variety of cotton and wool play foods for your child’s play kitchen or market or for imaginative fun anytime, including fruits, vegetables, ethnic foods, and sweets.  Here is the latest…  Cotton Play Food – Chocolate Sandwhich Cookies.   

Those are the featured new items for this week– from lovely upcycled Waldorf dolls to wool decor and play acorns to cotton play food play…they are all from natural materials and from the hands of folks who love nature, children and open ended toys..this is just a small sample of the quality and variety our customers enjoy from the fine crafters and artists of the NaturalKids team.

Thanks for joining us this week and please do return again next Monday as we continue to feature all the wonderful members of the Naturakids team on Etsy! Til then, I invite you to browse all our wonderful shops.


Warmly,
Rebecca aka Nushkie
Nushkie on Facebook

 

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Saturday Giveaway: Fairiesnest


This weekend I bring to you an amazing Giveaway by Cynthia from The Fairies Nest. Cynthia has been a long time member of the NaturalKids Team. Her unique dolls with hand painted faces are simply gorgeous. Handmade toys of the finest kind! You can rest assured that no two dolls ever look exactly the same!

Check out this cute set of 3 lavender babies in a flannel bag. In order to be entered in the drawing for it, please leave a comment with your email address where Cynthia can reach you. The winner will be randomly picked from all comments and announced here next week.

How to enter this Giveaway:

You have ONE week to visit Cynthia’s shop/online places on the internet and report back here. The more comments – the higher your chance to win this cute set!

Please visit Cynthia’s Etsyshop and report back to us what you liked. You can earn additional entries by visiting:

The Fairies Nest
1.Website http://www.thefairiesnest.com/
2.Twitter http://twitter.com/fairiesnest
3.Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheFairiesNest
4.Blog: http://thefairiesnest.blogspot.com/

Don’t forget to check out Cynthia’s DA gallery (the best place for a comprehensive view of her work) http://fairiesnest.deviantart.com/gallery

This giveaway will close next Saturday (April 23rd). The winner will be chosen randomly and notified by email.

*Please note: Members of the NaturalKids Team and their families are excluded from this promotion. International winners are responsible for any customs fees or taxes.

This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to Ani with comment #15!

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How to make a Winter Wattle Fairy Doll

This week’s How-To is How to make a Winter Wattle Fairy Doll by Amber from Mama Moontime.


Take a pipe cleaner about 10 cm long. (10 cm is approx. 4 inches, ed.)

Thread on a bead for a head and twist pipe cleaner over it to secure.

Take a second pipe cleaner and twist it around the first, just below the bead.
The closer to the bead, the better to later hide the ‘neck’.

Trim arms to a natural looking size, plus a few millimetres to
bend over to secure the fleece in the next step.

Take a 1cm wide strip ( half inch, ed.) of natural coloured fleece sliver.
Place it about 1cm (half inch, ed.) from the end.
(Spotlight sells Merino lengths which will be fine for a small project)
Contact me if you have any difficulty sourcing fleece in your area and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Wind the fleece towards the tip, trying to keep the sliver as wide
as possible to prevent wiry threads appearing.

At the end, turn over the tip to secure the fleece for long term

longevity of the doll then wind back towards the body.

Any excess fleece can be wound around the body in a diagonal,

either way, as this will be hidden under the dress.

Follow the same instructions to wrap the other arm.
Loop up the bottom pipe cleaner for safe keeping.

Take a long length of green fleece, about 25cm long (that’s about 10 inches, ed.)
Split into two, long ways.

Place it over the ‘shoulders’ of the fairy.

Cross the lengths over, both at the front and the back and

gently pull it down to make the bust of the dress firm, and not puffy.

Take a small sliver of yellow fleece.
Wrap it around body under bust to secure the dress.


Gently shape the ‘dress’ into a pointed shape.

Give her a ‘shampoo’ of glue.

Then attach a 8 cm length of gold fleece for her hair. (8 cm is approx. 3 inches, ed.)

Embellish as you wish!
I have used small yellow beads as the wattle flower, and a golden thread for her crown.
I also threaded a fine cotton thread up through the back of the head where the pipe cleaner holds the bead, so she can hang above the nature table.

The actual paper ‘invitation’ hangs on this thread.
It is a simple ‘fire’, signifying the light of the winter candle that burns through the dark nights.

Happy Creating!

This tutorial is brought to you by Natalie, of Woolhalla.

Please visit Amber (pictured above!) at: www.mamamoontime.com where you can see her original post plus other tutorials. Amber also teaches workshops and blogs on other natural crafts, eco-living & parenting in Australia.

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Friday Feature with The Enchanted Cupboard

Today’s feature is with our very own team leader, Beccijo, of The Enchanted Cupboard! Enjoy!
Tell us little about yourself!
I am an artist, a toy maker, a wife, and mother of 4. I am very creative, but also very analytical. I use both sides of my brain equally. I love to write stories and then create the characters and the worlds they come from. I also enjoy being creative in the kitchen and making my own recipes. Organization is important to me, and when life is out of wack you will find me putting some corner of it back in order. I love to garden and connect with the earth. I truly feel that the best way to “get grounded” is to do just that…get dirty and get working with the ground.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?

I make many things but my passion these last few years has been making wooden toys and wedding cake toppers. They become alive to me, and I can see what the little pieces will become before the paint even goes on.

What inspires you?

Kids and watching them play, my own and others. I also have a wonderful imagination that I never lost. Before having my family I was a Certified Professional Nanny for over 12 years and was able to keep my creative-self all during my early career.

What got you started working with miniature dolls and playsets?

I started because I wanted to make something for my daughter and then the whole thing exploded. I didn’t want to just make one thing but have a whole line of toys that went with each series. I have stories for them all and many more plans. I have other toy lines coming out.  I just need to find the time or some minions to do the work, lol.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?

I found Etsy in 2008 as a buyer, my daughter was getting a gift of a lovely quilt and I needed to look at it before the gift could be finished. From there I became a regular buyer, and then I got the “ETSY ITCH”. I started reading everything I could, because my logical brain said if you do something you do it right!! I use to have 2 shops The Fairy Ring and The Enchanted Cupboard but found it was better to have just one to do all the media work for. So in 2 years I have had close to 500 sales. Although, like with anything there are growing pains and lessons to be learned, I have loved every minute of it.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

(getting my soap box out) May people have heard me preach some very true advice I will share again. Everything depends on your packaging!! You get them to buy your product by having a great item, great description, and great photos but you keep them as a buyer by your packaging. No mater how simple or how creative your packaging is, it needs to feel professional. They want to feel like it is a gift to them or who ever they bought it from. The packaging needs to make them want to come back to buy that “feeling” again. I have (since I BUY a lot) seen lovely packaging made from tissue paper, some yarn tied nicely with their card stuck in behind the bow and then the same combo with the tissue rolled and wadded up and the card somewhere in the box. It really does make a difference in if you get a repeat buyer.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?

I have learned so much not just about Etsy, but about mothering and friendship from this lovely group of people. I love getting to share knowledge with the team as well as learn from them. As the team leader I hope I show my deep love for my members and a passion for what they make. Not a day goes by that I am not telling people about this wonderfully amazing group of sellers. I find a way to tell complete strangers every chance I get, lol.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
As I learned at the English Nanny and Governess School, education begins at birth. Intelligence is so linked with creative play and the first 5 years are so important to get a vast growth of neurons in the brain that will connect as a child explores and plays. A parents first “college fund” should be in filling the child’s environment with natural toys. Things that inspire creativity and make the child think and do!


Your links:
Thank you Beccijo!
Today’s interview was by Kat of kats in the belfry.
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Friday Feature with Alkelda

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a musical storyteller and doll-maker who was trained as a children’s librarian. My husband and I live in Seattle, Washington, USA, with our 7 year old daughter. When my daughter was 2, I decided that I wanted to learn either to sew or to play guitar, and ended up doing both. I don’t work in the library anymore, but I cannot resist a reference question, especially if it involves trying to locate a favorite childhood book. In the beginning of our courtship, I impressed my future husband by locating a copy of the out-of-print book Dinosaur Comes to Town, written by Gene Darby, which had the refrain, “There’s a meat-eating dinosaur—and you’re meat!”
The meaning behind my shop name:
The name “Alkelda” is Old English for “healing spring.” Alkelda is an apocryphal saint, and her feast day is my birthday. When I decided to become a seller on Etsy, I elected to keep my username as my shop name and added “Dolls for Storytelling” to make it clearer what the shop offered.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make embroidered wool felt dolls for storytelling through creative play. As a teenager, I would hand-stitch small dolls out of fabric remnants to give to family and friends, but it never occurred to me to seek out specific fabrics until I started making the little felt standing dolls like the ones in the shop. I started out with doll-making kits, and then developed my own patterns. I learned to embroider as an adult with the help of several embroidery books.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by plants, the curriculum in Waldorf schools, folktales, music (some of my dolls carry felt guitars), ironwork scrolls, and embroidered tapestries. My daughter loves dolls, and she often comes up with ideas for me, as do friends and family members.
A few years ago, I read her Sibyl Von Olfers’s The Story of the Root Children. She enjoyed it, but asked, “Why are all the root children blonde?” I explained to her that the author was Prussian, and she probably knew a lot of blond children, but that the majority of the Earth’s population has brown hair. When I talked about this conversation on my Saints and Spinners storytelling blog, friends of mine wrote about how they had longed for depictions of fairies and fairy-like dolls with dark hair and skin, and how rare it was to find them. Many of the dolls I make are for my friends when they were children as well as the people who are children now. I am glad that I can find cotton interlock for faces in a variety of skin tones.

Prior to using a book, my embroidery looked like a mess. I am the kind of person who needs specific instruction and guidance before free-form experimentation can take place. My first dolls (larger standing dolls with wire arms) were created with an embroidery book in my lap. I still consult my books quite a bit for new, complex stitches, but I’m glad that I finally have the basics “memorized” in my fingertips. Speaking of fingertips, it’s handy that I play steel-string guitar, because the calluses protect me from many of the needle-jabs I inevitably experience. (As a friend of mine asked, “Haven’t you ever heard of a device called a ‘thimble’?”)

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I started out as a buyer in June 2008 and became a seller in May 2009. When I started, I had no intention of starting a cottage industry business. However, when I started to make little dolls and people asked for commissioned work, it occurred to me that there might be a tucked-away corner of the market that would have room for my virtual stall. I was fortunate to have an online community already established for four years through my storytelling blog, and friends were willing to mention my new shop. Still, I was bowled over the first time I received an order from a stranger. I was glad to be able to join the Natural Kids Team because I liked the artisans and wanted a sense of connection with others who liked to create things that appealed to children.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?
Of course, I’m still learning from those who have been around far longer than I. What I would like for sellers in general to understand is that many people are inundated with data and noise to the point of saturation. Respect your potential customers by offering the best you have to create without getting into their personal space with a deluge of marketing. As a buyer, I went to Etsy to find well-made, handcrafted creations at fair prices, not mass-produced “bargains.” As a seller, I strive to make my shop a welcoming place to potential customers as well as people who simply enjoy looking at my dolls. Each listing ends with this mission statement: “I care about each doll I sew, and hope you will find a doll in the shop that you feel is yours.”

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I am a worker bee. I like low-profile jobs such as editing and organizing (although please, do not look at my desk as an example of order, as you will not find it). I hope those skills will help the team as a whole. What I really appreciate is
that when I have a question, people on the Natural Kids Team have perspective and can give guidance.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

As an adult with experience, I prefer to give my daughter toys made out of wool, cotton, wood and clay. These natural materials are warm and living. When minimally formed, these toys allow for many layers of creative play. However, I can understand the attraction of battery-powered toys. Before my daughter was born, I bought a little fire-engine train that had a battery for the siren. I got a kick out of pushing the button every once in awhile to hear that siren. However, when my daughter received the fire engine as a present, she pushed the button repeatedly. When she wasn’t looking, I took the battery out, and then gave her back the fire-engine train. She pushed the button and looked at it quizzically when it made no sound. After a few moments, she set the fire engine train down on the track and said, “Chook-ca-chook-ca-chook” (her train sound). I realized that by taking the battery out, I was giving her imagination room for its own discovery.

Links:
Alkelda: Dolls for Storytelling
http://alkelda.etsy.com

Facebook:
http://facebook.com/Alkelda

Storyteller page:
http://faridadowler.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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Friday Feature with Fairiesnest

Tell us little about yourself!
I am a wife, mom of 3 boys, toy maker, believer in fairies, fiber addict, avid gardener, devourer of books, owner of too many pets…or maybe they own me, and doll artist!

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I have always loved dolls and my sister and I spent much of our childhood making up elaborate stories for our many dolls. I made my first doll when I was 6; it was a simple cookie cutter shape with yarn hair and one button eye. For some reason that’s all the face that doll ever had but we called her “one eye Susie” and played with her all the time! My mother, an excellent seamstress, taught me sewing and knitting, and I had a very “crafty” grandmother who was always trying some new technique and then passing it on to her grandkids. I definitely learned a lot from both of them, and I’m pretty sure I also inherited my mom’s acute fiber addiction in the bargain. I learned costume construction in college where I majored in theater, and it was there I started making cloth masks for mime performances. Being a fiber junkie, I took classes in all sorts of needle arts along the way but curiously none in doll making. I really got into making dolls again when my sons were small, creating a cast of occupants for a castle my husband built. It was so much fun I just had to keep at it. I started out making Waldorf style dolls and my dollhouse dolls developed from this technique. Later, I tried a few patterns by other doll makers, but I couldn’t find a style that fit the dolls I saw in my head. It was after reading Suzanna Oroyan’s wonderful book, Anatomy of a Doll, that I was inspired to develop my own designs. It’s been very much a process of trial and error, but I have learned so much along the way.

What inspires you?
Other artists definitely! Wendy Froud – I love her fairies so much- and I find doll artists like Jane Darin, Akira Blount and Akiko Anzai very inspiring. I also get a lot of inspiration from books, contemporary and traditional fairy tales, and of course Mother Nature. There’s nothing like a hike on a mountain trail to bring out the fairies! I seriously always have several fairies knocking around in my head waiting to get out…it really gets crowded in there!
Of course I love being able to create toys that are natural for kids! There is something so much more magical in a handmade doll or stuffed animal, a perceptible feeling of love in every stitch. And the knowledge that you’ve made something that is environmentally friendly to boot?! Now that’s priceless.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I had to go look and see! I joined February 16 2007, so I’m coming up on my 3 year anniversary…wow! It’s been one of the best things for me in so many ways. My business has really done well and I’ve met so many wonderful, encouraging, and inspiring people…many right here on the Natural Kids team.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

It takes more work then you think to have a successful business on Etsy. You really need to step outside of Etsy to advertise and promote. I know everyone says that, but it’s true! Start a blog, find on line groups, hand out cards, and join a team…or several! Some teams are much more successful and active then others so it really is worth the time to try several out…I highly recommend the Natural Kids team of course. 🙂 And be open to change! I find lots of great ideas for improving my shop all the time. Read the forums and the Etsy blog, but also take the time to look at successful shops and see how they are set up, what kind of tags they’re using, what their pictures look like. Always be willing to learn.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I’ve been a member of The Natural Kids team since it’s beginning – through all the many changes, holding a variety of positions, and I have always found it to be an amazing group! There is no other team that is so encouraging and caring and it has been wonderful to see the team grow and become so active! I hope to see that growth continue and to help in any way that I can.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?

With all the over stimulation that children are exposed to in our modern culture they need the time and the tools to connect with the natural world in a peaceful and harmonious way. This is how we learn to think creatively and critically! Natural toys are a part of this because they allow for open ended play that requires imagination. And just getting kids outside is so important…let them make up their own games, build forts, and find treasures like acorn tea cups and magic stick wands. This is the stuff of magic!

Your items can be found where:
In galleries across the country and my shop http://fairiesnest.etsy.com
You can also see my online gallery here; http://fairiesnest.deviantart.com/gallery/#_browse

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard