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Nature Table, Keeping it Organized

In the post yesterday I did a craft with kids on how to make these great Seasonal Organizing Storage Boxes

Here are some other great ways that you can store your Handmade items:

Cotton, Knitted Wool, and Organza Bags
Fun Theme Fabric Bags

Today we took some time to organize our Nature Table items. It is important to inspect your handmade items at this time to see if they may need to be repaired or cleaned. Check out this post about how to care for your handmade toys.

Sorting and cleaning felted wool toys.

Cleaning and re-waxing if needed to the wooden toys.

We ended up with some unwelcome guest who thought the fairy could use some company! It is hard to get the kids to focus on our task and they often try to wander away but the dog is harder to get him to work, :).

Not a good helper!

Finally we organized by season! We collected the toys and lined the bottom of the box with that seasons playsilk. Some items were added by themselves, while others we placed in cotton or organza bags.



Labeling was our final step before putting them in their new home under the Nature Table!

Article by Beccijo, The Enchanted Cupboard

Do you have a great tip for organizing your Nature Table toys? Feel free to share with us your ideas and comments!

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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
You can also see my online gallery here;

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard

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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