I’ve been occupied lately, spending all my spare minutes creating something for my son. I Love creating! And making something beautiful out of something simple is one of my many passions. I have a deep love for all things crafty, and lately, my focus has been on making things with yarn and/or fabric. I can’t stop knitting, crocheting, or sewing. It’s so soul nourishing, to take the moment and sit in a quiet corner, and just let my fingers go. It feels good. And it centers me. It takes me down a notch, off of the mommy buzzing mode, and lets me relax. Calm.
Have you ever heard of Waldorf Schools?
I have had an interest in alternative schooling long before I became a mother. The past few months have had me completely enthralled and amazed at the beauty of everything Waldorf! I LOVE WALDORF! With a strong focus on natural rhythms, outdoor play, creativity, healthy foods, and healthy relationships with their care givers, I find everything I read about it absolutely inspiring!! I have become a bit on the obsessive side recently, reading every book my library has on the subject, ordering a few books that the library doesn’t carry, and reading blog after blog on Waldorf schools, homeschooling, and Waldorf inspired daycare. I’ve always had a passion for children and nature, and feel that the two should be very closely intertwined. Daycare available today should be more natural and nurturing. I toss around the idea of one day opening my own daycare, allowing me to stay home with my babies (and them home with me!), while also having them be surrounded with other children to learn and play with. As I keep digging into everything Waldorf, I get so excited and can’t get enough! It is so in line with how I feel children should be raised!
And then came the dolls…
I came across the book Just Like Me Knits, while browsing around Barnes and Noble. The dolls in this book are beautiful, with brightly colored, long, and wild crazy yarn hair. The colors! I love the bright vibrant colors! But yet the dolls are simple, their faces very plain, and their hands and feet have very little detail. I fall in love with them instantly. That moment in the book store opens me up to the world of Waldorf Dolls (and there IS a Waldorf doll world, with many talented handmade doll makers, Facebook communities, and many books!)! When I stumble upon the book, I think the dolls are gorgeous…! Then when I notice they are Waldorf dolls(!!!) I have to learn more! (If you want to see what kind of dolls I’m talking about, just Google: Millie’s Dollhouse, Fig and Me, or Bamboletta! These are my favorites!)
Dolls for Boys?!
One thing that Waldorf educators and caregivers highly encourage is doll play, for both young boys and girls. Here is what Waldorf says about doll Play:
“A Waldorf doll is much more than just a toy; it’s a link between two worlds, the child’s and the adult’s. Children have a natural desire to imitate their parents’ behavior. They love to pretend to be doctors, teachers, cooks, etc. and dolls usually become the first props in their pretend play. Doll play helps to develop language and social skills, making children more creative and less aggressive. By dressing and feeding dolls, children also develop motor skills and coordination. Doll playing allows children to practice their future roles as adults, helping them develop love and care for other people. A Waldorf Doll becomes a friend, a true companion with whom a child shares her (or his) feelings, hopes, dreams, and adventures.” -NaturalKids.com
“A simple, neutral expression allows the child’s imagination freedom to see the doll as happy, sad, or angry depending on the situation and the child’s imagination. The more detailed the doll, the less it encourages the child’s imagination.”
After reading much about Waldorf teachers encouraging doll play for little boys, I decide to make one for Lincoln. The dedicated time, love, joy, and positive intention that goes into crafting this doll for my son is worth every minute it takes to make it for him. And considering that these 15 inch dolls are sold for $250 + $27 shipping, it is a no brainer to decide to make one myself.
Making a Waldorf Doll
I order a doll kit from Weir Crafts, borrow a few books from the library, and research on as Many Pintrest Boards as I can find! Knowing this dolls would take 25-40 hours to make, and cost a good penny or two on materials, I really want everything thing to look perfect on the 1st go! Plus, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to creating something, so I need to research everything before I begin. This is going to be my 1st and last doll! Hours and hours of research later, I finally start!
The head is said to be one of the more difficult parts of making this doll well. There is a rolling technique that you have to master to make a head that was firm enough to withstand all the abuse of child play without going floppy. I roll and re-roll this head 3 or 4 times before I am satisfied with the firmness.
Another thing that I’d notice on other dolls is the placement of the eyes, nose, and mouth. A doll can look completely different (and pretty terrible) if the eyes aren’t placed correctly on the head. So I place pins, and move them around a bit until I feel happy with the look. I like the eye placement a bit wider and the nose a bit higher. The stretching of the doll skin fabric is interesting and not too easy. You have to make sure you bunch the fabric at the top and avoid any forehead wrinkles. Again, I just go for it, pin and re-pin until I feel good about a wrinkle free face!
Next, I pin and sew the fabric for the body and arms, which is by far the easiest part. The stuffing of the legs and arms are not that bad, you just have to make sure to use a particular technique so the doll won’t look lumpy. I take my time and make sure to stuff well! No lumpy floppy dolls here!
The sewing and hand stitching of the neck and arms is tricky. I learn the invisible back-stitch and the ladder stitch, and use both for connecting the head to the body. It takes time and is a process. I now understand the importance of a thimble. My fingers are poked and stuck and feel a bit callused after this part.
I next hand stitch the eyes and mouth. Again, I look up the correct techniques, as there have been so many dolls that are ruined due to a funky lopsided eye. You really need to be patient and take your time for this part. The doll face is everything!
Well after completing these stages of doll making I decide to introduce Lincoln to his buddy. He was still sans hair and clothes, but I’m dying to see how Lincoln will take to his doll…
I couldn’t ask for a better reaction!
I hand him the doll and Lincoln looks at me, then looks at the doll face, and then the biggest smile emerges on his face!! You can see that he is registering the face on the doll. It is so cool and exciting to see!!
He immediately hugs him!! And flips him!! And stares at him!
Then rolls on him and kisses him!! LOL! He is SO HAPPY!!
This is love at first sight! He carries this doll EVERYWHERE!!!!
A couple of evenings later, I sneak the doll away for a bit more work. I still have to attach the beautiful handmade wool yarn hair. I hand-dye the hair with black tea and chamomile to get different yellow tones, and use a particular wool yarn that is made to look like dreads of different shapes and sizes.
As of today, the doll is still not complete. I need to sew him some clothes and shoes. Its been about 2 weeks of having him around hanging with Lincoln and he’s really becoming a significant part of each day! We name the doll Pip, and Lincoln knows exactly who Pip is. I say to him, “Lincoln, go put Pip in the car” and Lincoln walks across the room, grabs Pip off the couch and walks to the other side of the room to put Pip inside his big red car. Then he hops in himself and pretends to drive. I can’t get over how much Lincoln understands at 15 months old. Amazing!!
Here is Lincoln, loving (and abusing) his (naked!) doll! It was so worth all 35 hours it took to make!
If you need some help with making your Waldorf doll, I suggest you check out my Pintrest board! I post a ton of useful links! And feel free to ask me any questions! I’d love to help!
If you want to learn more about Waldorf Schools or philosophy’s I suggest you start with:
I hope you guys enjoy reading!