Friday Find: Rainbow Dolls
Everybody, please say “Hello” to Megan! Megan is one of the first friends I made when we moved to California from Savannah, Georgia. She is a crafty mama and she recently opened an Etsy storefront selling beautiful, handmade Waldorf-inspired dolls. I recently asked Megan if she would mind telling us a bit about her dolls and she graciously agreed to an interview.
Hello, Megan! Thanks for coming over to my blog to talk about your dolls. Can I offer you something to drink? A cushion? Foot massage, perhaps?
Oh Marigold, you are quite the hostess. A massage…anywhere…would be fantastic!
So let’s start by talking about you a little bit. Give us some of your vital stats.
I am from Huntington Beach, California. My husband, Dan and I have lived in Fountain Valley, then to Long Beach, and over the last two years, Rancho Santa Margarita. Yes, I know what you are thinking…where is that? I didn’t know either until I moved here. It’s east of Mission Viejo towards the foothills in South Orange County. There isn’t much that goes on here, but it’s very pretty and mostly quiet. I have had my cosmetology license since 2004 and worked in a nice salon for a few years before getting married and having my first child, Lily. Then in 2009, we had our son Joshua. I have always been very artistic and pick up on different crafts here and there. I have never had an art class since grade school because I pursued singing in a chamber choir during high school instead. I enjoy painting with acrylics, singing, making jewelry, sewing, and making cute Waldorf inspired dolls!
I know that Waldorf dolls have a whole philosophy behind them-can you give us a quick rundown of the basics?
Well, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Educational Schools said, “Simple toys made from natural material are recognized as being of great importance for the wholesome development of young children.” The typical Waldorf doll is made from sheep’s wool and cotton knit fabric. It has a unique inner head that gives the shape to the face. Wool stuffing is wrapped around and around to form a ball shape. Cotton string is then tied around the head to create a distinctive shape. Then an outer stockinette skin is pulled over the head onto which the eyes and mouth are embroidered. The appearance is intentionally simple in order to allow the child playing with it to improve or strengthen imagination and creativity and to meet the child’s needs at the time, whether the child is happy or sad. The face is usually somewhat neutral in the expression.
Why did you get interested in actually making dolls, and how did you learn how to do it?
I started getting interested in Waldorf Education because it is based on a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. The Waldorf philosophy strives to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head. It is also based a lot around the arts, which I am fond of, as well as my daughter Lily. I am also so tired of having to worry and second guess everything I buy that is from a large manufacturer. I have learned a lot about the dangers of certain plastics and toxins in the home and I wanted to get away from those things. So, after getting rid most of our plastic toys and getting mostly wood and other natural toys, I started seeing these cute Waldorf Dolls around. I started to buy a few and realized that I wasn’t really seeing the exact style of doll that I would like to have (errhmm..for the kids!) and I always like a new challenge. I researched for hours finding everything I could find about Waldorf doll making online and read through numerous tips from here and there. I found the best resources for buying materials and started ordering everything I would need. I drew up a pattern and was set to start making my dolls.
Tell us a little about your creative process. (For example, do you sketch out a doll before you make it, or does it just kind of come to life as you’re working?)
I usually look through Etsy for handspun wool yarn to use for hair, and I start imagining what the doll will look like with the hair and whatever skin color I feel like using. I like to coordinate with the material and eye color, when its totally up to me. Sometimes the doll’s face will make me want to pick a different yarn or fabric. Even though I do plan this stuff out, sometimes it just changes mid-making them.
What is your favorite part of making a doll?
I would say my most favorite part is picking out the hair and materials to go together and actually sewing on the hair. It fulfills my lack of being behind a chair in a salon now that I have two babes to shape into decent people.
Least favorite part?
My least favorite part is embroidering the eyes because I am such a perfectionist and want them to be exactly the same on each side and it’s really hard to do that! Also, sewing up the shoulders is difficult and can be a very frustrating task.
Handmade Waldorf dolls can be pricey, and a lot of people balk at the $150-ish price tag. Can you tell us a little bit about the materials you use and the time it takes to make these dolls? For instance, how many hours would you say it takes to make one doll? And where do all the cute clothes and accessories come from?
I, too, scoffed at first when seeing the price of the first Waldorf doll that I saw, but the more I learned about them and why they are so great, I realized it was really worth the money. Most families that collect Waldorf dolls for their kids don’t have a ton of other toys and don’t buy other kinds of dolls. So the price really evens out because of that. For my dolls, I use 100% organic cotton, anti-pill, high-quality interlock for skin. To stuff the dolls, I use sweet smelling clean, carded Eco-wool that is 30% organic and is not treated with any harmful chemicals. Wool is an ideal material to fill a doll with because its naturally anti-bacterial, warms to the touch, and absorbs the familiar smells of the home. For the facial embroidery, I use high-quality, 100% cotton French floss. The cheeks are blushed with a natural Stockmar bees wax crayons. I use handspun and dyed wool for the hair, which can be quite expensive, and sew it in by hand in three different layers while using double thread to sew it in very securely. Joshua, my 13-month-old son, often takes my daughter’s dolls by the hair and drags them around the house like a cave man. They hold up quite well! It usually takes me 2-3 days to make a single doll because I am also a full time mommy but because it takes a long time for each step to make sure it is done correctly. I sew all the clothing and shoes. For some reason, I don’t even have any patterns for the clothing. I just make a pattern for the clothing for each doll as they need clothes. Some of the accessories, like buttons and sweaters, are handmade or hand painted and purchased from Etsy sellers.
|3-year-old Lily modeling matching headband sets|
What does your 3-year-old daughter think of the dolls? It must be hard for her to have all of these adorable dolls around and not be able to play with them all! Do you have to hide them?
Each doll that I make, Lily asks me if it is for her. I sadly have to say no and she responds by saying, “Well, if no one wants to buy her, then she can be for me.” She has a few of her own that I have made, so I can’t feel that badly for her. I am sure I will be making her more as well. I keep them in our downstairs hallway on the bookshelf so that no one little can get to them. She does like to go in the hallway and tell me how pretty the hallway is because I also keep all my materials there at the adjacent desk.
Are there any dolls that you’ve made that you just can’t bear to part with?
I really love each doll that I make. I am especially fond of Hana, Cecilia, and Forest. I think that when I have to send them in a box to their new homes, it’s going to be hard, but I am very much looking forward to seeing pictures of them with their new families!
Thank you so much for doing this interview, Megan! Is there anything else you’d like us
to know about your dolls before we say goodbye?
Thank you, Marigold, for offering to do the interview with me! I am looking forward to your blog hosting the doll giveaway once I get to 200 fans on Facebook! I want everyone to know how much I really love making these dolls and that you feel that love when you bring them into your homes. I hope to provide a safe, natural and cute companion for your child that they will love the rest of their lives. Thank you everyone for your support!
|Lily holding Chloe|
Aren’t they just the cutest things? So sweet! You can visit Megan’s Etsy shop, Rainbow Dolls and adopt one of your very own. Or, if you think you’re lucky, try to win one!
Once Megan hits 200 Facebook Fans (Megan hit her goal of 200 Fans just before we went to publish! Congrats Megan!) , she’ll give one away right here. In the meantime, check out the Rainbow Dolls Facebook Fan Page, and you can be part of making the giveaway doll-fans can vote for the size of the doll and the colors for the hair, eye and skin. How cool is that?