I am a maker, a teacher and a parent of two sons and a daughter. I have always been drawn to handwork, I love the calmness it brings as well as the satisfaction of making.
It makes me happy to see people I teach smile as the doll emerges from their hands. Being able to give a child a doll that you have made is quite special and far surpasses a bought doll, whatever imperfections the handmade doll may have. It is an object that holds within it the makers time and love and which then potentially goes on to be nurtured and brought alive by a child’s imagination.
The dolls are traditional European cloth dolls, often called Waldorf dolls as they have been used in Steiner kindergartens for the last 100 years. They are made from natural materials and have simple embroidered faces on heads that have been formed by binding string around wool stuffing. The faces are kept intentionally simple to allow open ended play.
I believe dolls should be given to both boys and girls and try to keep some of my dolls gender neutral for the child to create the character they wish.
It is important to me to use natural, ethically sourced and local materials as much as possible.
I often use hair wool from Garthenor in Wales which is undyed and organic. The clothes are often recycled or waste fabric, I recently got far too excited when I found bundles of cashmere offcuts in a Scottish wooden mill .
While it would be far cheaper to use synthetic stuffing, I love to use natural sheep’s wool from Rosewood farm in Yorkshire where the sheep “live entirely on our synthetic fertiliser and pesticide free pastures, lamb naturally without human intervention and require no routine medication or synthetic pesticides, meaning a residue-free fleece and an entirely sustainable and natural end-product” All good to know if your child is cuddling their doll to sleep at night.
Wool will absorb warmth the smell of home, it will repel damp, is biodegradable and renewable.