Keagan was the second last custom doll for 2012. Instead of nattering on about him and all the adventures he will have, I'll just let the pictures of him speak...
I took the following picture to show some of the textures in Keagans' outfit. When I design a doll, I always ensure that a child will have many different types of natural textures to feel. Here we have very soft felted angora wool, merino wool, soft but a bit less so, linen fabric, buttons, boiled wool, the twists of the shoe cord. The blue of the shoes is fabric taken from woolen tights the that "J" (who will be living with Keagan) wore to bits when she was smaller.
Keagan will also be living as the brother to a doll I made a few years back. His hair is custom dyed and matches the other doll's hair in tone, although not in texture, as she has straight hair.
I love making boy dolls so much. They can fly and are full of beans!
I have had a lot of requests for custom dolls in the past, due to my schedule, that was not possible on a regular basis. I have made custom dolls, but generally only for local customers.
For 2012, however, I have decided to offer 4 custom dolls per month that can be shipped anywhere. If you are interested in getting a very special Olive Sparrow child to join your family, here is the link to my my Etsy Store. I have listed 11 spots:
3 spots for shipment date 1st week of February
4 spots for shipment date 1st week of April
4 spots for shipment date 1st week of May
If you don't see the size of doll you would like, please e-mail me and I will post an adjusted listing for you.
This will be really exciting...
Here a little glimpse of a custom doll that I made for a repeat customer for her daughters 5th Birthday a few days ago.
This is Tikka, a 38 cm tall Olive Sparrow Doll with traditional mohair hair. The mushroom on her bag (and on one sole of her shoes) is free-hand machine embroidered. Her sweet pants have little tiny mushrooms on it too. Her booties are the softest angora felted wool.
Wow, this is so exciting! Watch the video below to find out who is the winner of Mimi.
Our son Huxley did us the honours playing good-luck fairy.
I have sent the winner an e-mail, so that Mimi can make it on her way to her forever home.
Wow, this was fun! Thank you to everybody who participated. I am looking forward to stay in touch with those of you who agreed to let me send them the occassional e-mail with information regarding new available dolls, workshops and shows.
(if you didn't have a chance to add yourself to the mailing list, but would like to get information, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Please add me to the Olive Sparrow subscription list.
This is the last public event before the end of the year.
If you haven't had a chance to come see me, perhaps this Sunday will work for you.
Rima and I would love to see you!
See you on Sunday! This will also be another chance for you to enter the contest to win "Mimi".
I know that my dolls are not attainable for everybody that visits and gives me such lovely words for my work - I wanted to give something back.
Here is quick image of "Mimi".
The contest will close on December 16. 2012, the day of my last show this year.
All through the fall I have quietly and not so quietly been working on a variety of Olive Sparrow Children to be offered at the fairs I was booked for and have talked about on this here blog.
Quite a number of dolls have found their forever homes. Some of them being finished the night before a fair and never even having had their picture taken. This is sad of course, however, such is the life of a doll maker.
I love selling my dolls in person, chatting to the person who is deciding who to take into their family - hearing from them about the special child that will be playing with the doll, sharing stories about the creation of the doll, discussing all manner of imaginative play - seeing a connection made. However, I always attempt to also make some dolls to be sold online - to let some of my children fly far, far into the world, to have adventures far away from here (or maybe not - but to be found by families that might not have known about the fairs, the Olive Sparrow or even waldorf inspired dolls.
So the time came last week that all the rowdy, mischievous dolls still here with me came for a sitting-pretty photo session to my studio. Most of them were absolutely amazing in how still they sat so that even under low light conditions (we took the pictures late in the day), we had perfect pictures. Some of them though, were just too full of beans to sit still enough, so I will have to take a few more select pictures tomorrow.
I have decided to let you know now, that all some of the dolls are now listed in the Olive Sparrow Etsy shop here.
Sometime tomorrow, as I have time, I will add the listings for the other dolls.
Here is a little sneak peak at the 3 outstanding dolls.
Baby Bee 20 cm / almost 8"
Lizzy - 38 cm / 15"
Elsie 48 cm / 19"
If you have any questions about the dolls, please e-mail me.
The past 10 days have been a flurry of activities and lugging of the portable Olive Sparrow shop. I also got to meet with so many of you that have come and visited me at the fairs.
Here is a bit of a recap to share with you.
Friday and Saturday (Nov. 16 and 17) I had a large booth at the Arts and Crafts Fair of the Toronto Waldorf School in Richmond Hill. On the way there, the front wheels of our beloved, yet ancient mini-van started smoking. Taking frequent breaks to let them cool down, I was determined to make it to the fair - which I did - just. I was so lucky to have my wonderful felting buddy Jan helped me with the set-up. Car-car (don't you name your car?) stayed there overnight, while Manon of Shoe Babou gave me a ride downtown and back the next day.
Here a quick look of the booth:
This was my third year at the show and I feel blessed to have seen many of my repeat clients again. I also got to chat with many new clients.
On the Sunday after the show I took Huxley to see "the Man in red on his sled", and a visit to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). Since we didn't score even one candy cane, we treated ourselves to cake in their eatery that always makes me think of Switzerland (it's something about the layout, the colours and general feel). This time of the year is a challenge to my mothering role - my soul is torn between my duties on all fronts - as a mother, a creator of Olive Sparrow goods, a gardner, a housewife, an artist, the maker of all the baked cookies with gift clients with, taking care of me. Yet despite the challenges, I love the flurry of activities and even giggle at the state of the insides of our car - packed to the roof with show booth items.
Monday to Thursday this past week was spend sewing like a mad-woman at home and getting some painting done at the studio. I was able to finish up 3 more Olive Sparrow Children (they had still needed faces, hair and clothes) and sew shoes for all the larger dolls that didn't find their forever families at the TWS show.
On Friday just before 2 pm I got on the road to Guelph (about 100 km's east of Toronto). I was able to visit my pregnant friend Catherine and her family there for half an hour before heading to the Trillium Waldorf School for the Cranberry market.
It was so relaxing to set up there, as I had given myself ample time so I didn't need to stress and do my usual heart-pounding, adrenaline pumping spiel of racing to be ready for opening time. There was a piano in my vendor room and a group of children played piano and the recorder for me. As a thank you, I let them have a rock fight. You read right. This year I am selling wet-felted rocks, originally intended to be used for nature tables, play scapes and decoration. Through interaction with the kids I realized they had a hoot trowing "rocks" at each other in play. What fun - and there are still some bags of the rocks left for my next fairs. The children commented on how interesting it felt to hold these textile stones in their hands.
The booth set-up is different at each fair I attend - In Guelph, I had rented two tables, which is really what is needed to justly present all my goods. Luckily Catherine (not my pregnant friend, but a super-sweet and wonderful co-ordinator of the fair) was able to get me that much space.
Here some close-ups of each table:
Because I had some extra time before opening, here a few (pardon me for the blurriness) doll close-ups:
Alice 38 cm - available
Elsie - 38 cm - available
The Cranberry fair closed at 11pm. At 11:40 pm, my goodies where packed up and I drove back home to Toronto. After getting into bed at 1:15 am, I rose again at 4:30 am and was on the road at 5 am to arrive in Kingston (about 250 km's west of Toronto) by 8:30 am for set-up at the Mullberry Waldorf school for their Winterfair. (I did have a 15 minute nap at one of the rest-stops and arrived full of energy in perfect timing to walk my stuff up to the 3rd floor of a lovely old and large school house. The building reminded me strongly of my own primary school in Switzerland - must have had something to do with the size of the class rooms and the spacing of the stair steps.
Even though my attendance was confirmed only a week ago, I was still able to rent two table spaces. Lois and Patricia that coordinated the fair were absolutely lovely to work with.
All the people I met at the school were strangers to me, yet I was made to feel completely at home and welcome by everyone that came to look and/or purchase my goodies.
As promised in my earlier post, I wanted to show you the 20 cm Olive Sparrow Child that I will be giving away in a contest I am holding at all my shows this season. I know that my dolls are not attainable for everybody that visits and gives me such lovely words for my work - I wanted to give something back.
Here is quick image of "Mimi".
The contest will close on December 16. 2012, the day of my last show this year.
If you would like to put your name into the draw for a chance to win her, visit me at one of the shows I will be doing over the next two weeks and fill out a ballot:
November 30 (Friday 6 pm - 9 pm ) - Westdale Children's School - Hamilton
December 2 (Sunday 10 am - 4 pm) - Waldorf Academy (formerly Allan Howard Waldorf School) - Toronto
December 8 (Saturday 11 am - 3 pm) - London Waldorf School - London
December 16 (Sunday noon - 5 pm) - Rima and Friends - Wise Daughters Craft Market - Toronto (Junction)
Off to bed for me - I am planning on sewing more doll clothes and hopefully finish a couple more dolls until Friday.
At a Mayfair last year a little girl about 2 years old came by and insisted on holding one of my little dollies. She didn't want to let it go.
This was my inspiration of producing a number of small (20 and 25 cm) dolls for little hands.
These dolls feature very simple clothes, no small details and are perfect for smaller hands. They do have little hats which can be put aside until the child is a bit older.
To meet the little dollies, come visit me tomorrow and Saturday at TWS in Richmond Hill.
The busy Christmas market season is starting on Friday. This year I will be participating in six fairs in and around Toronto.
There will be new/additional items for each different fair. However, especially the Olive Sparrow Children are sold on a first come, first served basis. So if you would like to see the largest selection of dolls, I hope to see you this Friday/Saturday.
I am very excited about new doll clothes, childrens fairy tote bags, large felted flowers perfect for the nature table, and other good handmade goods all with the Olive Sparrow touch.
Special Event for my market visitors:
Participate to win a 20cm Olive Sparrow Doll
(for details, visit me at any of the shows or
visit me at all shows to increase your chance to win).
November 16/17, 2012 (Friday/Saturday) - Toronto Waldorf School, Richmond Hill
November 23 (Friday evening) - Cranberry Market - Guelph
November 24 (Saturday) - Mulberry Waldorf School - Kingston
November 30 (Friday evening) - Westdale Children's School - Hamilton
(see attached details)
December 2 (Sunday) - Waldorf Academy (formerly Allan Howard Waldorf School) - Toronto
December 8 (Saturday) - London Waldorf School - London
December 16 (Sunday) - Rima and Friends - Wise Daughters Craft Market - Toronto (Junction)
(details to follow)
Saturday, November 24, 2012:
Mulberry Waldorfschool in Kingston
If you have any questions, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.
from forever goodbye's
of two years
sharing future dreams
long lost memories
Her brain injury was part of her but not her whole being. We often had to explain her to others so they could understand how she was different from somebody with a fully functioning short term memory. For the last 32 years of her life she taught all who met her a lot - patience, old sayings, love and faith. Most of all, we need to remember a woman who loved to laugh, to break out in song, who was full of love. A mother who was very tender and loving. A sister who kept her own siblings close even after her marriage to my dad in 1957. A patient who was always thankful. A woman who through her faith found peace with her tragic destiny - often through a joke.
When I was 12, I lost my Mami when she had her bike accident on August 18, 1980. Now, my mother died.
Her accident took away her ability to be herself and left her with the mental ability of a 10 - 12 year old child.
There are many stories of this part of my life - this place here, perhaps the place to tell some of them when the time is right. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
During a bike trip with Huxley last year we came across a small public park in a nook of town where I didn't expect there to be one. At the edge of the park where two trees heavily hung with what I thought where plums. I didn't have a chance to excamine them at the time as I had a very tired, sad little boy on my hands. I did however, mark the spot in my memory with the intention of returning this year to harvest some of this "wild" fruit.
So this year, I drove by to check out how the plums where doing, just to realize that it wasn't a bumper crop of plums that was ready for the picking, but a wonderful variety of crab apples, yet just at the end of their prime. A couple of days later Huxley and I took a small step ladder and went harvesting/foraging.
I will have to make a note in my calendar to start checking on the fruit earlier next year, as it was really just the very end of the season, with the majority already having enterend the next stage of their purpose - to go soft so that they could distribute their seeds.
We still managed to gather about 4 kg.
After triming off the bad bits and using the really bad ones for tossing practice into the corner of our yard (which was a lot of fun for my 8 year old). I ended up with a large pot of usable fruit.
I washed the fruit and returned it to the pot, covering the fruit with just enough water to have it bop a bit.
I gently boiled the fruit until it was mushy.
Transferring the fruit to a large cheesecloth, I hung it over a broomstick to drain all the juices overnight into a large bowl. (look at that lovely colour).
I measured the resulting fruit juice and oogled its amazing colour. I used about 75% of sugar to the amount of juice and boiled it in a pot until it reached just about 220 degrees fahrenheit. Filled it into steriliesed canning jars and voila! My first ever crab-apple jelly.
Note: I learned that it is best to make jams and jelly's in smaller batches, so I made the jelly in 3 batches of each about 1.2 liters of juice to about 800 grams of sugar. It jellied perfectly - thanks to the wonderful high-pectin content of crab apples.
The half-full jar in the middle was our immediate consumption jar. I love the slightly tangy flavour of the jelly. It is particularly yummy spread on a toasted bagel, then topped with extra old cheddar cheese.
I used some of the fruit mush to make a zucchini-crabapple bread. It tasted great and I will have to make note next time around to the exact ingredients. I started a bad habit of just trowing things together without exactly measuring them - so they are a tad hard to reproduce.
This time of the year I feel a kindred affiliation to squirrels. This year I've been able to put by Strawberry freezer jam and blueberry jam. There is frozen rhubarb and blueberries and a couple of bags of sour cherries to make swiss-type fruit quiche during the winter. I've made pickles for the first time and will be able to taste them in about a weeks time. I've also made elderberry jelly from foraged berries. Sadly when trying to make peach sauce, I ended up scorching a huge pot of them and didn't have the opportunity to purchase more peaches - lack of time. I've also dehydrated strawberries and peaches for use in nut less trail-mix for school snacks. There is a rum-topf downstairs awaiting some new fruits.
Two bushels of tomates have been turned into frozen, ready sauce, as well as some frozen slow-oven roasted tomatoes. Last saturday I picked up another two bushels of tomatoes, although as it is at the end of the harvest, they are rather sad looking and I have to pick through them to pick only the nicest ones. My freezer is full, so I will put them by as whole bottled tomatoes and as passata (passata [pəˈsɑːtə] n (Cookery) a sauce made from sieved tomatoes, often used in Italian cookery [Italian] - thanks wikipedia).
It takes a lot of time, trial and error to arrive at an Olive Sparrow Child whose body shape and proportions are visually right to my eyes. When I made my first dolls I used some of my old patterns from years past (as in patterns from the 80's) and traditional Waldorf doll patterns found in the standard instruction books. Although I have sewn and created for more years than I'd like to admit publicly, I was somehow of the opinion that the dolls had to be "just so" and who was I to think I could alter something as established and well documented in Waldorf Doll-making circles.
Over time, and through viewing many other doll-makers' creations, I decided that I wished to have a doll that was visually pleasing to my own sense of proportion.
I prefer a doll that has:
Last year I re-designed the bodies for the 44/48 cm and 52/55 cm dolls and am very happy how they turned out. The 35cm doll has always been a favourite though. The smaller, yet still substantial size is ideal for children of 2 years and up, especially if they have shorter hair and simpler clothes. The pattern I have used in the past had many endearing features, yet was at times very frustrating to sew. Hence planning a new body pattern has been on my to-do list all year.
As I'm now getting ready for this years shows, the time is now. Two weeks ago I was rolling heads, as I often slightly adjust my patterns to fit the heads. They are my starting point for proportion and sizing of the body. Last week I spent two days playing with skin fabric, pencils and wool stuffing.
These are some of the samples I arrived at.
Two different arms, two different legs. I like my babes to be on the plumper side, as I feel they are more child-like. I also do like larger feet. My heads on the other hand are smaller rather than larger. Once a doll has their hair added, the head automatically becomes bigger.
I made one doll with the left-most pattern, but after it was finished, decided that I prefer my older arm pattern. It is important though to not just draw and imagine the dolls as I would like them to be, but to actually sew and stuff sample limbs. Holding these samples in my hands and working with how the fabric behaves when it is being stuffed leads me to the right shape.
If you look at the right-most hand, you can see that the hand is smaller, longer with a less defined thumb. This was caused by aligning the pattern differently on the skin fabric. Since the skin fabric is a knit, that will affect the direction of the stretch when the limb is stuffed.
The first of the new 40cm (aka the 35cm that grew larger) doll is now almost finished. In the morning I will embroider the face and get the hair ready. Hopefully I'll get a chance to take some pictures to show you.
Not to sound to repetitive, but due to a non-working hard drive, the one that had all my images, here is finally, finally a recap of the Felting Workshop from Loyalist college in Belleville July 12 - 15, 2012.
I had a wonderful time and the pleasure of a super-nice group of students to work with. Preparing a workshop is a lot of work, as I like to structure my workshops very tightly, through a detailed agenda and planned projects, yet also have the opportunity to adapt the materials to my students needs and skills. This was an intense 4 days with many basic felting techniques covered.
The main learning outcome I hoped to teach my students was that they would have the confidence to pick up any wet-felting project they would like to attempt after the workshop and have enough basic felting knowledge to try it.
I brought my extensive library of felting books to the class. The students where encouraged to sign-out the books over night and find inspirational ideas that they would like to work on for day 4.
After 3 hours of setting up the class room, I was exhausted, and so excited about the following four days of teaching. When teaching in a space away from my own studio, I often don't know exactly what set-up will await me, and there is quite a bit of improvisation in making it all work. It is exciting, as I love the challenge.
Details of my felted work samples that welcomed my students on day 1. Having taken many different workshops myself, I find it always helpful to have sample to show at the beginning of a workshop with what will be created. Although it can be fun to have a few small projects where the students simply follow the instructions step by step, and only see the outcome at the end. Though that is hard on many students - they need to know what they are making so that they understand the instructions. (not a surprise, considering that creative handwork skills workshops are generally taken by people that are visual).
For each project we worked on in class the students got to choose a specific amount of fibre in the colours they loved. We worked with 16, 18, 21 and 24 micron merino wool, as well as mountain sheep wool which has a micron of about 28.
Our intense agenda incorporated my demonstrations of various techniques, followed by work periods for the students. One student used her video camera to tape my demos and reviewed them during the work period when she got stuck on how to proceed next. Much of felting is about sequences of different steps and taking notes is paramount in remembering what to do next.
Various student works in different stages of finishing at the end of day 4. The first project had been to make a square of felt and then manipulate the felt into another object. One student made the jacket for her doll (she is an amazing doll maker, that took the workshop in the hope to learn skills to create embelishments for her creations), there was also a beautiful flower and a pouch. One of my quilter students wanted to use here square in a wall piece she was inspired to make from the felt.
Everyone made roses in a special resist dying technique and free-form flowers from prefelt.
For the major day 4 project, two people made slipers, one a vessel, some made bags. Most projects got finished in class, but some had to be finished later at home.
It makes my teachers heart so happy to see the collection of work created by all my busy-hard-working students.
My lovely students. Thank you all again for giving me a chance to show you what is possible with wool, soap, water and elbow grease. I also appreciated all your feed-back for future classes.
Here are some of the comments from my students in reply to what they enjoyed about the class:
"Learning felting basics and going home with real projects which I have conficence to make again."
"The creativity of Monika"
"It was very educational and would have enjoyed it more if it had been cooler" (note: there was no air conditioning at the school on Saturday and Sunday).
"Great instruction, lots of hands-on learning, great student interaction"
"Everything! The instructor is knowledgeable, talented, teaches well and kind and patient. Exploring felt with no hard rules."
If this makes you wish you had been there, I currently have time available to teach some felting workshops this fall. Please drop me a note with your e-mail address and I will send you the details.
There is a new hard drive on my desk. YEAH!, finally a chance to process some images from this summer. I got up at 4 am yesterday (not as planned) and started to sort and adjust. Instead of waiting for perfection, here are the first few.
How about starting off with pictures of some of our outings, wonderfully inspirational.
First week of summer vacation we went to Black Creek Pioneer Village.
We played games of days gone bye, talked to costumed people, ate a picnic lunch and romped around all day.
Huxley also started riding lessons which culimated in his riding day camp at the end of August. The barn is in Brighton, a mere 1 1/2 hr drive away from Toronto (yikes), however, it is completelty worth it as not only do his grandparents live in town, Sensei Maryann, his riding teacher is absolutely wonderful. She has an intutitive way with teaching children, and her horses are wonderful and very, very well treated.
More summer to come.
I have also been busy at work preparing items for the TWS Christmas Craft Fair.
This week I'm making pre-felt and rolling doll heads, as well as preparing holiday-inspired felting workshops (stop back soon for details. Then there are the tomatoes that need to be put by to keep the elderberry jam, the crabapple jelly and the pickles company.
Not only did my external hard drive give up its ghost, I have also been so busy working on the garden, walking, hanging out with my son and husband and scheming on goodies for the holiday fairs I am planning on attending. We've been blueberry picking with my in-laws and Huxley - which lead to the making of blueberry jam, blueberry butter, frozen blueberries, consumption of fresh blueberries, blueberry pie (I need to get better at that), blueberry scones, blueberry smoothies - blueberry dreams....
When my new hard drive arrives I'll be able to upload and process pictures of the felting workshop, Trips to Black Creek Pioneer Village, St. Marie among the Hurons, my friend and her family in Bracebridge, general summer fun.
Thank you for visiting despite my rather unpredictable posting schedule.
There are now only a few spots open for the wet-felting workshop that I will be teaching at Loyalist College In Belleville, Ontario from July 12 - 15.
Here are the details:
To register, please sign up here
There is also a description in the Loyalist Summer Program on page 18
The cost of the workshop is only $289 (plus the material cost for all the yummy wool $75). If you need to a place to stay in Belleville, the school offers their residency for a very minimal fee of $40 (plus tax) per night. There are also many lovely B&B's in and around Belleville.
I would love to see you at the workshop, I have 4 huge boxes of the most amazing wool coming from Europe. Some of those qualities are not otherwise available in Canada.
Message me if you have any questions about the workshop, and you may contact Heather at Loyalist College for registration information
Heather Cockerline (613) 969-1913 ext. 2467 or Email: email@example.com