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.
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.
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.
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
The shows I did a couple of weekends ago went well. It was lovely to meet so many new people and exhibit my work. I "hired' our son to be my helper for the day on Sunday. He was amazing! I still remember when I was pregnant that I just thought that our son would come along to the shows, play quietly behind the tent, get used to the life of doing shows and start helping with little things. As I told him the day of the show, he was not that kind of a child when he was younger. Whereas I have seen the children of others be the perfect assistants and quiet companions, my son was always too active (although I did have him along at an art exhibition when he was a mere 6 weeks old and that was a wonderful experience). Now, at eight, he can help me unload the car, set-up the tent, watch the booth for a few minutes, and also, especially at a Waldorf fair, go about doing activities that he likes to do and enjoy him self too.
Here are a few pictures of my show tent to share with you that come from far and away.
Welcome to the lair of the Olive Sparrow (give me a shout-out in the comments if you spot the little birdy - he always travels with me).
Fairy tote bags - sized just perfectly for children to use as their lunch bag, a carry-all to take ballet slippers to class, a toybag to bring just a few precious things along on an outing or for momma to use as a small handbag.
Playsilks - look soon in my etsy store for an update in colours and sizes.
Hats and pants for three sizes of dolls. I love seeing all the clothes laid out like this and ready to be combined with tops to every doll-mommas own tastes and desires.
Dresses, tunics and skirts. I am already excited and inspired for the new clothes ideas in my mind.
The doll table - with Olive Sparrow Children (11 in all, although one was hiding in this picture) - the plan is that early next week the dolls and I will go on a photo outing - there are a few lovely places I have in mind to take photographs. All in preparation to have them listed within the next 2 weeks. They are all very excited to find their future families. In this picture you can also see wet-felted flowers, hand-dyed dress-up crowns both for children and their dolls, as well as Floppy dolls, nature-table fairies and Mother Earth (from the previous post).
Shows are a wonderful way to share my work and to inspire moms that make their own dolls for their children. I also enjoy setting up the displays and seeing the expressions in the face of children when they respond to a doll. It's always a tad sad too though, to see how some of the parents really love to get the doll for their child, yet simply can't afford it. That is also why I offer doll-making workshops. I had planned to hold one this coming weekend, but it seems that after the summer vacation will be a better time for it - summer is to be outside and enjoy the weather and time with our families - I love the coming of September and the return back to hand-work and preparing for the holiday markets.
PS: If you would like to receive advance notice of the dolls becoming available for sale, please send me a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to my early bird list.
Time has slipped by me again - time that was busy with a trip to Montreal to deliver artwork to my agent, purchase paper for my art and seeing friends. I also dropped by Loyalist College where I will be teaching a 4-day wet-felting class in July to meet the lovely Heather Cockerline who I have been working with.
Back at home I have been busy felting flowers and creating dolls for the two Mayfair Festivals I will be attending this coming weekend: Westdale Children's School in Hamilton on Saturday May 26th from 11am - 3 pm, and Halton Waldorf School on Sunday May 27th from noon - 4pm.
These fairies, star children and Mother Earth will be available at the shows (if you have your heart set on them, I recommend you come and visit me in Hamilton, or send me an e-mail before the show). They are 6" and 8" tall.
I am also working on a new group of Olive Sparrow Children that I will keep under wraps until the show. (A girl has to have some secrets.. giggle)... There are a couple of large 52 cm dolls as well as smaller ones available.
Other Olive Sparrow goods - playsilks, crowns and doll clothes will also be available.
These images - the second batch of our wonderful March break week, was meant to be posted a few weeks back. Yet looking at the pix and processing them for this here blog made me realize how seasonally appropriate they are.
At the farm of my friends co-worker and friend in Mount Albert, Ontario.
Angora Goats and kids (2 days old), sheep (sorry I forgot the exact breed), wonderful medley of different breeds of chickens and their gorgeous eggs, lambs - a bit early this year, papa-sheep before and after his shearing, Huxley and the youngest daughter of the farm with a lamb.
I did not notice how beautifully subtle and harmounious the colours of the animals where with the landscape until I started to process the images.
Easter is such a wonderful festival to celebrate the re-awakening of life in nature! This has been the greenest celebration I have experienced in my almost 25 years here in Toronto. It is wonderful. I hope you have a chance to go for a walk outside and fill yourself up with reawakening life.
You might be wondering where the dolls are. I have been talking about new ones in the works, yet no pictures and no status reports on this here blog. Last week was the school March break (we spend 3 days in bed with the flu, then had some fun - pix to come), the week before I finally got the studio in order and actually did some work on the newest dolls. Here a bit of background.
Last fall, I spent a focussed time of almost 3 months working exclusively on The Olive Sparrow items. My painting practice was put on hold, so that I could focus on the dolls and doll clothes. Not completely though. In the background I spent time restructuring and renovating my studio. For those of you new to visiting here, I am also a professional painter (Monika Aebischer, and the other slightly forgotten blog). I have maintained my professional artist studio going on 18 years. It is a lovely space in downtown Toronto with a gorgeous 3rd story view into the west. My dolls on the other hand have been created in my downstairs studio here at home. I have not been able to do textile work at the painting studio for the past 6 years, because of the resin that I work with on my artwork - resin is a magnet for even the smallest fiber floating gently in the air.
Splitting my work up between home and the rented studio has felt wrong for some time. I love my studio and like to spend time there. Last summer this all overwhelmed me and I fell into a dark hole. A hole that didn't let me see any sunshine and made me question my artwork, my dolls, my life - not fun. One day (one of many) where I sat in my studio, with hands paralized by darkness, I looked around and was struck by an idea - if I build a wall to seperate off the resin area, I can do different work again at the studio. Reinvigorated, I set myself to organizing the task - simple I thought and quick - not so... Together with the help of my amazing superintendent in the building, supplies brought there with the help of my husband and son, and most of all time and gentleness towards myself, I started the process in August 2011. The beginning of this year I worked on a painting comission, then I set 3 weeks aside to get it all done! I even painted the floor white, and the whole space is a new inspiration. (I'll show some pix in a bit).
Two weeks ago, I brought some of my dolls in progress there and each day spent a few hours working on the babes. Here is another type of inside look that shows how I weight out the stuffing for each doll limb. I have developed a chart for each pattern so that I remember the weight for each part. I find that important, so that every time I stuff a limb, it will be the same - quality control.
The head and wig-base for a 44cm doll, hand stuffing, inner arm, outer arm. Legs with the feet done and the inner leg and outer leg stuffing.
Lots of weighing out to be done for each doll. (There is another babe in the background)
One foot stuffed, the beautiful eco-wool for the other foot ready. I am always amazed at how much wool will fit into a dolls to make it solidly stuffed.
When I stuff the limbs, I create an inner core that I needlefelt very solidly, then wrap it with a loftier outer layer. It all is inserted into the limbs with help of a "funnel" as I call it. If a doll isn't stuffed very solidly, it will easily misshape over time. Especially when a child sleeps with a doll and possibly ends up laying on top of it. Hence compacting the wool as much as possible at the outset means that the wool doesn't really have any place to compact into. Also wool naturally felts together through rubbing, so why not start that process before putting lofty fiber into a limb. I tried many different ways to stuffing a doll and this process has become the one most logical for me.
Finding a rhythm in the creation of my various endeavors is a challenge, one often thwarted by life getting in the way (grrr). But I have been gifted with various ways to express myself and to create not one type of work, but many. Often when I make something "just for fun" and "just as a little gift" - one or more of the dear ones in my life comment "you could sell that". But not everything I make is meant to become a commercial enterprise. Rather on the other hand. I have decided that I am very selective of what I will offer to the world for purchase - my paintings, wet-felted and The Olive Sparrow goods. There is also teaching in my future - dolls and wet-felting, in my studio and as a traveling instructor (more to come about this).
This time of the year is when we eat traditional Fastnachtschuechli at home in Switzerland. They are sold in all the local grocery stores and are only available in February and March (if my memory serves me right).
Fastnachtschuechli are to celebrate carnival Swiss-style. I miss this time of the year very much, as Halloween just doesn't capture my heart the same way. I loved the lightheartedness of the Swiss celebration.
This year I decided to start a tradition of making the Fastnachtschuechli (can you tell I love saying it... Giggle), on family day , our mid February statutory holiday.
We have started a new tradition around our meals: recounting our favourite thing of the day.
Today I had a most definite favourite:
Huxley got up at 5:30 to tape about 50 heart cut-outs onto the walls of the kitchen and the bunny-room door, he made us breakfast (toasted bagels and cream cheese) and taped some hearts underneath our plates. He also put his lovely hand-made cards under our plates.
Spending a few minutes before our family dinner every night to focus on good things has brought much happiness to our days. At first, Huxley always wanted to mention bad things too - I encourage him to focus on the good things before dinner and then we could talk about the bad things afterwards. Being Thankful, a small gesture, a few minutes of time and a huge difference.
Huge Huggles to you all! and may your lives be filled with love of all kind!